Lungo Vs Espresso: Key Differences Between These Coffees

The world of coffee is so much more than lattes and espressos. It’s about the never-ending quest for finding, making, and customizing coffee blends that would satisfy your caffeine cravings.  

As you go deeper into the coffee world, you’ll run into some unfamiliar terms that will help you with your search. For example, most people are familiar with espresso, but only a few know about lungo, its longer relative.  

In this article, we will discuss lungo vs. espresso, what exactly they are, their similarities, differences, and how they can help you find your perfect blend. 

espresso

Espresso is an infamous Italian coffee that originated in 1901 in Turin, Italy, with the invention of the espresso machine. It is made under pressure by forcing a small amount of near-boiling water through finely-ground coffee beans.  

To pull a shot of espresso, you must extract all of the components of the crushed coffee by percolating hot water through a tightly packed and finely ground coffee. The pressurized water will then remove soluble and insoluble solids and oils found on the coffee bean, depositing them in the cup. While extracting an espresso is a short process, it is powerful enough to deliver an intense aroma and taste.  

A shot of espresso contains two layers: the crema and the liquid. The crema is made up of carbon dioxide bubbles surrounded by water and pills, while the liquid consists of gasses, soluble and insoluble solids. Espresso is the base of all other drinks such as latte, macchiato, and cappuccino.  However, espresso can be taken as is but not recommended for the faint-hearted.  


What Exactly Is A Lungo?  

Lungo is an Italian word for “long.” As a coffee, it is a beverage pulled longer than an espresso shot, hence the word lungo. It uses the same coffee bean and machine as espresso but uses more water, causing the process to take longer.  

A shot of espresso is usually pulled for 18 to 30 seconds using around 30 ml of water. A lungo uses twice this amount, which can take up to a minute to pull.  The process uses the same pressure and power as an espresso shot so that you can expect a great aroma and taste, but not as intense as espresso.  

lungo

While this drink is less intense because of the amount of water, it is more bitter than an espresso. The bitterness comes from the longer extraction process since most of the bitterness-causing components of coffee are dissolved at a later stage during extraction.

That’s why extending the length of the process allows the bitterness to be incorporated into the brew. Because of the bitterness, drinking lungo is an acquired taste, and only those who can handle the sharpness of its flavor enjoy it.  


Lungo Vs Espresso: What’s The Difference?  

Espresso and lungo may seem like the same thing because of their basic components, such as process and coffee beans, but these two beverages have a lot more differences. Here’s how you can distinguish them apart:  

Header

Lungo 

Espresso 

Caffeine Content 

80 mg 

60 mg 

Size Per Serving 

2 oz /60 ml 

1 oz / 30 ml 

Extraction Time 

Up to 1 minute 

18 - 30 seconds 

Preparation 

When preparing lungo and espresso, you will need an espresso machine. Unfortunately, ordinary brewing machines such as Moka pots, French press, and automatic drips won’t work for these drinks as they lack the pressure they both need. These drinks also require the same coffee beans, dark roast, fine ground coffee.  These two elements of the coffee bean are crucial to prepare these drinks to get the right flavor, taste, and aroma.  

The difference between lungo and espresso in preparation is their composition, time, and volume. An espresso is a stronger shot with a 1:2 ratio, meaning 1 part of coffee is two parts of brewed espresso, ideally around 30 ml. On the other hand, lungo is pulled longer with a 1:3 ratio, which means one coffee part yields three times the volume of a brewed espresso, typically around 60ml. 

coffee

Taste 

Lungo and espresso taste different because of how long they were pulled. Lungo takes longer, allowing the bitter components of the coffee to blend into the brew. Even though it has a bitter taste, it is less intense than espresso and sometimes has fruity notes. On the other hand, espresso has a fuller, richer aroma and flavor because of the smaller amount of water being pushed out of the coffee grounds. But it doesn’t taste bitter and often has a sweet aftertaste that can be compared to dark chocolate.  

Appearance 

The appearance of the espresso can also be categorized by its parts: the liquid element has a rick, dark to almost black color topped with the crema of about ⅓ of an inch thick golden cream. A quality espresso usually has a tiger-striped crema. The lungo is diluted in more water, which results in a lighter brown color and a thinner, lighter cream that usually disappears immediately.  

Caffeine concentration 

In appearance, espresso may look darker, but it doesn’t have much caffeine compared to lungo. To get more caffeine, you need a longer extraction time. Lungo has twice the amount of water as espresso, yielding more caffeine in the process. If you want more caffeine in the morning, a cup of lungo is your best choice. But if you want a richer flavor, espresso is for you.  


Brew Like A Barista: Making A Lungo At Home 

Do you think lungo is your new go-to coffee? Why not try it and make it yourself?

Don’t worry; you don’t need to be a certified barista to make one, just follow our instructions to enjoy this brew.  

What You Need 

  • Espresso machine 
  • Coffee grinder 
  • Scale 
  • 2 oz. shot glass (optional) 
Ingredients 
  • 14 - 22 grams of medium ground coffee 
  • Water 
  • Sugar (optional) 
making coffee
Instructions 
  • 1
    Grind your espresso beans to medium-fine or medium grind. This grind usually works well with longer shots. 
  • 2
    Using the scale, weigh out your coffee grounds to your desired dose. We suggest using 18-20 grams for bolder flavor, but anywhere between 14-22 grams works.  
  • 3
    Place this measured ground coffee in your espresso machine’s portafilter and tam, level, and brew as you would typically do.  
  • 4
    This is the most crucial step. If you have a 2 oz shot glass, use it to measure your brew. A lungo usually has a 1:3 ratio. So if you’re using 20 grams of ground coffee, pull 60 ml of brewed espresso. This composition makes the perfect lungo. Alternatively, you can use a timer if you don’t have a shot glass. A lungo takes double the pulling time of espresso, so it should take you about a minute to pull one.  
  • 5
    Pour your lungo into a cup and enjoy! Add sugar to taste or not, depending on your preference.  

Note: Going for a bolder flavor? USe up to 22 grams of coffee. But if you like a mellow espresso, use 14 to 16 grams.  


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How does a ristretto differ from espresso and lungo? 

The difference between the three is their final volume. Ristretto is the beginning of the espresso scale and has a ratio of 1:1, which means one part of coffee equals one part of brewed espresso. Espresso is the middle scale with 1:2, and lungo is the final scale with 1:3.   

Which is the lungo button on the Nespresso machine?  

The two buttons on the right make a lungo and espresso on a Nespresso machine. However, you will need to use a lungo capsule, and don’t try to make a lungo using an espresso one. 

Can you use Nespresso espresso pods for lungo? 

Don’t use an espresso pod for lungo or vice versa. Nespresso coffee blends and their respective flavors are put together specifically for their extraction, and they are not interchangeable. 

Which has more calories – Espresso or Lungo? 

Lungo has more calories than espresso. Drinking a 40 ml espresso will give you around 0.6 calories, while 110 ml of lungo will give you around one calorie. This can change depending on what you add to your coffee.  


Conclusion

Understanding the difference between lungo vs. espresso can help your journey into the world of coffee, allowing you to know which brew is perfect for you. If you are after the strong, rich flavor and aroma of the coffee, espresso is for you. But if you’d like more caffeine in your drink, lungo is your drink.