Just when you thought you knew about every type of coffee it is possible to get in a coffee shop, there is one more to learn – the Lungo, an Italian word simply meaning “long”.
In this article, we will explore what is a Lungo? Plus, the differences between a Lungo and an Espresso, how to make a Lungo vs Long Black vs Americano, and how to order a Lungo at Starbucks.
Let’s get started.
What is a Lungo?
A Lungo is an espresso shot that is pulled through more water, typically 100ml, and takes about twice as long to pull as a typical espresso shot. It generally takes around a minute to pull a Lungo, whereas your standard espresso is typically pulled in a little less than half that.
It would be easy to call it a plain black coffee, and it is. But it is not just a black coffee and it is in fact markedly different from more familiar black coffee names such as Americano, Espresso, or Long Black.
If you like your coffee with milk and sugar it is even more likely that you will never have heard of a Lungo as it is not generally offered in those circumstances.
Lungo vs Espresso: What’s the difference?
In a standard espresso, sometimes known as a short black, there is about 40 milliliters of hot water at about 93 degrees C, poured through the coffee grounds in 25 to 30 seconds, a process called “pulling a shot”.
For a Lungo, the amount of water is 100 mil., and the pull time is much slower at up to a minute. This has a great effect on the flavor.
The longer pull time on a Lungo means much more of the flavor compounds are extracted from the coffee grounds including the oils that are the main cause of the bitterness in coffee.
This is partly offset by being more diluted, but still, a lungo has a much more bitter flavor profile than a single shot of espresso.
Surprisingly though the caffeine level is about the same since the coffee beans have a consistent amount of caffeine and the extraction time does not affect this.
How to make a Lungo vs Long Black and Americano
At first glance, a lungo may appear to be very similar to a long black or an Americano coffee but in fact, all three are made differently and have different strengths and flavors.
A long black is usually a double shot of espresso or Ristretto poured into a cup of hot water, about 100 mil.
It has the same strength and aroma as espresso but has more volume and can be savored longer than just a single shot.
An Americano is usually a single shot of espresso, with around 60 mil water added after the shot has been poured.
This makes it not quite as strong as a long black, which gives it a flavor more like strong drip coffee.
A lungo is a shot of espresso with a longer pull time and more water so that more is extracted from the grounds.
Just to sum all that up, a long black is a double shot added to water, an Americano is a water added to a shot, and a lungo is a long-poured shot. Confused yet?
How to order a Lungo at Starbucks
As a worldwide chain, it is in the interests of a company like Starbucks to keep things simple. For that reason, it is unlikely that you will see the name “Lungo” on a Starbucks menu.
At Starbucks, if you want to order a Lungo, you can simply ask for a long espresso or a long shot.
In fact at Starbucks most espresso-based drinks can be ordered with a long shot, a Lungo.
If you want to order your favorite espresso variant but want it a little less milky and with a stronger espresso flavor you can ask for a latte or cappuccino with a long espresso or a caramel macchiato with a long shot.
What’s the difference between a Lungo and a Ristretto?
These are two complete opposites.
Whereas Lungo is a single shot with more water and a longer extraction time, Ristretto (meaning restricted) is a single shot with less water than a regular espresso and a shorter extraction time.
What is a Gran Lungo?
A Gran Lungo has 50% more water than a standard lungo, up to about 150 mils.
It is still a single espresso shot though, and steamed milk is often added.
If you’re looking for a coffee that has the same strength and aroma as espresso but with more volume, it’s worth considering ordering a Lungo.
Be sure to ask for a long espresso or long shot when ordering at a coffee shop where they might not know what a Lungo is.
Most of the time if you ask for a long shot or an Americano with more water, your barista will understand and use the same formula to make your Lungo.