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Lungo vs Ristretto: Exploring the Delicate and Concentrated World of Espresso

Lungo: The Long Shot Espresso

Coffee lovers around the world often associate espresso with short, strong shots that pack a punch. However, did you know that there is a unique espresso variation that takes the opposite direction and creates a long, less-intense taste?

This style of espresso is called Lungo, which originates from Italy and translates to “long” in Italian. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of Lungo, its origin and name, and its popularization by Nespresso and Starbucks.

We will also provide a guide on how to prepare a Lungo, including the equipment and ingredients needed and the preparation steps.

Definition and Characteristics of Lungo

Lungo is essentially a long-shot espresso. While a standard espresso shot is 1 to 1.5 ounces, a Lungo shot ranges from 2 to 3 ounces.

This extended extraction results in a less intense coffee taste than a traditional espresso. It also creates a thin layer of crema on top, similar to a regular espresso shot, but with lighter color and less thickness.

When compared to a standard espresso, a Lungo shot has several distinguishing features. Firstly, the taste of a Lungo is less intense due to the higher water-to-coffee ratio.

This results in a lighter body and a smoother finish. Secondly, a Lungo has a milder aroma than a traditional espresso, but it still retains the bitter notes commonly associated with coffee.

Lastly, the thin layer of crema is often stretched out due to the longer extraction time, creating a unique and distinguished look.

Origin and Name Explanation

Lungo is a style of espresso that originated from Italy, the birthplace of espresso. In Italian, Lungo means “long,” indicating the extended extraction time required to create this style of espresso.

During the brewing process, more hot water is run through the coffee grounds, resulting in the long shot extraction. While the origin of Lungo is unclear, it is commonly believed that its invention was a result of Italian coffee culture’s growing interest in finding new methods in brewing espresso.

Popularization by Nespresso and Starbucks

Nespresso, the Swiss coffee giant, played a critical role in popularizing Lungo around the world. Nespresso introduced the Gran Lungo capsule, which is specially crafted for making Lungo shots.

The Gran Lungo capsule contains more coffee than a standard Nespresso capsule and is specifically designed to create the extended shot needed for Lungo. Furthermore, Nespresso’s unique brewing technology, which pressurizes water at high temperatures, results in a smooth and mellow taste.

Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain, also recognized the potential of Lungo and introduced a range of Lungo-based drinks to its menu. Starbucks added the Caffe Americano a drink made by diluting a shot of espresso with hot water to its menu, which is similar to Lungo in taste and preparation.

Starbucks also offers Lungo-based drinks, such as the Blonde Roast Espresso shot, which has a lighter body and a subtle, sweet taste.

How to Prepare a Lungo

To prepare a Lungo shot, you will need an espresso machine, coffee beans, a coffee grinder, and a coffee scale. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you create the perfect Lungo shot:

  1. Grind coffee beans coarsely: Unlike a standard fine grind for espresso shots, Lungo shots should have a coarser grind. This slower extraction allows the coffee to release at a slower pace, resulting in a more balanced flavor.

    If you’re using a capsule, make sure you use one designed for creating Lungo shots.

  2. Fill and tamp portafilter: Fill the portafilter with your coffee and tamp down with moderate pressure using the tamper. Create a level surface by wiping off any coffee residue that gets around the rim.

  3. Pull shot with more water and longer extraction time: After tamping, pull a long shot by using more water than you would for a standard espresso shot.

    Allow the shot to extract for 25-30 seconds, which is longer than the 20 seconds recommended for a standard shot.

  4. Nespresso capsule usage: If you’re using a Nespresso machine, use a Lungo capsule, which is designed for this type of extraction. Simply place the capsule into the machine and let it work its magic.


In conclusion, Lungo provides espresso lovers with an alternative option that delivers a less intense coffee taste. This long-shot espresso has a unique taste, aroma, and visual appearance that sets it apart from traditional espresso shots.

From its origin in Italy to its popularization by Nespresso and Starbucks, the Lungo has come a long way. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can now prepare your Lungo shot and experience its lighter body and smoother finish.

Exploring Lungo vs Americano

While espresso is the foundation of Italian coffee culture, there are variations of it that have gained popularity worldwide. Two such variations are Lungo and Americano.

In this section, we will compare Lungo and Americano, highlighting their preparation differences and serving sizes. Lungo and Americano are both created by adding hot water to espresso and have similar flavor profiles.

However, the key difference between them is in the way they are prepared. A Lungo shot is created by extending the extraction time, while an Americano shot is created by adding hot water to a standard espresso shot.

Lungo has a double water volume as compared to a standard espresso shot, and hot water is added to it to create a longer drink. In contrast, Americano is prepared by adding hot water to a standard espresso shot.

This addition of water dilutes the espresso, creating a milder flavor and a larger drink size. When it comes to serving sizes, there is a significant difference between Lungo and Americano.

A Lungo shot is usually served in a demitasse cup of 3-4 oz, while an Americano shot, with hot water added to it, is a much larger drink of 6-8 oz. Additionally, Lungo and Americano have different tastes due to the preparation process.

A Lungo shot has a lighter, more delicate flavor profile with notes of natural bitterness, while an Americano has a bolder flavor. The hot water added to an Americano has a diluting effect that can mellow out the taste of espresso, making it an ideal choice for those who want to enjoy a larger drink without a too intense coffee taste.

What Is the Difference Between Lungo and Espresso?

Espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee made by forcing water under high pressure through finely ground coffee beans.

The standard serving size for an espresso shot is 1 to 1.5 ounces and is usually enjoyed in a demitasse cup. In contrast, a Lungo shot is created by extending the extraction time, resulting in a longer shot of approximately 2 to 3 ounces.

Lungo is lighter than espresso, but it retains the natural bitterness of the coffee and has mild notes of caramel and nuts. In terms of flavor profile, Lungo and espresso have significant differences.

A standard espresso shot offers a concentrated flavor profile that is characterized by strong, intense flavor notes, with hints of chocolate and nuttiness. The natural acidity of the beans is also more apparent in espresso, giving it a distinct flavor profile in contrast to Lungo.

Another notable difference between Lungo and espresso is the amount of caffeine they contain. Although they are both created with the same amount of coffee, the longer extraction time of Lungo results in a higher concentration of caffeine per shot than standard espresso.

As a result, Lungo shots may be a better choice for those looking for a quick and energizing caffeine boost. Lungo is often compared to doppio, which is a double shot of espresso.

While Lungo has a lighter body than espresso, doppio has a much stronger flavor profile due to the increased amount of coffee used. Additionally, a doppio shot is served in a demitasse cup, just like a regular espresso shot.


In summary, Lungo is a unique variation of espresso that has become increasingly popular around the world. Its light and delicate flavor profile, along with a smooth finish, make it a delightful coffee option for those who want to enjoy a less intense coffee taste.

The differences between Lungo and Americano lie in their preparation method and serving size, while Lungo and espresso differ in water amount, flavor profile, and caffeine level. With this knowledge, you can better appreciate the unique features of each coffee variation and choose the one that suits your taste and preference best.

Lungo vs Ristretto: Understanding the Differences

In the world of espresso, there are many variations that coffee lovers can enjoy. Two examples are Lungo and Ristretto.

In this section, we will explore the differences between these two espresso styles, highlighting their taste, volume, and caffeine level. Lungo and Ristretto are both espresso shots made with the same amount of coffee but with different water volumes and extraction times.

A Ristretto shot is prepared by extracting half the amount of water typically used for an espresso shot, creating a highly concentrated shot. On the other hand, Lungo is created by extending the extraction time, which results in a longer shot with a double water amount.

Taste differences between Lungo and Ristretto are noticeable due to the differences in preparation and concentration. A Ristretto shot has a more concentrated and intense flavor profile, with hints of nuttiness and caramel.

It offers a much stronger coffee taste compared to a standard espresso shot. While a Lungo shot, by contrast, has a milder and more delicate flavor profile.

Due to its extended extraction time, Lungo features mild notes of natural bitterness and a smooth finish that is absent in Ristretto. The volume difference between Lungo and Ristretto is also worth noting.

A Ristretto shot is typically served in a small cup of 1 to 1.5 ounces, while a Lungo shot is served in a demitasse cup of 3 to 4 ounces. While both shots technically use the same amount of coffee, their respective preparation methods result in significant differences in volume.

A Ristretto shot is an ideal choice for those who want to enjoy a strong, concentrated coffee taste, while a Lungo shot is an excellent alternative for those wanting to enjoy a lighter-bodied coffee with subtle flavor notes. In terms of caffeine levels, there is a difference between Lungo and Ristretto.

As a concentrated shot, Ristretto has a higher level of caffeine per ounce as compared to the more diluted Lungo shot. That said, the caffeine amount for both shots is subjective as it also depends on the strength and type of coffee beans used, the grind size, and the machine’s brewing temperature.

Differences in Flavor Profile

The flavor profile is one of the distinguishing features between Lungo and Ristretto. In a Ristretto shot, the highly concentrated caffeine flavor is intense and has a thick body with a lingering aftertaste.

The taste profile of Ristretto can be described as nutty with a caramel aftertaste. The shorter extraction time increases the acidity levels of the espresso, making the flavor profile more prominent.

The flavor profile of Lungo, however, is quite different. Lungo shots are less intense and have a milder body as well as a smooth finish.

Lungo shots have natural bitterness with flavor notes ranging from caramel to nuts. The long extraction time of the Lungo results in flavors that are smoother and gentler, without the acidic bite of Ristretto.


When it comes to coffee, espresso shots can be enjoyed in different ways with variations like Lungo and Ristretto. These two espresso variations may look similar, but they are very different in their preparation, taste, volume, and caffeine levels.

Which one to choose depends on personal preference and the desired coffee experience. Understanding these differences puts coffee lovers in a better position to enjoy the unique features of Lungo and Ristretto to the fullest.

In conclusion, exploring the differences between Lungo and various espresso variations such as Americano, Espresso, and Ristretto reveals the diverse world of coffee flavors and preferences. Lungo stands out with its longer extraction time, providing a milder and smoother taste compared to traditional espresso.

The variations in serving size, taste profiles, and caffeine levels allow coffee enthusiasts to tailor their coffee experience to their personal preferences. Understanding the differences between these espresso styles opens doors to new and unique coffee experiences, inviting us to savor the nuances of flavor that each variation brings.

So, whether you prefer the boldness of a Ristretto or the delicate smoothness of a Lungo, take the opportunity to explore and appreciate the rich world of espresso.

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