A lungo coffee is an espresso with a ratio of 1:4 to 1:5; that is to say, for each gram of ground coffee, we obtain 4 to 5 grams of the final beverage. If we use 15 grams of coffee, instead of extracting 30 grams of coffee as we did with espresso (1:2 ratio), we will extract 60 to 75 grams with lungo.
Lungo coffee originates from Italy, as with many other coffee beverages prepared by the espresso coffee maker. The word lungo in Italian means “long”, which refers to a long espresso.
It is important not to confuse the lungo coffee with the Doppio (double espresso) or the Americano since these two coffees are larger than the traditional espresso but are prepared differently. Therefore, their flavor and qualities will also be completely different.
Difference between the ristretto, the espresso, and the lungo
These three drinks have something in common; the amount of coffee and the degree of grinding. The only difference between the three is the time the water will circulate through the coffee.
- When making a Ristretto, we want to obtain about 15-20 grams of coffee to extract the beverage for about 20 seconds.
- When we prepare an Espresso, we want to extract about 25-30 grams of coffee so that the extraction will last about 25 or 30 seconds.
- In the case of lungo, we want to extract about 60-75 grams of coffee, so we will let the water come out for about 50 to 60 seconds.
From the above, we understand that the coffees will be equally strong regarding the amount of caffeine since all three are made with the same grams of coffee. However, the flavors will be different.
The Ristretto is a very concentrated beverage, with a pronounced acidity due to the under-extraction of the coffee. At the same time, the lungo will be a more watery beverage, with less acidity but more bitterness because the coffee has been over-extracted. Espresso is the balanced beverage that lies in the middle of these two.
Although I said that the same coffee is used for the three drinks, once we know that the Ristretto is under-extracted and the lungo is over-extracted, it makes sense to use darker roasted beans to prepare Ristrettos and lighter roasts for lungos.
How is a lungo coffee prepared?
To prepare a quality lungo, it is important to follow the same steps we would use to make espresso but vary the extraction time. We must use high-quality coffee beans with a medium-light roast to achieve an optimal result.
- Preparation: Clean the portafilter with warm water, dry it well, and adjust the grinding level.
- Grinding: Grind 18 grams of coffee and weigh the amount.
- Filling the portafilter: Place the ground amount in the basket and compact it with the tamper to achieve a uniform extraction.
- Place the filter holder in the machine and the cups underneath.
- Start the extraction and the timer at the same time.
- You can choose the extraction ratio you prefer, between 1:4 and 1:5.
- Measure the extraction time and adjust the grind if necessary.
- The extraction should last between 50 and 60 seconds and produce 60 to 75 grams of coffee.
This way, we will have to use a larger cup than the espresso cup, although not as large as the Cappuccino or Latte cup. Remember that you need a minimum capacity of 75ml.
Is a lungo coffee the same as a doppio or double espresso?
If we only pay attention to the size of the coffee, we could think that we are in front of a double espresso or Doppio because the double espresso is approximately the same size as the lungo. Is lungo the same as a double espresso?
The answer is no. A double espresso, or Doppio, is two espressos in the same cup. Still, the ratio between ground and extracted coffee is always between 1:2 to 1:2.5. In the case of the lungo; the ratio is 1:4 to 1:5.
In other words, the lungo requires half the amount of ground coffee to obtain the same beverage. For this reason, the double espresso is stronger than the lungo (it has twice as much caffeine) and has a more intense and balanced flavor.
Is a lungo coffee the same as an Americano?
There is a coffee of a similar size to the lungo and with a milder flavor than the espresso but with the same strength; the Americano. So are lungo and Americano the same? The answer is no.
Americano is prepared by preparing an espresso in a larger cup than the espresso cup and adding hot water. This way, we have the same strength (caffeine) and a milder flavor. Why is Americano not the same as lungo?
Americano is made with espresso extracted correctly and balanced in flavor, acidity, and bitterness. While the lungo is prepared from an over-extracted espresso so that the taste will be different; thus, it will have more flavor but much more bitterness.
Lungo coffee is derived from classic espresso with a ratio of 1:4 to 1:5; for each gram of ground coffee, 4 to 5 grams of the final beverage are obtained. Therefore, the lungo is a longer espresso with less acidity but more bitterness.
To prepare a quality lungo, it is important to follow the same steps as to make espresso, but varying the extraction time to between 50 and 60 seconds and using a larger cup than the espresso cup. In addition, it is advisable to use high-quality coffee beans with a medium-light roast.