Cortado vs Lungo

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Two Cortado glasses on a wooden table.
Table of Contents
Two Cortado glasses on a wooden table.

Wondering which coffee concoction to try next? In the world of espresso, two names often stand out – Cortado and Lungo. This article will delve into these popular drinks’ unique features, from their brewing process to flavor differences, caffeine content, and even historical origins.

Are you ready for a caffeinated adventure? Let’s dive in!

Cortado vs Lungo

A cortado is an espresso-based beverage that’s softened with a small amount of warm milk, aiming to reduce its acidity without overpowering the coffee’s boldness. It strikes a delicate balance, providing a harmonious blend of strong espresso and creamy milk.

In comparison, a lungo is an espresso shot that’s extended by running more water through the coffee grounds, offering a more diluted and milder espresso taste. While the cortado bridges the gap between espresso and milk, the lungo presents an elongated, pure espresso experience.

Key Takeaways

  • A cortado is made by combining equal parts espresso and warm milk, creating a smooth and balanced flavor.
  • A lungo is a longer shot of espresso with twice as much water, resulting in a stronger and more intense taste.
  • Cortados originated in Spain, while lungos originated in Italy.


A cortado is a type of coffee made by combining equal parts espresso and warm milk, while a lungo is a longer shot of espresso with twice as much water.

Cortado Definition

A cortado is a type of coffee drink. You make it by mixing espresso with warm milk. The amount of espresso and milk can be the same, but the ratio can also change. It’s often served in a small glass.

People like cortados because they have a smooth taste that isn’t too strong or milky. The name “cortado” comes from the Spanish word for “cut”. That means this drink cuts or balances out the strong taste of espresso with warm milk.

Lungo Definition

A lungo is a type of coffee drink. It comes from the Italian word for “long.” This name points to its longer brew time and bigger size than regular espresso drinks. To make a lungo, you need an espresso machine.

The machine puts more water through finely ground coffee beans. This action pulls out more flavor from the beans.

This process leads to a bigger amount of coffee in your cup. In fact, it’s close to the size of a doppio or double shot of espresso. But taste-wise, they are different animals! A lungo gives you a stronger and bitter-tasting kick than typical espressos do.

Historical Origins

The Cortado has its origins in Spain, where it is believed to have been developed as a way to enjoy the bold flavors of espresso without overwhelming the palate with milk. The Lungo, on the other hand, hails from Italy and was created for those who prefer a longer coffee experience without sacrificing strength or flavor.

Cortado Origins

The cortado is a tasty drink from Spain’s Basque area. It got its name from the Spanish verb “cortar”. In English, “cortar” means “to cut”. The word was picked because this coffee cuts into milk.

This mix makes it less strong than other coffees. It has become a popular choice worldwide, but its roots are in Spain. The cortado shows how Spanish people like their coffee – strong yet smooth with milk.

Lungo Origins

The lungo, also known as “caffè lungo,” originated in Italy. The name “lungo” comes from the Italian word for “long.”.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for Cortado and Lungo differs in terms of water and coffee ratio, extraction time, and pressure and temperature.

Water and Coffee Ratio

The water and coffee ratio is an important factor in determining the strength and flavor of your cortado or lungo. For a cortado, the ratio can vary depending on personal preference, but it’s generally around 1 part coffee to 1 or 2 parts water.

This creates a balanced drink with equal amounts of espresso and steamed milk. On the other hand, a lungo has a higher water to coffee ratio of 1:3. This means there is twice as much water compared to a regular espresso shot.

The increased amount of water allows for a longer extraction time and produces a milder flavor profile. So, when making your cortado or lungo, remember that the ratio you use will greatly impact the taste of your final drink!

Extraction Time

The extraction time for espresso is usually around 20 to 25 seconds. This means that hot water is forced through finely ground coffee under high pressure, resulting in a concentrated and flavorful shot of espresso.

However, when it comes to a lungo, the extraction time is longer, typically beyond 30 seconds. This extra time allows more water to pass through the coffee grounds, producing a larger volume of liquid but with a slightly milder flavor compared to an espresso shot.

So, if you prefer a quick and intense coffee experience, go for an espresso with its shorter extraction time. But if you enjoy a longer drink with a lighter taste, try out a lungo instead!

Pressure and Temperature

The brewing process for both Cortado and Lungo involves pressure and temperature. These factors play a crucial role in extracting the flavors and aromas from the coffee grounds.

When making espresso, high pressure is used to quickly force hot water through the finely ground coffee, which results in a concentrated shot of coffee.

The brewing temperature also affects the flow rate of espresso, as lower temperatures can lead to more gas being present in the brew. It’s important to note that a decrease in temperature and pressure can occur during the brewing process, so proper control is necessary to achieve optimal results.

Flavor and Aroma Differences

The cortado has a rich and nutty flavor with a smooth texture, while the lungo has a bold and intense flavor with a bitter undertone. The cortado offers a balanced taste, whereas the lungo provides a strong coffee experience.


A cortado is a type of coffee that combines espresso with a small amount of warm milk. The milk in a cortado is not heavily foamed, which gives it a denser texture compared to other coffee drinks.

Cortado has a more rounded and balanced flavor, making it less strong than a regular espresso shot. It is similar to other coffee beverages like Macchiatto, Piccolo, and Gibraltar.

Cortado is particularly popular in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America.


Lungo is a type of coffee that is made by extracting more water through the coffee grounds compared to an espresso. This means that it has a higher water-to-coffee ratio, resulting in a longer and milder drink.

The flavor profile of a lungo tends to have notes of nuts and caramel, with some bitterness. Unlike other espresso-based drinks, lungo can be enjoyed with or without milk, depending on your personal preference.

Lungo has a lighter colored and thinner layer of foam compared to an Americano, making it distinct in terms of appearance as well.

Caffeine Content

Cortado typically has a lower caffeine content compared to lungo as it is made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk, resulting in a smaller amount of coffee. Lungo, on the other hand, is made by extracting more water through the ground coffee, which ultimately results in a higher caffeine content.

Cortado Caffeine Content

A cortado is known for its smooth and balanced taste, but how much caffeine does it actually contain? A typical cortado made with a single shot of espresso contains around 64mg of caffeine in a 4 oz cup.

If you prefer a stronger kick, you can opt for a double shot cortado which can contain up to 154mg of caffeine in a 6 oz cup. This makes the cortado an ideal choice when you want just the right amount of caffeine without being overwhelmed.

The exact amounts may vary depending on how your barista prepares your cortado.

Lungo Caffeine Content

A Lungo coffee has a higher caffeine content compared to the average espresso. A typical Lungo contains around 50-100 mg of caffeine per ounce and 94 mg of caffeine per 2 fl oz cup.

In comparison, an espresso shot has roughly 63 milligrams of caffeine. This means that if you’re looking for a stronger caffeine kick, a Lungo coffee might be the way to go.

Different types of Lungo pods may have varying levels of caffeine, ranging from 60-150mg depending on the brand or type used.

Uses in Popular Drinks

Cortado in Popular Drinks: The cortado is often used as a base for various coffee drinks such as the macchiato, latte, and flat white. Its balanced flavor and creamy texture make it a popular choice for those who enjoy a milder coffee taste with just the right amount of milk.

Lungo in Popular Drinks: The lungo is commonly used to create stronger and more intense coffee beverages such as the cappuccino and espresso macchiato. Its longer extraction time allows for a bolder flavor profile, making it preferred by those who crave a robust and full-bodied coffee experience.

Cortado in Popular Drinks

A cortado is a popular coffee drink that can be found in various popular drinks. It is enjoyed by many people for its unique taste and combination of flavors. Here are some examples of how the cortado is used in popular drinks:

  • Cortado Macchiato: This drink combines a cortado with a small amount of foamed milk on top. The foamed milk adds a creamy texture to the cortado, creating a delightful balance of flavors.
  • Cortado Latte: In this drink, a cortado is combined with steamed milk to create a larger and creamier beverage. The addition of steamed milk gives the cortado a smoother and milder flavor, making it perfect for those who enjoy a less strong coffee taste.
  • Cortado Flat White: A flat white typically consists of espresso topped with steamed milk, while a cortado is made with equal parts espresso and warm milk. By combining these two coffee drinks, you get the best of both worlds – the boldness of espresso and the creamy smoothness of steamed milk.
  • Cortado Mocha: If you have ever had a mocha, you can try adding a cortado instead of regular espresso. By using a cortado as the base, you get the rich chocolate flavor combined with the smoothness of warm milk.
  • Iced Cortado: For those who prefer their coffee cold, an iced cortado is the way to go. The same equal parts espresso and warm milk are used but served over ice for a refreshing twist.

Lungo in Popular Drinks

A lungo is also commonly used in creating popular coffee beverages because of its unique flavor and intensity. Here are some ways the lungo is used in popular drinks:

  1. Lungo Macchiato: This drink combines a lungo shot with a dollop of foamed milk on top. The foamed milk adds a creamy texture to the strong lungo coffee.
  2. Lungo Latte: A lungo latte is made by combining a lungo shot with steamed milk. This creates a smooth and milky coffee beverage that still maintains the intense flavors of the lungo.
  3. Lungo Flat White: Similar to the lungo latte, this drink combines a lungo shot with steamed milk. However, it has less milk compared to a regular latte, resulting in a stronger flavor.
  4. Lungo Cappuccino: This variation of the cappuccino uses a lungo shot instead of an espresso shot. It is then topped with equal parts steamed milk and foamed milk, creating a rich and frothy coffee beverage.

Choosing Between Cortado and Lungo

When deciding between a cortado and a lungo, it’s important to consider your personal preferences and the specific occasion you’re choosing the coffee for.

Considering personal preferences

When choosing between a cortado and lungo, personal preferences play a significant role in the decision-making process.

It’s important to think about what kind of flavor profile you enjoy – do you prefer a balanced taste with a creamy texture, like the cortado? Or are you more inclined towards a strong and intense coffee experience, like the lungo offers?

Consider your preferred strength and appearance when making your choice. It all comes down to what appeals to your taste buds and satisfies your coffee cravings.

Determine the appropriate occasion

Knowing when to choose between Cortado and Lungo depends on your personal preference and the occasion. Each coffee has its own unique characteristics that make it suitable for different situations.

If you prefer a bolder and stronger coffee flavor, you might opt for a Lungo. On the other hand, if you enjoy a smoother and less intense taste with just the right amount of milk, then a Cortado might be more suitable.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which coffee best fits your tastes and the specific setting or moment in which you’ll be enjoying it.


When it comes to choosing between a Cortado and a Lungo, it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and the occasion. If you prefer a small, creamy espresso with a balanced flavor, then the Cortado is for you.

If you enjoy a longer coffee with more volume and a bolder taste, then the Lungo is your best bet. Either way, both drinks offer unique characteristics that can enhance your coffee experience.

So go ahead and explore the world of coffee by trying out these different types of beverages!


What is the difference between a Cortado and Lungo?

A cortado is made from espresso topped with steamed milk while a lungo is a long espresso, which uses double the amount of water as compared to a normal espresso.

How does cortado taste like?

Cortados have less milk than most coffee types, allowing for a strong coffee flavor. They are sweeter too because they’re served in glass and not an espresso cup.

What kind of coffees can you compare with Lungo?

Lungos can be compared to American black coffee or drip coffee due to its relatively larger volume but it’s actually made using an espresso machine.

Is there two shots of Espresso in Cortado and Lungo each?

No, In general terms, when making an espresso-based drink like Cortado or Macchiato we use only one shot of Espresso; however Two shots (or ‘Doppio’ in Italian) are typically used for brewing Lungos.

Do Coffee shops make their own versions of Cortado vs Lungo?

Yes! Many popular coffees offered by different Coffee shops give us their own spin on famous blends including ‘cortados’ and ‘lungos’.

How do I start my day- with Cortado or Lungo?

It depends on your taste! If you prefer milky yet strong coffee flavour then you should go for morning cortados whereas if you need your caffeine kick then opt for dark & hot lungos.

About the Author:
Emily Thompson is an enthusiastic guide in the world of coffee, sharing her expertise in flavors, brewing techniques, and cultural significance. Her journey, fueled by a deep love for coffee, involves educating coffee enthusiasts of all levels to enhance their coffee experiences. Emily's content spans from brewing guides to the cultural importance of coffee, emphasizing ethical sourcing and sustainability.