Do I Use Espresso or Lungo for Latte?

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A person is making coffee in a coffee shop, Lungo Coffee.
Table of Contents
A person is making coffee in a coffee shop, Lungo Coffee.

Are you a coffee enthusiast wondering whether to use espresso or lungo for your latte? It’s an important decision, as it can significantly impact the taste of your drink. In this blog post, we will demystify these terms and help you understand how each affects your favorite latte.

Let’s dive in and explore the world of perfectly brewed lattes!

Do I Use Espresso or Lungo for Latte?

For a latte, you typically use espresso, not lungo. A traditional latte comprises one or more shots of espresso combined with steamed milk and topped with a small amount of milk foam.

The concentrated nature of the espresso shot provides a robust coffee flavor, which harmoniously blends with the milk, making it the preferred choice for this drink. On the other hand, a lungo is a longer extraction, producing a milder coffee taste.

Using a lungo for a latte could dilute the coffee flavor, resulting in a less pronounced coffee profile against the milk. For those desiring a strong coffee presence in their latte, espresso is the go-to choice.

Key Takeaways

  • Espresso and lungo are two different types of coffee that can be used as a base for making lattes.
  • Espresso has a stronger, more concentrated flavor, while lungo is milder and produces more volume of coffee.
  • The choice between espresso or lungo for your latte depends on your personal preference for taste and volume.
  • Consider factors like flavor profile, coffee strength, volume desired, milk pairing, and brewing method when selecting the type of coffee for your latte.

Understanding the Differences between Espresso, Lungo, and Latte

Espresso, lungo, and latte are three distinct types of coffee beverages that vary in preparation and taste.

Definition and preparation of espresso

Espresso is a rich and strong coffee drink. You make it by forcing hot water through very fine ground coffee. An espresso machine does this job well. The drink has a slightly bitter taste because of the concentrated coffee used in it.

To get the right flavor, you need to use just enough water to get one shot of espresso. This method lets you enjoy all the bold and full flavors that coffee can give!

Definition and preparation of lungo

Lungo is a type of coffee that uses more water and a longer extraction time than espresso. It has a milder taste compared to espresso, but it produces more volume of coffee. To make lungo, you use the same amount of coffee as an espresso shot but increase the amount of water used.

This allows for a slower extraction process and results in a larger cup of coffee with a less intense flavor. Lungo shots are commonly used as the base for lattes because their mild taste pairs well with steamed milk.

You can prepare lungo using an espresso machine, which gives you control over the water flow and extraction time.

Definition and preparation of latte

A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and milk. It involves pouring steamed milk and milk foam over a shot or two of espresso. To make a latte, you will need an espresso machine to brew the espresso shots.

The brewed espresso is then combined with steamed milk, which gives the latte its creamy texture. Some people also choose to add flavorings like caramel or vanilla syrup to their lattes for extra taste.

Lattes are popular choices among coffee lovers who enjoy the combination of strong coffee flavor and smooth, frothy milk.

Choosing the Right Coffee for a Latte

When selecting coffee for a latte, consider the flavor profiles of espresso and lungo and factors like taste preferences and caffeine strength.

Comparing the flavor profiles of espresso and lungo

The flavor profiles of espresso and lungo differ significantly due to the extraction times and water volume used in their preparation. These differences affect the overall flavor, intensity, and volume of the resulting coffee drink.

Espresso boasts a full, rich, and slightly bitter taste due to its concentrated nature.Lungo has a milder taste compared to espresso but provides more volume due to the use of more water in its preparation.
An espresso is more concentrated and intense, which makes it ideal for those who seek a robust coffee experience.The lungo shot is intended to provide a longer coffee experience, making it suitable for those who prefer a larger, milder coffee.
Espresso is typically used as a base for various coffee drinks due to its robust and full-bodied flavor.Lungo shots are commonly used as the base for lattes, as the milder flavor blends well with the steamed milk.

In deciding between espresso and lungo for your latte, consider your personal taste preference. If you prefer a stronger, more intense coffee flavor, an espresso base might be best. However, if you enjoy a larger, less intense coffee experience, a lungo shot could be your ideal choice.

Factors to consider when selecting coffee for a latte

When selecting coffee for a latte, there are a few factors to consider:

  1. Flavor profile: Think about the taste you want in your latte. Espresso has a concentrated and slightly bitter flavor, while lungo coffee is milder. Choose based on your preference.
  2. Coffee strength: Consider how strong you like your coffee to be. If you prefer a stronger taste, go for espresso. If you want a milder coffee flavor, opt for lungo.
  3. Volume: Determine how much coffee you want in your latte. Espresso shots are smaller and more concentrated, while lungo shots have more volume. Decide based on how much coffee you’d like in your drink.
  4. Milk pairing: Consider how well the coffee will blend with milk in your latte. Lungo’s milder flavor tends to mix well with steamed milk, creating a balanced taste experience.
  5. Brewing method: Evaluate the equipment at hand for making the coffee – an espresso machine or other brewing methods that can produce espresso or lungo shots consistently.

Tips for Making a Delicious Latte

Master the art of steaming milk to achieve a velvety texture and creamy consistency for your latte.

Techniques for steaming milk

  • Start by filling a pitcher with cold milk, making sure not to overfill it.
  • Place the steam wand of your milk frother into the pitcher, making sure it is submerged just below the surface of the milk.
  • Turn on the steam wand and position it at an angle in order to create a swirling motion in the milk.
  • Steam the milk until it reaches a temperature between 150°F and 155°F, using a thermometer to ensure accuracy.
  • Keep an eye on the texture of the milk while steaming – you want to create microfoam by incorporating air into the milk, resulting in velvety smooth texture.
  • Once the desired temperature is reached and the milk has been properly steamed, turn off the steam wand and remove it from the pitcher.
  • Give the pitcher a few light taps on a counter or table to remove any large bubbles from the foam.
  • Swirl or gently stir the steamed milk to distribute any remaining bubbles evenly throughout.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to steaming milk for lattes. It may take some time and experimentation to achieve your preferred texture and consistency.

Proper espresso-to-milk ratio

The proper espresso-to-milk ratio is important for making a delicious latte. When steaming milk, it’s recommended to use a 1:3 ratio of espresso to milk. This means that for every one shot of espresso, you should use three parts milk.

This balance allows the flavor of the coffee to shine through without overpowering it with too much milk. It also ensures that your latte has the right consistency and creaminess. By following this ratio, you can create a well-balanced and enjoyable latte every time.

Optional additions for flavoring

  • Add a flavored syrup, such as vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut, to your latte for a sweet and aromatic touch.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa powder on top of your latte for a hint of warmth and added flavor.
  • Experiment with different spices like nutmeg, cardamom, or ginger to create unique and festive lattes.
  • Infuse your milk with flavors by steeping it with herbs like lavender or rosemary before steaming it for your latte.
  • For a decadent treat, drizzle chocolate syrup or caramel sauce over the foam of your latte.
  • Try adding a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream on top of your latte for an indulgent twist.


When it comes to making a latte, both espresso and lungo can be used. It ultimately depends on your personal preference for flavor and volume. If you enjoy a stronger and more concentrated coffee taste, then espresso is the way to go.

If you prefer a milder flavor with more volume, then lungo is a great choice. Experiment with both options to find the perfect latte that suits your taste buds!


What kind of coffee should I use for a latte?

For a latte, you should use espresso. It is stronger than lungo or weaker coffee types.

Can I use a lungo instead of an espresso for my latte?

You can, but it may result in a weaker taste as lungo is more diluted than espresso.

Why do baristas often choose espresso over lungo for lattes and cappuccinos?

Baristas prefer to use espresso because it gives the coffee with milk drinks like lattes and cappuccinos their rich flavor.

Is there any difference if I make my latte with pods, capsules, or fresh coffee beans?

Yes! Freshly ground coffee beans often give your latte macchiato a stronger flavor compared to using pods or capsules that might have been on the shelf longer.

About the Author:
Oliver Bennett, a seasoned barista, focuses on the technical aspects of coffee-making. His journey from local cafes to specialty coffee shops has equipped him with skills in the science of coffee, from grind size to latte art. Oliver's articles and how-to videos delve into brewing techniques and coffee science, fostering a community of home baristas and elevating the home coffee experience.