Do You Make Cappuccino with Espresso or Lungo?

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A cup of coffee sits on a table next to flowers.

Are you in a dilemma over what base should be used to make a delicious cappuccino – espresso or lungo? Here’s an interesting fact: cappuccinos are traditionally made with espresso, but there’s no hard and fast rule that stops you from using lungo instead.

This article will serve as your comprehensive guide on how these two coffee bases can be used to create the perfect cup of cappuccino! Intrigued? Let’s brew it up.

Do You Make Cappuccino with Espresso or Lungo?

Do you make cappuccino with espresso or lungo? Traditionally, cappuccinos are made using espresso as the coffee base.

A classic cappuccino consists of equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. The robust intensity of the espresso is vital to balance the milkiness, ensuring a harmonious blend of flavors and textures in every sip. While a lungo is a longer extraction and has more volume than an espresso, it tends to be milder in flavor.

Using a lungo as the base for a cappuccino might result in a less pronounced coffee taste, potentially overshadowed by the milk. For the authentic cappuccino experience, sticking with espresso is recommended.

Key Takeaways

  • Cappuccinos are traditionally made with espresso, but you can also use lungo as a base.
  • Espresso is thick and strong, while lungo is milder in flavor.
  • To make cappuccino with espresso, brew a shot of espresso and froth milk to create a velvety foam.
  • Adjust milk proportions when using lungo as a base for a milder cappuccino.

The Difference Between Espresso and Lungo

Espresso is a strong, concentrated coffee shot made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans, while lungo is made by extracting more water and creating a longer shot.

What is Espresso?

Espresso is a type of coffee. It’s made by forcing hot water through very fine coffee grounds. This process makes it thick and strong. Espresso often comes in small amounts but packs a big punch of flavor and caffeine.

Many coffee drinks, like cappuccinos, use espresso as the main part or “base”. Some people even enjoy drinking espresso on its own because of its bold taste.

What is Lungo?

Lungo is a type of coffee that is similar to espresso but with a larger serving size. It is made by using more water and brewing the coffee for a longer time, resulting in a milder flavor compared to espresso.

A standard lungo shot has a serving size of 3.7 ounces, which is almost three times the size of an espresso shot. The longer brewing process extracts more caffeine from the coffee beans, making lungo shots slightly less intense than espressos but still packed with flavor.

Lungo can be enjoyed on its own or used as a base for other drinks like cappuccinos or lattes.

Making Cappuccino with Espresso

To make a cappuccino with espresso, start by brewing a fresh shot of espresso using your preferred method.

The traditional method

  1. Brew a fresh espresso shot using an espresso machine.
  2. Pour the espresso into a cup, leaving some space at the top for the milk and foam.
  3. In a separate container, heat the whole milk until it reaches around 150°F (65°C). This can be done using a milk frother or steamer.
  4. Once heated, froth the milk using the frother or steamer to create a velvety and thick foam.
  5. Slowly pour the frothed milk over the espresso in a circular motion, aiming to create equal parts of foam and steamed milk.
  6. Gently tap the bottom of the cup on a flat surface to remove any large bubbles in the foam.
  7. Your traditional cappuccino is now ready to be enjoyed!

Frothing milk for a perfect cappuccino

To achieve a perfect cappuccino, frothing the milk is essential. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start with cold milk, preferably whole milk for a rich foam.
  • Pour the desired amount of milk into a metal pitcher.
  • Insert the steam wand of your espresso machine into the pitcher.
  • Submerge the steam wand just below the surface of the milk.
  • Turn on the steam and position the pitcher at an angle to create a whirlpool effect.
  • As you froth, keep an eye on the temperature. The ideal temperature for steamed milk is around 150°F (65°C).
  • Once the milk has increased in volume and reached your desired temperature, turn off the steam.

Making Cappuccino with Lungo

Using Lungo as a milder alternative, adjust milk proportions for a balanced flavor.

Using Lungo as a milder alternative

Lungo can be a great option for those who prefer a milder flavor in their cappuccino. With a longer extraction time, lungo coffee has a larger serving size of 3.7 oz compared to espresso’s 1.35 oz.

This results in a less intense flavor profile that is still rich and satisfying. When making cappuccino with lungo, you can adjust the proportions of milk to achieve a balanced taste.

Whether using whole milk, low-fat milk, or skim milk foam, you can create a delicious cappuccino with the milder and smoother notes of lungo as your base.

Adjusting milk proportions for a balanced flavor

  • Use whole milk for a velvety and rich cappuccino foam.
  • Low-fat milk can be used, but it may result in a less rich flavor.
  • Skim milk foam is an option for those looking for a lighter cappuccino.
  • Experiment with different milk proportions to find the balance that suits your taste.
  • Remember, the consistency and taste of the foam can vary depending on the fat content of the milk used.


Whether you make cappuccino with espresso or lungo depends on your personal preference. If you enjoy a stronger and more intense flavor, then espresso is the way to go.

If you prefer a milder taste, then using lungo as the coffee base is a great option. Regardless of which one you choose, frothing the milk properly and achieving that perfect foam will be essential for a delicious homemade cappuccino experience.

So go ahead and experiment with both options to find your perfect cup of cappuccino!


How can I make a cappuccino with espresso or lungo?

You make a hot cappuccino using an espresso shot or lungo from your Nespresso machine. Add lowfat milk on top to finish.

Can I use a Nespresso Vertuo to make a cappuccino?

Yes! You can use the Nespresso Vertuo along with Nespresso capsules to create both espresso and lungo for your homemade cappuccino.

What is the difference between making an iced and hot cappuccino?

The main difference between them lies in the temperature of the milk. A hot cappuccino uses heated milk, while an iced one uses cold or chilled milk.

Can I be my own Barista at home using my Coffeehouse tools?

Sure! With your coffeehouse equipment like a Nespresso Lattissima machine, you can try out recipes for beverages like macchiato, mocha, americano and more besides just cappuccinos!

How does Espresso differ from Lungo when used in making Cappucinos?

Espressos are stronger because of their short brew time while Lungos have milder flavor due its longer water flow, hence they give different tastes to your finished Cappucinos.

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.