Espresso vs Lungo

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Two cups of espresso on a table next to coffee beans.
Table of Contents
Two cups of espresso on a table next to coffee beans.

Are you caught in the perplexing world of coffee choices like espresso and lungo? These two styles, both born from finely-ground coffee beans, can appear quite similar yet conceal distinct differences.

In this blog post, we’ll help demystify these brews by exploring their origins, brewing techniques, flavors, and uses. Let’s dive into the rich realm of espresso and lungo – a journey sure to refine your caffeine sipping experience!

Espresso vs Lungo

The difference between Espresso and Lungo is determined by the extraction time and the volume of the resultant shot. Espresso is the standard coffee shot, extracted with a specific amount of water over a short period, delivering a balanced yet intense flavor in a small volume. It forms the foundation for many coffee beverages due to its rich and bold taste.

On the other hand, a Lungo, meaning “long” in Italian, is drawn out with more water for a longer extraction time, producing a larger, more diluted coffee shot. While still carrying the characteristics of an espresso, a Lungo offers a milder flavor profile.

In choosing between Espresso and Lungo, it’s a matter of intensity and volume preference. For a stronger, more concentrated shot, go with Espresso; for a lighter, larger serving, choose Lungo.

Key Takeaways

  • Espresso is a strong and concentrated coffee made with high pressure and temperature, while lungo is a longer version of espresso that uses double the amount of water for a milder taste.
  • Espresso originated in Italy in the early 20th century, while lungo originated in Europe and spread after World War II.
  • The brewing process for espresso and lungo involves specific water-to-coffee ratios, extraction times, and high pressure and temperature.
  • Espresso has an intense flavor with hints of chocolate or caramel, while lungo has a milder taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste.


Espresso is a strong and concentrated coffee beverage that is made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans using high pressure and temperature. On the other hand, lungo is a longer version of espresso which uses double the amount of water to create a less concentrated coffee shot.

Espresso Definition

Espresso is a type of coffee. It comes from Italy and people love it for its strong taste and smell. To make one, you push hot water through very fine coffee grounds with an espresso machine.

A shot of espresso uses about 30 milliliters of water. The result is a small amount but it has a bold flavor! This makes espresso the base for many popular drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.

Lungo Definition

A lungo is a type of coffee drink. It uses an espresso machine to make it. A lungo uses the same amount of coffee as a single shot of espresso, but twice the water. This makes a big cup of coffee that has more caffeine.

To make a lungo, you need to let the water run through the coffee for longer than an espresso. That’s why it is called “lungo”. In Italian, “lungo” means long. Despite using more water and taking longer time to brew, a lungo still holds strong flavor like an espresso does.

Historical Origins

Espresso, originating from Italy in the early 20th century, is a highly concentrated coffee beverage that became popular due to its intense flavor and rich crema. Lungo, on the other hand, originated in Europe and is known for its longer extraction time, resulting in a milder taste with more pronounced bitterness.

Espresso Origins

Espresso got its start in Venice, Italy. A businessman named Luigi Bezzera thought of it in the early 20th century. Espresso comes from a Latin word, exprimere. It means “pressed out.” The name tells us about how we make this coffee.

Luigi Bezzera gave life to espresso around 100 years ago in Milan, Italy. His goal was not to make a new kind of coffee drink but to do it quicker. But his quick method led to a different taste and style that people loved right away.

Lungo Origins

The origins of lungo coffee can be traced back to 20th century Italy. It is believed that lungo was invented through experimentation with espresso. Italy has a rich espresso culture and is known for its high-quality coffee.

After the Second World War, Italian soldiers helped spread the tradition of espresso lungo to other parts of the world. A lungo shot uses the same amount of ground coffee as an espresso but introduces more water to extend extraction time.

Although it is roughly the size of a double shot, a lungo differs in terms of the amount of water used.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for both espresso and lungo involves a specific water and coffee ratio, extraction time, and the use of pressure and temperature.

Water and Coffee Ratio

In brewing espresso and lungo, the water-to-coffee ratio is an important factor to consider. A lungo has a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:3, which means that for every gram of coffee used, three grams of water are added.

Espresso typically has a ratio of 1:2, with two grams of water used for every gram of coffee. This difference in ratios results in variations in strength and flavor between the two drinks.

Pay attention to this ratio when brewing to ensure you get the desired taste and intensity from your espresso or lungo shot.

Extraction Time

Brewing espresso takes around 20 to 30 seconds, while making a lungo requires a longer extraction time of 45 to 60 seconds. This difference in brewing duration affects the volume and strength of the drink.

A standard espresso shot is about 1 oz in size, whereas a lungo shot typically yields around 3.7 oz. The extended extraction time allows for more water to pass through the coffee grounds, resulting in a larger and stronger beverage with a more complex flavor profile.

So, if you prefer a bolder taste and more volume, you might enjoy brewing a lungo instead of an espresso.

Pressure and Temperature

The pressure and temperature of the water used in brewing espresso and lungo shots are important factors that affect their taste and consistency. For optimal flavor, espresso is typically brewed at temperatures between 90-96 °C (194-205 °F).

Both espresso and lungo are brewed using high pressure to extract the flavors from the coffee grounds. The temperature of the water used can impact the taste, aroma, and overall quality of the espresso.

So, getting these factors right is crucial for a delicious cup of espresso or lungo.

Flavor and Aroma Differences

Espresso is known for its intense and concentrated flavor, with a rich aroma that often has hints of chocolate or caramel. Lungo, on the other hand, has a milder taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste and a more subtle aroma.


Espresso is a type of coffee that is made by using finely ground coffee beans and applying high pressure to extract the flavors. It has a strong and intense taste, which many people enjoy.

Espresso has a lower caffeine content compared to other types of coffee, but it still provides a nice energy boost. When brewing espresso, the process is quick as it only takes about 25-30 seconds for the shot to be pulled.

This results in a concentrated flavor profile with notes of bitterness and sweetness. If you prefer a bold and rich taste in your coffee, espresso might be the perfect choice for you.


A lungo is a type of coffee that is brewed longer than an espresso. It has a longer serving size compared to an espresso, with around 3.7 ounces versus 1.35 ounces for an espresso.

The extended brewing process gives the lungo a more bitter taste and brings out smoky notes. While it still has fruity flavors, they are not as pronounced as in an espresso. The crema on top of a lungo is thinner and lighter compared to the rich crema on an espresso.

Despite having a milder flavor, a well-made lungo contains more caffeine than an espresso does.

Caffeine Content

Espresso has a higher caffeine content compared to lungo due to its concentrated nature, while lungo has slightly less caffeine because it is brewed with more water.

Espresso Caffeine Content

Espresso is known for its strong and concentrated taste, but it also packs a good amount of caffeine. A single shot of espresso contains approximately 63 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per ounce.

This means that if you order a regular one-ounce shot at your local coffee shop, you’ll be getting around 63 mg of caffeine in that small cup. It’s important to note that the USDA recommends a daily caffeine limit of 400 mg to avoid negative effects like jitters or trouble sleeping.

So, if you’re watching your caffeine intake, it’s essential to keep track of how many shots of espresso you consume throughout the day.

Lungo Caffeine Content

A lungo has a higher caffeine content compared to espresso. When you have a shot of lungo, it contains around 94 milligrams of caffeine, while a shot of espresso only has about 64 milligrams.

This is because the longer brewing time allows more caffeine to be extracted from the coffee grounds. With lungo, more coffee and water are in contact during the brewing process, resulting in a higher caffeine content.

If you’re looking for a coffee with a stronger kick of caffeine, choosing lungo is a good option.

Uses in Popular Drinks

Espresso is commonly used as the base for popular drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos. Meanwhile, lungo is often enjoyed on its own or used to make a long black coffee by pouring hot water over it.

Espresso in Popular Drinks

Espresso is a versatile coffee base that is used in a variety of popular drinks. Here are some examples:

  • Latte: A latte is made by combining espresso with steamed milk and a small amount of frothed milk on top.
  • Cappuccino: Similar to a latte, a cappuccino also combines espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. However, the proportions are different, with equal parts of each ingredient.
  • Americano: An americano is made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso. This creates a milder coffee flavor similar to drip coffee.
  • Mocha: A mocha combines espresso with chocolate syrup or powder and steamed milk. It is often topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.
  • Macchiato: A macchiato is made by adding a small amount of frothed milk to a shot of espresso. The result is a strong coffee flavor with just a touch of creamy texture.

Lungo in Popular Drinks

Lungo coffee is a versatile option that can be used in a variety of popular drinks. Here are some ways you can enjoy lungo:

  • Lungo Americano: This drink is made by adding hot water to a lungo shot, creating a smooth and aromatic cup of coffee.
  • Lungo Latte: A lungo shot can be combined with steamed milk to make a creamy and flavorful latte.
  • Long Black: Similar to an Americano, this drink combines a lungo shot with hot water, resulting in a rich and robust flavor.
  • Lungo Macchiato: For those who enjoy a touch of milk in their coffee, add just a dash of steamed milk to a lungo shot for a delicious macchiato.
  • Lungo Mocha: Add some chocolate syrup or cocoa powder to a lungo shot, then top it off with steamed milk and whipped cream for an indulgent mocha experience.

Choosing Between Espresso and Lungo

When it comes to choosing between espresso and lungo, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and the occasion.

Considering personal preferences

Choosing between espresso and lungo ultimately depends on your personal preferences. If you enjoy a strong, intense flavor with a smaller volume, then espresso is the way to go. On the other hand, if you prefer a milder taste with a larger serving size, lungo may be more suitable for you.

It’s all about finding the right balance between flavor intensity and volume that satisfies your coffee cravings. So whether you like it bold or smooth, make your choice based on what tickles your taste buds!

Determine the appropriate occasion

To determine the appropriate occasion for either espresso or lungo, you need to consider your personal preferences and what kind of coffee experience you want. If you prefer a shorter and more intense coffee shot, espresso is ideal for you.

Espresso is great for quick enjoyment or when you need a boost of energy. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a longer coffee drink to savor and enjoy, lungo is more suitable.

Lungo works well when you have time to relax and indulge in a flavorful cup of coffee. It can also be used as the base for espresso-based beverages like lattes and cappuccinos. Ultimately, the choice between espresso or lungo depends on your taste preference and the occasion at hand.


In the debate of Espresso vs. Lungo, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both have their unique characteristics and flavors. Espresso is strong and intense, while Lungo offers a milder taste with a longer finish.

Whether you prefer a concentrated shot or a larger serving size, there’s no right or wrong choice – it all depends on what you enjoy in your coffee experience. So go ahead and savor your favorite cup of Joe, whether it’s an Espresso or a Lungo.


What’s the difference between espresso and lungo?

The main difference between espresso and lungo is how they are made. Espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee while a lungo uses twice as many grams of ground coffee to make, takes longer to pull, and has more water.

How does an espresso taste compared to a lungo?

An espresso tastes stronger due to its concentrated flavor while a Lungo has less intense flavor because it lets the espresso shot run longer.

Can I use my Nespresso machine to make both drinks?

Yes, you can both make an Espresso and a Lungo using different Nespresso capsules like the regular Espresso capsule or the Nespresso Lungo Capsule such as Vivalto Lungo or Linizio Lungo in your Nespresso machine.

Which has more caffeine – traditional espresso or lungo?

Despite being larger in volume, a lungo doesn’t have more caffeine than regular espresso since both are made with similar grams of coffee using an espresso machine.

Do you need special beans for making either drink?

You do not need special beans but different coffee blends can bring out variations in their respective flavors when used for extracting either an Espresso or Lungos.

Have you heard about Ristretto beside Espresso vs Lungi debate?

Yes, ristretto is another variety of coffee that’s even stronger than traditional espressos due to smaller dose of ground coffees.

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.