Flat White vs Lungo

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A person pouring a flat white into a cup of coffee.
Table of Contents
A person pouring a flat white into a cup of coffee.

Choosing between a flat white and lungo can be confusing with all the different types of coffee out there. Did you know that each has unique characteristics, brewing process, and flavor profiles? In this article, we’ll walk through every important difference between these two popular espresso drinks.

Ready to become a true coffee connoisseur? Read on!

Flat White vs Lungo

Comparing a flat white to a lungo involves diving into their distinct preparation methods and taste experiences. A flat white originates from Australia/New Zealand and is crafted with a double shot of espresso combined with microfoamed milk.

The milk’s velvety texture sets it apart, yielding a creamy coffee drink without the dense froth of a cappuccino. In contrast, a lungo is an elongated espresso shot produced by allowing more water to pass through the coffee grounds.

This creates a milder, larger volume espresso without any milk addition. So, while a flat white offers a harmonious blend of strong espresso and silky milk, a lungo presents an undiluted, extended espresso flavor.

Key Takeaways

  • A flat white is made with espresso, steamed milk, and a thin layer of foam on top. It has a rich flavor and smooth texture.
  • A lungo is an espresso-based drink made by extracting more water through the coffee grounds. It has a larger volume of liquid but with less intensity compared to regular espresso shots.
  • The brewing process differs between flat whites and lungos in terms of water-to-coffee ratio, extraction time, pressure, and temperature.
  • Flat whites have a subtle sweetness and nutty hints in their flavor profile, while lungos are bolder with intense bitterness and pronounced acidity.


The flat white is a type of coffee that consists of a shot or two of espresso combined with steamed milk and a thin layer of foam on top. The lungo, on the other hand, is an espresso-based drink made by extracting more water through the coffee grounds, resulting in a larger volume of liquid but with less intensity compared to regular espresso shots.

Flat White Definition

A flat white is a coffee drink full of taste. It uses espresso and microfoam to bring out the coffee flavor. The usual recipe has two parts of espresso mixed with three parts milk.

Whole milk and espresso make up the base of this drink. This is not just a small latte but a unique coffee type on its own! In some places, if you can’t find a flat white, they might serve you a small latte instead.

Lungo Definition

Lungo is a type of coffee drink. It comes from Italy and the name means “long.” This is because it takes more water to make than a typical espresso. A lungo shot uses 2-3 times as much water as an espresso.

So, it has a bigger size close to a doppio or double shot of espresso.

The way you make lungo gives it its own taste. The longer time we use to pull the shot can cause the flavor to be not as strong as in an espresso shot. But this also makes Lungo shots good for being used at the base of other coffee drinks like flat white.

Historical Origins

The historical origins of the flat white can be traced back to Australia and New Zealand, where it originated in the 1980s as a popular choice among espresso enthusiasts. On the other hand, the lungo has its roots in Italy, known for its espresso culture that dates back to the 19th century.

Flat White Origins

The flat white was born in the 1980s. Australia and New Zealand both say they made it first. This type of coffee became a big hit at cafes during that time in Australia. Now, people all over the world can enjoy flat white coffee.

Its story is part of why it’s so loved by coffee fans today.

Lungo Origins

Lungo coffee has its origins in Italy. The word “lungo” means “long” in Italian, which is fitting because a lungo is made by pulling an espresso shot for a longer amount of time with more water.

This technique results in a coffee that has a milder flavor and less intensity compared to regular espresso. Lungo coffee has become popular among those who prefer a larger cup of coffee with a smoother taste.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for a flat white and lungo differs in terms of water and coffee ratio, extraction time, pressure, and temperature.

Water and Coffee Ratio

The ratio of water to coffee is really important when brewing a flat white or lungo. For a flat white, you’ll need a 1:1 ratio of double ristretto (a short shot of espresso) to steamed milk.

This means you use the same amount of coffee as you do milk. On the other hand, a lungo shot requires more water than espresso, usually in a ratio of 1:3-4. That means for every part of ground coffee, you use three to four parts water.

So remember, whether it’s for a rich and creamy flat white or a strong and bold lungo shot, getting the right balance between water and coffee is key!

Extraction Time

The extraction time is an important factor in brewing both flat whites and lungos. For a perfect espresso shot, the extraction time usually takes around 25-30 seconds. On the other hand, a lungo shot requires a longer extraction time that lasts about 20-25 seconds.

The longer extraction time of a lungo allows for more water to be used, resulting in a stronger and more intense flavor profile. It’s worth noting that ristretto shots have a shorter extraction time and use less water, giving them a richer and bolder taste.

While the exact duration for extracting a long shot may vary, it typically lasts at least 30 seconds.

Pressure and Temperature

To create the perfect cup of coffee, pressure and temperature play a crucial role in the brewing process. The Specialty Coffee Association recommends a brew temperature between 92-96 °C for optimal extraction.

This means that the water used should be heated to this range before coming into contact with the coffee grounds. The brew temperature significantly impacts the flavors and characteristics of the coffee, resulting in different taste profiles for different drinks like flat whites or lungos.

It’s important to understand and control these factors to achieve your desired taste and quality of coffee.

Flavor and Aroma Differences

The flavor of a flat white is rich and smooth, with a subtle sweetness and hints of nuttiness. The aroma is mellow and inviting. On the other hand, a lungo has a bolder flavor with intense bitterness and a more pronounced acidity.

The aroma of a lungo is strong and robust.

Flat White

A Flat White is a type of coffee that is made with a strong espresso shot and steamed milk. It originated in Australia and New Zealand and has become popular worldwide. Unlike other coffee drinks like lattes or cappuccinos, the ratio of espresso to milk in a Flat White is typically 1:3, which means there’s less milk compared to other drinks.

This results in a more concentrated flavor where the bold and robust taste of the espresso shines through. The smaller volume of milk also gives the Flat White its smooth, velvety texture, making it a favorite among coffee enthusiasts who enjoy an intense caffeine kick with every sip.


A lungo is a longer shot of espresso that typically has a serving size of 3.7 ounces. The word “lungo” comes from the Italian language and means “long,” which refers to the larger volume of water used to make this type of coffee.

Lungos are made with more finely ground coffee, resulting in a very intense flavor and heavy aroma. They offer customization options by allowing different ratios to be used, which can affect the taste and strength of the beverage.

If you prefer a stronger and more aromatic coffee experience, a lungo might be the perfect choice for you.

Caffeine Content

The caffeine content in a flat white varies depending on the size and number of shots, with a single shot containing around 63-128 mg of caffeine, while a lungo typically has more caffeine due to its longer extraction time.

Flat White Caffeine Content

A flat white is a coffee drink that contains two shots of espresso, which gives it a moderate caffeine content. On average, a cup of flat white has around 136mg of caffeine. This means that if you’re looking for a little pick-me-up in the morning or throughout the day, a flat white can provide you with the energy boost you need.

However, if you prefer something with even more caffeine, doppio (espresso double shot) might be a better option as it contains 150mg per serving. It’s important to note that the size of your cup will also affect the overall caffeine content.

So if you’re someone who needs an extra kick to start your day, consider ordering a larger size or opting for an additional shot of espresso in your flat white.

Lungo Caffeine Content

lungo coffee is known for its higher caffeine content compared to regular espresso. This is because a lungo shot requires more water and has a longer extraction time, resulting in a stronger caffeine concentration.

On average, a lungo contains around 50-100 mg of caffeine per ounce, making it more potent than your average cup of espresso. The increased caffeine levels also contribute to the bitter taste that is characteristic of lungo coffee.

In fact, a 2 fl oz cup of lungo contains about 94 mg of caffeine, which is significantly higher than the amount found in a standard double espresso shot. So if you’re looking for an extra punch of energy, opting for a lungo might be the way to go!

Uses in Popular Drinks

The flat white is often used as a base for popular drinks like the mocha, while the lungo is commonly used in iced coffee and other specialty beverages.

Flat White in Popular Drinks

A flat white is a popular coffee drink that can be found in many cafes and coffee shops. It is known for its smooth and velvety texture, which comes from the microfoamed milk used in its preparation. Here are some popular drinks that feature a flat white:

  • Flat White Macchiato: This is a variation of the traditional flat white where a small amount of foam or chocolate is added on top of the drink for added flavor and presentation.
  • Iced Flat White: A refreshing version of the flat white, served over ice. It provides a cool and creamy experience, perfect for hot summer days.
  • Flat White Mocha: This drink combines the rich flavors of a mocha with the smoothness of a flat white. It typically includes chocolate syrup or powder mixed with espresso and microfoamed milk.
  • Flat White Latte: This is essentially a hybrid between a flat white and latte, with equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It offers a balanced taste with less foam on top compared to a traditional latte.
  • Caramel Flat White: For those who enjoy sweet and creamy drinks, this variation adds caramel syrup or sauce to the classic flat white recipe. The caramel complements the smoothness of the milk and espresso perfectly.

Lungo in Popular Drinks

A lungo can serve as the base for many popular drinks. Here are some examples:

  • Cappuccino: A lungo can be combined with equal parts steamed milk and foam to create a delicious cappuccino.
  • Flat White: By using a lungo instead of a regular espresso shot, you can make a flat white that has a milder flavor but is still creamy and smooth.
  • Latte: A lungo can also be used as the base for a latte, which is made by adding steamed milk and a small layer of foam on top of the lungo.
  • Macchiato: Add a small amount of milk or foam to a lungo to make an espresso macchiato, which is perfect for those who enjoy a strong coffee flavor with just a hint of milk.

Choosing Between Flat White and Lungo

Consider your personal preferences and the occasion when deciding between a flat white or lungo.

Considering personal preferences

Choosing between a flat white and a lungo ultimately depends on your personal preferences. If you like your coffee strong and rich, with a creamy mouthfeel, then the flat white might be the right choice for you.

If you prefer a larger drink with a milder taste, then the lungo could be more to your liking. It’s all about what texture and boldness of flavor you prefer in your coffee.

Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision based on what suits your tastes best.

Determine the appropriate occasion

To determine which coffee to choose between a flat white and a lungo, you need to consider the occasion. If you’re looking for a strong and intense coffee experience, the lungo may be more suitable.

It has a larger volume of coffee, making it great for mornings or when you need an extra boost of energy. On the other hand, if you prefer a smoother and milder taste with velvety milk texture, the flat white is perfect for relaxing moments or when you want to savor your coffee without added syrups or flavors.

So, whether it’s starting your day off right or enjoying some downtime, choosing between these two coffees depends on what suits the occasion best.


The flat white and lungo are two distinct coffee drinks that cater to different preferences. The flat white offers a concentrated espresso flavor with a velvety texture, while the lungo provides a strong caffeine kick due to its longer extraction time.

When choosing between the two, consider your personal taste preference and the occasion for which you’re drinking it.


What is the difference between a flat white and a lungo?

A flat white is made with two espresso shots and milk foam, while a lungo is like an americano but has twice as much hot water to dilute the coffee.

Can I make a flat white or latte at home using my coffee machine?

Yes! To make your own flat white, you will need espresso coffee beans, steamed milk with little to no foam on top and the right ratio of coffee to milk.

How does taste differ in cappuccino, latte, and a flat white?

In terms of flavor, cappuccino has more froth while latte has more milk. Flat whites use less froth than both – having only a thin layer of milk foam.

What’s similar about traditional espresso drinks like Americanos and Lungos?

Both drinks involve pouring hot water over an espresso shot; however the amount in Lungo makes it taste milder compared to an Americano

Can I create Latte art on my Flat White at home?

Making fancy patterns may require practice; pour steamed milk into your cup slowly making sure not to disrupt that thin layer of foam that’s typical of a good Flat White.

Is there any practical tip for understanding coffee types better?

Sure! The next time you’re at your local café ask the barista questions about different coffees like ‘café au lait’ or ‘cortado’, they’d be happy explaining differences including texture created by varying amounts of steamy milky goodness in each cup.

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.