Macchiato vs Lungo

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A person pouring milk into a cup of coffee to make a macchiato.
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A person pouring milk into a cup of coffee to make a macchiato.

Can’t decide between a Macchiato and Lungo at your favorite coffee shop? Both Italian staples, these distinct espresso beverages have unique features that set them apart.

This blog post will guide you through their differences in brewing process, taste, caffeine content and more to help make your café selection less daunting.

Ready to ignite your coffee curiosity? Let’s dive in!

Macchiato vs Lungo

A macchiato is an espresso-based drink that’s “stained” or “spotted” with a small amount of frothy milk. The result is a strong coffee flavor with just a hint of creaminess. On the contrary, a lungo is a type of espresso, made by passing more water through the coffee grounds.

This longer extraction produces a more diluted espresso shot with a milder taste. While the macchiato provides a balance between bold espresso and soft milk, the lungo offers a gentler version of the robust espresso experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Macchiato is a small coffee drink with a shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and foam, while Lungo is a longer coffee made by extracting more water through the same amount of ground coffee as in an espresso shot.
  • Macchiato originated in Italy and was created as a way to mark or stain the espresso with a small amount of milk, while Lungo has its origins in French coffee culture and is a longer version of the traditional espresso shot.
  • The brewing process for Macchiato involves adding frothed milk to a shot of espresso, while Lungo uses more water and has a longer extraction time, resulting in a milder flavor compared to regular espresso.
  • Macchiato has bolder flavors with strong notes of espresso complemented by subtle hints of milk, while Lungo has milder taste with less pronounced espresso flavors and smoother finish.


The macchiato is a small coffee drink consisting of a shot of espresso topped with a dollop of steamed milk and foam. The lungo, on the other hand, is a long coffee made by extracting more water through the same amount of ground coffee as in an espresso shot.

Macchiato Definition

A macchiato is a coffee drink made from espresso. The term “macchiato” means “marked” or “stained” in Italian. You make it with a shot of espresso and add just one or two teaspoons of frothed milk on top.

This keeps the strong taste of the espresso, but adds a little bit of milkiness. A macchiato is larger than a cortado but not as big as café con leche.

Lungo Definition

Lungo is an Italian word that means ‘long’. This name stands for a type of coffee drink. It is like an espresso but has more water in it. In fact, it can be as big as two shots of regular espresso.

You can make lungo with one or two doses of ground coffee. The key part to remember is that the brewing process needs extra time and more hot water than espresso uses. This makes the taste less strong but the volume much bigger.

Historical Origins

The Macchiato originated in Italy, specifically in the coffee culture of Milan. It is believed to have been created as a way to “stain” or mark the espresso with a small amount of milk.

On the other hand, Lungo has its origins in French coffee culture and is a longer version of the traditional espresso shot.

Macchiato Origins

The macchiato was born in Italy during the 1980s. Cafés started making new types of coffee then. They came up with the macchiato to show it was not just an espresso shot. But, it is an espresso with a bit of milk added.

It has its name from the Italian word “macchiato”. This word means “marked”. So, this coffee drink is named after being “marked” by milk. The macchiato spread to other places too and changed along the way.

Lungo Origins

Lungo coffee has its historical origins associated with macchiato. It was first brewed in Italy around the 1980s. The term “Caffe Lungo” refers to the long extraction time of the initial espresso, which results in a watered-down version of espresso.

Lungo is made by draining more water through the coffee grounds, creating a milder flavor compared to a regular espresso shot. Today, lungo is enjoyed by many people as an alternative to stronger espresso drinks for those who prefer a lighter and less concentrated taste.

Brewing Process

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

Water and Coffee Ratio

The water and coffee ratio is an important factor in brewing the perfect cup of coffee. The golden ratio for brewing coffee is 1 gram of coffee to every 18 grams of water. This means that for a standard cup, you would need around 18 grams of water for every gram of coffee.

Adjustments can be made to this ratio depending on personal preferences. For a stronger cup, you can increase the amount of coffee or decrease the amount of water. For example, a lungo coffee, which is an espresso with more water, has a ratio of 1:4 – three times the amount of water compared to a regular espresso shot.

The brew ratio affects not only the strength but also the overall flavor and mouthfeel of your coffee. So make sure to experiment with different ratios until you find your perfect balance!

Extraction Time

The extraction time is an important factor in brewing both Macchiato and Lungo. For espresso, including Lungo, the perfect extraction time is usually around 20 to 25 seconds. This means that hot water is forced through the coffee grounds for this amount of time to extract the flavors and aromas.

Lungo extends the extraction time by running water through the coffee grounds for approximately 45 to 60 seconds. This longer extraction results in a milder and more diluted flavor compared to regular espresso.

In some cases, like at Starbucks, long shots involve an even longer extraction time of about 45 seconds. So when brewing either Macchiato or Lungo, it’s crucial to get the extraction time just right to achieve a delicious cup of coffee.

Pressure and Temperature

The pressure and temperature of the water used in brewing espresso can impact the flavor and consistency of the shots. These factors play a crucial role in extracting the flavors from the coffee beans.

Generally, a brewing pressure of 9 BAR or 8.8 atmospheres is considered ideal for making espresso. The temperature also plays a vital role, with variations based on personal preferences and machine capabilities.

Different machines may have varying brewing pressures, such as the DeLonghi Nespresso Lattissima Pro with a higher pressure of 19 BAR. Ultimately, finding the right balance between pressure and temperature is key to achieving that perfect shot of espresso.

Flavor and Aroma Differences

The flavor and aroma of a macchiato are bold and intense, with strong notes of espresso complemented by a subtle hint of milk. In contrast, a lungo has a milder taste with less pronounced espresso flavors and a smoother, slightly sweeter finish.


A macchiato is a type of coffee drink that has a strong and concentrated flavor. It is made by adding a small amount of steamed milk to a shot of espresso. The word “macchiato” means “stained” or “spotted” in Italian, referring to the way the milk stains or marks the espresso.

Macchiatos have less milk compared to lattes, which makes them more intense in taste. They are known for their frothy layer of milk on top of the espresso, giving them a smooth texture.

If you prefer a bold and flavorful coffee experience, then a macchiato might be the perfect choice for you.


A lungo is a type of coffee that is less concentrated and has flavor notes of nuts and caramel, with some bitterness. It is made by using more water and having a longer extraction time than a normal espresso.

The taste of a lungo is more subdued compared to an espresso or ristretto. You can enjoy a lungo plain or with milk.

Caffeine Content

Macchiato Caffeine Content: Macchiatos have a higher caffeine content due to the smaller amount of milk added.

Lungo Caffeine Content: Lungos have a lower caffeine content as they are diluted with more water.

Macchiato Caffeine Content

Macchiatos have an average caffeine content of around 136mg per serving. This is because they are traditionally made with a single shot of espresso, which contains about 212mg of caffeine.

So even though macchiatos may have some milk added to them, they still pack a caffeinated punch. If you’re looking for a stronger coffee drink, the macchiato might be the way to go.

The exact caffeine content can vary depending on factors like the size of the drink and how it’s prepared. But generally speaking, macchiatos are known for their higher caffeine content compared to other coffee drinks like lattes or cappuccinos.

Lungo Caffeine Content

A lungo has a higher caffeine content compared to a regular espresso shot. It contains about 50-100 mg of caffeine per ounce, with a 2 fl oz cup of lungo having approximately 94 mg of caffeine.

Some Nespresso Original line Lungo pods like Cape Town and Buenos Aires have even higher caffeine content, over 100 mg per serving. There is some debate about the exact amount of caffeine in a lungo, but it is generally agreed that it has more than an average espresso due to the longer extraction time.

So if you’re looking for a coffee with an extra kick of caffeine, choosing a lungo might be the way to go.

Uses in Popular Drinks

Macchiato in Popular Drinks: A macchiato is often used as a base for popular coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, with the addition of steamed milk and foam on top.

Lungo in Popular Drinks: Lungo shots are commonly used to make Americanos, where hot water is added to the shot of espresso, resulting in a flavorful and aromatic cup of brewed coffee.

Macchiato in Popular Drinks

A macchiato is a popular coffee drink that is often found in coffee shops around the world. It is made with a shot of espresso that is “stained” or “spotted” with a little bit of foamed milk.

This gives the macchiato its distinct flavor and appearance. Many people enjoy the rich, bold taste of the espresso combined with just a hint of creamy milk. The small size of a macchiato makes it perfect for those who want a quick pick-me-up without too much caffeine or milk.

Whether you’re an espresso lover or just looking to try something new, ordering a macchiato from your favorite coffee shop can be a delightful treat!

Lungo in Popular Drinks

A lungo is a popular coffee option in many different drinks. It is often associated with Nespresso machines and has a slightly longer extraction time compared to other espresso drinks.

The lungo uses twice the amount of water as an espresso, resulting in a larger cup of coffee. Despite using more water, it is not the same as an Americano, which is made by adding hot water to an espresso shot.

The lungo’s unique flavor and aroma make it a favorite choice for those who prefer a milder and less concentrated coffee taste. So if you’re looking for a larger cup of coffee with a smooth flavor profile, the lungo could be the perfect addition to your favorite drink.

Choosing Between Macchiato and Lungo

Consider your personal preferences and the occasion when deciding between a macchiato and lungo.

Considering personal preferences

When it comes to choosing between macchiato and lungo, personal preference plays a crucial role. Different people have different taste preferences when it comes to coffee. Some may enjoy the bold and intense flavor of a macchiato, while others may prefer the longer and milder taste of a lungo.

Factors such as brewing method, caffeine content, and aroma can also influence personal choices. Additionally, consumer behavior towards coffee and their buying habits can further impact one’s decision.

Choose what suits your own taste buds and brings you the most enjoyment from your coffee experience.

Determine the appropriate occasion

To determine the appropriate occasion for enjoying a macchiato or lungo, consider your personal preferences and the coffee experience you desire. If you prefer a strong and concentrated flavor, a macchiato is ideal.

It is typically enjoyed during mid-morning or afternoon breaks in a small cup. On the other hand, if you prefer a milder and less concentrated coffee taste, opt for a lungo. This longer espresso is often favored for breakfast or as an after-dinner drink.

So think about the strength of the coffee you want and what time of day you’ll be sipping it to make the right choice between macchiato and lungo.


Macchiato and Lungo are two distinct coffee beverages with different flavors and brewing methods. Macchiato offers a strong espresso flavor with a touch of milk, while Lungo provides a milder and more diluted taste.

The choice between the two ultimately depends on your personal preference for intensity or smoothness in your coffee experience. So go ahead, try both and see which one satisfies your caffeine cravings!


What is a macchiato?

A macchiato, or caffè macchiato, is an Italian coffee drink that mixes espresso with a small amount of milk foam.

How does a lungo differ from other coffee types?

A lungo is similar to an espresso but has half the amount of water, which makes it stronger. It’s served in a large cup and contains more caffeine than many other coffee types.

Can I order iced coffee like macchiato or lungo in Italy?

Yes! Baristas can shake it with ice to make iced versions of different types of Italian coffee drinks, including caffè al ginseng made with ginseng extract and decaffeinato which is decaf.

Is it common for Italians to drink cappuccino after lunch instead of other type coffees?

No! Many Italians have morning coffee like cappuccino at the bar; usually people don’t drink cappuccino or any kind of hot milk after a meal.

What are some unique types of Italian Coffee drinks aside from Macchiato and Lungo?

Aside from Macchiato and Lungo, there are also “bar” style dark chocolate flavored Marocchino served in small glass called Vetro and barley-based Barley Coffee as popular choices among different types Italian Coffee Drinks.

Does ordering coffee at the counter cost less compared to table service in Italy ?

Yes! In most places across Italy you’ll notice that your bill will be cheaper if you stand while drinking your choice of Caffé at the bar just like many locals do during their quick morning visits.

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.