What Is the Opposite of a Lungo Coffee?

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A woman sitting at a table in front of a window with plants in the background while enjoying a lungo coffee.
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A woman sitting at a table in front of a window with plants in the background while enjoying a lungo coffee.

Do you ever find yourself confused by the various coffee terms tossed around at your local cafe? For instance, a lungo is a longer version of an espresso with its own distinct flavor profile.

This blog will demystify coffee jargon and explore the opposite of your familiar lungo – the ristretto. Stick around for an enlightening journey into the captivating world of Italian-style espressos!

What Is the Opposite of a Lungo Coffee?

The opposite of a lungo coffee is a ristretto. While a lungo is an extended extraction, producing a larger volume with more water running through the coffee grounds, a ristretto is a shorter extraction, using less water and resulting in a more concentrated and intense flavor.

Typically, a ristretto uses half the amount of water that a regular espresso shot would, leading to a bolder, fuller-bodied taste.

While both are espresso-based preparations, the difference lies in the extraction time and volume, making ristretto and lungo the two ends of the espresso spectrum in terms of concentration and flavor.

Key Takeaways

  • Lungo coffee is a milder and longer version of espresso, brewed with more water for a softer taste.
  • The opposite of lungo coffee is ristretto, which is a shorter and more intense shot of espresso.
  • Ristretto has a bolder flavor profile and uses less water in its brewing process compared to lungo.
  • Other variations of espresso include Americano (espresso with added hot water), espresso macchiato (espresso topped with milk foam), latte, and cappuccino.

Understanding Lungo Coffee

Lungo coffee is a type of Italian-style coffee that is brewed using more water and has a longer extraction time, resulting in a milder flavor profile.

Definition of lungo coffee

Lungo coffee is a type of Italian coffee drink. It has more water than an espresso shot. Lungo means “long” in Italian. This name comes from the long time it takes to make this drink.

The same amount of coffee grounds as an espresso is used, but more water is pulled through the grounds. So, the brewing time for lungo coffee is longer than that of an espresso shot.

This makes the taste milder and less intense but lasts longer on your tastebuds!

Brewing process

The brewing process of a lungo coffee involves:

  • Using an espresso machine
  • Adding the same weight of coffee grounds as an espresso
  • Allowing the machine to run for a longer duration
  • Extracting more components from the coffee grounds
  • Using more water compared to an espresso
  • Creating a longer extraction time
  • Producing a milder taste and longer-lasting aftertaste

Flavor profile

A lungo coffee has a distinct flavor profile compared to other espresso variations. It has a milder taste and is less intense than an espresso shot. The longer extraction time allows for more flavors to be extracted, resulting in a more extended flavor profile.

Lungo coffee provides a unique experience with its subtle flavors and long-lasting aftertaste. Despite being milder, it still offers the rich aroma and boldness that are characteristic of Italian-style coffee.

Exploring the Opposite of Lungo Coffee

The opposite of lungo coffee is the short and intense espresso shot known as ristretto.

Short espresso shots

A short espresso shot is the opposite of a lungo coffee. While a lungo is a longer version of an espresso, a short espresso shot is smaller and more concentrated. It’s made by using less water to brew the coffee, resulting in a bolder and stronger flavor compared to a lungo.

A short espresso shot provides a quick burst of caffeine and intense taste, perfect for those who prefer their coffee with more punch in each sip.

Ristretto coffee

A ristretto coffee is the opposite of a lungo coffee. It is a shorter and more concentrated version of espresso. While “lungo” means “long” in Italian, “ristretto” means “limited.” This refers to the limited amount of water used to brew a ristretto coffee.

Despite using the same weight of coffee grounds as an espresso, a ristretto takes less time to extract and has a bolder flavor profile. It provides a stronger, more intense taste compared to a lungo or even an espresso shot.

Comparing lungo and ristretto

When it comes to understanding coffee, it’s helpful to compare and contrast the different types. When comparing lungo and ristretto, there are significant differences.

Meaning in Italian“Long”“Limited”
Extraction TimeLonger extraction timeShorter extraction time
Caffeine ContentHigher caffeine content due to a longer extraction processLess caffeine content due to a shorter extraction process
Flavor ProfileLess intense flavor, with a more extended profileMore concentrated and intense flavor
PreparationRequires an espresso machine, more water, and longer brewing durationAlso requires an espresso machine, with limited water and shorter brewing duration

It’s clear from this comparison that while both lungo and ristretto originate from essentially the same brewing principles, they deliver different flavor notes and caffeine levels, offering a unique coffee experience.

Other Variations of Espresso

Americano coffee

An Americano coffee is another variation of espresso that can be considered the opposite of a lungo coffee. It is made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso, creating a milder and less concentrated coffee drink compared to lungo or ristretto.

The name “Americano” comes from its popularity among American soldiers during World War II who wanted something similar to the drip-brewed coffee they were used to back home. Despite being diluted with water, an Americano still maintains some of the flavor characteristics and caffeine content found in espresso.

Espresso macchiato

Espresso macchiato is another variation of espresso that you can try. It is a single shot of espresso topped with a small amount of milk foam or steamed milk, which “stains” the coffee, giving it its name.

The word “macchiato” means “marked” or “stained” in Italian.

This coffee drink has a strong and bold flavor since it is made with pure espresso, but the addition of milk softens the taste slightly and adds some creaminess. Espresso macchiato is usually served in a small cup or glass, allowing you to savor its rich flavors in just a few sips.

Latte and cappuccino

Latte and cappuccino are two popular coffee drinks that are often enjoyed with breakfast or as a creamy treat. A latte is made by combining espresso with steamed milk, while a cappuccino consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and froth on top.

Both drinks have a milder flavor compared to lungo or ristretto coffee because of the added milk. Latte has more steamed milk than cappuccino, resulting in a creamier taste. Cappuccinos have more foam on top, giving it a lighter texture.

These drinks can be customized with flavors like vanilla or caramel syrup for extra sweetness.


The opposite of a lungo coffee is a ristretto coffee. While a lungo is longer and milder, a ristretto is shorter and more concentrated in flavor. Understanding the differences between these two espresso variations can help coffee lovers choose their preferred style of Italian-style coffee drink.


What is the opposite of a lungo coffee?

The opposite of a lungo, often called a “long shot,” would be Espresso coffee which counts as a short or single espresso shot.

Is Macchiato coffee the same thing as Lungo Coffee?

No, macchiato and lungo are different. A macchiato has milk but a long black coffee–the cousin to Italian-style Lungo does not have any milk.

How does Mocha or Flat White compare to Lungo?

Mocha and Flat white coffees are variants that include milk and chocolate, but lungos do not contain either; they are just longer drawn shots than normal espresso.

Can I make an Italian-style coffee into a lungo?

Yes! To change an Italian style espresso into its long cousin – the lungo, all you need to do is let more water pass through the grounds.

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.