Why is Lungo so Small?

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A man is preparing coffee in a shop.
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A man is preparing coffee in a shop.

Ever wondered why your lungo coffee is so petite? This intriguing question often plagues coffee enthusiasts. Our blog post will delve into the mysterious world of lungo and reveal why this espresso variation takes up such a small space in your cup.

Ready for an enlightening sip?

Why is Lungo so Small?

Why is lungo so small? The size of a lungo is a reflection of its origin in Italian coffee culture and its method of preparation.

In Italy, where espresso reigns supreme, coffee is typically consumed in smaller, more concentrated servings. A lungo, though larger than a standard espresso, is still smaller than many other coffee drinks due to its preparation method.

It’s made by allowing more water to pass through the coffee grounds than an espresso, but not as much as other diluted coffee drinks like the Americano.

The intention behind a lungo is to capture the essence of the coffee while providing a slightly milder flavor than an espresso, but without diluting it to the extent of larger beverages.

Key Takeaways

  • Lungo is a type of coffee that is smaller in size compared to other espresso drinks because of traditional Italian espresso culture, which values concentrated flavors and intense taste experiences.
  • The brewing process for lungo involves pulling the espresso shot for a longer time and adding more water, resulting in a milder taste but with more volume than an espresso shot.
  • Lungo differs from other espresso drinks like Americano and ristretto in terms of flavor profile, strength, and volume. It offers a unique taste experience with concentrated flavors and intensity.

Understanding Lungo: What it is and How it’s Made

Lungo is a type of espresso shot that is made by brewing a larger volume of water through the same amount of coffee grounds, resulting in a longer extraction time and slightly less intense flavor compared to other espresso drinks.

Definition of lungo

A lungo is a type of coffee. It’s not as strong as an espresso shot, but it isn’t weak either. The word ‘lungo’ means long in Italian. So, a lungo shot is pulled for more time than an espresso shot.

This gives us some extra caffeine and flavor from the coffee grounds. Lungos are also made with more water compared to espressos. That’s why they have less taste power but more volume than espressos.

Brewing process for lungo

To make a lungo, follow these steps:

  1. Use an espresso machine to prepare the lungo.
  2. Grind coffee beans finely and measure out the desired amount.
  3. Pack the ground coffee into the portafilter basket of the espresso machine.
  4. Attach the portafilter to the machine and start brewing.
  5. The water should pass through the coffee grounds at a slower rate than with regular espresso, creating a longer extraction time.
  6. This slower extraction allows for more flavor compounds to be extracted from the coffee grounds, resulting in a stronger taste.
  7. The lungo shot should have a larger volume compared to an espresso shot because additional water is added during brewing.
  8. Adjustments can be made to achieve the desired strength and taste by experimenting with different grind sizes and brew times.
  9. Once brewed, serve the lungo in small cups or glasses as it is meant to be enjoyed quickly.

Difference in taste and strength compared to other espresso drinks

Lungo differs from other espresso drinks in both taste and strength due to its unique preparation method.

Espresso DrinksTasteStrength
LungoTends towards nuts and caramel with some bitterness. It is milder than espresso due to more water added during the brewing process.The strength of a lungo is less intense in comparison to espresso, as it is pulled longer and diluted with more water. However, the longer a lungo is pulled, the more caffeine it may contain.
EspressoRich and robust with a balanced level of acidity and bitterness. Espresso is concentrated and has a stronger flavor than lungo.Espresso, being less diluted, is stronger and contains more concentrated levels of caffeine in shorter quantities.
AmericanoA taste that’s similar to a regular drip coffee. It’s less concentrated than an espresso, but stronger than a lungo.Americano coffee is diluted with hot water, so it’s less strong in flavor but still contains a significant caffeine kick.
RistrettoHas a very concentrated and intense flavor, more so than an espresso. It’s often described as bolder and heavier compared to lungo.Ristretto is typically very strong due to its high concentration of coffee in a small amount of water.

It’s clear that each espresso drink has its own unique taste and strength profile, with lungo offering a milder, less concentrated option for coffee lovers.

Reasons for the Small Size of Lungo

Traditional Italian espresso culture, concentrated flavors and intensity, and maintaining the quality of the espresso shot.

Traditional Italian espresso culture

In traditional Italian espresso culture, small coffee portions are the norm. Italians value the intensity and concentrated flavor of espresso shots. They believe that a smaller size allows for a more enjoyable and impactful experience.

The focus is on savoring the rich flavors without dilution or compromise. This cultural preference for smaller servings has influenced the creation of lungo, which is a longer version of espresso but still maintains its strong taste and character.

Concentrated flavors and intensity

A lungo coffee has concentrated flavors and intense taste. It is made by pulling the espresso shot for a longer time, which allows more flavor to be extracted from the coffee grounds.

This longer extraction process gives the lungo its distinct taste that tends towards nutty and caramel notes with a touch of bitterness. The concentrated flavors in a lungo are what make it unique compared to other espresso drinks like an americano or ristretto.

Despite its small size, the lungo packs a flavorful punch that coffee lovers can appreciate.

Maintaining the quality of the espresso shot

To maintain the quality of the espresso shot, it is important to pay attention to several factors. First, the coffee grounds must be fresh and finely ground to ensure proper extraction.

The water temperature should be around 195-205°F (90-96°C) for optimal flavor. Additionally, the brewing time should be carefully controlled to prevent over-extraction or under-extraction.

Lastly, regular cleaning and maintenance of the espresso machine is essential to avoid any buildup that can affect the taste of the shot. By taking these steps, baristas can consistently create high-quality espresso shots with rich flavor and aroma.

Common Confusion: Lungo vs Other Espresso Drinks

Lungo is often confused with other espresso drinks, such as the Americano or ristretto. Learn about the differences and discover why lungo offers a unique taste experience. Read more to unravel the mystery behind this small yet flavorful coffee drink.

Lungo vs Americano

Lungo and Americano are two different coffee drinks with distinct flavors and brewing methods. While a lungo is made by pulling an espresso shot for a longer time, resulting in a milder taste, an Americano is made by diluting espresso with hot water. Lungos are known for their concentrated flavors and intensity, while Americanos have a more balanced flavor. The main difference lies in the ratio of water to coffee grounds used in each drink. So, whether you prefer a long shot of espresso or enjoy the smoothness of an Americano, both options offer unique tastes that cater to different preferences.

Lungo vs espresso

Lungo and espresso are both types of coffee, but they have some differences. Lungo is a longer version of espresso, with “lungo” meaning long in Italian. It is made by drawing out the espresso over a longer period of time and adding a little more water. This gives it a milder taste compared to regular espresso. On the other hand, espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee that is brewed quickly under high pressure. It has a strong flavor and intense aroma. The main difference between lungo and espresso is the brewing process and the amount of water used.

Lungo vs ristretto

Lungo and ristretto are two different types of coffee drinks. While lungo is a longer version of espresso, with “lungo” meaning long in Italian, ristretto is a shorter version, with “ristretto” meaning restricted or limited.

In terms of flavor, lungo has a milder taste compared to ristretto. Lungo generally has more caffeine content due to the longer extraction process. On the other hand, ristretto is bolder and stronger in flavor because it uses less water during brewing.

The main difference between lungo and ristretto lies in their volume or size. A lungo shot uses more water than an espresso shot but less than an Americano, resulting in a larger drink with more volume. Conversely, a ristretto shot uses less water than an espresso shot, making it even smaller and more concentrated.

Both lungos and ristrettos offer unique tastes and strengths that cater to different preferences. Whether you enjoy a longer coffee experience or prefer a short yet intense sip, these espresso variations provide options for everyone’s enjoyment.

Conclusion: Appreciating the Unique Qualities of Lungo

Lungo is small for a reason. It’s about the intense flavors and concentrated strength that can’t be achieved in larger quantities. Lungo allows us to savor every drop of coffee goodness, even if it’s just a quick pick-me-up.

So let’s raise our cups and appreciate the unique qualities of lungo!


What is a lungo?

A lungo is a type of coffee brewing that makes the coffee taste strong and rich.

Why is lungo so small?

The lungo size comes from the drawn-out method of coffee extraction, which gives it its intense flavor, aroma, and strength.

What does doppio mean in terms of coffee?

Doppio means double shot in Italian; it’s more potent than a single shot giving your cup an extra punch!

Can I add milk to my Lungo?

Yes! Adding milk to your Lungo can change the taste and make it less strong if you prefer a smoother brew.

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.