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Espresso vs Lungo Coffee Compared

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Espresso vs. Lungo Compared

We’ve all heard of an Espresso coffee– the Italian pride. But have you had the opportunity to try its longer relative, Lungo? Made with the same machine, using the same coffee and water, but so much different in flavor and texture.

Going head-to-head, Espresso and Lungo fight for their place in our hearts in this quick but in-depth guide.

What’s Espresso?

Espresso is an infamous Italian coffee that is, authentically, made with a special Espresso machine, by forcing almost-boiling water through tightly-packed fine coffee grounds. The final product is a creamy and pretty concentrated shot that is usually no longer than 2 ounces.

Compared to regular black coffee, Espresso is different not only because it is short (and more intense), but also because it consists of three parts:

  1. The darkest bottom
  2. The hearty light and milder middle
  3. The rich and velvety crema that sits on top

This coffee is not only enjoyed as it is, but it also represents the base for most commonly drunk coffees around the world – latte, cappuccino, flat white, macchiato, etc.

What’s Lungo?

If you are good at languages, you’ve probably guessed that this type of coffee is slightly longer than an Espresso shot (lungo means long in Italian). It is made with the same kind of coffee, the same machine – it just takes longer to pull the shot. An Espresso shot is extracted within 20-30 seconds, while for a Lungo, you might need a full minute.

Understandably, instead of 1-2 ounces, Lungo usually fills 3-5. But, despite the name, the size is not the most significant difference here; it is the intensity. Espresso shots are sharp and intense, while Lungo has a much milder taste.

Benefits of Drinking Espresso

We all know that a short shot of Espresso can give you an immediate energy boost, but that is not the only way you benefit from enjoying your Italian coffee. Many studies have found that regular consumption of Espresso can also do wonders for your overall health.

It Helps You Lose Weight

Espresso is low-calorie, so it fits into every weight-loss regime and goes hand-in-hand with your exercise program. That’s right, drinking Espresso will help you with your workouts as it makes them less strenuous.

It Boosts Memory

According to the neuroscientists from the University of California, drinking two Espressos a day improves memory build-up, which results in a significant enhancement in the long run.

It Makes You Feel Better

Drinking Espresso will help your brain block the hormones known as adenosine, as well as up the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. When that happens, your mood gets enhanced, you get to enjoy a rise in activity, your brain function gets boosted, and you become more alert and feel a lot better.

Regular Espresso consumption will also help you lower your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, improve your oral health, reduce the risk of a stroke, and throw many other health benefits your way.

Key Differences Between Espresso and Lungo

The main difference between the well-known Espresso and its longer relative (as we already said), are in the taste and quantity.

Lungo is longer, the taste is milder, but it is also a bit more bitter than Espresso thanks to the prolonged extraction time (longer oxidation equals more bitter flavor). Espresso is shorter, more intense, but not as harsh on the palate.

But do not confuse Lungo with Americano or a long black. Lungo is not a shot of Espresso diluted with water; the water here is brewed. If you can just take an Espresso shot and stretch it, making it less concentrated, that would be Lungo.

Does This Mean Lungos are Less Intense or Flavorful Than Espresso?

Well, it depends on how you look at it. Lungo offers a less intense mouthfeel, thanks to the fact that it is less concentrated. However, that does not mean that it will give you a lesser caffeine boost than a sharp shot of Espresso.

As for the flavor, no. Lungo also has a rich flavor (slightly milder though) that is equally delicious.

Don’t forget that the type of roast also plays a huge part in determining coffee’s intensity. Robusta has more caffeine than Arabica, so keep that in mind.

Can I Make a Lungo Using Espresso Nespresso Capsules?

Never! Perhaps you’ve bought the wrong kind of capsules, too intense for your taste, so you are wondering whether you should dilute them with a bit more water. Of course, you can do that, but that will not be a Lungo.

Nespresso capsules are explicitly packed with the right extraction in mind. By adding more water to the coffee, you will destroy the rich flavors and taste, ending up with a flat cup of Joe. Vice versa, you will never be able to make an Espresso by shortening the extraction time intended for a Lungo capsule, as you will not be able to release all of the flavor compounds.

Do Lungos Have Less Caffeine Than Espresso?

Since the taste of Lungo is milder, it is a common misconception that it contains less caffeine and will fail you to give you the much-needed fix. 

But that is not true. Remember, the coffee dose used to make an Espresso and Lungo is the same. The amount of water that passes through the grounds is the only different thing.

With that in mind, no – Lungos do not have less caffeine. In fact, many will argue that it is slightly more caffeinated because of the long pull, as you are extracting the grounds more fully.

How to Make the Perfect Lungo?

Pulling the perfect Lungo shot requires no specialized knowledge. You can do it in a few simple steps:

  1. Grind 15-18 grams of coffee, and add it to your machine’s portafilter.
  2. Level it and make sure that you distribute it evenly.
  3. Tamp the coffee by applying light pressure.
  4. Lock the portafilter into your machine and pull a long shot. Aim for 3-5 ounces, which should take about 50 seconds to extract.
  5. Enjoy!

How to Make Espresso Without An Espresso Machine?

It is possible to enjoy a cup of Espresso without an Espresso machine. But you will need an Aeropress, which shouldn’t be a problem because they are super affordable, durable, and very convenient. Why an Aeropress and not another brewer? Because the hand pressure used for brewing is the most similar to the one in an Espresso machine.

So, how do you make it?

  1. Ground your coffee and place the filter in the cap of the brewer.
  2. Add your grounds, then shake the tube to distribute.
  3. Add another filter on the lower end, keeping the coffee trapped between the two paper circles.
  4. Now, press the plunger, reach the bottom, and quickly return it to the top. The coffee should resemble a hockey puck.
  5. Now, add your hot water to the brewer, wait for a few seconds, then gently press the plunger again (over your cup, duh!).
  6. Enjoy!


So, what do you think? Will Lungo be your next pick-me-up? Or are you still convinced that a short, two-gulp Italian Java is the best fix for you? They both make a compelling case – the verdict is up to you!

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