The espresso comes in many forms. It's an important ingredient for lattes, ristretto, americano, mocha, cappuccino, and macchiato. But have you ever heard of a lungo? That's right. This is another espresso variant. Only a few coffee lovers know about this drink. Luckily, this article will help you understand what a lungo is and what's exactly in it.
Why is it called "lungo"?
The word "lungo" may sound weird or unusual to the American ear. That's because it is not a word found in the English dictionary. Lungo is the Italian word for "long" This should give you a hint on what this drink looks like.
This drink is called lungo because of how much water is used to pull the shot. A regular shot of espresso only takes at least 18 to 30 seconds to pull and has almost 30mL of water. The lungo requires double the water. Since there's more water, it could take at least one whole minute to pull the espresso shot.
How to make a lungo
You can easily make a lungo if you have an espresso machine. Just follow the measurements mentioned above. But make sure to prepare a larger glass. The end product will be the same size as two shots of espresso or a doppio.
Some espresso machines even have a special setting for a lungo drink. Nespresso has developed lungo pods for this specific setting. But if you own a different espresso machine, just adjust the settings to fit the requirements of the lungo. You just need to adjust the amount of water and pull time. There is no need to tinker around with the temperature or how much coffee grounds you put.
How does a lungo taste?
A lungo tastes a lot like a ristretto. Since it uses more water, the flavor of the shot is a bit lighter than normal espresso. But despite having more water, a lungo is more bitter than regular coffee. Others enjoy a cup of strong coffee. But some gag at the thought of drinking a beverage with a strong bitter taste. Only a few people enjoy authentic lungo because of its bold flavor.
The reason why this drink comes out bitter is because of how long it needs to brew. The longer the ground brew, the more bitter it becomes because the flavor has more time to incorporate itself into the drink.
But it is worth noting that a lungo is not a bland or simply bitter drink. If you have the chance to try this type of coffee, you will notice that it tastes more smokey than regular espresso.
How much caffeine is in a lungo?
People in the coffee-loving community often think that a lungo has more caffeine than a traditional espresso. It is quite easy to assume this because a lungo requires more water and time to pull. But this is not the case.
The amount of caffeine depends on the type of coffee beans. A lungo typically has the same amount of caffeine as an espresso shot, mainly because it requires the same amount of coffee grounds. Longer pull time does not affect the caffeine content of a drink.
So if you're thinking of switching to a lungo because you need more caffeine in your coffee, we suggest you go for a ristretto shot instead. A wide range of coffee shops is allowed to give you up to two shots of ristretto. Alternatively, you could try an Americano and order an extra shot or a doppio.
All these different terms and ratios are enough to confuse even the most dedicated coffee fan. After all, these drinks all have one thing in common: espresso. But they each have their unique requirements. Keep reading to know the difference between these drinks and the lungo.
Espresso and Ristretto
We already talked about the difference between a lungo and a traditional espresso shot. A lungo requires more water and pull time. But what makes a ristretto different from a lungo or regular espresso shot?
A lungo and ristretto both require you to adjust how much water you will use to pull the shot. The difference is ristretto requires you to decrease the regular amount of water. To sum things up, the coffee to water ratio of a lungo is 1:4. An espresso follows a 1:2 ratio. Lastly, a ristretto requires a ratio of 1:1.
Long Black and Americano
When a barista is making an Americano drink, they pull a shot of regular espresso and add in some water. A long black is half espresso, half water. But both of these drinks have one thing in common. Water is only added after the espresso shot.
These two drinks are a bit weaker compared to other espresso drinks, but they have a different flavor profile. It does not have a smokey flavor like the lungo. Instead, it tastes a lot like regular drip coffee.
Admittedly, a lungo is quite similar to a latte mainly because of their names. It's easy to mix these two up, especially if they're right next to each other on the menu board. Although they both have espresso, a latte requires one key ingredient that the lungo doesn't have: milk.
Steamed milk is poured into the espresso shot, and a few dollops of creamy foam are added on top to make a cup of latte. You can even order an extra shot of espresso to add more caffeine and flavor to your latte.
A lungo does not have milk in it. It is simply a variant of espresso. With that said, you can ask your barista to replace your regular shot of espresso with a lungo shot instead to mix things up a bit.
Now you might be asking yourself if you should try out a lungo. Before you do, make sure that you are okay with drinking coffee with smokey and earthy notes. If you enjoy Americano coffee, you can ask your barista to replace the espresso with a lungo shot instead to try if it enhances the flavor.
But if you prefer lattes or other sweet caffeinated drinks, you might want to steer clear from the lungo. However, if you are curious, you can order a sweet drink like a latte macchiato or a cappuccino and ask your barista to replace the espresso shot with a lungo shot. The milk and other flavors should help dilute the strong earthy notes of the lungo.
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