Most people's morning ritual isn’t complete without their favorite cup of coffee. Actually, some people's morning rituals don't begin until they've had their first cup of coffee.
To the coffee connoisseur, brewing a lungo or americano comes as second nature. For others, popping a pod into the espresso machine to get their daily caffeine fix is all they need. With so many coffee drink variations available, it can be hard to keep up.
Here we take a look at the difference between an espresso lungo and americano and everything you need to know about their taste, history, and brewing process.
What’s the Difference Between Espresso Lungo and Americano?
Both drinks use espresso as the base and hot water is added at different stages to get to the unique taste of each. For the lungo, the water is added during the brewing process whereas for the americano it’s added after.
Traditionally, espresso machines are used to get the final product. However, pod machines and manual stovetop espresso machines can also be used.
Many people also compare americano to drip coffee. An americano looks similar to plain black coffee and is close in flavor to a typical drip coffee. The lungo is a long shot of espresso with a milder yet more bitter taste.
Lungo means ‘long’ in Italian, so essentially it’s a long espresso.
This is in reference to the extraction process. A regular espresso is extracted for between 25 to 35 seconds and fills between 1-2 fluid ounces. Lungo, on the other hand, takes between 45 to 60 seconds to extract and fills up to 5 ounces.
Lungo is an espresso made by adding more water during the brewing process. It has a distinct crema on top which gives it a bitter taste. A lungo isn’t as bitter as an espresso, however, it’s still quite strong.
Other names the lungo goes by are a “long shot,” “lungo espresso,” or “cafe allonge.”
It’s easy to mistake an espresso lungo for an americano or long black. However, with a lungo, all the water is brewed together with the espresso and it’s generally shorter than a cafe americano or long black.
History of the Lungo
The espresso lungo has its origins in Italy. It was then carried over to the rest of the world by the soldiers after the Second World War.
How Does Espresso Lungo Taste?
An espresso lungo is a more toned-down version of a regular espresso because more water is used to pull it. When compared to an americano, a lungo has a stronger and more bitter taste.
While the lungo is not as strong as an espresso, it is more bitter. Perfect for those who delight in the taste of bitter coffee, but for others not so much.
The extra bitterness is because of the additional hot water passing through the espresso grounds which extracts compounds that normally remain undissolved. The more water that’s added, the more bitter and watery the shot tastes.
Regular espressos only extract the tasty salts, acids, and sugars.
How an Espresso Lungo is Made
The ratio of espresso grounds to water is usually between 1:3 and 1:4. Espresso lungo is made using either Arabica or Robusta beans.
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The steps to make an espresso lungo are as follows:
- Fill your espresso machine’s tank with water
- Grind your beans and fill the portafilter with an espresso shot
- Heat the machine
- Fill the machine with the ground coffee and tamp the coffee using light pressure
- For the best results, the extraction time needs to be set to about 50-60 seconds
Once the brewing is done, you can fill your glass and enjoy your espresso lungo.
Also known as a “cafe americano,” this drink is made using 1 or 2 shots of espresso and varying amounts of water. In an americano, the espresso forms the base and hot water is then added to it.
If it were done the other way around, ie. starting with a water base and adding the espresso to it, the resulting drink would be called a “long black.” As you can see, there’s only a minor difference between an americano and a long black.
History of Caffe Americano
According to old standing stories, the term americano originated during World War II. The American soldiers stationed in Italy wanted a coffee that resembled the drip-style coffee they were used to back home. By adding water to the espresso the Italian cafe owners served them, the americano was born.
How Does Americano Taste?
Americano has a bold and bitter taste, similar to black coffee but slightly sweeter.
Adding varying amounts of water to the espresso changes the taste from stronger to weaker. If you add lots of water to the espresso, it reduces the bitterness but results in a more watery taste. On the other hand, if you add too little water then the taste will be stronger.
How an Americano is Made
There are the steps to follow if you need to know how to make an americano. Traditionally, these are made using an espresso machine. Pod machines can also be used, but the taste may differ.
- First, make a great espresso using a dark roast coffee bean
- Boil the water, usually the water to espresso ratio for an americano is 2:1 going up to 3:1
- Mix the two by pouring the boiling water into the espresso
There you have it, one cafe americano to go.
Things that Impact the Taste of my Espresso
Espresso is considered the pride of Italian coffee. Get the taste right in your espresso and all the variations that follow will be spot on.
As you can see, the outcome of your lungo or americano is heavily dependent on the taste of the espresso uses to make them. The perfect espresso has a rich, dark, and mildly sweet flavor. Some things that impact the taste of your espresso are:
Origin and Quality
If your espresso is made using single-origin beans, the taste is usually sharper. Beans that are roasted need between 7 to 10 days to sit before being used. This is when the quality of the beans are at their best. Using them earlier results in not-so-great tasting espresso.
Ground beans that are kept for too long will lose their flavor. The way the beans are ground also impacts the taste. If it’s too fine, the taste is more bitter since the water takes longer to pass through it, extracting more or the strong flavonoids from the grounds.
Lightly roasted beans give your espresso a sour taste. Whereas darker roasted beans give a more bitter taste.
Don’t be shy to ask your favorite barista for a few tips to brew your best coffee drink at home. If you’re lucky, you might get a great coffee recipe to take home with you.
Espresso Lungo vs Americano FAQs
Which Is the Best Coffee for Americano?
The best coffee for an americano comes from using espresso coffee beans. Using other coffee beans results in a different taste and won’t really make a true Americano.
Can You Add Milk to an Americano?
You can’t add milk to an americano and still call it americano. Once the milk is added, it makes it a latte or a cappuccino.
Which Drinks are Similar to Espresso Lungo?
Some drinks similar to the espresso lungo include ristretto, long black, double espresso, and black coffee.
Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking:
- What Is an Americano Coffee
- Americano vs Latte
- Americano vs Espresso
- Americano Iced Coffee
- Americano vs Latte vs Cappuccino
- Americano Coffee History
- Long Black Coffee
- Red Eye Coffee
- Black Eyed Coffee
- Cortado vs Latte
- What Is a Cortado Coffee
- Cortado vs Latte vs Cappuccino
- What Is a Breve Coffee?
- Mocha vs Latte vs Breve