Espresso vs Lungo: Battle of the Brews in 2024

Espresso vs lungo

In the world of coffee, there are various brewing techniques and styles that cater to the different preferences of coffee enthusiasts.

Among these methods, espresso and lungo have gained popularity for their strength, richness, and bold flavors.

Understanding the differences between these two coffee drinks can help you make a well-informed decision on which one suits your taste buds better.

Espresso, known for its strong and concentrated flavor, is a favorite among coffee aficionados.


It is brewed by forcing a small amount of water through finely-ground coffee under high pressure, resulting in a bold and full-bodied taste.

On the other hand, to make lungo – a larger shot of coffee that uses more water and extends the brewing process to produce a milder and less concentrated beverage.

Despite the common misconception that Lungo is simply a diluted version of espresso, it boasts its own unique flavor profile and characteristics.

Key Takeaways

  • Espresso and lungo are popular coffee brewing methods that provide a different taste experience.
  • Differences in brewing time, water quantity, and flavors determine the distinction between these two drinks.
  • Your choice between espresso and lungo ultimately depends on your preferences and the coffee experience you desire.

Understanding Espresso vs Lungo

Definition and Origin

Espresso and lungo are both popular Italian coffee beverages, but they have subtle differences.

Espresso, originating in Italy in the early 20th century, is a strong, concentrated coffee shot with a bold and rich flavor.

On the other hand, lungo (meaning “long” in Italian) is a larger shot that is less concentrated, having a milder flavor.

Understanding espresso vs lungo.

Extraction Process Explained

The extraction process is what sets these two beverages apart. Both drinks are made using an espresso machine under high pressure.

However, the main difference lies in the amount of hot water used and the extraction time.

For an espresso, the extraction time ranges from 18-30 seconds, using around 30ml of water.

Conversely, a lungo uses twice the amount of water (about 60ml), and the extraction time is doubled, taking around 40-60 seconds.

Comparing Brewing Techniques

To better understand the brewing process for both beverages, let’s compare them side by side.

The brewing techniques for espresso and lungo are quite similar, but the adjustments in water quantity and extraction time result in distinct flavors and concentrates.

As a coffee connoisseur, understanding these differences will help you choose the perfect cup based on your preferences.

Physical Characteristics

Volume and Concentration

Volume and Concentration

When comparing lungo and espresso, the first noticeable difference lies in their volume and concentration.

A typical espresso shot is prepared using 7 grams of finely ground coffee and 30 ml of water, making it a bold and concentrated beverage.

On the other hand, a lungo is less concentrated due to its increased water volume, which ranges between 50 to 60 ml.

Despite their differences in concentration and water volume, both espresso and lungo use the same amount of ground coffee.

The extraction time for lungo coffee is longer due to the extra water, which plays a role in the beverage’s distinct flavor profile.

Appearance and Crema

The visual aspect of espresso and lungo varies when you examine their appearance and crema, the rich, creamy foam layer on top of the espresso shot.

Espresso boasts a typical three-layer structure, which consists of the drink’s base, body, and crema.

This thick and aromatic crema forms due to the pressure used to extract coffee, resulting in a smooth, velvety texture.

On the contrary, lungo exhibits a thinner and lighter crema, attributable to its more extended extraction time and the extra water added during the brewing process.

This extended extraction time contributes to a slightly milder flavor compared to the robust and rich taste of espresso.

In conclusion, understanding the physical characteristics of espresso and lungo, specifically the differences in volume, concentration, appearance, and crema, can help you better appreciate their unique qualities and flavors in your coffee experience.

Flavor Profiles and Composition

Flavor Profiles and Composition

Taste and Intensity

When comparing espresso and lungo, there is a noticeable difference in taste and intensity.

Espresso is known for its bold and strong flavor, which is achieved by using a small amount of water (usually 30 milliliters or less) during the brewing process.

In contrast, lungo is also a milder and slightly bitter beverage due to its longer extraction time and the larger amount of water used to create it.

This leads to unique flavor profiles for both drinks:

  • Espresso: Intense, bold, full-bodied
  • Lungo: Milder, slightly bitter, less concentrated

Caffeine Content and Bitterness

Another distinction between espresso and lungo lies in their caffeine content and bitterness.

Surprisingly, despite its bold taste, espresso actually has a lower caffeine content per volume than regular lungo.

This is because the shorter brewing time of espresso results in less caffeine being extracted from the coffee grounds

As for bitterness, lungo’s longer extraction time leads to a more bitter flavor compared to espresso.

This is due to the prolonged exposure of water to the coffee grounds, which extracts more bitterness from the beans.

In conclusion, your preference for espresso or lungo might depend on your desired intensity, taste, and caffeine content.

It’s worth trying both to find out which suits your palate best.

Cultural and Personal Preferences

A cup of espresso and coffee beans on a table.

Italian Tradition and Global Variations

In Italy, the birthplace of espresso, coffee culture differs from what you might encounter in other parts of the world.

Traditionally, Italians prefer smaller, more concentrated coffee servings like espressos and ristrettos.

Lungo, being larger in serving size and milder in flavor, possibly represents a middle ground between the classic Italian espresso and globally popular Americano.

The balance of taste ultimately comes down to personal preference, which is influenced by both cultural and individual factors.

Italian coffee is known for its boldness and richness, resonating with the heart and the palate of those who drink it.

Espresso, with its strong, intense flavor, often ticks all of these boxes.

However, as coffee preferences have spread globally, people have started exploring variations that suit their respective tastes.

Lungo offers the strength of an espresso with a slight reduction in intensity, often appealing to a wider audience.

Although lungo may not fit the typical Italian mold for coffee, its unique characteristics result from the amalgamation of regional preferences and the cultural significance of coffee across the world.

Meeting Individual Tastes and Expectations

When it comes to personal preferences, coffee lovers generally explore various brewing methods, serving sizes, and levels of sweetness.

Lungo vs espresso provides an excellent example of how these factors come together to cater to different tastes.

Some may prefer the bold intensity that you make espresso with, served in a small cup, with no added sweetness.

Others, however, might lean towards a lungo for its slightly milder flavor profile, appreciating the larger serving size of lungo and the room it leaves for adding sweeteners or milk to the coffee.

Lungo also offers a distinct texture, being lighter and more forgiving on the palate than an espresso.

As you navigate the vast world of coffee, let Italian tradition and its global variations help guide your path.

Experimenting with espresso, lungo, and other coffee styles will enable you to find the perfect balance that meets – and possibly exceeds – your personal expectations.

Brewing TimeShorter (around 25-30 seconds)Longer (around 45-60 seconds)
VolumeSmall (25-30 ml)Larger (60-120 ml)
FlavorIntense and concentratedMilder and more diluted
StrengthStrongMild to Medium
UsesBase for many coffee beveragesSipping on its own or as a base
CremaRich crema layerThinner or less pronounced crema
Common ServeSingle or double shotSingle shot


Understanding the main differences between lungo and espresso, especially in the context of Nespresso machines, is crucial for coffee enthusiasts.

While both are popular coffee drinks, they offer distinct experiences in terms of taste, preparation, and caffeine content.

An espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee, made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans.

This process typically uses a Nespresso espresso capsule and results in a rich, intense flavor.

A regular espresso shot uses a specific dose of ground coffee and about 30 ml of water. In contrast, a lungo is a longer shot, which means “long” in Italian.

The Nespresso Lungo uses more water, about double the amount of a regular espresso, double shot, leading to a larger coffee size but a less intense flavor.

This is because the lungo takes twice as long to pull, allowing more water to pass through the same amount of coffee.

The main difference between a lungo and an espresso lies in the water quantity and brewing time.

Lungo takes longer to make and uses more water, resulting in a milder taste compared to the traditional espresso, which is known for its rich and robust flavor.

A lungo generally has a size of around 110 ml, while a standard espresso shot is about 40 ml.

When it comes to caffeine content, both drinks typically contain similar amounts, with variations depending on the Nespresso pods used.

However, since lungo uses double the amount of water for the same amount of ground coffee, some may perceive it to have less caffeine than regular espresso.

This is not necessarily true, as the amount of caffeine is more related to the amount of coffee used rather than the water.

For those who enjoy cappuccinos, ristrettos, or espresso macchiatos, it’s essential to note that these drinks are typically made with a traditional espresso shot.

If you prefer a less intense but larger coffee, a lungo or Gran Lungo might be the best coffee choice.

In the Nespresso lungo vs espresso debate, the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference in taste and coffee size.

Whether you’re using a Nespresso machine at home or ordering at a coffee shop, understanding these differences can enhance your coffee experience and help you find the perfect drink to suit your taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the main difference between espresso vs lungo?

The main difference is how the coffee is brewed. An espresso is made by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans for about 20-30 seconds. A lungo, on the other hand, is also made with an espresso machine, but the water is allowed to flow through the grounds for a longer period, producing a larger shot of coffee. Therefore, lungo has a milder flavor compared to a strong, concentrated shot of espresso.

How does making a lungo shot differ from a typical espresso shot?

While both lungo and espresso are made with the same machine, the difference lies in the brewing time and the amount of water used. To pull an espresso, you run about 30ml of water through the coffee grounds. However, when you make a lungo, you let the machine run for longer, using about 70-120ml of water. Hence, a lungo shot yields more coffee and has a less intense flavour.

Is a lungo like an americano?

Not exactly, though they both involve espresso and water, the brewing process differentiates them. An Americano is made by adding hot water into a shot of espresso, which dilutes the espresso. On the other hand, a lungo is made by allowing more water than usual to pass through the same amount of coffee grounds as an espresso, creating a different flavor profile.

How does a ristretto vs espresso vs lungo compare in terms of flavor?

A ristretto is a “short” espresso and uses half the water of a regular espresso, resulting in a more concentrated flavor. An espresso has a balanced flavor, while a lungo, since it has twice the water, has a milder taste.

Does a lungo have less caffeine than an espresso?

Surprisingly, a lungo could contain slightly less caffeine than an espresso. While a lungo uses more water, the prolonged extraction process can lead to more bitter and fewer caffeinated substances being extracted, as caffeine extraction occurs early in the extraction process.

Can I use a Nespresso Lungo pod to make an espresso?

Yes, you can. However, do note that Nespresso lungo pods, Nespresso Capsule, are designed to work best with more water. If you make an espresso with a lungo pod, the flavor may be more intense than a standard espresso.

Can I use a regular espresso pod for making a lungo?

Yes, but keep in mind that espresso pods are meant for a smaller amount of water. You’ll get a significantly different flavor when you use more water to extract a lungo instead, and it could impact the coffee’s strength and taste.

How would I make a latte with a lungo instead of an espresso?

After brewing the lungo shot, just add it to warm milk like you would with a regular espresso. The latte made with lungo will likely have a more diluted coffee flavor, as a lungo is less concentrated.

Are there any drinks that mix parts espresso and parts of lungo?

Generally, mixed drinks like lattes, cappuccino, or espresso macchiato are made with shots of espresso, not a mix of espresso and lungo. Using a lungo in these types of drinks would result in a less robust coffee flavor because of its milder taste.

How different is the taste of home brewed espresso and lungo compared to coffee shop versions?

The taste would largely depend on the quality of your home espresso machine, the freshness of the coffee used, and your brewing technique. With a quality machine and fresh ground coffee, it’s possible to make satisfying espresso and lungo at home. However, cafes often use industrial-grade machines and highly trained baristas which can impact the taste and quality of the coffee.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top