What Is Lungo Coffee?

What is Lungo coffee? Read on to know how it differs from other popular drinks.

What is Lungo coffee?
Lungo is an Italian word that means “long”

The next time you pull up to a coffee house, try ordering a lungo coffee. Don’t worry. If you love espresso, you’ll probably enjoy a lungo. The word translates from Italian as “long” and refers to how much time it takes to pull the water to make the drink.

Essentially, a lungo coffee is an espresso with more water. Compared to the coffee-water ratio of a traditional espresso, a lungo contains three times more water. So, if you’re ready to explore the ins and outs of lungo coffee, read on. 

What Is Lungo Coffee?

The Italians were inspired to make lungo coffee due to trying drip versions in the United States. The lungo was developed in response to the Americano, which is similar to drinking diluted espresso.

Even though a lungo contains more water than espresso, it is not as diluted as an Americano. There is a stronger, more bitter taste to the drink. 

Lungo comes from the process used to make the coffee. Not only does it take longer for the water to pull through the espresso machine, but the coffee will fill an entire shot glass compared to a half. 

Read our history of Italian coffee guide.

Key Differences

espresso, glass, coffee-691231.jpg
Lungo coffee is more bitter than espresso

A lungo coffee differs from an espresso in three ways. First, many coffee drinkers will find the taste to be more bitter.

That may be hard to imagine, given how strong a shot of espresso is. But just try to picture the bold flavor of espresso kicked up a notch. 

At the same time, there is more water to reduce the intensity of the flavor. So while a lungo coffee drink isn’t for those who prefer Foo-Foo drinks, the flavor is not as concentrated. In other words, it won’t hit you all at once. 

The second key difference between lungo coffee and espresso is the amount of caffeine. Despite the dilution, a lungo coffee drink has slightly more caffeine than an espresso.

The third difference is the size. You’ll get two ounces of coffee in a shot of lungo versus one ounce in an espresso shot. If you like this post you’ll enjoy learning what Kona coffee tastes like.

Does It Take More Coffee To Make Lungo?

No, usually not. It takes the same amount of coffee grounds or beans to make lungos and espressos.

It’s the type of beans you use that can determine differences in caffeine levels. For instance, a light roast tends to contain higher concentrations of caffeine than medium roasts. 

Brewing Process

The brewing process of lungo coffee differs from that of Americano

Some people might be tempted to equate a lungo coffee with an Americano. However, the brewing process is quite different.

With an Americano, the water is added after the coffee shot is pulled. With a lungo, the water is pulled alongside the espresso shot while it’s being brewed

This is why an Americano tastes more like the coffee you make at home in a drip machine. 

Ristretto Comparison

A ristretto is an espresso with a shorter amount of pulled water. It’s about half an ounce but tends to taste sweeter than a lungo or espresso.

Ristrettos also tend to be lighter in taste. So if you’re hesitant about the bolder taste of a lungo, try a ristretto instead! 

However, you’ll be getting less coffee. Some obsessed coffee drinkers prefer a little more in their cup, even if the taste takes some willpower.

Read our espresso vs. ristretto comparison.

Lungo Vs. Latte

a hot latte with a pad on its side
You can substitute lungo to espresso

Coffee aficionados love to try different things, and lattes can smooth out the strong taste of an espresso shot. Although lattes traditionally combine a form of milk and espresso shots, you could substitute lungo shots instead.

The next time you’re thinking of heading to your local coffee shop for a vanilla latte or a holiday drink, ask the barista to make it with a lungo instead of espresso. 

Local coffee shop baristas can mix a lungo shot with other types of coffee drinks, such as iced macchiatos. If you want to experiment with the flavors of your favorites or go on a taste adventure, it’s something you should try.

Making Lungo Coffee At Home

You can try making your lungo shots at home with an espresso machine. You’ll need a grinder if there isn’t one built into your espresso machine. Choose a flavor of whole coffee beans and pick up some filtered water or use a water filter for tap water. 

If you’ve made espresso shots before, you know the drill. The only thing you’ll need to do is add in a few seconds for the pull.

So, if you normally pull an espresso shot for 20 seconds, add 5 to the process for a lungo. You should get twice the amount of coffee in the cup or shot glass. 

You can also experiment with different types and flavors of coffee beans. Don’t limit yourself and have fun!      


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.