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Lungo vs Espresso: What’s the Difference?

lungo vs espresso

Espresso is a common drink for coffee lovers, but have you ever heard of a lungo? It is similar to espresso because it is made from an espresso machine. There are a few differences between the two. Learning these differences might change the one you prefer to enjoy. The descriptions of each are below and after reading you will know the differences between a lungo and an espresso to decide what suits your personal preference.

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What’s an Espresso?

An espresso shot is a rich, concentrated beverage that is usually one to two ounces. When the espresso machine pulls these shots, it is forcing hot water through packed grounds and extracting the bold espresso flavors that you expect. The extraction can take about 20-30 seconds.

What is espresso?

A shot of espresso has three parts: the darker bottom part is called the body, the heart is in the middle and has a lighter color, and on top is the light, foamy crema. Many people enjoy espresso by itself, though you can add milk or sugar if you prefer. If one shot of espresso isn’t enough, you can order a doppio (2-3 oz) or even a triple shot.

RELATED READ: The 21 Different Types of Espresso Drinks

Pros
  • Bold, concentrated flavor
  • Generally served straight
  • Made with less water
  • Three layers, with foamy crema
Cons
  • May be too strong

What’s a Lungo?

Lungo, which means “long” in Italian, is a different way to pull an espresso shot that gives it a slightly milder flavor. The beverage is also made with an espresso machine, but it takes longer to pull the shot. A lungo can take up to a minute to pull. This means there is more water, resulting in a less intense flavor than an espresso, which has a shorter pull. A lungo is two ounces.

pulling an espresso shot

Lungos have a more bitter taste than a regular espresso because the shot takes longer to pull and the longer time affects the extraction of the grounds. The shots pulled for a lungo will also have three parts, but there will be less crema. Lungos can also be enjoyed with multiple shots if the consumer prefers.

Pros
  • Slightly milder flavor and more caffeine
  • Longer shot made with more water
  • Generally served straight
Cons
  • May be bitter
  • Less crema
  • Takes longer to pull

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The Main Differences:

The three differences are taste, quantity, and caffeine level. All three of these are explained in more detail below.

1. Taste

The taste will be different because of the different pull times. Since the extraction takes longer for a lungo, it often has a harsher, more bitter taste than espresso does. It also does not have as intense of a flavor as espresso does because it’s less concentrated. Espresso has a bold, rich flavor and the crema is arguably the most enjoyable part of an espresso shot. As mentioned above, espresso has an intense flavor because of the smaller amount of water being pushed through all the coffee grounds.

2. Quantity

Lungos are made with about twice as much water, so they’re larger than espresso shots. A regular shot has about one ounce of espresso and a lungo shot makes two ounces.

3. Caffeine Level

The longer an espresso shot is pulled, the more caffeine it has. This is because you’re more fully extracting the coffee grounds. A lungo will have more caffeine than regular espresso, but only by a little bit.


Here are some other types of coffees we’ve compared:

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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