Coffee made with an espresso machine using more water than you would for espresso turns it into a lungo coffee. Lungo in Italian means “long” and it tends to be served black so when you order a Lungo coffee you are asking for a long black coffee.
In the UK Lungo refers mainly to a type of coffee pod that Nespresso offer as part of their range which they specifically call “Lungo coffee capsules”.
The coffee is formulated to get the best flavour from more water being delivered with these capsules rather than with Nespresso espresso capsules.
On Nespresso machines, the default water delivery for Espresso is 40ml of water and for Lungo 110ml of water.
You should never use an espresso capsule and press the lungo button to get 110ml of water because the coffee will be over-extracted and will adversely affect the flavour.
If you only have espresso capsules then press the espresso button (40 ml of water) then eject the capsule and add more water that way for a long black coffee rather than adding more water through the coffee grounds.
The Lungo button should only be used (100ml of water) with the Lungo capsules.
If you are using a regular espresso machine or a bean to cup coffee machine then its best to deliver a double espresso and add water to taste to get yourself a long black coffee rather than pump loads of water through the used coffee grounds.
Using the correct coffee to water ratio is very important. If you get ti wrong it can easily make the difference between a great-tasting cup of coffee and a terrible one.
Find out more about ratio’s in this article:
What is the difference between a Lungo coffee and an Americano?
Interestingly you cannot order a Lungo in a high street coffee shop in the UK because if you want a long black coffee then you are required to order an Americano.
This can get really confusing because an Americano is a long black coffee, isn’t it? Therefore, an Americano and a Lungo must be the same thing then?
They are actually very different and are prepared in a different way with different amounts of water.
With a Lungo, all of the water you are going to use to make your Lungo coffee is pushed through the coffee grounds.
With an Americano, hot water is added to a double espresso after the espresso has been delivered so you are adding water after the brewing process is finished rather adding all the water during the brewing process.
There is a difference between the two in terms of flavour profile but it just depends on how weak or strong you like your coffee.
For more information on Americano you can take a look at this article:
How much water do you add to make a lungo?
Between 100-110ml of water can be delivered through a lungo coffee pod for the optimum flavour.
If you find that is a little strong for you then be sure to eject the capsule before adding more water to avoid a bitter taste.
Find out about some great tasting, cheaper alternatives in this article:
Does a lungo coffee have more caffeine than an espresso?
The amount of caffeine will not change whether you drink a Lungo, Americano, Espresso or any other kind of espresso-based drink such as a Cappuccino or Latte.
These are all espresso-based drinks that become more diluted with the addition of more water or milk but as long as you drink the whole drink then you’ll be getting the same amount of caffeine.
What is the difference between espresso and lungo?
Water is the difference between an espresso and a lungo. 40ml of water being pushed through the ground coffee will create an espresso and 110ml for a lungo.
Espresso will be a much more intense flavour and a lungo less strong because the water dilutes it. We say less strong because a Lungo it is most certainly not weak or mild, it’s just less intense than espresso.
Can you add milk to a lungo coffee?
As a general rule, Lungo coffee should be drunk black but we don’t know who made up that rule so if you want to add some milk and it works for you then go right ahead.
Just be sure to heat your milk first because adding cold milk will just kill the overall flavour.
Milk frothers don’t just froth up milk for cappuccinos and lattes they also heat milk to the perfect temperature to add to your Lungo.
A choice of milk frothers can be found in this article:
Is Lungo better than Americano?
The bottom line is that Americano and Lungo’s are both long black coffee drinks so which one is the best?
In our opinion, Americano is better than Lungo because with Americano you are giving yourself more flexibility to tweak your coffee so it’s just how you like it.
Nespresso machines deliver 110ml of water with their Lungo coffee capsules but if you go down the road of Americano then regardless of the type of espresso machine you have you can deliver a double espresso and then add water to taste.
The Golden Rule
Whichever type of coffee drink you favour, by far the most important thing is the coffee itself.
Always buy whole coffee beans and grind them just before making a Lungo
Don’t use tap water because your Lungo is going to be at least 90% water so fresh filtered or Spring water will make a big difference to the flavour.
Here are a few detailed articles that will help you to choose the right coffee beans and why using the right water is super important as well for the best possible tasting Lungo: