Lungo vs Espresso

Lungo vs Espresso

Exploring Key Differences and Flavors

When it comes to lungo vs espresso, many coffee drinkers may not be aware of the key differences between these two popular brewing methods. Understanding the distinction between a regular espresso and a lungo coffee can elevate your appreciation for these concentrated coffee drinks. 

So sit back and get ready as we unravel their unique characteristics in terms of flavor intensity, brewing process, and compatibility with Nespresso capsules.

#1 What is Espresso?

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An espresso is a popular type of coffee that originated in Italy and has become a staple for coffee lovers worldwide. 

A classic espresso is recognized for its intense, full-bodied taste and smooth, velvety consistency. The term “espresso” comes from the Italian word “express,” which means to press out or force out – referring to the method used to brew this type of coffee.

#2 What is a Lungo?

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A lungo, which means “long” in Italian, is a type of coffee that’s brewed using more water than an espresso. The result is a larger cup of coffee with slightly less intensity and different flavor characteristics compared to its shorter counterpart. 

#3 The Main Differences Between Lungo Vs Espresso

Although both lungo and espresso are types of coffee made using an espresso machine, there are several differences between the two that set them apart. 

In this section, we will explore these distinctions.

Brewing Process

An espresso shot is made by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water (usually about 30ml) under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. The process typically takes about 20 to 30 seconds, resulting in a concentrated shot of coffee.

Lungo is also made using an espresso machine. However, in this case, more water (usually about 90ml) is forced through the coffee grounds. The process takes longer (usually about a minute), hence the name ‘long.’

Caffeine Level

One common misconception is that a lungo contains more caffeine than an espresso due to its larger volume. However, the caffeine content in both beverages is quite similar because they use the same amount of coffee grounds. 

The difference lies in how much water passes through those grounds.


In terms of flavor profile, espressos tend to be bold and intense with concentrated notes from the beans used. They have a robust coffee flavor and a creamy layer on top known as crema. 

On the other hand, lungos have a milder taste, as they allow more water to pass through the coffee grounds during extraction. 

This results in less concentrated flavors and often brings out subtler nuances from different bean varieties or roasts.


A notable distinction between these two coffees lies in their respective volumes: espressos typically yield around 25-30ml per shot while lungos produce nearly double that amount at approximately 50-60ml. 

This difference is due to the longer extraction time and increased water volume used in brewing a lungo, which also affects its taste and appearance.


The composition of these two beverages varies as well. 

Espressos are made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee under high pressure for a short period (around 25-30 seconds), resulting in a thick, syrupy liquid with a layer of crema on top. 

Lungos have a higher volume than espresso due to the extra water, and they’re usually served in larger cups. The texture is less syrupy than an espresso, more akin to a regular coffee.


An espresso typically has a dark brown hue with golden-brown crema, while Lungo’s lighter brown shade reflects its diluted nature compared to espresso shots. 

Additionally, the crema on top of espresso tends to be thicker than that found atop a lungo due to higher concentrations of oils extracted during the shorter brewing process.

#4 How to Make the Perfect Lungo

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A lungo offers a unique flavor profile compared to its espresso counterpart and can be enjoyed on its own or used as a base for other coffee beverages. Follow these simple steps to create a delicious and well-balanced lungo at home:

  1. Choose the right beans: Start by selecting high-quality coffee beans with flavors that suit your preferences. 
  2. Grind consistency: For making a perfect lungo, aim for slightly coarser grinds than what’s typically used for espresso – this will allow water to flow through more easily during extraction while still providing rich flavors.
  3. Dose accurately: Measure approximately 18-20 grams of ground coffee (or adjust according to personal preference) into your portafilter basket before tamping evenly with moderate pressure. 
  4. Brewing parameters: Set up your espresso machine by adjusting temperature settings (around 195°F/90°C), pre-infusion times, and pump pressure if necessary.
  5. Pull the shot: To begin extracting, start by activating the pump on your espresso machine and allowing water to flow through the coffee grounds. A lungo typically takes around 50-60 seconds to pull, with a final volume of approximately 2 ounces (60 ml) – double that of a standard espresso shot.

Making the perfect lungo may require some trial and error, but with practice and attention to detail, you’ll soon be able to master this delightful brewing method.

#5 Are Lungos Less Intense or Flavorful Than Espresso?

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The debate between lungo and espresso often revolves around the intensity and flavor profile of these two types of coffee. While both are derived from the same beans, their brewing methods result in distinct differences in taste, aroma, and overall experience. 

Let’s explore how these factors contribute to their unique characteristics.

#6 Can I Make a Lungo Using Espresso Nespresso Capsules?

If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to make a lungo using Nespresso capsules, the answer is yes. However, there are some important factors to consider when attempting this. 

In this section, we’ll discuss how to use your espresso Nespresso capsules for making a delicious lungo and what differences you can expect in taste and quality.

Tips for Making a Lungo with an Espresso Nespresso Capsule:

  1. Select the right capsule: Choose an espresso capsule with a balanced flavor profile that will not become too bitter or overpowering when brewed as a lungo.
  2. Brew at correct volume: When brewing your lungo, ensure that you set your machine to dispense approximately 110ml of water through the capsule instead of its default setting for espressos (usually around 25-40 ml).
  3. Maintain proper extraction time: Aim for an extraction time between 20-30 seconds; anything longer might result in over-extraction which could lead to bitterness or sour taste.


Overall, the main difference between lungo and espresso is the amount of water used during the brewing process. 

Lungos are prepared with more water than standard espressos, resulting in a less concentrated coffee drink. However, this doesn’t mean that lungos are less intense or flavorful than espressos. They can offer a unique taste profile that’s worth exploring.

If you’re interested in trying out different coffee drinks and experimenting with your espresso machine or Nespresso capsule, making a lungo is worth considering. 

If you want to learn more about different types of coffee drinks and how to make them at home, check out The Music Ambition. Our site provides helpful tools for those wishing to further their barista or home-brewing skills.

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