Deep Dive: What Is a Lungo?

Deep Dive: What Is a Lungo?

It's a long shot, but it works.
by Kayla Baird | April 29, 2021

Grab your wetsuits, we're taking a deep dive into some of our favorite café drinks. After a drawn-out wait, we're going in on the lungo.

Key facts

Definition: A lungo is an espresso, pulled for a longer amount of time, with more water.

Other terms: lungo espresso, long shot, or café allongé

What is a lungo?

Lungo, meaning “long shot” in its most basic sense, is an espresso made with more water than typical (as opposed to a ristretto espresso or coffee, which is made with less hot water than normal). A “typical” recipe for an espresso is about 1:2, or 18 grams of ground coffee to 36 grams of coffee. While this can range, a lungo usually has a ratio of 1:3 to 1:4 coffee to water. This means that a serving of lungo coffee is usually twice the size of a typical espresso.

So what happens when an espresso is made with the same amount of coffee as usual but with more hot water? While the amount of caffeine will stay relatively the same, the drink becomes more diluted and weaker by volume than a regular espresso.

History of the lungo

Before you get ready to brew coffee at home, let’s uncover the history of lungo coffee. While “lungo” is an Italian way of describing coffee, café allongé is the French term. You will likely not find these terms at specialty coffee shops in the US, but depending on the barista, you may encounter a longer than typical shot, ranging outside the typical 1:2 ratio.

What does it taste like?

In coffee extraction, fruit acids are extracted first, then sugars, and finally, bittering components. What is espresso in this regard? It is a magnification of the extraction processthis, and the best espresso coffee has all three components in balance.

Since there is more water in a lungo shot, it will dilute more than a typical espresso shot. Yet, since the flavor compounds are still being extracted, a lungo shot is more developed. The usage of more water magnifies everything about the coffee, including the roast flavor. Therefore, depending on the coffee shop, there will be a tendency to see longer shots with lighter roasted coffees.

Similar drinks and variations

While the lungo has often become confused with americano flavors or the long black, it’s distinctly different. While both of those drinks consist of a 1:2 espresso with water added to the cup before or after brewing, a lungo is greater than 1:2 and composed entirely of espresso.

Coffee recommendations

With a coating creaminess, a gentle acidity, and plenty of fruity sweetness that cools to milk chocolate Dune's Ecuador Hacienda La Papaya Natural is a very fun shot.

A distinct herbal characteristic that turns into rose, with a deep honeyed sweetness, Methodical's Ecuador Rosa Encarnacion makes a memorable cup — no matter how it’s brewed.

Metric's Peru El Rejo has a lingering vanilla sweetness that highlights the green apple acidity in a balanced espresso. Learn more about what makes coffee taste acidic.

Lungo aside, there are many drinks to choose from when talking about coffee. Here at Trade, we’ve got a wide variety of coffees for you to try. Whether you want to learn how to make cowboy coffee or freshen up on some coffee brewing tips, we’re here to help.

Take our coffee quiz to see which coffee is best for you!

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