Espresso v lungo (and what’s a ristretto?)
What is the difference between espresso and lungo? Let’s decode the coffee shop menu and check out their differences!
Espresso and lungo are not different types of coffee. A lungo is a type of espresso (and so is a ristretto) that you can make in an espresso machine. Lungo coffee uses more water and a longer extraction time an espresso =. This gives a less punchy drink that’s double the size of your espresso.
Intrigued? Want to learn more about this bit-bigger-than-tiny espresso drink? Then come with us, coffee friends, come with us…
What is an espresso?
Hear ‘espresso’ and what do you think? Small, pack-a-punch strong? Yup, you’re spot on!
But we can get a bit more precise. Fancy an espresso definition?
An espresso is a specific way of preparing coffee using high pressure and finely ground coffee. Every good espresso will have a frothy crema sitting on the top, too. It’s the crowning glory.
Here are the key points for an espresso:
- Hot water
- High pressure
- Finely ground coffee
- Concentrated final drink
- Brew ratio of 1:2 (this means you’ll need 15g of coffee and 30ml of water for a single shot)
Ticked them all off? Then you’ve got an espresso!
Espresso-making is an art, and a very beautiful one too. Baristas spend years perfecting the perfect pull, but they’re oh-so-doable at home. Pull an espresso, and the coffee possibilities are endless. We’re talking cappuccino, americano, affogato (ice cream!), flat white…
What is lungo coffee?
Lungo coffee is a type of espresso. It’s not a different type of coffee drink; it’s another drink that comes under the ‘espresso’ umbrella.
Sensing some italiano? Right again!
Lungo means ‘long’ in Italian. The ‘long’ part refers to the time a lungo takes to extract and the volume of the finished drink. A lungo requires a longer extraction time than an espresso and produces a coffee drink that’s about the same size as a double espresso. Fancy some numbers? Your lungo will be two ounces, or 60ml. Compare this to the one ounce (30ml) single espresso.
Say ‘lungo’ a few years ago, and you wouldn’t have been trendy. Sorry. Because it’s only in recent years that the lungo has become cool. Coffee folk saw them as weak, with a lacklustre body. Had they just not tried a good lungo? Perhaps.
What does lungo coffee taste like?
What is the difference between espresso and lungo flavour? The lungo taste isn’t a million miles away from your beloved espresso. Not even a hundred miles, to be honest.
But there are some differences.
- Compared to espresso, a well-made lungo will taste balanced, roasty and more mild.
- It will taste less concentrated because there is a higher water-to-coffee ratio. The brew ratio for an espresso is 1:2 (one part coffee to two parts water) and 1:4 for a lungo. This means that the amount of coffee doesn’t change, while the amount of water doubles.
- A lungo might have some bitterness. The flavours in coffee extract at different rates. Acidity extracts first, followed by sweetness and then finally bitterness. Caffeine extracts last – it’s what brings bitterness. Hence, the longer lungo extraction time might bring a little bitter taste to your cup.
How do you make lungo coffee?
To make lungo coffee, you need to grind slightly coarser than you would for an espresso. Don’t skip this step; using that super fine espresso grind might cause the water to sit for too long in the grounds and give you OVER-EXTRACTION. And this is BAD – that’s why we’re using CAPITALS.
Many home espresso makers feature a lungo preset. Can’t see a ‘lungo’ button? Don’t stress. It’s simple to adjust the pull time and water amount yourself. Just use double the amount of water (60ml rather than 30ml) and extract for around one minute rather than the 25 to 30 seconds you use for your espresso.
And you’re done, you awesome Lungo Legend!
What is ristretto?
Ever seen ristretto on a coffee shop menu? While we’re checking out the differences between espresso and lungo, we thought we’d have a nosey into this mini maestro.
Like a lungo, the ristretto is a type of espresso preparation. It translates to ‘restricted’ in Italian and is smaller, stronger and more concentrated than an espresso. Still made on your espresso machine, though.
If you put ristretto, lungo and espresso on a scale, espresso would be in the middle, with lungo on one side and ristretto on the other. Because a ristretto is kinda like the reverse of a lungo. While you make a ‘long’ lungo using a longer extraction time and more water, ristrettos take less time (around 15 seconds) to extract than espressos and use less water. The ristretto brew ratio is 1:1. Yup, it’s pretty punchy!
What does ristretto taste like?
Is ristretto stronger than espresso? Yes, siree! It’s all down to the high amount of coffee to water, which gives you a super-duper-concentrated-and-slightly-thicker drink.
Remember what we said before about acidic flavour compounds extracting first? This is the flavour profile that stands out in a ristretto. Unlike a roasty espresso and milder, slightly bitter lungo, ristrettos taste fruity, fragrant and more acidic. They are slightly lower in caffeine (remember, caffeine compounds extract last) but, oh my, are they intense!
Want to learn more about the classic espresso coffee? Click below!
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