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Lungo is Italian for 'long', and refers to the coffee beverage made by using an espresso machine to make an espresso (single or double dose or shot) with much more water (generally twice as much), resulting in a stretched espresso, a lungo.
A normal espresso takes from 18 up to 30 seconds to pull, and fills 25 to 30 millilitres, while a lungo may take up to a minute to pull, and might fill 50 to 60 millilitres.
In French it is called café allongé.
A caffè lungo should not be mistaken for a caffè americano, which is an espresso with hot water added to it, or a long black, which is hot water with espresso added to it (inverse order to Americano; done so to preserve the crema).
In the lungo, all the water is brewed, and the lungo is generally shorter than an Americano or a long black.
A significantly longer drink, comparable in size to an Americano or long black, rare in the Anglosphere, is the caffè crema, which, like the lungo, is all brewed water, but is about twice as long as a lungo.
A lungo is less strong, but more bitter, because the additional hot water passing through the ground coffee extracts components that would normally remain undissolved. The more water is passed through the coffee grounds, the more bitter and watery the shot tastes. Conversely, using less water than normal produces a stronger, richer shot known as a ristretto.
As the amount of water is increased or decreased relative to a normal shot, the composition of the shot changes, because not all flavour components of coffee dissolve at the same rate. For this reason, a long or short shot will not contain the same ratio of components that a normal shot contains. Therefore, a ristretto is not simply twice as "strong" as a regular shot, nor is a lungo simply half the strength. Moreover, since espresso is brewed under pressure, a lungo does not have the same taste or composition as coffee produced by other methods, even when made with the same ratio of water and ground coffee.
There is no universally agreed distinction between ristretto, normale, and lungo; these are instead relative terms and form a gradient. Nevertheless, a rough guide is a brewing ratio of 1:1 for ristretto, 1:2 for normale, and 1:3–1:4 for lungo – a doppio ristretto thus being 30 ml/1 oz (cream increases this volume), normale being 60 ml/2 oz, and lungo being 90–120 ml/3–4 oz. By contrast, a caffè crema will be approximately 180 ml/6 oz.
- Americano (coffee) – hot water added to espresso (in that order).
- Caffè crema
- Long black – espresso added to hot water (in that order); famous in Australia.
- Ristretto - half-length extraction; the opposite of a lungo
- Brewing ratios for espresso beverages
- Espresso, Ristretto and Lungo brewing ratios