Coffee Facts

Nespresso Lungo vs Espresso

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What’s in a name? By any other name, coffee would taste as sweet, right? Of course! In the world of coffee, there’s a lot of coffee lingo to learn, but knowing what to call your drink helps you understand what you prefer and how to order it.

Nespresso offers an endless variety of coffee types that work well with all their Nespresso Coffee Machines. But maybe you’re a little overwhelmed by it or wondering which you’d prefer. We’re here to help you break down two of the most popular coffee types: the espresso and the lungo.

nespresso lungo vs espresso

What is Espresso?

We all enjoy our foamy cappuccinos and frothy lattes, but what exactly is the shot of espresso that makes the drink so delicious? Let’s find out!

Espresso is about one ounce of concentrated coffee. Typically, espresso is made in an espresso machine that forces nearly boiling water using intense pressure through finely-ground coffee beans, or what we call espresso powder. 

You can make espresso from a wide variety of coffee beans, but because of the volume and method of brewing, it tends to be thicker and richer in flavor than regular black coffee.

Origins of Espresso

Espresso didn’t even exist until the late 1800s! Its name derives from the Italian word esprimere, which means ‘to express’ or ‘to press out.’ 

The earliest espresso machines forced steam over a dose of ground coffee (usually around 20 grams of coffee grounds) rather than pressure. It resulted in a slightly burnt flavor but still delivered the same punch of caffeine.

It wasn’t until the piston pump was developed for the original designs that hot, boiling water was forced over the grounds, and the rich, concentrated Italian-style coffee we love was born.

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How do we drink espresso today?

The taste of espresso only improves in many of our favorite drinks! Perhaps the most well-known is a latte, simply a shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and a dollop of foam.

Another fan favorite is a cappuccino. This drink is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. Or cold milk and whipped cream if you’re ordering a frappuccino. 

There’s also a latte macchiato, which is a latte in reverse. You add the espresso to the steamed milk in this drink, then top it with foam.

Another well-known espresso-based drink is the Americano, simply an espresso with a hot water adjustment at the end. It’s for people that may want to avoid the heavy creams but don’t always enjoy the strong flavor of espresso.

Of course, there are endless espresso-based drinks and combinations that you can create!

What is Lungo?

Lungo is the Italian word for ‘long,’ which refers to a type of espresso that takes longer to pull. It’s also sometimes called stretched coffee. I know! I promised you they were different, and they are.

This drink is made using an espresso machine and the same quantity of finely-ground espresso beans, but twice the almost boiling water. A regular espresso machine might be adjusted to draw a lungo, or you can let the espresso shot run longer.

A lungo takes about a minute to pull (twice as long as an espresso!) and produces about two ounces of liquid. For those who find regular espresso overwhelming, the flavor of a lungo tends to be a bit less sharp but slightly more bitter. 

Origins of Lungo

Though not much is known about where or when this drink was first created, the lungo also originates from Italy. Perhaps a barista made it by accident, or someone decided to experiment with the time it takes to pull an espresso. Either way, a unique coffee beverage was born.

Commonly confused with lungo

Many people confuse the Long Black with the lungo. The Long Black starts with a lungo shot and then adds equal parts of hot water.

It’s like the Americano of lungos. 

How is it different from an Americano? Well, a lungo brews all of its water, while the Americano adds water after the brew.

Another drink that is commonly confused with the lungo is the ristretto. The ristretto uses a third of the water of a lungo and has an even richer, more potent flavor. 

You can always add milk or foam to any lungo to make a delicious coffee drink.

The Showdown

We want to know how these two drinks compare in the Nespresso line of products. So let’s put them head to head to find out!

WaterAbout 1 oz (30 ml)About 2 oz (60 ml
FlavorMore intense, less bitterRounded flavor, more bitter
AppearanceMore cremaLess crema, lighter in color

 Water Volume

A shot of espresso uses about 30 milliliters of water, while a lungo uses twice that amount. This means your espresso is only a couple of sips, while your lungo tends to be a bit more.

This variance in water affects the intensity and flavor the way you may predict it will, but not the caffeine content.

Caffeine Content

You might assume using more water would dilute the caffeine in a lungo. However, this isn’t the case!

Despite both using the same weight of coffee grounds to start with, the lungo extracts more caffeine because it takes longer to pull. Using an espresso pod to create a lungo will just result in over-extracted espresso. Always use the correct pods.

However, caffeine content also depends on which Nespresso capsules you choose. Nespresso makes decaf lines for espresso and lungo and offers the Kazaar Intenso.

The Kazaar Intenso is one of the strongest espresso capsules and contains about 120 milligrams of caffeine per serving! That is sure to start your day off right.


The espresso, using less water, tends to have a more intense, robust flavor. It is bright and rich, and robust. Even the aftertaste of a perfect espresso can leave a sweet taste in your mouth.

On the other hand, the lungo tends to be more bitter and has a rounder flavor. It isn’t as sweet or rich as espresso. 

Much of the flavor does come down to which Nespresso capsule you choose and the better quality coffee bean, the better-tasting coffee.


Of course, the most noticeable part of their appearances is the quantity. At one small ounce, an espresso shot doesn’t look like much. On the other hand, the lungo takes up twice the space.

An espresso shot is darker in color, leaning towards black, and should contain about a third of an inch of golden crema. A lungo has a thinner, lighter crema, a lighter brown coloring, and a more translucent quality than the espresso. 

The Verdict

Honestly, we can’t decide! A lot comes down to your preference in flavor and taste. If you’re a coffee connoisseur looking for a slightly more bitter aftertaste with a rounder flavor, pop a Nespresso lungo capsule into your machine.

But if you prefer the rich, intense flavors of a traditional espresso, Nespresso has you covered, as well.

You’re a winner either way! By adding any combination of milk, water, and sweeteners, you can create delicious cappuccinos, macchiatos, long blacks, or lattes that will thrill and delight you during your morning routine. 

Happy Caffeinating! 

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