Lungo Vs. Americano (What’s The Difference?)

The world of espresso-based coffee drinks can be confusing. The humble espresso shot comes in many forms and is used to prepare many fantastic drinks, but telling some of them apart can be challenging, and worse still is remembering the components, methods, and recipes of each type of drink prepared with espresso. Two of the most often confused drinks in this category are the Lungo and the Americano. 

The Lungo is a long espresso shot brewed by grinding the coffee coarser and pulling more water through the grinds. The Lungo is usually brewed with a 1:3 ratio. The Americano is an espresso-based drink prepared by mixing hot water with one or two shots of regular espresso. 

The Lungo and the Americano are similar in some ways, but they are very different in others. If you enjoy black coffee, especially the kind prepared with espresso, then you are likely to enjoy both of these drinks. However, understanding the differences between them will help you order each drink based on your preference and will highlight the unique aspects of both these beverages. 

How Do Lungo and Americano Compare?

Comparing an Americano with a Lungo is relatively simple. These drinks are prepared with the same fundamental ingredients, water, and coffee, but they are experientially very different. 

The Lungo is a small drink served in a demitasse cup or a small glass. This drink has a relatively thick texture and is still quite intense to drink. The Lungo is still a form of an espresso shot, so it should be drunk quickly and enjoyed without any additive. 

The Americano is a large drink, typically served in a mug or in a tall glass, and is very smooth and easy to drink. The large volume of water added to the shot of espresso used for the drink makes the Americano very smooth while allowing the richness of the espresso to shine.

The Lungo is a small drink that tastes like espresso, only a little less dense and intense, but the Americano is a larger drink that has intensity and strength similar to filter coffee, with all of the subtle flavors of espresso spread out throughout the drink. 

 Both of these drinks bear the flavors of espresso, but the Americano is far easier to drink and much more diluted. The Lungo is ideal for those who enjoy drinking espresso but would rather have the flavors of the coffee brought to the surface more. 

The Lungo

The Lungo is a very modern drink that is only likely to be found in modern specialty coffee shops. However, the increasing popularity of this beverage means that it is spreading quickly throughout the world of coffee, and soon every corner café will be brewing and serving Lungos.

The Lungo is a modern version of espresso. The word “lungo” means “long coffee,” which gives us a clue as to what this drink is. Essentially, the Lungo is a long espresso shot. This drink is less dense, less rich, and slightly less intense than regular Espresso or Ristretto shots. 

This modern espresso is prepared by grinding the coffee beans more coarsely than one would for regular Espresso and quite a lot coarser than for Ristretto. Grinding more coarsely means that more water can be pulled through the coffee to create a larger, well-extracted espresso drink that is lighter and less harsh than regular Espresso.

Photo of Lungo coffee in white cup

The Lungo is a much-beloved beverage among those who enjoy espresso but who also enjoy tasting the subtleties of coffee. Normal espresso drinks can be very intense and can make tasting the complex flavor notes of the coffee very challenging.

Pulling a longer shot in the Lungo slightly dilutes the coffee and sightly mutes the intensity of the drink, which allows the unique flavors of the coffee to be found more easily. 

The modern Lungo is brewed at a ratio of around 1:3 but can sometimes be found brewed with a ratio as high as 1:6. Anything more than this is not typically found, and brewing with more water than this is likely to tarnish the espresso beverage. 

The standard 1:3 ratio means that the Lungo is still a small drink, so don’t expect something in a mug, but it is less intense than Ristretto or Espresso shots. 

The Americano

Photo of iced americano coffee in clear glass

The Americano is another classic espresso-based beverage enjoyed by lovers of black coffee, but this drink is not the same as a Lungo for many reasons. 

The Americano is typically prepared by pulling one or two shots of regular espresso and combining the espresso with freshly boiled water. The combination of the espresso and hot water dilutes the espresso and produces a very rich, strong, intense, yet very drinkable black coffee. 

The amount of water added to the shot of espresso to form the Americano is variable based on the barista preparing the drink, but the basic components always remain the same. 

The Americano provides the taste ad flavor profile of espresso without the intensity or harshness that can be associated with espresso. This drink is often compared to filter coffee, but the clean process of brewing the espresso that the Americano is made with produces a very clean, clear cup of coffee. 

This drink highlights all of the complexities of the espresso that it is made with, allowing the flavor notes and characteristics of the espresso to shine while making the coffee more palatable and easier to drink without masking any of its flavors with sweeteners or milk. 

The Americano is often used as a base to create other drinks that include various iced beverages, but many enjoy the American simply black and hot as prepared or over ice on a hot day. 

If you enjoy coffee and all of its flavors, then drinking an Americano is likely a treat for you, as every subtle flavor of the coffee is made to be pronounced and clear by the Americano. 

Conclusion

The Americano is a classic espresso-based drink that is very popular all over the world. This is a way to dilute espresso to a similar strength as filter coffee, allowing for a very easy drinking espresso drink. 

The Lungo is a modern version of espresso that highlights every subtle flavor of the coffee without losing the intensity of espresso. Both of these drinks are delicious, and if you are the type of coffee drinker who enjoys espresso or black coffee, they will both satisfy your coffee needs.