What Is The Difference Between Long And Short Espresso?

Are you a fan of espresso? Me too! I can’t even remember the day that I didn’t have one. I mean, who doesn’t love espresso though?

Long or short, every coffee aficionado knows how it feels like when it comes to espresso. There’s really something in this drink that makes your day. But how does a long espresso differ from a short espresso?

A long espresso, lungo, is made with a single shot of espresso but with more water, which results in a larger or bigger coffee. A short espresso, ristretto, is also prepared with a shot of espresso but with only half the amount of water resulting in a richer, denser, and more bitter flavor.

If you’re into espresso, this is the perfect time to know more about your favorite beverage. We will provide more comprehensive details about a long and a short espresso, and let’s see which one has more fandom.

What Is Espresso? How Is It Made?

Using an espresso machine, the finely ground coffee beans are forced under high temperatures of about 190°F resulting in a thicker and more concentrated liquid. When a shot of espresso is pulled, the natural crema on top of it stays for a few minutes until it dissolves by itself.

The crema helps retain the natural nutrients from the ground coffee beans. This keeps the espresso taste richer with a sweet tone of caramel and aftertaste that lingers.

Espresso is widely used as a coffee base in many beverages such as the popular cappuccino, flat white, macchiato, cortado, latte, americano, and more. There are also alcoholic drinks that are made with espresso such as corretto and espresso martini.

In Europe, espresso is very common in making different kinds of coffee drinks, especially in Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal.

The word espresso has different translations. Some say that it means pressed out, while others claim that it means to prepare quickly.

What makes espresso versatile is that it’s both a drink and a brewing method. There is no specific coffee bean that is used to make an espresso. However, the most common coffee beans used are Robusta and Arabica. Some countries use a darker roast of coffee beans while others would prefer using a lighter roast.

Long Espresso

As defined earlier, a long espresso or a lungo is prepared with more amount of water in a single shot of espresso. It also takes about a minute to pull a shot with about 130 to 170 ml. It’s usually made out of a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee blends.

For a long espresso, the water is brewed, and the taste is milder than the regular shot because of the higher amount of water. However, the longer extraction time for a lungo makes it a little bitter, which is the result of over-extraction in espresso.

Lungo means long in Italian.

A long espresso may taste a little weaker than the regular shot, but it does contain more caffeine due to its longer extraction time.

A lungo can’t be mistaken for an americano. It’s longer than a short espresso but shorter than an americano or a long black.

How To Make A Long Espresso Or Lungo At Home

If you already have your own espresso machine at home, you’re good to go. If you haven’t, there are much cheaper but good-quality espresso machines that you check on Amazon.

You need:

  • 18 grams of ground coffee beans
  • Filtered water

What to do:

  • Remove any remaining coffee grounds from the portafilter or group handle. Fill the portafilter and grind with ground coffee beans.
  • Level and tamp the portafilter then clean off the loose coffee grounds.
  • Put the portafilter back into the grouphead and start pulling long shots with more water. It should be about 1 1/2 to 2 oz. Pull the shot in 30 to 35 seconds, which is longer than a regular espresso shot would.
  • Place your cup under the group handle.
  • Once done, remove the grouphead and clean it off.

Short Espresso

A short espresso, also known as espresso ristretto, is a shorter shot in a 25 to 30 ml cup with half the amount of water than a long espresso. Like a lungo, it’s also made with the same amount of ground coffee although it’s extracted finer and pulled in about 15 seconds.

Ristretto means shortened in Italian, which can be ordered as single or double shots with a more concentrated, intense taste but less bitter than a long espresso. This is due to its shorter extraction time, which gives a different balance.

Most coffee aficionados prefer drinking a straight ristretto because it’s more pronounced with a full-body, bolder flavor of espresso. A short espresso can be made through a hand-pressed or an automatic espresso machine.

A ristretto gives more aroma than a lungo because it’s more concentrated, especially the first part of its extraction. Many coffee drinkers love the first extraction as it’s more intense with richer floral notes. However, some think that a short espresso is too strong for them and prefer to add milk or creamer.

How To Make A Short Espresso Or Ristretto At Home

Assuming that you already have your own espresso machine, making a Ristretto is easier.

You need:

  • 18 grams of ground coffee beans
  • Filtered water

What to do:

  • Fill the portafilter with ground coffee and grind.
  • Level and tamp the ground coffee in the portafilter and clean all the loose coffee off the group handle.
  • Put the portafilter back to the grouphead and start pulling a shot in 15 seconds with less water since this is a short espresso. Thus, it must be around 1/2 oz.
  • Place your espresso cup under the portafilter. It should be darker compared to a long espresso due to its shorter extraction time.
  • Once you’re done pulling a shot, remove the portafilter and clean off the grouphead.

Best Espresso Machines For Home Use

Unlike the espresso machines at coffee shops, yours need not be really fancy. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make a good coffee out of it. The coffee beans used as well as how you do it are the key factors in making an ideal shot of espresso or a cup of joe.

Whether you’re on a budget or you have a deep pocket to invest in espresso machines, we have this list for you. These are also available on Amazon.

  • Breville Barista Express
  • Breville Bambino Plus
  • Cuisinart EM-100
  • Nespresso VertuoPlus
  • Nespresso Essenza Mini
  • Brentwood GA-125 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
  • DeLonghi EC702
  • DeLonghi EC155
  • DeLonghi EC3420
  • DeLonghi Magnifica
  • Bella (13683) Personal Espresso Maker with Steam Wand
  • Capresso Four-Cup Espresso & Cappuccino Machine
  • Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
  • Mr. Coffee Cafe 20-Ounce Steam Automatic
  • Imusa Four-Cup Electric Espresso & Cappuccino Maker
  • Bella Pro Series
  • Aicook 3.5 Bar Espresso Coffee Maker

Espresso-Based Beverages

Most coffee-lovers always have their eyes on espresso. And this is why it’s a popular base for coffee beverages and even used on cocktails or alcoholic drinks. Apart from a long and a short espresso, there are many other espresso-based drinks that you can actually try at home.

As long as you have what you need like an espresso machine, your coffee side of things must be easier.

So, if you’re starting a coffee adventure, these espresso-based drinks are definitely worth your time.

  • Caffe Latte
  • Cappuccino
  • Americano
  • Cortado
  • Macchiato
  • Flat White
  • Red Eye
  • Affogato
  • Mocha
  • Breve
  • Espresso Con Panna
  • Iced Latte
  • Doppio
  • Corretto
  • Cubano
  • Espresso Martini
  • Vodka Espresso
  • Cafe Caribbean
  • Irish Coffee
  • Flaming Spanish Coffee

The Bottom Line

Both long and short espresso are made with a single shot, and are commonly drank straight. However, a lungo or a long espresso has more caffeine levels than a short espresso due to its longer extraction. The extraction time also causes the taste to be more bitter than a ristretto.

Nonetheless, both espresso drinks are popular among coffee aficionados and are used as a base in many beverages including cocktails. Also, as long as you don’t go over 400 mg of caffeine intake per day, which is recommended by the FDA, you should be fine.