With coffee culture and literal coffee science advancing at a rapid pace, we are now spoiled with a vast selection of coffees using different brewing methods and recipes.
Among them, Lungo and cold brew are popular coffee beverages, but some will understandably wonder how these coffee drinks differ.
Let me give you the answer by discussing the ingredients, ratios, recipes, and flavors of the two beverages. After reading my article, you’ll know exactly what sets the Lungo and cold brew apart, just like a barista at your favorite café.
Key takeaway: What’s the difference between a Cold Brew and a Lungo?
The Lungo is a variation of espresso with a 1:4 to 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio, resulting in a strong and slightly bitter flavor due to its longer extraction time. On the other hand, the Cold Brew is steeped in room temperature water for 12 to 24 hours, which results in a smooth, mellow, and slightly sweet flavor lacking acidity or bitterness.
Now for the detailed comparison of these drinks.
What is a Lungo?
Lungo is a variation of espresso that has become popular in Europe. The drink’s name is Italian for “long” which refers to the longer volume and extraction time used to make a Lungo compared to the standard brew time of espresso.
It is brewed like an espresso, but you let more water pass through the coffee grounds and aim for a 1:4 to 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio. When making it, you’ll need to use a single shot basket with 7g of ground coffee or 9g for third-wave specialty coffee. The serving size in the end is around 2 oz (60 ml) which you’d pour into a larger demitasse.
On the nutrition front, a single shot of Lungo contains about 60-80 mg of caffeine and just 2 calories.
So how does it taste? The Lungo has a strong, slightly bitter flavor profile but it’s less concentrated than traditional espresso. The bitter taste comes from the longer extraction time, since your shot will become overextracted. However, you can solve this if you grind your beans a little coarser than espresso fine.
Here’s how I make this drink:
- Grind coffee beans using a setting slightly coarser than for an espresso.
- Measure your yield using a timer and scale as you brew.
- Stop brewing after 35 seconds, aiming for a 1:4 to 1:5 brew ratio.
You can also follow my detailed guide on how to make a Lungo here.
Now, let me discuss what a cold brew is.
What is a Cold Brew?
Tracing its roots back to Japan, where it’s also known as Kyoto-style coffee, cold brew is a unique way to make coffee using cold water. It involves steeping coarse coffee grounds in room temperature water for a long period of time, usually between 12 to 24 hours.
The coffee-to-water ratio for cold brew concentrate is 1:5, so you’d use 100g of coffee with 500 ml of water. Once brewed, your yield will be around 380ml, since the grinds soak up a lot of water. You can drink a 1oz (30 ml) cold brew concentrate straight like an espresso, or more commonly dilute it with water and/or milk and add ice.
You want to serve it in a tall or wide glass cup with a capacity ranging from 180-300 ml (6-10oz). Every ounce of this concentrate packs 60-80 mg of caffeine and 4 calories. Of course, the calories will go up if you use milk to dilute your coffee or a sweetener.
Now let’s talk about taste and texture. Cold brew is smooth and mellow with a slightly sweet flavor. Thanks to the unique brewing method, there is also less acidity and virtually no bitterness in your cup, which is great.
Here’s a quick look at how cold brew is made:
- Measure the coffee.
- Grind it coarse.
- Measure the filtered water to meet the 1:5 brew ratio.
- Mix the coffee grounds and water in a jar.
- Seal and steep at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
- Filter the coffee.
- Store in the fridge.
For a better understanding of how this brewing method works, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make cold brew.
Lungo & Cold Brew: A Comparison of the Two Coffee Drinks
Below is a breakdown of the features of Lungo and cold brew:
|Aspect||Lungo||Cold Brew Concentrate|
|Taste and Texture||Strong, slightly bitter; between espresso & Americano||Smooth, mellow, slightly sweet; velvety|
|Coffee-to-Water Ratio||1:4 to 1:5||1:5|
|Ingredient Ratio||7g to 9g of ground coffee||100g of coffee with 500 ml water|
|Typical Serving Size||2 oz (60 ml)||1 oz (30 ml) concentrate, diluted to taste|
|Caffeine Content||60-80 mg per single shot||60-80 mg per oz (30 ml) of concentrate|
|Calories||2 calories per shot||4 calories per oz (30ml) of concentrate|
|Bean Roast||Light to medium roasts||Dark roasts|
Here’s a more detailed comparison between the two coffee drinks:
- Ground Coffee Weight & Ratios: Both drinks have approximately 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio, with the Lungo using 7g of ground coffee (9g for third-wave coffee) while cold brew concentrate uses 100g of coffee grounds with 500ml of water.
- Taste: Lungo is robust with a slightly bitter flavor profile, but it’s not as intense as the espresso. In contrast, cold brew is smoother and milder with less acidity and bitterness than the Lungo.
- Volume, Calories, & Caffeine: A serving of Lungo ranges from 2 oz (60) packed with 2 calories and 60-80 mg of caffeine per shot.
A cold brew starts as a 1oz (30ml) concentrate with the same amount of caffeine and just 4 calories, and you can dilute it with ice and water or milk depending on your taste.
- Bean Roast: For Lungo, I go for light to medium roasts as they balance the brewing method’s slightly bitter flavor. Meanwhile, darker roasts are more suited for cold brew because they release sweet, rich, and robust flavors more easily than lighter roasts.
- Serving Suggestions: I don’t drink Lungo that much because of the bitterness (or the hassle of altering my grind size), but other people like it. If you’re like me though, you can drink Americano or AeroPress instead for a milder espresso.
To compare, I love cold brew’s lack of bitterness. It’s also quite versatile because you can add milk, sweeteners, or dried orange slices to give it more flavor. Here are lots of tasty ways to prepare a cold brew.
As you can see, even though both of these drinks have a 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio, the different brewing methods give you very different results. This is most noticeable with their bitterness, which is enhanced in the Lungo and reduced in cold brew.
While I enjoy pulling shots of espresso and its variations, I like the cold brew better than the lungo. The smooth, velvety texture and refreshing taste are right up my alley, especially when paired with a water and a splash of milk, plus good company on a hot summer day.
That’s just me though. How about you, which one do you like better? Let me know in the comments section below.