If you’re just getting into coffee, or even if you’ve been enamored of it for awhile, you may have never even heard of a long black. They’re not common in North America, or even much in Europe, but if you head south of the equator to Australia and New Zealand, you’d be hard-pressed to find a café that doesn’t offer them. At first glance a long black looks a whole lot like a cafe americano, but as soon as you take a sip, the difference is clear.
Quite simply, a long black coffee is a double shot of espresso pulled over 100-120mL of espresso-temperature water. It’s usually prepared by first pulling the hot water from the machine without any coffee grounds, just until you’ve gotten the desired amount of liquid. Then you pull your espresso as usual, most commonly a double espresso.
How Is Long Black Coffee Unique?
The resulting beverage is most commonly compared to an americano coffee or a lungo coffee, but the three have subtle preparation differences which heavily affect the final flavor of each one. If you’re not a fan of black coffee, you’re unlikely to enjoy any of them very much. This is because the americano, lungo, and long black are all espresso-based beverages prepared with extra water, but without any added creamer or sweetener. The gist of the differences is below.
A long black coffee is an espresso shot pulled over approximately 120mL of espresso-temperature water. Its preparation leaves more crema on top than either an americano or a lungo coffee.
The lungo is so-named after the Italian word for “long,” as it’s a single shot of espresso which has been pulled for double the normal time. This results in a weaker but less bitter version of your typical espresso, with a similar espresso flavor profile since all the liquid therein was pulled through the ground coffee.
An americano coffee is an espresso with hot water added in, and it’s probably the most famous coffee drink (behind the latte). Depending on where you get it, an americano may be made with one shot of espresso or two, but there’s a reason it’s always more popular than the drip coffee.
Make a Long Black Coffee At Home
To pull a long black at home, simply place your cup under your spout and do as you normally would to pull an espresso, stopping once you’ve gathered 100-120mL of hot water. You can even do this first part with a measuring cup, but make sure you use a glass or even ceramic container, as the heat from the water may melt or overheat any other materials. Next, grind your coffee, pack your grounds, and quickly pull the espresso directly over the hot water; doing this at home means you can do a single or a double shot, depending on your preference.
If you don’t have an espresso machine at home, in my opinion the best alternative is a moka pot plus very dark roast coffee. You can use your favorite coffee bean origin, but preferably a dark roast or a French roast, if you can find the latter. The trick to making a faux espresso drink in your moka pot is actually to leave it boiling away for an extra minute or two, then let it sit for 5-7 minutes while the liquid thickens.
Most patrons order a long black because they prefer the bitter complexity of coffee without creamers or sweeteners, but any coffee shop is usually more than happy to serve you steamed milk alongside your long black. Luckily at home you can add your flavorings of choice, including powdered milks and milk alternatives, and even sweeteners like honey or monk fruit extract. But no matter how you take it, you’ll never again confuse a long black with a plain brewed coffee!
Long Black Coffee FAQ
What is a long black coffee called in America?
Americans would still refer to a long black as such, but it’s very rare on American coffee shop menus. In most American cafes, you’d need to order an americano and request that they pull the hot water from the espresso machine and then pull the espresso second.
Why is it called a long black coffee?
It’s called a long black coffee because initially you make a long pull of espresso-temperature water, and then you pull the espresso coffee, hence long + black coffee.
How much water in a long black coffee?
There is 100-120mL (3-4oz.) of water in a long black coffee, plus another 60mL (2oz.) of espresso, totaling around 160mL (6oz.) for the entire beverage.
How many calories in a long black coffee?
There are about 5 calories in a long black coffee, all of which come from the espresso.
What is the difference between a long black and Americano?
A long black is made with water first and then espresso, while an americano is the opposite. This means that a long black maintains the crema of the espresso, but it’s also a 6oz. standard size, whereas an americano is generally flat and can vary greatly in size.
What’s the difference between coffee and long black coffee?
A long black coffee is made with water and then a double shot of espresso. On the other hand, coffee as we generally refer to it is prepared in a pour-over or drip coffee manner, and it’s generally got a flatter and weaker flavor, which some people prefer.