Long Black Coffee-What Is It And The Best Way To Make It

a long black coffee is a white mug siting on a wooden table with a bag of coffee beans sitting next to it.

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If you order a long black in a coffee shop, you will be served something that at first glance appears to be comparable to an americano. If you look a little closer, however, you will notice that there is a distinction.

The same ingredients are used in an Americano and a long black, but the preparation is what makes them different.

This article will explain what a long black is, what makes it different from other drinks, and how to order this specialty coffee or prepare one in your coffee maker at home.

picture of a long black coffee in a white coffee and a white saucer with espresso beans sitting on the saucer.

What Is A Long Black Coffee Called In America

It is referred to as “Caffè Americano” in the United States and portions of Europe; “Long Black” in Australia and New Zealand; and it is quickly becoming the norm in the United Kingdom as well.

Why Is It Called A Long Black coffee

Even though the long black has its origins in the Caffe Americano style of coffee, the Italians perfected the drink.

Historically, the Italians brewed two varieties of coffee: espresso coffee and a cappuccino, which were both served hot. Those were the only options they had.

When tourists would request their coffee black. The Italian baristas didn’t know how to accommodate them since they only drank espresso.

Because they wanted to appease the American tourists in their coffee shops, they modified their espresso drinks over time and began serving a large (or long) cup of black coffee.

Americans were accustomed to drinking coffee made in a drip coffee machine and were not used to the strength of the espresso.

When the Italian barista noticed that the coffee was too strong, they swiftly adjusted by pulling one espresso shot into a cappuccino cup that had already been filled with hot water.

And with that, the long black was created.

How do you make a long black coffee

The most common approach is to extract an espresso shot into a cup of hot water instead of adding hot water into the shot after it has already been extracted.

This is the most effective method of producing a sweet black brew that keeps its texture, bold flavor while avoiding a burnt flavor.

The only things you’ll need to make this delectable beverage is an espresso machine and boiling water. Long blacks are typically 4-6 ounces in size, with a water-to-espresso ratio of 3/4 water to 1/4 espresso or 4/5 water to 1/5th espresso. The proportions can be adjusted to suit individual taste preferences.

190-200 degrees Fahrenheit into your cup of choice and leave. Use the hot water spout from your espresso machine if possible.

Pour some hot water into your cup, and then extract your espresso shot into it straight. After that, you simply have to worry about the crema.

a long black coffee in a white cup with a thick layer of crema sitting on top of a white saucer

What Exactly Is Crema

When an espresso shot is extracted, a thin, light brown/tan layer of froth appears after the brewing process. In the same way that a coating of bubbles forms on top of soda when it is poured into a cup, this layer of crema settles towards the top surface of the espresso.

In an espresso machine, water is forced through the coffee puck at 9 bars of pressure; air bubbles interact with natural fats and oils from the finely ground coffee beans to generate crema.

Why Is Crema Important

A delicious cup of coffee does not require the addition of crema for the ordinary coffee drinker to enjoy it fully. But crema is significant to many professionals in the coffee industry since it indicates a great deal about the quality of the espresso and the espresso machine in question.

In addition, it displays qualities such as the freshness of the coffee bean. Additionally, it demonstrates how a specific espresso machine pulls a shot or even the barista’s skill level.

This is why I buy from a local roaster or from a company like Lifeboost that roasts their beans on order to guarantee their freshness when delivered.

Read my Lifeboost review here

Although crema does not have a distinct flavor from the rest of the espresso, it enhances the overall texture giving it a heavier body. It even helps to preserve the aftertaste of the espresso drink.

How To Perfect The Crema In A Long Black Coffee

In terms of crema, the Americano falls short of the Long Black in contrast to the latter. The Crema in a long black can form since the water is not being poured into the espresso. Pouring hot water into the espresso after it has been brewed kills the crema in the Americano.

In addition, because some individuals prefer to blend the crema into their coffee in any case, the difference between the two beverages is insignificant.

The Long Black is a terrific alternative to your typical black coffee or Americano for coffee enthusiasts wishing to add a little complexity to their caffeinated regimen.

The cup of espresso should be held closer to the espresso spout during the extraction process, which is a useful tip to keep in mind when producing a Long Black. Because of the closer proximity of the crema to the cup, it can form more easily.

Picture of an americano and a portafilter sitting on a table referring to the difference between an americano and a long black

Is a Long Black The Same As An Americano

However, even though the difference between the long black and the americano is small, it makes a big difference in taste and appearance.

Its most distinguishing feature is how the espresso shots and water are mixed together in the cup.

Pouring water on top of brewed shots is how the majority of americanos are made. Long black coffee is the polar opposite of that.

While this may appear to be a useless distinction, the difference in flavor between the two procedures is obvious when tasting them side by side.

This crema helps to keep the taste of the espresso locked in, and the tiny bubbles help boost the drink’s sweetness by increasing the surface area of the drink.

Because your taste buds come into contact with as much surface as possible, your perception of the espresso’s flavor will be vividly different compared to an Americano.

Coffee drinkers make a long black by pouring espresso on top of hot water, which helps to preserve its crema and richness. Because of this, long black coffees have a softer flavor profile and a stronger aroma than Americanos, but they’re also a little more robust and vibrant.

Other Ways To Enjoy A Long Black


Instead of adding espresso, some individuals like a double ristretto (I’ll explain what ristretto is later in the article) with their long black. It’s easier to detect the flavor in your mouth and throat when you use a lesser dose.

a long black coffee with cream in it sitting on top of an open book

Milk/Or Creamer

Milk is another common ingredient in this drink. Dairy milk, despite the fact it is naturally sweet, adds sweetness to your coffee. It also gives the meal a creamier, less bitter taste.

Coconut milk and my favorite Califia Farms Barista Blend almond milk are perfect for any coffee and are specially made for frothing like milk.

Single Shot/The Traditional Method

While a double shot of espresso or ristretto is the most common way to make a long black, it can also be produced with just a single shot. However, as a result, it will be weakened.

For a cup of long black, 5 to 6.5 ounces of water is needed. A single shot of coffee made with 6.5oz will help to temper the coffee’s powerful flavor.


Although it is not commonly done, you can sweeten your long black or other espresso-based drinks with sugar or other sweeteners if you so desire. However, make sure to add it before you extract your espresso, or you will break your beautiful crema.

This will allow more crema to sit on top of the dish for a longer period of time and work its taste magic.

Iced long black coffee in a tall glass with cream poured in it

Iced Long black

Long blacks can also be served over ice or as a cold brew, which is another variation of the original recipe. As opposed to traditional espresso preparation, cold water is used to dilute the shots of espresso in this scenario.

How To Know A Long Black Was Brewed Wrong

A shot that was pulled for an excessive amount of time (known as over-extraction)may have been served to you if you’ve ever ordered a long black coffee and received a drink that tasted like a sour lemon.

A shot of espresso may be extracted for far longer than the typical 30 seconds(I’ve seen barista’s go as long as 70 seconds) to produce a beverage that looks and tastes similar to either a filter brew coffee or a long black coffee (in some cases, even longer).

When it comes to espresso preparation, the long draw is regarded as a classic method, and it is referred to as either espresso lungo or cafe lungo in Italy.

Pulling a long shot results in over-extraction of the coffee, which results in the addition of off-flavors and bitterness to the final product. A typical espresso shot brewed properly and then added to water is quite different from what is described here.

espresso pouring from a spouted portafilter into a cappuccino machine filled wit water to make a long black

Why Am I Being Told To Use Ristretto In My Long Black

If you’re going to mix your own cocktails at home and discover that your recipe calls for a double ristretto style shot, this is what they mean.

This shorter form of espresso is made with less water and even finer-ground coffee than you would normally use for espresso.

It has a stronger concentration than espresso, allowing the sweeter undertones to shine. Even though it is a stronger brew, ristretto does not contain significantly more caffeine than espresso.

Fortunately, ristretto may be used to make Americanos and Long Blacks as well as other drinks. In fact, ristretto may be substituted for espresso in nearly all of the drinks that call for it.

Long Blacks and Americanos will become stronger in the expresso taste, with a less harsh aftertaste as a result. To find out which drink you prefer, experiment with both espresso and ristretto at the same time.


This powerful beverage is a favorite of many–and it has the potential to become a popular choice for the passionate black coffee drinker as a way to change things up once in a while. Additionally, the long black keeps the healthy aspects of black coffee while giving you different mouthfeels and textures.