What is the difference between lungo, ristretto and espresso?

Nespresso has made the terms ristretto & lungo common place.. The have a range of capsules called “ristretto” a coffee blend or mix especially made by the company and they also have a “Lungo” range of capsules which are designed for their push button lungo shot. This makes it a tad confusing for those of us who have little coffee knowledge. Commonly we all have an idea of what espresso is, however when we see a company advertising ristretto, and lungo coffee capsules we can easily think that these terms refer to a coffee blend however this is far from the truth.

So what does this all mean?

“Ristretto” “Lungo” & “Espresso” are all Italian words to describe different shots of coffee, with different proportions of water to extraction methods.


Refers to beginning phase of the shot and limits the shot, allowing only the first part of the coffee extraction.


A long shot with 3 times the amount of water compared to ristretto.


The extraction method of pressured water forced through coffee beans and is the base drink for all our milk drink coffees like latte, cappuccino, flat white etc

1:3 or 4 for making Lungo

1:2 for your espresso

1:1 for ristretto

What is lungo in Coffee Terms?

Lungo originally a Italian term used to describe espresso coffee with a double amount of water.
It is the opposite to ristretto, strong espresso with made with minimal amounts of water.
There are no rules when it comes to the definitions however the common ratios or proportions
each style of coffee is

What are lungo pods?

With the evolution of single serve coffee pod machines like nespresso Lungo coffee pods have increased in popularity.


The nespresso machine actually has a button for use with lungo pod varieties and it automatically adds more water for the lungo sized nespresso.

What is the lungo cup size?

6.25 ounces is the ideal cup size compared to the Espresso Cup Ideal of (2 oz/60 ml).

Nespresso’s recommend Lungo Cup Size is (5 oz/140 ml) basically the size of a coffee mug where as espersso is the size of a cup.

The factory setting for nespresso lungo size espresso is 3.75 ounces, or 110.90 ml which means that is how much espresso coffee will fill you cup.

It is able to be adjusted to your preferred amount however a lot of nespresso drinkers like to add milk to their coffee so they can have a large mug size cappucino. Therefore using a mug that has a capacity for 5-6oz of coffee is usual the ideal lungo size.

What is lungo decaffeinato?

Lung decaffeinato is a lungo size decaffinated coffee made with a nespresso lungo capsule or pod. You can see more about which lungo  varieties of nespresso pods available here.

When to Drink?

Espresso coffee mug size or lungo coffee is a popular drink to order from a café or make at home.

If you prefer a larger size coffee rather than a small espresso or ristretto size then lungo may be your ideal espresso coffee.

It is a personal preference and lungo espresso is usually for coffee drinkers who enjoy a milder coffee with a great flavor profile.

Lungo coffee is commonly perceived as less intense because of the milder flavor, but it does still deliver lots of flavour to enjoy.

Adding more water to coffee does not always decrease the intensity of flavor.

The intensity of flavor and strength of coffee are separate in the flavor profile of coffee.

How is a lungo Pulled?


To make with a manual or barista style espresso machine all you need to do is to allow a longer pull or extraction time, this will mean you will have more water in your coffee.

Nespresso coffee machines have  actually have a button installed and you simply push the lungo button setting while using a NespressoLungo pod from their grand cruz range.

Nespresso has lungo coffee pods designed for that longer pull and extra water is facilitated with the factory set button. for the lungo shot.


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Mecala Reply

What a beautiful and informative site! I was looking for some basic information for a purchase in the near future. I have hit the jackpot with this site! So much more than I could have hoped for. I will be checking back on a regular basis.

    coffee lover Reply

    Oh thanks Mecala, look forward to connecting again and appreciate the feedback!

Elizabeth Reply

I feel like coffee terminology is like learning a whole language, but at least it’s tastier. Great article.

    coffee lover Reply

    You make me laugh Elizabeth! Yes..espresso is a tasty adventure 🙂 Thanks for you comment made my day!

George Reply

I have seen these terms but never understood the difference. Thanks for the explanation! Now, I can order and experiment knowing exactly what I’m asking for 🙂 Thanks for the article!

alex Reply

Super interesting! I never knew about the different, Italian terms. It makes it much easier to understand coffee terminoligy, especially now know what lungo nespresso machine pods are for, Thank you for the article.

Dawn Reply

Interesting information about setting the volume of lungo – I will have to try that! Thanks!

Nick Reply

Interesting stuff!

I’ve had to check out from being a coffee drinker as of late, as I’m going through a bit of adrenal burnout, but i still LOOOOVE the smell when my house mate makes it in the morning.

BTW, you may have a typo at the start of this page, not sure, but i thought “on” might have been meant to be “only” here:

“allowing on the first part of the coffee extraction.”



    coffee lover Reply

    Hi Nick, thanks for pointing out the typo, Liquorice is very good for adrenal burnout. You can get sugarless varieties or liquorice tea. The debate about coffee being good for you is always there. It cannot be the best for anyone with adrenaline burnout. However studies show coffee has antioxidant properities and can prevent cancer. So I guess for me it goes back to everything in moderation, and we have to listen to what a body needs at certain time. Meditation can also help the adrenals, best regards lovely to hear from you!

Britanica Reply

I am Italian and shame on me for not knowing this! I never knew lungo coffee meant anything, I thought it was just a fancy way for saying it. I have heard all three terms being tossed around in coffee shops and restaurants in New York. Now that I know the difference, I feel like I am more prepared to order something special at a cafe rather than the same old, same old. Thanks for this helpful information! 🙂

Pam Reply

So Lungo is more or less watered down (or not as strong) espresso? Not that I would mind this. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    coffee lover Reply

    Hi Pam,
    Yes your right, that is a great way to say it! The Italians however would refer to it as a longer extraction process, because it is not supposed to make your coffee taste watered down. You are still supposed to get the great flavours coming through in a lungo. For instance, in the nespresso pods they actually have a range specifically for the lungo shot. They adjust the capsules so that you will still have the full flavour of your coffee with you lungo longer shot. I hope this makes it clearer, feel free to check anything further cheers

laura Reply

hi stupid question, if i press the lungo button on an aldi coffee machine, does that have more caffeine than if i pressed smaller button?
is there more caffeine if i pres button more than once?
i.e. if i press it once or three times is it still a standard 60-70mg caffeine?

    coffee lover Reply

    Ah! No that is a great question. The lungo button is more percentage of water to coffee. Brew time, dwell time, water temperature, and grind level, as well as other factors like roast level, bean type, and blend all affect the amount of caffeine extracted from espresso coffee. So yes you could be getting more caffeine pressing the button and allowing the full cycles to run more than once because your increasing the brewing and dwelling time. If you just press the button more than once and don’t let the full cycle run, then no, but I don’t think that is what you meant. I hope this helps cheers!

Omar Rehan Reply

I would like to know which lungo capsules are best for making cappuccino?

    coffee lover Reply

    Lungo capsules are all good for making cappuccino however I prefer the ones that just include the coffee not the milk. I find that it is much
    healthier to make you own milk for the cappuccino part. I either use a milk frother or steam wand on the coffee machine.

David A Reply

Thanks for your explanation just aquired a Nespresso machine & starting the journey to find the pod I prefer

    coffee lover Reply

    Hi David, yes it is exciting tasting all the different flavours nespresso provides and then trying out your own coffee as well in the reusable capsules. thanks for letting us know!

Priyansha Reply

I actually got some free samples from somewhere of lungo coffee. But it says it can only be prepared in an espresso machine. But I don’t have one, any other options I can make that coffee?

    coffee lover Reply

    Hi there it’s always fun to use coffee samples. Your samples would be ground to work best in a espresso machine. You can use them in an Aero press or French press.
    If you don’t have any of those you could try boiling them but the taste would not be great. Do you have any device to make coffee at all?

bob schultz Reply

if im out of lungo pods can I make a lungo with an expresso pod?

    coffee lover Reply

    Yes Just use 2 espresso pods kind regards Ingrid

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