What about the lungo? (2016 situation)

Those who know me or any other Specialty Coffee Barista's/Roasters, know i don't like the lungo (regular 15 cl espresso machine coffee).  

Later on the post i copy-paste my writings from 2012 in which i explain why, but first an explanation on why a lot of our clients still serve it. 

Many, and i mean a lot! of times, we convinced new professional clients to use the espresso machine for what it's build; to make espresso's. 

For covering the demand for larger coffee's in their bar/restaurant we recommended to make americano's/long blacks or serve filter coffee straight away. 

In reality we notice that, for Belgium at least, a lot of their clients coming in the bar or restaurant demand a 'normal' coffee and don't like Americano of Filter. I know it's an endless discussion and there are exceptions but in general i think it's smarter to install here a small (lungo) grinder and give the classic cup of Joe. It's not what i like, but not every horeca person's name is Rob Berghmans and it's understandable that, when working in a not specialized place, you don't want to start discussing coffee recipes and flavors all day long. 

Before you start reading my famous 2012 writings i want to add we roast our beans light so all fruity flavors can come out, also to marry the full fat milk - if used. Lungo's brewed with lighter roast coffee's can taste more than acceptable when made in the most perfect way - which is a rare thing to see in Antwerp cafe's or resto's where most machines are way too hot and dirty (the same thing for the grinders used) - but most lungo drinkers expect a dark coffee with lots of bitters and body and therefor you need darker roasts and, sorry to say, cheaper (unwashed) coffee's.

Best proof for a correct brew is to let the coffee cool down and taste it again below 50 or even 40 degrees. Traditional luke warm or cold lungo is the worst cup, while top class brews keep on tasting correct on lower temps....

Have fun reading and let me know what you think : 

Long ago when the first espresso machines were hitting the Belgian and Dutch restaurants and bars the machines were programmed to offer us coffees the size of a 'normal' cup, say in between 12 and 18 cl, 4 to 6oz.


The extraction parameter of a 25 seconds run was correct. The grammage of the dose and temperature of the machine were almost correct. And the average roast and origin of the beans were not too bad either. But still we had a cup 'full of mistakes'.


People were getting used to drink this kind of beverage and the taste of it didn't change a lot over the years. Most probably it became a bit stronger and dirtier and people started to add more and more sugar and nutroma/coffee milk.


When I was younger I barely drank these kinds of coffee, called a 'koffie'. Sometimes people think I've always been a big coffee drinker, but that has never been the case.

The days I discovered Italian espresso a new world opened up, but because in Antwerp I couldn't find a decent place were this beverage was offered my coffee intake continued to be very low.


At the age of 28 I started my first espresso bar. Influenced by the Italian original and New York copies I saw a hole in the market.

Those days I thought that Illy, Lavazza and Segafredo were the only brands that offered beans that were good enough to brew the small shots and it was this last company in this row that offered us the best help and a free 2-group espressomachine with grinders.


We learned the difference between a real espresso (3cl) and a lungo (15cl). The extractions were not too far off and the milk frothing was ..... a bit Starbuckslike I think, but at least the cappuccinos and lattes were espresso based and the place was booming.


But there was still one drink on the menu that I totally disliked and that was the lungo, or the coffee we served when people ordered a normal 'koffie'.

In those days I thought the mistake we made was the type of Segafredo blend we used, the strongest one.

But one day I tested a lighter blend, that was conceived for lungo's and that cup was very dirty as well.


At the age of 35 I started Caffenation and had 3 espresso's and 5 or 6 lungo's on the menu. This helped me to show all my coffees and blends to my clients, but myself I never liked the lungo's. They were tasting better then the Segafredo ones, but still I felt something was wrong.

Of course I knew in Italy a 'normal' coffee was 3cl, the French and Spanish the double, but still I had a hard time understanding why our lungos were too bitter and dirty and nasty.


Now in 2012 we walked the walk and talked the talk, we are way better informed now and 2 years into slow coffee century we are ready to bury the classic cup.


I knew for years the espresso machine was never made to brew 15cl cups, but as the market demanded this garbage we were used to serve it. STOP.


When you cup a normal or good arabica you can taste all different characteristics and the lighter you roast (I don't say 'bready'), and the better your bean you pick, the more you can taste coffee is a type of fruit. The suble nuances, fruity notes, enhanced acidity and overall sweetness is 2 die 4.

When we later on brew this freshly ground coffee with a decent filter or press we have an almost perfect beverage.


Then when we roast the beans a tad darker, we pull a correct espresso and again we have an almost perfect beverage. Of course totally different from the filter coffee, but still wonderful.


Then when we take the same espresso roast, grind it a bit coarser and use the espresso machine to make a lungo, we at once discover all kinds of 'off tastes' that were not in the original cupping and neither in the filter or espresso brew.



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