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What is a Long Shot at Starbucks?

Ryan Marshall
Last Updated: March 1st, 2023

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Learning all of the different types of espresso drinks can be confusing at first for those new to the world of espresso, which can make ordering at coffee shops like Starbucks daunting for some.

The long shot, also known as the “lungo” is one of the most basic espresso drinks in the world, and it is a favorite among many serious espresso enthusiasts.

Knowing the difference between a Ristretto and a Lungo espresso shot can give you a huge boost of confidence when ordering at Starbucks, as well as having a basic understanding of the most popular espresso-based drinks in the world.

So, let’s take a look at what is a long shot at Starbucks so next time you go you can order one in confidence and be rewarded by the great taste!

Espresso Basics

espresso basics

When it comes to ordering or making espresso, the entire process can feel a bit overwhelming at first for those who are not at all familiar with the traditional Italian coffee beverage. The two basic components of any espresso drink are hot water and ground espresso beans.

Regardless of the design or style of the espresso machine, very hot water is poured over ground espresso beans, which impart flavor as the drink brews. Various levels of hot water are used depending on the style of espresso drink being made.

While there are no exact rules when it comes to the proper ratio of hot water to ground espresso beans, the general rule is that a “ristretto” contains one part hot water per one part espresso grounds, while a traditional espresso shot has two parts water.

A ‘lungo’ or ‘long shot’ is generally made by pouring around three or four times the amount of hot water over the ground espresso beans, leading to a shot of espresso that is lower in acidity and bitterness and full of deep flavors.

Many pod-based espresso machines will feature different drink settings, allowing you to choose your own drink size. Basic Nespresso machines, for example, come pre-programmed with two settings, the larger of which is the “lungo” setting.

While it is not necessary to buy specialized pods for making lungo espresso drinks, there are certain Nespresso pods that are crafted especially for the water ratio of a lungo pour. These pods are usually clearly labeled, and it is helpful to read the entire package before purchase.

“Lungo” the Long Shot

“lungo” the long shot

The word lungo means “long” in Italian, and it usually refers to a single espresso shot that runs for double as long as a “regular,” or short shot. For this reason, the terms “lungo” and “long shot” are often used interchangeably at coffee shops and espresso bars.

Many people prefer the taste of a lungo shot compared to shorter pulls of espresso due to the added water content and resulting dilution of the espresso. This helps to soften the acidity and strong flavors of the espresso, leading to a more mild-tasting shot.

While there are no hard rules or exact guidelines when it comes to the amount of liquid in a long shot of espresso, the general consensus is that a lungo should measure somewhere between 120 and 180 milliliters. This is often more than double the size of a “single” pull of espresso.

While more hot water being pulled through the ground espresso beans leads to a cup of espresso that is slightly more diluted compared to shorter pulls, the added brewing time also allows for the full flavor of the espresso beans to be “pulled out.”

The added brewing time associated with making a long shot of espresso can often lead to smooth and rich flavors not present in more acidic and bitter short pulls of the same bean. This is one of the reasons that the lungo has become such a popular choice among serious espresso enthusiasts.

Another reason that the long shot of espresso has become so popular is its versatility in other cafe-style drinks. Many people prefer to use a long shot of espresso in their lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos, as the added volume of espresso in the drink gives it more balance and flavor.

Lungo vs Ristretto

lungo vs ristretto

The ristretto is essentially the opposite of the lungo in terms of drink construction. While the lungo uses a higher ratio of water over ground espresso beans, the ristretto uses a lower amount of water for a smaller and more concentrated espresso drink.

The ristretto is different from the lugo in terms of size, flavor, texture, and strength, making for a very different drink that is prepared in a very similar way. By lowering the ratio of hot water in the drink, the flavor of the beverage becomes much more concentrated and bold.

The texture of a ristretto beverage is also far thicker and more full compared to the lighter and thinner lungo. The caffeine content in a ristretto is lower, however, as the ground beans are in contact with the hot water for less time leading to a condensed brewing period.

Some people find that the lungo pour is a bit too caffeinated for them, and the ristretto pour is just a bit too pungent and tart. This is where the original espresso pour comes in, as it splits the difference between the water ratio of the lungo and the ristretto.

Starbucks Cup Sizes

starbucks cup sizes

It is no secret that Starbucks does not use traditional cup sizes, which can add to the confusion of ordering there for some. While some are familiar with the tall, grande, and venti sizes at Starbucks, many are not sure which size cups are best for their lungo-style beverages.

The tall cup holds 12 ounces, while the grande cup holds 16 ounces. The venti is considered by Starbucks enthusiasts to be the equivalent of a large, which holds 20 ounces while still fighting into traditional cupholders in automobiles. The trenta is the largest size, clocking in at a whopping 30 fluid ounces.

While these larger drink cups are suitable for traditional coffee, tea, and latte-style drinks, they are far too large for simple pours of espresso. The “short” Starbucks cup holds eight ounces, which is the most popular option for double lungo drinks and hot macchiatos.

The majority of the smallest and most simple Starbucks espresso drinks are served in a three-ounce cup called the demi. This small cup is the perfect size for a lungo pour, which clocks in at around two fluid ounces.

This leaves just enough room in the demi cup for a splash of cream or sweetener, making it the perfect candidate for holding a lungo pour. Regular espresso pulls, as well as ristrettos also fit well in the demi cup, which is the smallest vessel offered at all Starbucks locations.

Other Basic Espresso Drinks

other basic espresso drinks

While being able to confidently order a ristretto, espresso, and a lungo at a Starbucks is a great place to start in terms of learning your way around the menu, there are a few more simple drinks that are considered “coffee shop basics.”

The first is an Americano, which is as simple to order and make as it is delicious. The Americano is made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso, which dilutes the drink into a flavor profile that is more similar to traditionally brewed coffee.

The macchiato, cappuccino, and latte are all variations of steamed milk with espresso, with the only difference between the three being the ratio of frothed and steamed milk that is used. The macchiato contains the least amount of milk, while the latte has the most.

Cortados are another very popular style of coffee shop drink, and they are made using an equal ratio of warm milk to espresso. This helps to cut the acidity in the espresso and leads to a strong and concentrated drink that is still creamy and delicious.

What Is A Long Shot At Starbucks – Conclusion

While ordering at Starbucks can be a bit confusing at first for those not familiar with the world of espresso, knowing the difference between a ristretto, an espresso, and a lungo is a great place to start.

These simple espresso drinks are the foundation of all other cafe-style drinks, and the long shot is considered by many espresso enthusiasts to be the best-tasting option when it comes to espresso styles.

About The Author

Ryan Marshall

Ryan is a full time freelance writer who can most often be found on the disc golf course or local coffee shop when not behind a keyboard. He is an avid traveler and lover of all things sports and outdoors. Ryan is also a certified level one sommelier, and is endlessly curious about the world of high end beverages. Writing about wine, coffee, and other specialty beverages has given him a chance to take a deeper dive into his research, and he loves helping people find the perfect drink for their palates and preferences!

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