Coffee Facts

Long Black: A Shortcut to Simple, Savory Coffee

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Many in the coffee community have a handful of favorite drink options. Whether its cappuccinos, macchiatos, or lattes, the options for coffee lovers are endless. 

But what about those who enjoy a simple, good ‘ole cup of joe? Are there different options for the plain and easy coffee lovers, too? Have no fear! The Long Black’s got your back.

long black

Whether you’re a dedicated black coffee fan, or if you’re just experimenting and looking for a new spunky drink to try, the Long Black is the drink to order on your next coffee run. Read on to see why this drink is and has become a favorite of many around the world.

Going “Back in Black”

If you’ve never tasted the bold flavor of a Long Black, or have never heard of it until recently, you aren’t alone. Most commonly enjoyed in parts of the world like New Zealand and Australia, the Long Black originates from Italy. 

Back in the day, Italian coffee culture commonly made two drinks that are still as equal in popularity today: the espresso and the cappuccino. As time went on and as American tourism increased, so did the request for a plain large cup of black coffee.

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In order to adapt, many coffee vendors adapted their methods by pouring hot water into a cup and then adding espresso to it. This was useful because it came close to the black coffee than many people were used to, but it also diluted the strength of espresso for those who were not accommodated to it originally.

And voilà! The long black (and it’s cousin, the Americano) was born. 

How to Make a Long Black

To create this delicious drink, the all you’ll need is two ingredients: espresso and hot water. Long blacks are normally around 4-6 ounces, with a ratio of 3/4 water and 1/4 espresso, or 4/5 water 1/5th espresso. The ratio can be tweaked depending on taste preference. 

Begin by pouring hot water, typically around 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit (or 91-96 degrees celsius), into your cup of choice. If you have an espresso machine with a water spout on it, the water from your machine should do just fine. (Trust us, this drink isn’t too fussy.)

Once the water is poured, extract the espresso shot on top of it. And that’s it! A few simple steps to create some flavorful sips!

So…It’s Just an Americano?

Well, no. 

Similar to its cousin, the Americano, the Long Black packs quite a punch with its rich, bold, strong flavors, but has one significant difference that sets it apart. While both drinks use the same ingredients, the main factor that sets the Long Black apart is the order you add the ingredients to the cup. 

Unlike the Long Black, the Americano is made by pulling an espresso shot first and then filling the rest of the cup with hot water. The Long Black, as we now know, is the reversal of this.

But why is this important? It’s important because if there’s one thing the long black is best at, its preserving crema.

Long Black: The Crema the Crop

What is Crema?

Glad you asked. Crema is a thin, light brown/tan layer of froth that develops during the end of an espresso shot extraction. It settles towards the top surface of the espresso, similar to the way that a layer of bubbles appears when a beer is poured from the tap.

Crema is created by the air bubbles blend with the natural fats and oils from the finely ground beans as water is poured through the compacted espresso at a certain pressure. 

Why Should I Care?

For the average coffee drinker, crema certainly isn’t a must-have in order to enjoy a tasty cup of coffee. For many experts in the coffee industry, however, crema is important because it says a lot about the quality of the espresso and the espresso machine.

It reveals characteristics such as how fresh the beans are. Also, it showcases the way that a certain espresso machine pulls a shot or even the skill level of the barista who’s making the coffee.

Though crema doesn’t really have a different flavor than the rest of the espresso, it certainly highlights the overall flavor, and even helps preserve the after-taste of it. 

The Crema of a Long Black

As far as crema is concerned, the Americano falls short in comparison to the Long Black. Since the Long Black’s espresso is poured after the water is added to the cup, the crema is better protected. In the Americano’s case, pouring hot water in after the espresso destroys the crema.

Because some people mix the crema into their coffee anyway, the difference between the two drinks is negligible. But for those coffee lovers looking to add a bit of nuance to their caffeinated routine, the Long Black is a great alternative to your typical black coffee or Americano. 

One helpful tip to consider while making a Long Black is holding the cup closer to the espresso spout as the espresso is extracting. By doing this, the crema is able to form easier due to the closer range it has to the cup. 

The Long and Short of it all

This robust drink is a most beloved of many–and can easily become a popular choice for many avid black-coffee drinkers. For those who are searching for something new to sip on, the long back certainly does not disappoint. 

Happy caffeinating! 


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