How To Brew Different Kinds Of Black Coffees

How To Brew Different Kinds Of Black Coffees

Black coffee can be more than just a single espresso shot.

The humble long black is one of our favourite ways to drink black coffee but there are plenty of ways to enjoy your home or office coffee machine’s brew black without having to drink the same thing every day.

From the straightforward espresso to the European speciality caffé crema, there are a range of ways to enjoy black coffee. Plus, if you didn’t know what the difference was between an Americano and a long black, you soon will.

Read on to learn more about brewing black coffee in a variety of ways.

Espresso

The standard 30mL shot of coffee, brewed from as a single shot (or a solo in Italian) of 7g of coffee with water extracted through. This is the ‘base unit’ of espresso machine coffees. 

Find out more about how to brew the perfect espresso shot every time with our dedicated espresso guide.

Doppio

A doppio, which means ‘double’ in Italian, is simply a double shot of espresso — 60mL of coffee rather than 30mL. An interesting quirk of the modern café espresso machine that’s made its way to the home or office espresso machine too is the double spout on your portafilter.

In a café, a true single shot of coffee tends to be quite rare. Generally, a café will pack a double shot of coffee into a double shot basket and brew a single shot espresso by placing two cups beneath the double-sided spout, each pouring ‘one shot’ into each cup of the course of the brew.

Most home or office coffee machines come with a dedicated basket for making doppios. A single shot basket usually tapers down whereas a double shot basket will have straight sides to fit more coffee grinds in the same portafilter.

Note as well that longer extractions do not make for a double shot. You might have pulled twice as much water through your puck to create a larger coffee but that’s not a doppio. That’s a lungo. See below.

Triplo

The rare Italian term for a triple shot, a triplo, like a doppio, is an espresso adjusted for a third shot. That means you’ll be brewing with 21g of coffee instead of 7g for a single shot or 14g for a doppio.

Most home or office coffee machines come with a basket for a triple shot. Like the double shot basket, it will likely have straight sides but it will sit much deeper down into your portafilter.

Ristretto

Splitting the difference between an espresso shot and a doppio, a ristretto (meaning ‘narrow’ in Italian) is brewed by extracting only 30mL of coffee from a double shot basket with a finer grind into half as much water. This is generally done by simply halving your extraction time (so 10 seconds rather than 20 seconds).

The first half of a coffee extraction is more concentrated so it produces stronger colours, flavours, and textures. Because a ristretto is functionally just the first half of a double shot extraction, you will notice a difference between a ristretto and a single shot of espresso.

Drunk on their own like an espresso shot, ristretto shots will be less bitter and more bold with flavour and they’ll carry this bitterlessness into any coffees made with hot water or milk from them.

Lungo

On the flip side of the ristretto, a lungo (meaning ‘long’ in Italian) is a single shot of espresso extracted for twice as long with twice as much water. The resulting brew will contain all the caffeine of a single shot of coffee but it will contain far more water so it’s much easier to enjoy as a sit-down beverage.

Unlike an Americano or long black, a lungo is made from water that’s heated during the extraction rather than added before or after the fact.

For ease of reference, see the below table for the different coffee:water ratios that make up the ristretto/normale/lungo range of black coffee brews:

Ristretto Normale (double shot espresso) Lungo
1:1 1:2 1:4
14g coffee grinds:14mL brewed coffee 14g coffee grinds:30mL brewed coffee 14g coffee grinds:60mL brewed coffee

 

Caffé crema

On the extreme end of the ristretto/normale/lungo range is the caffé crema. Not well known outside of the multilingual European enclaves of Belgium, Switzerland, and northern Italy, a caffé crema makes the lungo extraction leap again — for a total 1:6 coffee:water ratio. This means that you’re tripling the length of time you spend extracting your double shot so you wind up with 90mL of coffee from a 14g grind.

A caffé crema usually involves a coarser grind too so that your extraction can continue to produce good flavour throughout the lengthened brew.

These are pretty uncommon in Australia so you’ll not be able to order one at your local but you could try it at home or in the office if you can adjust your grind. Try, for example, grinding medium rather than fine and seeing how that brew comes out.

Americano

Agent Cooper’s preferred, the Americano is as ubiquitous as black coffee gets. Making an Americano is easy and you’ve likely done it a thousand times before. Step one: pull a double shot of espresso. Step two: add hot water to suit. The amount of hot water you add to your black coffee after the fact is up to you and your glass.

The common Americano is quite watery, with up to 450mL of water added to the 30mL of double shot coffee, so adjust this ratio to taste.

Long black

More than just a semantic difference to the Americano, long blacks will be more familiar to Australian coffee drinkers. In contrast to an Americano, a long black is brewed by pouring a double shot (or a doppio, as we learned earlier) over hot water.

Brewing a long black this way preserves the crema more effectively than an Americano because it’s not being so upset by a volume of water poured over and through. Crema is thicker in texture and volume than water so it will naturally rise to the top but it will be stronger and more pronounced in a long black than in an Americano.

Long blacks are generally stronger in flavour too as they’re more controlled for size in a café environment — long blacks are generally made with 100mL of hot water followed by 60mL of a double espresso. This 3:5 coffee:water ratio is much stronger than an Americano’s softer, more watery coffee:water ratio.

Which black coffee should I try?

As with all coffee, you should be brewing your black coffee to suit your tastes. Espresso can be fast, ristretto can be faster, but not all coffee making is about convenience. Make sure that your coffee, whether it’s at home or in the office, suits you best by trying a range of black coffee brews to see what you like most.

If you’re an Americano drinker (and you’ve been calling them long blacks this whole time…) try experimenting with a real long black. If you’ve a doppio drinker by default, go for a lungo instead. If you like your black coffee done differently, have a play with a caffé crema.

Shop black coffee beans

If you’re looking for new coffee beans with which to try brewing your preferred black coffee, or your newly piqued soon-to-be favourite, shop our signature dark roast espresso blend Wanderer. Available in 250g or 1kg bags with free shipping on all orders over $60.

Back to blog
1 of 3