What is a long black coffee? A long black coffee is a type of coffee that is made by brewing espresso and then adding hot water. It has a rich, intense flavor and a thick crema on top.
Ask for a long black at your local coffee shop and you’ll be served up something that may look similar to an Americano at first glance. However, if you take a closer look, you’ll realize there’s a difference.
What is a long black coffee?
What is a long black coffee? How is it made? Here are the basics of a long black and what makes it so special.
Long black vs. Americano
Coffee shops in Australia and New Zealand serve long black drinks.
Levent Doganay, a coffee expert at Coffee Brewmasters in Melbourne, describes the coffee-making process of a long black:
In Australia and New Zealand, a long black is made by pouring a double-shot of espresso or ristretto into 100 to 120ml hot water from an espresso machine.
An Americano is made differently than a long black because of the way hot water is mixed with espresso. An Americano is created by boiling water over espresso, while a long black is made using the opposite method: Espresso is poured over hot water to retain more crema.
A long black is usually prepared with less water than an Americano. The espresso’s flavor is stronger because it is concentrated. It should not be confused with a lungo, which is an espresso shot that has been taken with more water than usual.
The long black is usually enjoyed without milk, as its name suggests. Levent states that adding water allows the coffee flavor to open and highlights the characteristics and roast profile of the coffee bean. This means you can enjoy your coffee for much longer!
The drink is often advertised under a different name outside of Australia and New Zealand.
The owner of Smile Koffie in West Java, Indonesia, named his long black kopi hitam which means black coffee. He says the kopi hitam appeals to anyone who loves black coffee.
Mulia and his team at Smile Koffie prepare a long black by adding 160ml of espresso machine-heated water to a glass before pouring one espresso shot on top. Mulia said that the taste of the drink is similar to an Americano but has a stronger taste and aroma. There is also a heavier body with more crema on top.
Tips on how to make a rich and intense long black
Long blacks are meant to be enjoyed with no milk. This means that the flavors of the underlying espresso blend are more prominent than in a cappuccino or flat white.
Choose high-quality coffee beans
It is important to use high-quality coffee. Levent claims that he uses single-origin Colombian coffee for his espresso. Mulia uses two blends of coffee: Arabica beans and robusta beans, both from Temanggung in Indonesia.
Mulia claims that Temanggung coffee has a distinctive, special aroma with a low level of acidity and smooth, floral, and fruity flavors. Mulia describes the taste as “penetrating the tongue with a sour feeling”.
Add different ingredients
Mulia said he’s also tried different combinations. Mulia explains that he makes long blacks with ice cubes for customers who want a cool drink. He has also tried adding syrup, sugar, and even whipped cream.
You can add other ingredients to give the long black a different flavor. You can make a double ristretto-style, concentrated shot of coffee for a bolder taste that is less acidic. It will also have a slightly sweeter mouthfeel.
Heat the water to the right temperature
Although making a long black is easy, it is important to be careful. The flavor of a long black will be affected if you pour it over water that is too hot. Customers will also need to wait for the drink to cool down before they can enjoy it.
Levent suggests using water heated to 70 degrees Celsius. This gives the long black a “greater clarity of flavor and a cleaner finish”. It will also keep the drink sweet and preserve the crema. If the water is too hot, the crema will evaporate faster.
Although the long black may look similar to other black espresso-based beverages, its unique preparation method gives it a distinct body and mouthfeel that sets it apart.
We’ve discussed what is a long black coffee. The unique flavor profile of a long black coffee makes it appealing to black coffee drinkers who are looking for something different, or to those looking for an alternative to the Americano coffee drinks.
Quality long blacks can be made and enjoyed for years to come if you understand what makes a long black unique.