Have you ever ordered a long black coffee thinking you’ll be getting a version of the Americano or perhaps a standard large black? Never heard of a large black. ‘perhaps a standard black filter coffee.’ as a replacement?
If you’re a bona fide coffee lover or frequent Australian cafés, you probably know by now that long black coffee – or long black for short – is a popular beverage in both Australia and New Zealand.
When you get your long black coffee order for the first time, you’ll probably be startled to realise the name doesn’t match the beverage at all, size wise.
But what is a long black, exactly? Is it any different from black coffee or versions of it?
In this post and our explainer video, we’ll talk about long black coffee at length, and why it’ll make a great addition to your list of favourite black coffees; that is, if you’ve yet to try it.
What Is a Long Black Coffee?
Now, to answer the question ‘what is a long black’, we need to note that perhaps other people have also developed a similar type of coffee without necessarily naming it a long black.
A good example of this would be the kopi hitam (black coffee) in West Java, Indonesia – which is essentially a long black – and which is served to those who ask for either a long black or Americano.
But as far as we know, the long black as we know it is said to have originated in Italy and then popularised in Australia and New Zealand. It comprises a double (or single) shot of espresso or ristretto. The coffee is poured over 100 to 120 millilitres of hot water from an espresso machine.
If you’ve ever made yourself an Americano, you’ll know that it is made by pouring hot water over espresso, whilst a long black is made in reverse. The espresso gets poured over the hot water, resulting in a fuller, more flavourful concoction with significantly more crema than an Americano.
Also, a long black is usually made with less water than an Americano, so it’s understandably more concentrated, with a more intense espresso flavour.
This coffee may appear uninteresting if you prefer creamy coffee. However, once you start exploring its texture in depth, you’ll realise how well the long black expresses the rich coffee bean flavours making up the espresso.
Does a long black have milk or cream?
A long black should ideally be enjoyed slowly. Since it is generally consumed without milk, the flavours of the underlying espresso blend are more prominent than, say, if you were to drink a cappuccino or flat white.
That being said, long black coffee – just like other beverages – is meant to be enjoyed. If you wish to add dairy milk to sweeten your coffee lightly, you may do so. Other ‘milk’ alternatives include coconut and almond milk.
What’s the Story Behind the Long Black?
It’s not surprising to know that the origin of the long black is traced to Italy or the work of Italian baristas.
While espresso and cappuccino were once the only two coffee beverages available in Italy, when American visitors began visiting Italian cafés, things changed. Baristas were perplexed when they were asked for big cups of black coffee instead of the typically small espresso shots.
This is because American coffee drinkers were accustomed to drip coffee makers, and large black cups of coffee were a typical order. Fortunately, the baristas immediately adjusted and began offering them big black coffees instead of the little espresso shots popular at the time.
The baristas were then asked to prepare big black coffees which were a little less intense by the American guests. By pulling a single espresso shot in a cappuccino already filled with hot water, the Italians perfected the order by increasing the serving of espresso and making it a trifle less powerful. This is essentially how the long black came into being.
The new method (which now makes use of a single or double shot of espresso or a ristretto) solved the baristas’ dilemma and led to the creation of a new beverage that pleased their out-of-town visitors.
Main Considerations to Make a Good Long Black
A long black requires only two common ingredients: the espresso and hot water.
Here, we need to emphasise the importance of using fresh, high-quality coffee in making long black – or any type of coffee, for that matter.
Your choices include single-origin coffees like Costa Rican coffee, Ethiopian coffee, Colombian coffee, Brazillian coffee and Guatemalan coffee, or select coffee blends like the ones available here at Coffeefusion on subscription basis.
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How to Make a Long Black
If you want to know how to make a long black coffee, there’s really not much to it – as long as you use good-quality coffee.
For the best flavour, buy fresh coffee beans and prepare your long black using 100% Arabica. You can choose to use a blend for a more balanced flavour overall, or a single origin for a more subtle, nuanced flavour.
Here’s a simple long black coffee recipe you can use to make your first cup at home.
- Light to medium-roast coffee beans
- Hot water heated to 91 to 96°C or 195 to 205°F
- Espresso machine
- Grind coffee beans to an ideally fine size that’s perfect for espresso.
- Brew two shots of espresso with water that is approximately 92-94°C (197-201°F).
- Pour 142 to 187.5 millilitres (5 to 6.6 ounces) of hot water at about the same temperature as above in a separate tall glass. To ensure you use water of the correct temperature, use water from your espresso machine. Doing this will allow you to enjoy the brew without it being scalding hot.
- Add the espresso to the hot water. Allow the crema to gather and dissolve on top.
- You can now enjoy your homemade long black.
At this point, you may add optional ingredients like milk, sweetener, ice, or anything else you desire. Some people like to put whipped cream as a topper when serving the long black iced.
What’s in a Long Black?
You can use a shot of espresso to make a long black. You also have the option to use two espresso shots or a ristretto for a stronger flavour and caffeine punch.
A typical (240 mL) cup of long black coffee contains about four calories and 85 to 120 milligrams (for two shots) of caffeine. Keep in mind, however, that cold brew coffee may contain much more caffeine depending on the brew time.
Other factors that affect the caffeine content of coffee include:
- The type of coffee beans used
- The type of roast (light or dark)
- The brewing method and related factors (grind size and water temperature)
Nutrients in black coffee include potassium, niacin, thiamine and riboflavin.
Health Benefits of Black Coffee
Coffee lovers have more incentive to drink long black and other coffee beverages because of the following *health benefits they offer:
- Boost energy and enhances athletic performance
- May reduce a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
- Can aid in weight management
- May lower the risk of depression
- Support liver and heart health
Non-coffee drinkers who want to incorporate coffee into their diet may do so with the advice of their healthcare provider.
*Disclaimer: This does not constitute medical advice. Please do your own thorough research.
Want to Learn About More Coffee Types?Aside from long black coffee, there are numerous other coffee drinks worth exploring. If you want to learn everything there is to know about coffee, including the different varieties of coffee, check out our other resources available here at Coffeefusion.
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