What is a long black coffee?
A long black coffee is a popular Australian drink that makes the coffee beans the star of the show. Rather than adjusting the flavour of the coffee bean with milk, syrups or sugar, a long black is an espresso drink that's diluted with water so that the flavour can be savoured and enjoyed for longer.
Many people think that a long black is an espresso that's been pulled extra long, but this isn't exactly the case. Instead, a long black is a cup of hot water that has an espresso shot added after the water is in the glass or mug.
It may seem trivial whether the hot water is added before or after the espresso shot, but the preparation actually affects the flavour of the drink. Adding the espresso after the hot water creates crema.
Talented baristas consider crema one of the most prized components of a well-made coffee. It also tends to signify high-quality coffee beans. Crema is the light brown froth that settles at the top of the cup of coffee. It's created by the air bubbles that develop as part of the coffee extraction process.
If you love a steaming hot cup of bold and aromatic black coffee, and you want to learn how to make a high quality cup of it, you're in the right place. Here we discuss the history of long blacks, which beans are ideal and how to make a great coffee.
The history of long blacks
The creation of long blacks came as somewhat of a joint venture between Americans and Italians.
Even to this day, when you ask for a coffee in America, you'll usually get a steaming hot cup of freshly brewed black coffee - in America they call this an Americano.
So, when American's visited Italy on holiday, they'd tend to ask baristas for an Americano coffee. Italians didn't have an equivalent coffee, when didn't have milk in it (like a latte or cappuccino), they would enjoy a black coffee as a shot of espresso.
However, when the demand became high for a black coffee that could be slowly sipped, they invented the long black. While a long black is similar to an americano coffee, it's not quite the same. With an Americano coffee, the espresso shot is poured into the glass or mug first, and this is then followed by topping it up with hot water. A long black varies in the sense that the water is poured into the cup or mug first, and the espresso shot is added after.
The method of adding the shot after is what creates the crema in a coffee. Baristas and coffee connectors generally associate crema with high-quality coffee.
How to make a long black coffee
Measure out your ingredients
There are only two ingredients in a long black - hot water and espresso - but it's vital that you get them correct. We recommend using a ratio of 75% water and 25% espresso.
Pour the hot water into a cup or mug
A long black requires the water to be poured into the cup before the espresso. Heat the water up but ensure that it's not too hot - or this can negatively affect the flavour. For a perfect long black, we recommend using water that's 75 degrees celcius. Once you have the water at the correct temperature, go ahead and fill the cup three-quarters of the way up.
Pour the espresso shot over the water
Determine whether you'd prefer a single or double shot and then prepare your expresso however you normally would (for high quality long blacks, espresso machines are ideal). Pour the espresso directly over the hot water.
That's it - your long black is really to be savoured and sipped.
The best beans for a long black
For a rich, full bodied flavour with chocolate undertones
These bold flavoured beans come from the mist-covered peaks of Colombia’s highest altitude estates and are rich and full flavoured with a hint of chocolate undertones. They're perfect for black coffee aficionados who love a strong flavour.
For a fresh flavour with citrus undertones
The Single-origin Papua new guinea Coffee beans are perfect for coffee drinks that prefer a lighter taste. Grown and harvested in the tropical region of Papua New Guinea, these beans are fresh and citrusy.
For a sweet flavour with spicy undertones
These coffee beans are award winning for a good reason - they are grown at a high altitude in the Buena Vista region, creating a beautiful mixture of a peach flavour and spicy undertones. This coffee bean will create a sophisticated tasting long black.
For a decaf long black
If you love the taste of premium coffee, but are sensitive to caffeine - or just prefer a nighttime cup and don't want your sleep interrupted - then the Premium Roasted Swiss Water Decaf beans are perfect for a long black.
Tips on how to make the best long black
Make sure you've perfected your ratio and extraction time
The coffee to water ratio, and the extraction time you use to make your long black can significantly affect the final cup.
The extraction time for your perfect cup will depend on your personal preference, so it's a good idea to play around with differing times until you find what's best for you. Generally, the ideal extraction time is between 25-25 seconds. For the coffee to water ratio, we suggest 75% water 25% espresso.
Ensure your machine is completely clean
Even the slightest leftover residue on a coffee machine can affect the flavour of the final product. The bitterness that's generated as a result of a dirty coffee machine is often blamed on the beans themselves when this isn't necessarily the case.
Check the water temperature
Water that's too hot or too cool will affect the end flavour of your long black dramatically. It's recommended to use water that's 95 degrees Celcius. If the water is at boiling point - or close - it can remove the sweetness from a coffee and make it taste too bitter.
Make sure you use high-quality beans
With any type of coffee, the beans used are one of the most important factors that will determine the end taste. However, this rings even more true with long blacks, as there is no milk, sugar or syrup that affects the flavour - the flavour of the coffee comes directly from the beans themselves.
Can you add milk to a long black?
Technically, no. If milk is added to a long black, the coffee isn't considered a long black anymore. A long black with milk added is usually considered a macchiato. Macchiatos vary from a latte and flat white coffee in the sense that they tend to have steamed milk, while lattes have steamed milk and frothed milk.
How much caffeine is in a long black?
The amount of caffeine in a mug of long black will depend on how many espresso shots are poured into the drink. Long blacks usually have either one or two espresso shots, however, this can be increased or decreased depending on the drinker's preference.
A single shot of espresso has around 63mgs of caffeine in it. So, a long black made with a single shot of espresso will have approximately 63mgs of caffeine in it, while a long black made with a double shot of espresso will have about 126mgs.
Can you make a long black without an espresso machine?
The highest quality espresso shot will come from an espresso machine. However, it's still possible to make a long black at home without an espresso machine. To do so, simply prefer your espresso using your normal method, and then you can follow the same above steps to create the perfect long black.
Should a long black have a single espresso shot or a double shot?
This completely depends on your personal preference - the majority of long blacks do tend to be made with a double espresso, however, some baristas make them with a single shot. Both variations are considered a proper long black.
If you're sensitive to caffeine, you can decrease the espresso to half a shot, and similarly so - if you're looking for a strong pick me up, you can even include three espresso shots in your long black.