Long Black vs Filter Coffee: What Is the Difference?


If you have ever been to the coffee shop or café, then you probably already know just how confusing the drink menu can be. Just a simple visit to any of these places will tell you all you need to know about how many variations of coffee there are. It wouldn’t even be possible to count them all, even if you tried. Coffee isn’t just coffee anymore.

Long Black is based on espresso shots, while filtered coffee is a brewing method by itself. Taste for filtered coffee should be sweeter due to the increased brewing time; the Long Black will tend to bitter and more robust notes, therefore bolder flavor. Filtered coffee will have less caffeine.

Specialty coffee shops have completely transformed the way we view and taste our cup of Coffee. Lots of methods of brewing the different types of Coffee have been discovered, and more and more people have become enlightened on the little things that affect the overall flavor of the Coffee.

Most types of Coffee don’t differ so much. However, there is some subtle difference between them. Long black coffee and filter coffee are some of the modern forms acceptable to most people. But what is the difference between these two types of Coffee?

In this article, we’re going to explore the factors that contribute to the differences between long black Coffee and filter Coffee, and how they differ from each other in regards to these factors. So kick back, sit tight and read on!

First, the summary:

Long BlackFilter Coffee
BrewingEspresso (30 seconds high-pressured water extraction)Hot water over ground coffee beans for couple of minutes.
Texture (coffee grind)grind size is fine or extra-fine for making the best espressocoffee grind size is medium, medium coarse, and medium fine
Caffeine Contentabout 8 ounces of brew, there is approximately 128 mg of caffeine (2 espresso shots)8 ounces or 236ml of brew, there is about 96 mg of caffeine
Tastelittle smoky and bitter with undertones of saltinessas floral, delicate, sweet, and acidic owing to the slower process of making the coffee
CremaCrema present because a shot of espresso is poured over hot water.There is no crema in filter coffee
Long Black vs Filter Coffee: The Differences

What Is Long Black Coffee?

A long black is a type of coffee drink that is most popular in Australia and New Zealand. It’s a little bit similar to an Americano.

It’s easy to confuse a long black coffee for an Americano. If you pop onto a coffee shop or a café and ask for a long black, you’ll receive something that looks like an Americano at first glance. If you have an eye for Coffee and dig a little deeper, you’ll realize that there’s a huge difference between the two. A long black coffee is a little bit stronger in aroma and taste. The long black has a bold flavor.

A long black is espresso-based. Unlike other coffee drinks, what differentiates a Long black from the pack is that it is made by pouring the espresso or ristretto over hot water. Popular drinks like the Americano are made by pouring hot water over espresso.

So the overall effect that this method of making long black is that the drink retains crema from the espresso. Crema is one of the most prized components of Coffee. It is caramel-colored and creamy in texture. When making a long black, this foamy puff floats atop the espresso with smooth little bubbles.

Typically, when preparing long black Coffee, less water is used. This, therefore, makes the drink concentrated. The flavor of the espresso is, therefore, much more pronounced. The water that is added when making a long black opens up the coffee flavor. This makes it possible for drinkers to distinguish the characteristics of the coffee beans and their roast profile.

It should be noted that just as the name suggests, long black Coffee is enjoyed without adding milk. The flavors of the underlying espresso blend are more pronounced. For this reason, high-quality Coffee is always a must. So if you’re looking to brew a long black for yourself, high-quality Coffee is recommended. High quality and carefully roasted Arabica coffee beans are recommended for the best long black.

Long Black Vs Filter Coffee

Long black and filter coffee differ vastly owing to several factors. We will discuss what each of them entails and how these two brews of Coffee differ in regard to them.

Brewing

The first way in which both of these coffee drinks differ is in the way they are brewed, obviously. While it may seem like a small factor to consider, we all know that the method in which Coffee is made affects the taste and strength. We will discuss both of these factors later on.

Each coffee enthusiast has varying expectations of the taste and strength of their choice of Coffee. The truth of the matter is that different coffees suit different brewing methods. For this reason, differentiating between how a long black and filtered coffee is brewed is essential. So how do the two coffees differ in this regard?

Brewing filter coffee is a little bit straightforward. Filter coffee is what you’d call traditional Coffee. It simply involves pouring hot water over ground coffee beans and passing the liquid through a filter to leave a fresh brew. You can also use your ordinary automatic coffee maker. The normal coffee powder is not suitable for making filter coffee. Most coffee drinkers prefer to use a coffee mix.

An average of 2 cups of water is boiled to make filter coffee. The filtering equipment (whether a paper filter or strainer) is then put over the mouth of a holder, and then about four teaspoons of filter coffee powder are added.

The boiling water is then poured on top of the Coffee and allowed to drain into the holder. After the water has completely dripped into the holder, the filter paper is removed. One can then pour the coffee into a mug according to the strength of the Coffee desired and then add water or milk.

Brewing long black Coffee, on the other hand, is quite different. For one thing, a long black is espresso-based. The easiest way to describe how it’s brewed is by pouring a shot or two of espresso onto hot water. If made well, the long black is a balanced drink and is not quite as intense as an espresso. Unlike filter coffee, milk cannot be added when making long black so that the flavor of the espresso shines through.

To make long black Coffee, not too hot water is, first of all, poured into a cup. The amount of water added determines the strength of the Coffee. A double shot of espresso is then poured directly onto the water. If the crema is desired, the drink is served immediately.

So as you can see, the methods in which these two coffees are brewed are significantly different. One can make a choice based on the brewing method that is suitable for them.

Coffee grind and resulting texture

Coffee grinds are important in brewing Coffee. Most people fail at brewing the perfect cup of coffee before they even begin. Not many of them know that the secret to making a great cup of coffee lies in the extraction.

What this means is the process by which the flavor and aroma compounds are extracted from the coffee powder. Grind size is a fundamental part of this extraction process. Because different coffees are required to have different flavors and aromas, the grind size is one key way of controlling these factors.

One could have the best coffee beans, follow the right brewing method, use the correct water-coffee ratio, and still have mediocre Coffee because of the wrong grind size. According to the grind size, Coffee can be under-extracted or over-extracted. Under extracted Coffee is usually sour, acidic, and salty. Over extracted coffee is bitter, dark tasting, and hollow in terms of flavor. Correctly ground Coffee tastes sweet, is flavorful, has crisp acidity, has a soothing mouthfeel, and is just right.

Pre-ground Coffee can still be used, but the disadvantage of this is that it trades quality for convenience.

It’s important to differentiate between the appropriate coffee grind sizes for both long black and filter Coffee to get the best out of them.

  • For filter coffee, the recommended coffee grind size is medium, medium coarse, and medium fine. The medium-coarse ground feels like coarse sand while medium ground like salt. Using these grind sizes ensures the Coffee is extracted more quickly, and therefore less time is used to brew a balanced mug. This makes sure the Coffee is neither too weak because of dripping too quickly or bitter for dripping too slowly.
  • For long black Coffee, the recommended grind size is fine or extra-fine for making the best espresso. This espresso is the one that will be added to hot water to brew the long black Coffee. This grind should resemble the texture of flour.

So as you can see, long black and filter coffees differ in terms of grind sizes. The grinding equipment used should always be good quality and well maintained to ensure the grind size is just right.

Caffeine Content

If you rely on a morning cup of coffee to get you fully awake and going for the day, then you are not alone. But do you know how much coffee is in your cup of Coffee? Most people just hear about caffeine in Coffee but don’t pay it that much attention. On average, the normal adult consumes between 110 to 126 mg of caffeine per day.

Caffeine is a stimulant that is found in a variety of beverages and naturally occurs in Coffee. It stimulates the brain, central nervous system, heart, and muscles. When consumed in moderation, caffeine helps prevent drowsiness, improve alertness, and improve short-term memory, among others. If consumed in large amounts, it can actually be harmful.

So it’s only safe to wonder what caffeine content is in the regular cup of long black coffee or filter coffee. The truth of the matter, however, is that the content of caffeine in coffee is dependent on a lot of variables.

One is the type of coffee bean used in brewing. There are lots of numbers of coffee bean varieties available, and as such, each of these contains different amounts of caffeine. The roasting process also plays a part in the caffeine content of Coffee. Lighter roasts usually have more caffeine than darker roasts.

The brewing technique and time also play a huge part in the caffeine content of Coffee. Different brewing methods and times contribute to different caffeine content. Variations in the amount of ground coffee are also used to determine the caffeine content, as does the water temperature.

Because of these factors, it’s impossible to provide an exact figure on the caffeine content of the different types of Coffee.

So what are the approximate caffeine levels of our two coffees?

For filter coffee, in about 8 ounces or 236ml of brew, there is about 96 mg of caffeine. It may not look like it, but this is actually a lot. The reason for this is because the method through which this Coffee is made makes it such that water is in contact with the ground coffee for a long period of time.

For a long black coffee brewed with a double shot of espresso, in about 8 ounces of brew, there is approximately 120 mg of caffeine. This is very high when compared to filtered Coffee and can be attributed to the espresso shot.

So, as can be seen, they differ in caffeine content, with the long black Coffee containing more than filter coffee.

Taste

If you are a coffee aficionado, you already know that Coffee comes in different tastes depending on a number of factors. Much like wine or beer, Coffee can come in various inherent flavors depending on where or when the coffee beans were grown, how they were processed, roasted, their variety, and even how the Coffee is brewed.

In all truth, no one is ever born a coffee lover. Like a fine wine, it’s truly an acquired taste that varies from person to person. Naturally, Coffee has a slightly bitter taste. You see, coffee has a complex blend of various flavors and tastes, which, when combined, produce a range of tastes.

The variation in the factors we’ve discussed above contributes to the overall sensory experience that a coffee drinker will obtain from a cup of Coffee. Two prominent factors used to describe Coffee are the aroma and taste. The aroma of Coffee can be termed as flowery, smoky, herby, and nutty, while the taste as bitterness, acidity, saltiness, sourness, and sweetness.

In terms of roast, lighter roasts have been known to preserve the herb and fruity notes of Coffee while darker roasts increase smoky and burnt aromas while reducing acidity.

In terms of coffee beans, Arabica gives out a slightly sour taste while robusta gives off a bitter flavor.

It should be noted that it’s not easy to determine the taste unless you actually drink a cup of Coffee. This is because most people use a blend of different coffee beans, which can give out varying tastes.

  • In the case of filter coffee, the taste can be described as floral, delicate, sweet, and acidic owing to the slower process of making the Coffee.
  • Long black Coffee, on the other hand, can be described as a little smoky and bitter with undertones of saltiness.

Crema

There really isn’t that much that can be said about crema because not so many people care for it when taking their Coffee.

Crema is a reddish-brown, flavorful, and aromatic froth that rests on Coffee (mostly espresso). Its presence usually indicates a good quality coffee.

  • For long black Coffee, the method that is used to make it results in crema at the top of the coffee cup. It forms because a shot of espresso is poured over hot water.
  • In the case of filter coffee, crema does not exist whatsoever.

As you can see, there are so many ways in which long black and filter coffee differ from each other.

Equipment for making these coffees

If you’re a coffee lover and are looking to make Coffee for yourself at home, here are some few pieces of equipment you’d require:

  • A traditional coffee brewer – Everyone knows how to use these. You measure your beans and water, and you’re good to go.
  • Hario V60 – This is a coffee maker that is V-shaped with angles of 60 degrees. One places filter paper into the V shape, followed by coffee grounds on the filter paper. The maker is placed over a cup, and hot water is poured.
  • Chemex – This was invented in 1940 and has a double filter where coffee grounds are placed, and gravity does the rest of the work.
  • Aeropress – Looks like a plunger. In it, Coffee is steeped for a few seconds before being forced out through a filter onto a cup by pressing the plunger.
  • An espresso machine is a must-have.

Choose one of the above, whichever appeals to you. Some other equipment you’d need is:

  • A coffee storage system to make sure that your coffee doesn’t lose its flavor and freshness over time.
  • A kitchen scale to measure the number of beans to use for each of your brews.
  • An effective coffee grinder, ideally, you could try a Burr Hand Grinder.
  • A hot water kettle if necessary.
  • With these, you’d be well set to brew your own coffee at home.

As you can see from what we’ve discussed above, there’s so much to consider when brewing Coffee. Hopefully, this guide has enlightened you more!

Charlie McFarlane

Technology professional with 20 years in the industry providing solutions to customers based on IT. Recently got interested in the art and science behind of specialty coffee and decided to document this journey, sharing it with public.

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