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A long black is made by pouring espresso into hot water-- effectively the reverse of an americano.

Is there an ideal amount of time, or an ideal temperature, at which the hot water should be allowed to cool to avoid burning the espresso during the combination process?

  • Never heard of a long black. I wonder what the benefits are - or just the differences, I guess - for a long black over an Americano. – hairboat Jan 28 '15 at 18:41
  • The argument for the long black is that americanos tend to put water that is too hot directly on the espresso, burning it. Pouring the espresso into the water that you let rest for x number of seconds, allowing it to cool just a bit, prevents this. – stevvve Jan 28 '15 at 18:43
  • Considering that espresso is likely to be brewed at 198-201F, I think that unless if the water is boiling, it would be difficult to burn it. – John Snow Jan 28 '15 at 21:31
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As an American, I've never heard of a long black, but it sounds like a great idea. I normally drink brewed coffee black, but I enjoy an occasional Americano. The only problem is that they're generally served around 400,000° and I can barely hold them and have to wait hours for them to cool down enough to drink. Sometimes I ask for ice or something to cool it quickly. If I just wait for it to cool, it tends to taste rather old and stale by the time I can handle it. Or maybe I just can't taste it because my tongue is crispy from preliminary attempts. But the crema and freshness is always long gone.

I think that must secretly be the real reason for a long black—by adding the espresso to the top of drinkable-temperature water, you still have a chance at the best flavors and aromas. As the Australian coffee roasters Five Senses put it,

Regardless of the crema, the long black tastes best as it cools slightly from boiling to a drinkable temperature. Only then will you be able to perceive some of the finer nuances and sweetness of the coffee.

So, I would shoot to have the cup around the same temperature as good brewed coffee by the time it hits the drinker's lips. According to Coffee Detective,

[American-style brewed] coffee is best served at a temperature between 155ºF and 175ºF (70ºC to 80ºC). Most people prefer it towards the higher end, at about 175ºF.

That means, depending on cup type and ambient temperature, if you draw 200°F hot water from the machine before you start making the espresso and leave it uncovered, it will be roughly the right temperature to serve by the time the shots are ready.

  • 1
    400,000°, good one. – Ludwik Feb 7 '15 at 12:41

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