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The new (long) black!

Five Senses CoffeeShaughan Dunne 13 April 2010

The long black is a drink that gets a bad rap and I’m here to go in to bat for it. It tends to be the drink that your father orders when you take him to your favourite café, and it suffers from a bit of an image problem. It’s definitely become the drink of choice around the roastery. Before we go too far, let’s look at how to make the perfect long black;

  • Grab a medium sized cup
  • Pour in hot water from the tea spout on your espresso machine. The volume of water you add will depend on your desired strength. If your machines doesn’t have a tea spout, use your kettle — but make sure you let the water cool for around 30 seconds.
  • Pour a double shot of espresso directly onto the water
  • If appearance is important serve immediately to maintain the crema.

Made well, this is a really balanced drink, not quite as intense as an espresso. The volume allows you to linger over it for a while so you have time to peruse the paper or your favourite mag. And don’t panic if your drink starts to get a little cool, you’ll find the flavours become much more pronounced and interesting as some of the heat dissipates.

The long black really allows the coffee to shine through without milk masking the flavours. When you’re buying great coffee and making it well, you want to be able to taste the rewards of your effort. The long black allows you to do just that. Personally I like brighter, more expressive coffees that really shine as a black coffee.

Adjusting the volume of water you put into the cup can help you to tailor the drink to your specific preference. Personally, I like a ¾ long black that offers plenty of flavour, but is still dilute enough for me to pick out some of the individual characteristics of the coffee.

Coffee quality and coffee making skills have made a quantum leap in Australia in the past few years, and the days of using milk to cover a multitude of sins are largely over. Maybe it’s time to let go of the flat white as your drink of choice and embrace the long black. You might be in for a pleasant surprise!

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