Americano Vs Black Coffee – Are They The Same Drink?

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If you are a regular visitor to a coffee shop, you will have almost certainly noticed that there are options for regular black coffee or Americano. However, it can be difficult to know how they differ. Indeed, some people assume they are the same coffee beverage.

This article will examine how the two coffee drinks differ – and how they are similar – so that the next time you are choosing between Americano or regular coffee, you will have a solid idea of which is likely to suit your tastes.

Quick Summary

Similarities:

  • They are both black coffee brewed with ground coffee and water;
  • Can be served hot or iced;
  • Usually, they are served in an 8-oz cup;
  • Both don’t have flavorings.

Differences: 

  • Americano is brewed with an espresso machine; regular black coffee can be brewed with any brew method, such as drip, french press, cold brew, etc. 
  • Americano has a layer of crema on top, while black coffee doesn’t;
  • Americano has a more robust flavor. However, the tastes of black coffee depend on the coffee beans and brew methods. 
  • The caffeine content in a cup of Americano depends on how many shots of espresso you use. An 8-oz cup of Americano and black coffee has a similar level of caffeine. 

Similarities – Americano vs Black Coffee

Americano is a type of black coffee. However, there are distinct differences between an Americano and other black coffees.

For example, both Americano and regular coffee use hot water to extract the flavor and caffeine content from the ground coffee, but how they do so is different.

Americano is an espresso drink, which combines either a single or double shot of espresso with hot water. However, regular black coffee is brewed using a drip coffee maker, French press, AeroPress, pour-over, Moka pot, capsule machine – like Keurig or Nespresso, or almost any other brewing method.

Neither Americano nor regular black coffee has sugar, milk, or other flavorings. Meanwhile, the servings of Americano and black coffee are similar sizes – an 8oz or 16oz cup. They are also readily available in any coffee shop and are among the most popular coffee drinks in the US.

Differences Between Americano And Black Coffee

Brewing Method

How Is An Americano Made?

As explained previously, standard Americano consists of freshly pulled espresso and hot water. Of course, authentic espresso is made using finely ground coffee and pressure, making it unique from other brewing methods.

The classic Americano recipe requires the barista to pull an espresso shot in an espresso machine before pouring at least 80z of hot water over the coffee. You can pull double or even triple espresso shots if you want a more robust flavor and caffeine content.

how-to-make-americano

If you have an espresso machine at home, you can make your own Americano by simply pouring hot water over your freshly pulled espresso. Many semi-automatic machines have a hot water spout so that you can make the drink in the same espresso machine without heating water in a kettle separately. Additionally, most fully automatic coffee machines can make Americano with one touch.

We shared a detailed Americano recipe, you can find instructions there.

There is also the iced Americano option, which uses freshly pulled espresso shots with iced water.

One of the downsides of brewing Americano instead of regular black coffee is the additional cost of doing so. For example, you will need an espresso machine and a decent burr grinder for espresso to produce the highest quality Americano. In contrast, when brewing regular black coffee, you will only need inexpensive basic equipment.

How Is Regular Black Coffee Made?

There are many more options for how to brew regular black coffee than Americano. To begin with, a cup of black coffee usually has a 1:15 to 1:18 coffee-to-water ratio, and one of the most common ways to make black coffee is drip brewing – either using a drip machine or the pour-over method.

Also read: Pour Over Vs Drip Coffee

With you the latter, you add medium grounds to the filter basket and pour hot water over the grounds in a circular motion to ensure the coffee is extracted properly. Using a drip machine ensures the same results, albeit fully automated. For that reason, drip coffee machines are among the most popular ways to brew coffee in the US, as they produce pleasant coffee with minimal preparation followed by the push of a button.

You can also make black coffee with an immersion brewing method like the French press or cold brew. Like Americano. regular black coffee is served hot or iced.

pouring-coffee-from-bw-french-press

Also read:

How To Make French Press Coffee?

How To Make Cold Brew With A Mason Jar?

The Look

To the untrained eye, Americano coffee and regular black coffee appear identical. However, they are different.

The main difference between the two is that Americano coffee has a thin layer of crema on top – the result of it being brewed using espresso because crema flows to the top of the beverage after adding water.

Americano-coffee

Regular black coffee doesn’t have the crema as the coffee is not brewed using the standard nine bars of pressure required for authentic espresso. So, if you are unsure whether you have an Americano or regular brewed coffee, that is the first thing to look for.

enjoy-coffee-brewed-by-clever-dripper

Coffee Taste

Americano Taste

Americano originated during World War II in Italy. American soldiers were unused to the strong Italian-style coffee, which led to baristas diluting regular espresso shots with water to make them more palatable for the soldiers. That is also the reason it is called an Americano – or American coffee.

americano-made-with-lelit-bianca

Espresso is robust even after diluting with hot water. That means it has a robust taste, too, particularly if you make the espresso with dark roast coffee beans. Americano is generally known for being stronger than regular black coffee.

oily-dark-roasted-beans

Regular Black Coffee Taste

Black coffee can have significant variations in flavor depending on the coffee bean types, roast level and brewing method you use. Of course, that can have pros and cons. On the plus side, plenty of variety offers scope for experimentation to determine which you prefer.

coffee in the decanter

However, on the downside, it is harder to perfect a cup to your specific tastes because of the number of ways you can brew it.

Meanwhile, it is not always suited to people who prefer strong coffee, as regular black coffee is likely to acquire a bitter taste before you reach your desired strength.

Caffeine Content – Americano vs Black Coffee

The caffeine content of your Americano depends on the number of espresso shots you use. For example, a short 8oz Starbucks Americano has a single shot of espresso, which has 75mg of caffeine. The tall option has two espresso shots with 150mg of caffeine. Lastly, if you have Starbucks Americano with three espresso shots, it will have 225mg of caffeine.

There are also considerations regarding the variety of beans used – something that particularly applies to regular black coffee. For example, Robusta beans have more caffeine than arabica beans, and either can be used for regular black coffee or Americano. Check out the most caffeinated drinks at Starbucks.

Generally, it is difficult to extract more caffeine for a regular black coffee and retain the flavor profile you require. That’s because, with regular coffee, you will extract more caffeine the longer the coffee is in contact with the water.

However, the downside is it runs the risk of becoming unpleasantly bitter the longer you do so. For that reason, if you want a pleasant-tasting cup of coffee with a high caffeine content and robust flavor, your best option is an Americano.

Overall, one or two cups of Americano (unless you opt for three shots per drink) or regular black coffee won’t exceed the recommended daily caffeine intake for adults of 400mg.

Final Thoughts

As this article has demonstrated, even though Americano and regular black coffee may look similar at first glance, they are two different drinks with different origins and flavor profiles.

While both options are viable for anyone who likes drinking coffee without sweeteners or other flavors, depending on your taste preference, you are likely to prefer one over the other. Americano is ideal if you enjoy robust black coffee because it is derived from espresso, which is, by its very nature, a strong coffee. From there, you can choose whether to enjoy Americano with a single double or even triple espresso shot.

There is generally far more variety with regular black coffee. So, as well as the brewing method used – from drip coffee to immersion brewing – you can choose the grind size, the roast level, and the type of bean you use. Each of these has an effect on the overall flavor. Whether you prefer Americano or regular black coffee comes down to your taste preference. As ever, the best idea is to try them both to determine which you prefer.