What Is An Americano Coffee – Comparison With Other Black Coffees

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of BrewCoffeeHome.com. With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe. You can reach him at [email protected].


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You’re heading to work in the morning and need a caffeine hit before getting the day started. So, you walk into a Starbucks and ask for a venti Americano. What arrives is a big cup of black coffee with some appealing brown crema sitting on it.

Countless coffee lovers opt for black coffee to get their day off to a good start each morning. But what exactly separates Americano from other black coffees? Isn’t Americano just a fancy name for a regular brewed black coffee?

It’s not quite as straightforward as that. This article will examine exactly what constitutes an Americano and what makes it different from other black coffee drinks. That way, you’ll have a sound idea of what you’re ordering next time you’re passing a coffee shop in need of a serious caffeine hit.

We also made a short video to show you how simple it is to make an Americano at home.

What Is An Americano?

An Americano is just a diluted espresso. A barista will pull one or two shots of espresso, then add some hot water. You will be able to order a hot Americano or an iced one in some coffee shops too.

This simple but amazing coffee is one of the best-loved of them all, and one of the most popular among coffee fans who love black coffee.

What Are The Origins Of Americano Coffee?

There is an unsubstantiated account of where Americano coffee has its roots, which is widely believed. It states that “Caffè Americano” is Italian for “American coffee,” and, much like other well-liked coffees, the story goes that the Americano began its rise in Italy…

In the Second World War, US soldiers based in Italy found the flavor of espresso too strong for their tastes. That’s because the local Italian espressos were brewed to be extremely bitter, which they found unpleasant. So, acting on their complaints, the local barista began watering down the shots with some hot water. This addition lent the beverage a quality far more in keeping with the drip coffee the soldiers were more familiar with. The drink became known as the “Americano,” and this is how this particular black coffee originated.

What Does Americano Taste Like?

Because Americano is essentially a watered-down espresso and retains some of the crema, you will not be surprised to learn that the flavor profiles of the two coffees are similar. The main difference is in the strength, with Americano being milder in every way than an espresso. Indeed, Americano tastes more like a French press or drip coffee than espresso, despite being so closely related.

The flavor will change depending on the amount of water you add to the espresso drink. If you only add a little water, the mouthfeel the coffee gives will be thick, while it will have a strong taste. Some people like to have a ratio of one part espresso cof, one part water, while others prefer a 1:2 ratio. Some baristas prepare Americano with a single shot of espresso to 8 parts water or more at the other end of the scale. At this point, the Americano begins to resemble a drip coffee.

starbucks iced americano

Difference Between An Americano And Other Black Coffees

If you check out our guide detailing the different types of coffee, you’ll see a range of black coffee drink options. However, some people may find the choice overwhelming. In the following section, we’ll go into greater detail to give you a clearer idea of what to order next time you’re in a coffee shop.

Americano vs. Drip Coffee

While both Americano and drip coffee are popular black coffee choices, they differ significantly in preparation, taste, and texture.

Originating as a milder alternative for American soldiers in Italy during World War II, the Americano is essentially espresso diluted with hot water. This method retains some of the espresso’s crema, giving the Americano a unique flavor profile and appearance.

In contrast, drip coffee is made by filtering hot water through coffee grounds, resulting in a different flavor and no crema. The brewing time is also a notable difference: pulling a shot of espresso for an Americano takes about 20 to 30 seconds, while drip coffee brewing can take three to five minutes.

The choice of coffee beans and grind size further distinguishes these drinks. Americanos typically use medium or dark roast beans, finely ground for a short extraction time, while drip coffee often uses a medium grind of light or medium roast beans, offering a lighter taste.

For a more detailed comparison of Americano and other black coffees, including equipment used and the role of crema, check out our comprehensive guide on Americano Vs Black Coffee.

how-to-make-americano

Americano vs. Long Black

Americano-vs-long-black

How often have you spent a while choosing two different drinks from the menu at a coffee shop, only for the barista to present an order where the drinks look almost identical? If you’re familiar with this scenario, and you wonder why, you are not alone. After all, only serious coffee lovers can tell much difference between a Breve, Cortado, Latte, or flat white. Black coffee is no different. Let’s examine the differences between an Americano and Long Black.

The only difference between the two drinks is the order you add the hot water. The ingredients are identical.

But how did Long Black originate? It’s a similar story to the creation of the Americano. This time, the origin in Australia. Similarly to Americans, the strong espresso taste didn’t sit well with the average Australian palate. So, they watered down the robust espresso flavor, but in the opposite order – first pouring the water and then pulling the espresso into it. Because of its geographical origins, you’re most likely to find long blacks on the menu in Australian and New Zealand coffee shops.

how-to-make-long-black

Some coffee lovers believe adding hot water to an espresso shot ruins the crema, so they insist on following the Long Black method to protect it. However, we think the two drinks are identical, both in appearance and flavor. If there is a difference, it’s so slight as to be unnoticeable.

How To Brew An Americano At Home

As we’ve explained, you make an Americano by adding water to an espresso, making the process straightforward as long as you can pull the perfect espresso shot.

If you own a semi-automatic espresso machine, pull either a single or a double shot of espresso, then pour over a specific amount of hot water. There’s no set rule as to how much water you need to add, so just proceed according to your preferences.

The 1:2 ratio is a good starting point. If you usually like a milder coffee, you can add more water until it dilutes enough so it’s enjoyable. There is also the option of adding cold water and some ice cubes to create an iced Americano.

If you use a super-automatic espresso machine, a preset menu can make an Americano. This will enable you to make an Americano by just pressing a button.

Not everyone has the budget -or counter space – for a pricey espresso machine and a high-quality espresso grinder. Thankfully, there are cheaper, more compact options available, including Moka Pot and AeroPress, both of which can make a satisfying and robust “Americano.” We shared a guide on making espresso at home using an espresso machine or alternative methods.

Final Thoughts

This article has covered all the aspects you need to know about what is an Americano, including how it originated and ways you can brew a perfect one at home.

As we have explained, although Americano coffee may appear similar to many other black coffees, in reality, there are various things that set an Americano apart in certain areas, including appearance (the formation of crema), the equipment needed to brew it, and the time it takes to make.

Most notably, the grind size and the type of bean needed for an Americano over, say, drip coffee is markedly different, leading to two very different finished drinks, even if they may share similarities in the way they look and taste.

The next time you’re in a coffee shop and ask for an Americano, we recommend taking a close look at how the barista brews it and watch out for that all-important crema on the surface when it’s served to you.

We hope we have given you the information you need to know exactly what to look out for and how to tweak an Americano to your requirements if you make one at home.

Americano FAQs

How much water do I need for an Americano?

The standard ratio of espresso to water for making an Americano is 1:2 or around 30-50ml (1-2oz) of espresso for 60-100ml (2-3oz) of water. However, there is no set rule with the measurement. You can pour in as much water (or espresso, for that matter) as you desire. It all depends on the texture and strength of the coffee you prefer. Do you typically enjoy lighter coffees? Add more water. Do you prefer a robust, thick coffee? Reduce the coffee to water ratio accordingly.
Your tastes are worth keeping in mind when ordering an Americano at a coffee shop, too. Often a barista will make you an Americano using a 1:8 coffee to water ratio. Don’t be afraid to ask for it weaker or stronger if that’s what you’d like.

Can I add milk or milk alternatives to an Americano?

Definitely! By adding cream, milk, or an alternative to an Americano, you can transform your drink or enjoy a gorgeous addition to a typical Americano. Keep in mind that while lattes and cappuccinos begin as espresso, they don’t include any additional water. Instead, they contain a mixture of espresso and steamed milk. If you’re after a creamier, thicker texture that has espresso at its base, you should just ask for a latte or cappuccino instead of an Americano with milk.

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of BrewCoffeeHome.com. With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.