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The classic Americano Coffee is the backbone of many high street cafes but is often lost in the menu and overshadowed by other popular drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, and frappuccinos. It’s not an inferior brew by any means; in fact, this caffeine beverage is quite versatile.
Baristas also love it when you order Americano coffee – why? Because it’s one of the easiest drinks to make on the entire menu.
It’s basically just a watered-down espresso. Extract one or two espresso shots into a regular cup and add hot water – congratulations, you’ve just made an Americano. But don’t let its simplicity fool you. The Americano deserves just as much respect as any other coffee drink on the menu.
If you want to understand more about an americano coffee keep on reading. Trust me there’s more to it than just a black regular brewed coffee.
The History of The Americano
Where did the Americano come from? If you hadn’t already guessed, the word “Americano” literally translates as ‘American’ in Italian or Spanish. The name is directly derived from how this coffee beverage came into existence.
The rumors suggest that the Americans were the ones behind creating this espresso-based coffee drink, and its roots can be traced back to World War II. Apparently, homesick American soldiers stationed in Italy would add additional water to their espresso shots to mimic a regular drip-brewed cup of coffee from home.
There is no concrete proof that this is how the Americano was born, and no one can say for sure, but the story does seem to have some credibility.
Difference Between An Americano, Drip Coffee, and Espresso
Caffè Americano vs. other coffee drinks? By just looking at Americano coffee, you would struggle to differentiate it from other popular beverages. Drip coffee, for example, looks almost identical when placed side by side with Americano, and an espresso shot also looks similar, albeit smaller.
So, what makes the Americano different? To understand the differences, it’s best to look at how drip coffee and espressos are made.
Drip filter coffee is typically done using an automatic coffee maker; however, manual drip is also possible using a Chemex or V60. Medium-grind coffee is typically added to a cone-shaped paper filter, and hot water is slowly poured over the coffee grounds.
Water then drips through, pulling with it the flavor and aromatic compounds locked in your coffee, which then ends up in your cup.
Espresso brewing is entirely different when compared to regular drip coffee. Fine ground coffee is placed into a portafilter, tamped to compress it into a puck shape and the portafilter is then attached to the group head of an espresso machine. Steam pressure is then forced through the grounds, which in turn produces an espresso.
Since Americano is made of a combination of hot water and espresso, essentially the “Caffè Americano” is simply a diluted espresso shot.
Americano vs. Long Black Coffee
To add even more confusion into the mix. There are two ways of making a Café Americano. One method involves pouring espresso over hot water in a tall cup; this is called a “Long Black.”
The other process is the reverse of that. The espresso is added first and then topped with water, which is called “Americano.”
Personally, I prefer the Long Black method because it tends to retain the crema and is less voluminous and, therefore more intensely flavored.
Many baristas will make a Long Black even if you ask for an Americano simply because the result is a better-tasting drink with the same ingredients and the additional crema.
Espresso shot(s) in a cup, topped with water
Water in cup, topped with espresso shot(s)
|Strong espresso flavor||Stronger espresso flavor|
|Some crema||Full crema|
|0 calories per serving||0 calories per serving|
Australia & New Zealand
How Does An Americano Coffee Taste?
Even though this beverage’s key ingredient is a single or double shot of espresso, don’t expect it to taste exactly like one. Since it is diluted with hot water, you do lose out on some richness and boldness along with the caffeine kick found in espresso.
While Café Americano may be lacking compared to a smaller espresso, it is definitely the winner when compared to a regular drip-brewed coffee. The process of pulling an espresso unlocks far more flavors from the coffee beans than a regular drip could ever do.
And even though the Americano is diluted with water, the flavors and smoothness are still there.
Typical Caffeine Content Of An Americano
You might be surprised, but for those of you looking for an extra kick of caffeine, you’d be better off ordering a regular coffee or pour-over cup of brewed coffee rather than a diluted Americano.
Here’s why. A typical one-ounce shot of espresso contains roughly 47-64 mg of caffeine, whereas a regular eight-ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee contains between 95-165 mg of caffeine.
Of course, these numbers can vary depending on the type of coffee beans, the way they have been roasted, and the growing region. Plus, not forgetting the amount of water added to the espresso and whether you order a single or double shot, but these numbers should give you a better understanding of the caffeine content.
How To Make An Americano Coffee?
So how is a Caffe Americano made? I have already talked about the two different ways to make an Americano. The traditional way which involves adding the espresso coffee and then topping it with water and the Long Black method, which is the reverse of that, water then espresso.
The Long Black is the better of the two methods and allows for more crema and foam to stay on top of the drink, which often means a little more flavor and mouthfeel.
Fun fact: The name Long Black is a name given to this method by the Australians after the drink was introduced to them by the Italians.
If you are ordering an Americano, there are a few different methods that a specialty coffee shop will use, and each barista will have their preferred way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tell them how you want it to be made; after all “the customer is always right” (maybe?).
Here’s an example of how an Americano coffee can be made. This classic coffee drink can be made with either one or two espresso shots and is typically diluted in a 1:1, 1:2, or 1:4 ratio with water (the 1:4 ratio is the most popular and the coffee culture standard).
Iced Americano Is Also Possible
Try an Americano with ice. Yes, iced coffee is delicious, especially in the summer months, and iced americano is a favorite with many coffee lovers around the globe.
The process is almost identical, espresso diluted with hot water is poured over a cup of ice. Many coffee lovers make a mistake when making an americano at home by adding cold water to the espresso.
To get the most intense flavor the espresso drink needs to be made hot and then added to the ice. This small often overlooked step makes all the difference.
Other milk coffee drinks such as the lattes, mocha, and frappuccinos and others made with steamed milk found on the blackboard menu, sure do look tempting, but, in my opinion, nothing beats the taste of a good old classic Americano coffee.
Remember ladies that most of those other coffee concoctions come loaded with syrups, sugar, whipped cream, and flavorings that are guaranteed to stick to your hips well after you’ve drunk the coffee.
Americano coffee isn’t dull, far from it.
This overlooked beverage allows you to taste the coffee in its best form, far from artificial flavorings and unwanted or needed toppings. The Americano knows how to be unique, and changing flavors is easy when you swap out the coffee bean origin or choose a different roast intensity.
If you landed on this page looking for answers to “What is an Americano coffee” I hope that you have a better understanding and that you’re now armed with the knowledge to order a coffee exactly to your liking next time you walk into your favorite cafe.
Go on, ask your barista for an Americano on your next visit, or better still, ask for a “Long Black” and see if they know what you’re talking about – you might end up teaching them a thing or two!
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