The Americano is an espresso-based drink with added water on top of a espresso shot. There are many variations of the Americano to choose from including black coffee with espresso added, iced americano, and Long black.
Americano can be traced back to Italy in 1919. The drink was created when espresso machines were first introduced into the United States and became popular in coffee shops there. It is believed that it was named after American soldiers who visited Italy during WWI, but this has never been confirmed.
- History of the café Americano
- What Is an Americano?
- How To Make an Americano?
- Americano vs Coffee
- Other Espresso Drinks – Long Black vs Americano vs Caffe Crema
History of the café Americano
The café Americano was created in 1919 when espresso machines were first introduced into the United States. The drink became popular in coffee shops and it is believed that it was named after American soldiers who visited Italy during WWI.
In order to make a cup of coffee more familiar to Americans, Italian baristas always served a cup of hot water along with the espresso and the soldiers then poured it over the espresso. However, this story has never been confirmed by historians.
What Is an Americano?
An Americano coffee, many times called caffe Americano, or espresso Americano, in order to make clear distinction from the American coffee, is an espresso drink with added water on top of espresso shot. Espresso is a concentrated coffee drink made with an espresso machine, while the Americano only has espresso as its main ingredient and it's diluted with hot water added on top of the espresso. Variants of the Americano include Long Black and Café Crema.
How To Make an Americano?
The americano can be made automatically with an espresso machine that has the built in function, or manually by adding hot water to espresso shots. If you haven't pulled an espresso yet, we have a really great article with instructions on how to pull an espresso.
For those who don't own and espresso machine, brewing an espresso alternative and top it off with water, is also a great choice. But the flavor will be slightly different. For more details check our article that explains in detail “What Is Espresso”.
The recipe of an Americano is really simple add hot water on top of freshly brewed espresso. There are many different variations in the ratio of espresso to water. This all depends on the taste. While we mention further in the page the ratio of espresso to water 1:2, the reality is that the ratio can vary from 1:1 to 1:3.
How To Make an Americano with an Espresso Machine?
The main ingredient in an Americano is espresso, so the preparation is very similar. Freshly grind coffee beans, measure the dose and fill the portafilter, lock the portafilter into the brew head of the espresso machine, and flick the brewing button on the espresso machine.
After pulling the shot for 20 to 30 seconds, switch the brew button from espresso brew function to hot water function, if the espresso machine has it, and add 2 parts hot water to one part espresso. For instance, if you brew a single shot espresso, that would be around one ounce. Top it up with two ounces of hot water. If you brew a double espresso, add 4 ounces over the 2 ounce of espresso.
The main goal is to dilute espresso to a regular coffee strength, we'll talk more later in the article. We have a detailed article on how to make espresso with an espresso machine, if you need a detailed step by step, and tips and tricks of the trade.
Americano Made with Espresso Alternatives
If you don't own an espresso machine, an espresso alternative will be your espresso base. An espresso alternative is a drink that has an espresso-like flavor and texture, but it's still different from the real espresso pulled with a pump espresso machine.
Two great espresso alternatives are the AeroPress and the Moka pot.
The Moka pot is a popular Italian stovetop espresso maker that creates espresso by passing pressurized, boiling water through ground coffee. The AeroPress is a manual espresso maker made of plastic, which uses air pressure to push hot water through ground coffee.
No matter which one of the alternatives you choose, make sure to adjust the water volume. The stovetop espresso will be less concentrated than the traditional one, so it needs less diluting. I recommend testing with a 1:1 ratio, and then adjust it from there.
For AeroPress, the ratio of water to coffee is about 5 parts water to 7 parts coffee. The AeroPress recipe involves a 17-20 grams of grounds brewed with 200 grams of water.
Americano vs Coffee
A popular question is which one is better, Americano, or black coffee? We are partial, and we think that espresso is better. There is some science to it, it's not just a simple claim. Espresso uses pressure during brewing, and that adds some great flavors that cannot be extracted with other brewing methods. So if you like the espresso flavor, but you think it's too strong, Americano is the best way to drink it.
Many people just love drip coffee, and we get it, espresso can be intimidating. If you are one of those people that prefer drip coffee or just don't like espresso, then the Americano is not for you.
If we are looking at the caffeine levels, Americano is just like an espresso: it has less caffeine than drip coffee. This might come as a surprise, against the popular belief that espresso, (Americano), contains more caffeine.
We don't compare apples to apples, so the caffeine content comparison is not that relevant, if you ask me. But if we have to give an answer, an Americano prepared from a double shot espresso, (a 6 oz. beverage), contains 80 milligrams of caffeine, compared to a 12 oz. coffee, with 100 to 120 milligrams of caffeine.
Note that 12 oz. of coffee is brewed using 30 to 60 grams of coffee grounds, whereas two shots of espresso are brewed using 14 to 20 grams of grounds.
We have to mention that black coffee is a much cheaper alternative to espresso, in terms of equipment. If you are on a tight budget, you can probably start brewing on a $10 budget, if you buy a cheap coffee dripper and filters for it.
Why Is Americano a Great Option for People Who Don't Drink Espresso?
There are espresso drinkers and then there are people who drink coffee. And that's totally okay! Not everyone likes espresso, in fact, most of the world doesn't like espresso. But that doesn't mean they can't enjoy an Americano.
What does an Americano Taste Like?
The americano is a great option because it's espresso, but it doesn't have the strength of an espresso. An Americano tastes like a diluted espresso, it has the extra dimension that pressure brewing adds to the flavor. However, it's not overwhelming as the tiny Italian coffee beverage. Americano is a way to enjoy the rich flavor of espresso and the comfort of a drip coffee.
The other reason is convenience. It takes less time to prepare an espresso, and it is a single serve type of brewing. If you only have space for one appliance in your kitchen, an espresso machine can fulfil the needs of both coffee and espresso lovers.
Other Espresso Drinks – Long Black vs Americano vs Caffe Crema
You might have heard of other espresso drinks that are similar to Americano. Two popular drinks are Long Black and Caffe Crema. So what is the difference between these coffees and Americano?
The differences are minor, but coffee enthusiasts are passionate about how they prepare their espresso drinks, and they think that the three are distinctive drinks.
A Long Black is prepare by poring the water in the cup first, and only after that, you pull the espresso on top. The major difference is that crema survives better on a Long Black, because we are not agitating it too much by pouring water on top of it.
The other difference is that espresso stays hot the entire time since we pull it on top of hot water. If we pull the espresso first, the cup might cool down the espresso, and the shot starts oxidizing, hence subtly changing flavor.
A Caffe Crema uses coarser grounds than Americano and Long Black. The brew time is exactly the same, but because the flow is less restricted, more water is passed through the coffee puck, hence a more diluted coffee. Caffe Crema has a nice layer of crema on top, but the flavor profile is slightly different than an espresso. If you want, it is a coffee drink that resembles more to drip coffee, while maintaining some of the bold flavors of espresso.
Lastly, we have an option for the hot summer days. Simply switch out the boiling water for cold water and add ice to make an iced Americano.
Alternatively, you make it using the Long Black order. Pour ice cubes and cold water into your cup, then pull your espresso shot over the iced water. The two methods provide slightly different tasting results, even though the recipes contain the same ingredients in the same ratios.