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What is an Americano Coffee? A Quick Guide to a Classic

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You might have seen an Americano coffee on the menu at your local coffee shop, but what exactly is it? An Americano is a popular espresso coffee drink made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso. 

This results in a coffee with a consistency similar to drip coffee but a uniquely different flavor profile.

What is an Americano Coffee?

An Americano is a coffee drink made by diluting espresso with hot water. The result is similar in strength to drip coffee but with a slightly different flavor profile.

The origins of Americano coffee can be traced back to World War II. American soldiers stationed in Italy found the local espresso too strong. To make it more palatable, they added hot water to the espresso, creating a milder coffee they liked. This drink became known as the “Caffe Americano,” or American coffee.

Today, the Americano is a popular drink in cafes worldwide. It is a simple yet satisfying coffee drink perfect for those who prefer a milder flavor. It is typically served hot but may be prepared as an iced Americano as well.

The ratio of espresso to water in an Americano can vary depending on personal preference, but a typical ratio is one part espresso to two parts water. Some people also like to add a splash of milk or cream to their Americano to give it a creamier texture.

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Origins of the Americano

World War II Influence

During World War II, American soldiers stationed in Italy wanted a less intense coffee than traditional Italian espresso, similar to the drip coffee they were familiar with at home. 

The Italians devised a solution by adding hot water to the espresso, creating a less potent drink that was more similar to the black coffee the American soldiers were used to. The resulting drink was named after its intended audience and has become a popular coffee drink worldwide.

European Influence

The Americano also has roots in Europe. “Americano” means “American” in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Some assert the term entered the English language from Italian in the 1970s. “Caffè Americano” specifically is Italian for “American coffee.” The drink was popular in Europe before World War II but gained wider recognition after the war.

The Americano is a coffee drink with a rich history. With origins rooted in both European and American cultures, it’s a unique espresso drink. Now, let’s look at how to make an Americano.

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How to Make an Americano Coffee

Materials Needed

To make an Americano, you will need the following materials:

MaterialsQuantity
Espresso beans or ground espresso14-20 grams
Hot water8-12 ounces
Coffee mug1
Espresso machine or stovetop moka pot1

Method

  1. Start by bringing the water to a boil.
  2. While the water is heating, grind the espresso beans, then prepare 1-2 shots of espresso using an espresso machine or stovetop moka pot.
  3. Pour the espresso into a coffee mug.
  4. Add hot water over the espresso.
  5. Stir the mixture to combine the espresso and hot water.
  6. Enjoy your delicious Americano coffee!

It’s important to note that the ratio of espresso to hot water can vary depending on personal preference. Some prefer a more robust and bolder taste, while others prefer a milder flavor. Adjust the amount of espresso and hot water to your liking.

Making an Americano coffee is a simple process that anyone can do. With a few basic materials and a little practice, you can enjoy a delicious Americano coffee in the comfort of your home.

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Americano Coffee Taste

An Americano coffee is a simple drink that is easy to make but has a unique taste that sets it apart from other coffee drinks. 

Flavor Profile

The flavor profile of Americano coffee is unique and complex. It combines the bold and rich taste of espresso with water to soften its flavor. The espresso gives the Americano its bold, slightly bitter taste, while the hot water helps dilute it and bring out its more subtle flavors.

The flavor of an Americano can vary depending on the type of coffee beans used to make the espresso. Darker roast coffee will give the Americano an earthy or even burnt flavor, while light roast coffee will produce a more acidic, delicate taste.

Caffeine Content

The caffeine content of an Americano coffee varies depending on the size of the drink and the amount of espresso used. Generally, an Americano will have more caffeine than a regular cup of filter coffee, as it is common to use a double espresso shot.

A single shot of espresso contains approximately 64 milligrams of caffeine, while an 8-ounce cup of regular drip coffee contains around 96 milligrams of caffeine. An Americano coffee with a single espresso shot and hot water will have a lower caffeine content than drip coffee; however, a double Americano will have approximately 128 milligrams of caffeine.

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Variations of the Americano

An Americano coffee is simply a shot of espresso with hot water added to it. However, there are a few variations of the classic Americano that you should be aware of.

Long Black

The Long Black is a famous cousin to the Americano coffee that originated in Australia and New Zealand. Instead of adding hot water to the espresso shot, the Long Black is made by pouring the espresso shot over hot water.

This subtle difference in preparation creates a layer of crema on top of the coffee, which gives it a richer flavor and a smoother texture. Typically, a long black has less water than an Americano, so it is more concentrated with a richer flavor.

To make a Long Black, fill a cup with hot water and then pull a shot of espresso into a separate cup. Pour the brewed espresso over the hot water and enjoy. Or alternatively, brew your espresso directly into the mug of hot water. 

As the name implies, a long black is traditionally enjoyed without steamed milk or cream and is meant to be savored slowly.

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Caffè Crema

Caffè Crema is another variation of the Americano coffee that originated in Switzerland. It is made by pulling a long shot of espresso with coarser ground espresso than you would traditionally use. This allows more water to pass through the espresso, resulting in more volume from the same 30-second double shot.

To make a Caffè Crema, grind your espresso slightly coarser than usual and/or tamp it lighter, then pull a double shot of espresso. This will result in a 6-8 ounce drink.

The caffè crema is not to be confused with the Lungo shot, which involves a more prolonged extraction. Prepare the espresso precisely as you usually would, then pull extra water through (35-40 seconds) for a lungo.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you add milk to an Americano coffee?

Of course, you can add milk to an Americano coffee. However, it is essential to note that adding milk will change the taste and strength of the coffee. 

If you prefer a creamier taste, add milk or an alternative like almond or soy milk. Remember that adding milk will also increase the calorie count of your drink.

How many calories are in an Americano coffee?

An Americano coffee typically contains very few calories. A single shot of espresso contains only three calories, and adding hot water to make an Americano will not increase the calorie count. However, if you add milk or sugar to your Americano, the calorie count will increase accordingly.

Is an Americano stronger than regular coffee?

An Americano coffee is generally considered to be stronger than regular coffee. This is because it is made with a double shot of espresso, which has a more concentrated flavor and higher caffeine content than regular coffee. However, the strength of an Americano can vary depending on the size espresso shot used.

What is the difference between an Americano and a long black?

While similar in appearance, a subtle difference exists between an Americano and a long black. An Americano adds hot water to a shot or two of espresso, while a long black is made by pouring espresso over hot water. This subtle difference in preparation can affect the texture of the coffee, as the long black will retain more of the crema from the espresso, providing a creamier mouthfeel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters