What is an Americano? The Americano is an espresso based coffee drink consisting of espresso and water.
Not so exciting when said like that, but the truth is that it is very comparable to drip coffee, except maybe better. And there are variations on the ingredients and preparation that can change the drink quite a bit.
It was thought that the Americano originated during World War 2 as American servicemen who were used to the drip coffee they had back home in America – and asked for the same in Europe. Of course, in Italy and the rest of Europe, the espresso is what they were offered and they needed to dilute it.
To those servicemen, espresso was too potent, so they ended up diluting it with water or with hot water – and the Americano was born. Nobody knows if this is true, especially since this also happened and was described in some literature back in World War 1.
However the Americano came about, if you are looking for a great cup of coffee, not as subtle as the standard drip method coffee, but also not as strong as espresso, then this drink may be for you. A good way to look at it is that the Americano falls between an espresso and drip coffee in intensity and boldness.
The Americano recipe.
So, to say it again, the Americano is a coffee drink composed of espresso and water.
The Americano recipe is: 2 espresso shots and one hot water shot on top – the water is added last.
The Americano recipe does not include milk or dairy, like you might see in a latte. Although, you certainly could add milk or cream to an Americano as you might with any cup of coffee.
Americano and crema.
What really makes the Americano different from filtered or drip coffee is the crema. Crema is that oily coffee foam that settles on top when making espresso and espresso drinks.
Drip coffee and filtered coffee end up filtering the crema out. The crema adds a distinctively bold taste to the coffee.
Even though the crema is included in an Americano, you may not see it, as you would with an espresso. It is usually mixed into the cup of coffee when the hot water is poured over espresso.
Comparing the Americano to other similar coffee drinks.
Americano vs Espresso.
Well, this should be obvious. The Americano is just espresso diluted with water. All of the good things about espresso are there, minus the crema, just watered down. Almost always, you want to use hot water, unless you are trying to make an iced Americano.
The espresso is brewed with fine ground, robust, darker roasts of coffee. And the Americano will just be a watered down version of the espresso that is brewed.
Americano vs Drip Coffee
This comparison here is that drip coffee is made with medium grind coffee that may be light or dark roast and may not be as robust in taste. Then you have to also remember that drip coffee is filtered and the crema components are lost altogether.
You can expect a very robust, intense cup of coffee with earthy and nutty tones when you have an espresso. But with drip coffee, you can expect a more subtle, lighter, sweeter flavor from your cup of coffee.
Don’t expect more caffeine in an Americano. In fact, you will probably find less caffeine in an American vs drip coffee. Why? Because the drip method allows for more extraction of the caffeine part of the coffee in the lengthened brewing process.
Americano vs Long Black
So, what is a long black? The long black is another espresso drink associated with Australia and New Zealand with exactly the same ingredients as an Americano. The difference is that a long black is made by pouring the espresso over the water – by adding the espresso to your cup last. When done right, this preserves the crema intact on the top.
Also, the long black is usually made with less added water, making it a little more bold than an Americano.
Can an Americano be made at home?
If you can make espresso at home, or if you can make something close to espresso that contains the crema, then yes, you can make an Americano at home.
How to make an Americano at home:
Americano home recipe: It is easy. Just make 2 espresso shots and add them to your mug. Then add 1 hot water shot, or 1 steamed water shot to your mug. To maintain the crema on top, you may want to reverse the process and add the hot water shot to your mug first, then add the 2 espresso shots.
Variations to this are to add less espresso or more hot water. Typically, in Europe, anywhere from 1 oz to 16 ounces of water are added to double espresso shots.
If you can’t afford a complex and expensive espresso machine, then there are many affordable and compact espresso machines that will probably work well to make this drink at home.
When is the Americano preferred to espresso?
There are certain coffee bean varieties that can produce overpowering espresso, so bold and strong that it just isn’t desirable to drink straight as espresso.
But, when diluted into an Americano or a Long Black, it becomes yet another coffee experience. Varieties of coffee beans that are this potent are associated with the Ethiopian and Sumatran origins.
The Americano is really good if you want a stronger, bolder and more intense cup of coffee than the normal drip coffee from a standard coffee maker. You will find more coffee flavor and earthy tones in your coffee cup.
If you tend to like espresso, but it sometimes a little overpowering, then the Americano may be a great coffee experience for you.
Another thing you might like about the Americano over espresso is that the volume of coffee. If you like a bigger cup of coffee because you like to enjoy it just a little longer, then that is also a plus for the Americano.
Try an Americano and see for yourself what you have been missing.