If you’re reading this, there is a high chance that you have already had an Americano in your lifetime. The Americano is thought to be the second most widely drunk coffee in the world, second only to the mighty espresso. But what is it exactly? How does it compare to other coffees? How is it made, and more to the point, what are the benefits? We’re going to tell you all of this and more.
What Is An Americano?
Caffe Americano is literally Italian for ‘American coffee’. Although not so well liked in Italy, in the rest of the world it is hugely popular. It is thought to be invented in Italy during World War II by American GI’s, who added hot water to espresso to imitate the filter coffee they were used to. Although there is no way of confirming this, it’s a good lead into what we’re going to say next, so we’ll go with that.
So, what is an Americano? Put simply it’s a double shot of espresso, mixed with two parts hot water. It can be served with or without milk, and it lends itself excellently to the Iced Americano. Made well, it provides a ‘long’ drink which carries the depth and flavour of espresso.
What Is The Difference Between A Latte And An Americano?
Well, this is an easy one. The difference is … milk. A latte is a double shot mixed with steamed milk, and an Americano is a double shot mixed with hot water. The latte is a smooth, textured drink, whereas the Americano is more robust, conveying the flavour and depth of the espresso.
Americano vs. Drip Coffee
Drip coffee is most likely the reason the Americano was invented, but there are differences not only in how they are prepared but how they taste. As we know, a drip coffee is traditionally brewed using a filter machine, and it is this that the soldiers in Italy during WWII were trying to copy. Of course, in recent times there are many different drip systems, like the Aeropress and Chemex systems. Drip coffees do not carry the same complex flavour as the Americano as they are not produced using espresso.
Americano vs. Long Black
The long black is basically a ‘halfway house’ between the Americano and the espresso. A double espresso shot is mixed with roughly half the amount of hot water as you would use in an Americano. So, although similar, the long black is a shorter drink with a slightly more intense flavour and more crema.
Americano vs. Espresso
By now, you probably know what we’re going to say here. The espresso is the father of the Americano and provides the body and depth. In comparison, an espresso is much smaller, more intense and will have a richer crema. The Americano is longer, more refreshing, and subtler, but should carry all of the characteristics of the espresso all the same.
How To Make Americano Coffee
So, now you know what it is and how it measures up, it’s time to learn how to make the Ideal Americano at home. Whether it’s black or you prefer Americano with milk, it’s important you get these steps right for a full-flavoured cup.
Note: we are assuming you have an espresso maker for this. Sorry if you don’t.
Step 1 - Buy The Right Beans
One drawback of Americano is that if your espresso is not up to scratch, imperfections tend to be exaggerated by the extra water. It’s crucial for you to buy espresso beans you know you like. They do need to be espresso beans - other beans simply won’t work. So no cutting corners here, only the best will do.
Step 2 - Grind The Beans Right
First, you want to measure the right amount for a double shot. 14-18 grams should do it. Then grind the beans as fine as you can: we’re going for a great espresso, so if you’re grinding manually then it’s time to put in the work. If you don’t have a coffee grinder yet, you are advised to get one. Trust us, it’ll be worth it. See our Coffee Grinding Guide to figure out the best grind for espresso.
Step 3 - Tamp Tamp Tamp
As with any espresso-based coffee, it’s important to tamp the beans tight into the portafilter to ensure the best possible extraction and the best possible espresso.
Step 4 - Make An Espresso
Load your portafilter into the machine, and do whatever it is you need to do with your machine to make the best espresso. Sit back and watch your espresso flow steadily into the espresso cup, or whatever you put there to catch it. If you didn’t put anything underneath, take a long hard look in the mirror, and go back to step one.
Step 5 - Heat The Water
There are various schools of thought about how hot the water should be. Too hot, the coffee doesn’t cool fast enough and loses flavour: too cold, it cools too quickly, and the same thing happens. However, somewhere between 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit ought to do it. If you have a kettle that can heat to precise temperatures great, otherwise use your
steam boiler tap (and maybe a thermometer).
Step 6 - Pour The Espresso Over The Hot Water
You must pour the espresso into the hot water, not the other way around. This way, not only is the blend better but the crema is retained. Aim for roughly 2 parts water to one part espresso - much less than this, and you just made yourself a long black. Either add more water or go back to step one and listen this time.
Step 7 - Americano!
There it is. Either add milk, serve your Americano with cream, or leave it as it is. Whichever you decide, be sure to enjoy it though. If you followed our guide well, we’re pretty sure you will.
Benefits Of An Americano
Well, the first benefit of an Americano is that it’s a great brew. Although never fully accepted in Italy, worldwide there is a reason it’s gone on to become so popular. Providing the flavour of espresso in a longer drink means you can kick back and enjoy for longer. Also, iced Americano works brilliantly for the hot summer months.
It boosts your metabolism by up to 50% helping you burn fat, so if you’re trying to shift a few pounds there’s no need to worry about Americano calories - it’ll do more good than it’ll ever do bad.
Not only is it a delicious brew when done right, there is extensive evidence that Americano coffee benefits our health. Black coffee also has many positive effects on the brain, as it is packed full of antioxidants, and has been shown to not only boost memory and brain function but also to help prevent diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers. It also has the ability to improve mood, energy levels, and cognitive function. Plus, it can even make you smarter over time.
Black coffee is also great for fitness: it boosts Epinephrine levels in the blood, so coffee before your workout will give you more energy and help you go harder and longer. Also, it boosts your metabolism by up to 50% helping you burn fat, so if you’re trying to shift a few pounds there’s no need to worry about Americano calories - it’ll do more good than it’ll ever do bad.
It also helps prevent liver cancer, hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and alcoholic cirrhosis. There is a link with reduced risk of other cancers, diabetes, and studies have shown that two black coffees a day can even help with mental health issues such as depression.
We've now shared everything you'll need to get that elusive cup. Ready to brew the perfect Americano? Check out our range of espresso makers here.