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What Is An Americano Coffee?

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An Americano coffee is a watered-down espresso shot. It’s a great way to drink espresso with a smooth taste. Keep reading to learn how to make an Americano and how it differs from other coffee drink types.

What is an Americano Coffee

I’m a coffee enthusiast who wants to understand every aspect of coffee making. That led me to write this guide on Americano coffee.

You’ll find these points while reading:

Here’s where the fun begins.

Key Takeaways

  • Americano is an espresso-based drink that includes espresso & water
  • Can make them with 1 or more espresso shots
  • Variations of Americano include Iced- and White Americanos
  • Americanos differ from other coffee drinks in regard to caffeine content, brew time, & ingredients

What is an Americano Coffee?

TasteSmooth, slightly bitter, & well-balanced
AromaMild & aromatic
Mouth feelMedium-bodied & clean
Caffeine level *63–126 mg per serving (depending on single or double shot)
Calories5–10 per serving
Other names for AmericanoCafé Americano (Spanish), Long Black (similar but not the same), American, Caffè all’americana (Italian), & Caffè americano (Italian)

An Americano is a coffee drink made of espresso and hot water.

It usually contains one or two shots of espresso (1:3 ratio). The added hot water—2:3 ratio—dilutes the espresso, making the taste smoother. Many people enjoy it as a simple yet flavorful alternative to regular brewed coffee.

Supposedly “Un café allongé” refers to an Americano. But this French term also applies to long double espresso drinks.

Where the Americano Came From

The Americano came to life during World War 2, though I couldn’t find a specific year [1]. American soldiers stationed in Italy found the local espresso too strong. They diluted it with hot water to make the drinks more bearable. And create a taste closer to their familiar drip coffee.

How to Make Americano Coffee & What You’ll Need

You’ll need the following to make an Americano:

  • Espresso maker
  • Coffee grounds (fine grind):
    • 1 shot: 7–9 grams
    • 2 shots: 14–18 grams
  • Softened water for espresso machine:
    • 1 shot: 1 oz (30 ml)
    • 2 shots: 2 oz (60 ml)
  • Purified hot water to dilute espresso: 6–8 ounces (180–240 ml)
    • Aim for 160 °F (71 °C) hot water temperature to balance your Americano’s flavor [2]

Use softened water because it lacks minerals that’ll reduce your espresso machine’s lifespan [3].

Time to make: 25 seconds to 2 minutes

Steps:

  • Measure the desired amount of coffee grounds
  • Grind the coffee beans to a fine consistency
  • Fill the espresso machine’s portafilter with the coffee grounds
  • Tamp the grounds evenly
  • Attach the portafilter to the espresso machine
  • Place an empty cup under the portafilter
  • Start the espresso extraction process
  • After extracting the espresso, add hot water to the cup

Variations of Americano Coffee

Don’t want a regular Americano?

Consider one of these variations:

  • White Americano: includes milk or cream
  • Iced Americano: includes ice

Learn more about these alternatives throughout the following sections.

1. White Americano

A white Americano is an Americano coffee with 1–2 oz (30–60 ml) of added milk or cream. The white Americano offers a creamier, smoother taste than its counterparts.

2. Iced Americano

An iced Americano is a cold coffee drink made by pouring espresso over any amount of ice and adding water. It provides a refreshing, crisp taste, perfect for warm days.

Don’t want to dilute your drink too much?

Consider getting whiskey stones, chilling them, and using them as an alternative to ice. Yet, you’ll still have a chilled drink. Stainless steel versions of these cubes may add a metallic taste to your drink. In that case, I’d opt for soapstone variations.

Differences Between Americano & Other Coffee Drinks

Let’s compare an Americano to other coffee drinks:

DrinkIngredientsCaffeine Content *Brew Time
AmericanoEspresso & hot water63–130 mg25–30 seconds
EspressoSingle shot of espresso63–90 mg25–30 seconds
Drip CoffeeHot water & ground coffee (drip)95–200 mg4–6 minutes
Long BlackEspresso & hot water (reversed)63–130 mg25–30 seconds
Cold BrewCold water & ground coffee (steeped)100–200 mg12–24 hours

Ingredients, caffeine content, and brew time of various coffee drinks.

I’ll cover more details regarding how an Americano compares to these drinks throughout varying sections. Despite many of them seeming identical, they’re not.

Learn more to understand why.

1. Americano vs. Espresso

List of differences between Americano and espresso:

  • Americano has water, while espressos don’t
  • Americano has more volume than espresso
  • Espresso has a richer crema
  • Americano has a milder taste, while espresso is more intense

You’d make an Americano made by diluting a shot of espresso with hot water, resulting in a larger volume and a smoother, less intense taste.

Espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee produced by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee under high pressure. Offering a more potent and full-bodied flavor.

An Americano is a larger beverage due to the added water, which makes it less concentrated than an espresso. A typical espresso shot is about 1 ounce (30 ml). An Americano contains 6–8 ounces (180–240 ml) of liquid.

Crema plays an essential role in setting these two drinks apart.

Espresso has a thick, rich crema formed during the extraction process, which adds to the flavor and texture of the drink. Americano has a thinner layer of crema due to the added water, which disperses it and dilutes the overall taste.

Taste differentiates Americano and espresso:

Americano has a milder, more diluted taste because of the hot water mixed with the espresso. Making it more approachable for those who find straight espresso too intense. Espresso offers a stronger, bolder flavor, perfect for coffee enthusiasts who enjoy a robust and concentrated coffee experience.

2. Americano vs. Drip Coffee (Black Coffee)

List of differences between Americano and drip coffee:

  • Americano uses espresso, while drip coffee relies on ground beans
  • Drip coffee has no crema
  • Americano tastes smoother
  • Americano’s caffeine content depends on espresso shots, while drip coffee’s caffeine varies with brewing methods

Americano has a smoother and richer taste compared to drip coffee, since it dilutes espresso shots. You’d make drip coffee by passing hot water through ground coffee beans and a filter, which leads to a lighter and more acidic taste profile.

Americano may have a thin layer of crema—a golden foam that forms during espresso extraction. Drip coffee lacks this crema since it uses a different brewing method.

Americano has a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio, meaning 1 part espresso to 2–3 parts hot water. For drip coffee, the ratio varies with brewing method, affecting the strength and taste of the final cup.

Drip coffee’s caffeine content varies based on the brewing method and coffee-to-water ratio, with a typical 8-ounce cup containing 95–165 mg.

3. Americano vs. Long Black

List of differences between Americano and long black:

  • Americano pours espresso over water, while long black pours water under espresso
  • Long black has more crema
  • Long black is stronger in taste
  • Americano has a slightly larger volume due to added water

While Americano and long black are espresso-based drinks diluted with hot water, their preparation methods differ.

For an Americano, you pour the espresso over hot water, which disperses the crema and results in a milder taste. With a long black, you’d pour hot water into a cup, then add the espresso on top. This method preserves the crema and leads to a stronger taste.

Crema plays a vital role in differentiating these two drinks.

The long black’s preparation method allows it to retain more crema than an Americano. Crema is a creamy, golden foam that forms during espresso extraction, adding to the flavor and texture of the drink.

The long black tends to have a more robust taste than an Americano. Thanks to its preserved crema and the order in which baristas combine the components. With its dispersed crema and additional water, the Americano offers a smoother, more diluted taste.

An Americano often has a larger volume due to the added water. A long black maintains a smaller volume, providing a more concentrated coffee experience.

4. Americano vs. Cold Brew

List of differences between Americano and cold brew:

  • Americano is hot & espresso-based, while cold brew is cold & steeped
  • Cold brew takes hours to prepare, while Americano take a few minutes
  • Americano is more acidic, while cold brew is smoother
  • Cold brew’s caffeine content varies with steeping time; Americano’s depends on espresso shots

You’d make a cold brew by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period (12–24 hours). Letting coffee sit for extended periods results in a smooth, low-acid beverage. That’s because it gives time for the beans’ flavor to seep from the beans.

In terms of preparation time:

Americano requires brewing espresso and adding hot water. Cold brew, however, requires a longer preparation time, as the coffee grounds must steep in cold water for hours to extract the flavors.

Regarding acidity:

Americano has a higher acidity level due to the hot water used in brewing. With its lower temperature and longer steeping time, cold brew extracts fewer acids from the coffee grounds, making it less acidic and gentler on the stomach.

The caffeine content in cold brew varies based on the steeping time and coffee-to-water ratio, typically 100–200 mg per 8-ounce serving.

Places that Serve Americano

Here’s a list of popular coffee houses and fast food restaurants that serve Americanos:

BusinessCoffee Beans Used
McDonald’sArabica
Tim HortonsPremium Coffee Blend
StarbucksEspresso Blend
KFCArabica
7-ElevenArabica
Dunkin’ DonutsEspresso-Style
PaneraCaribou Coffee Blend
Einstein Bros. Bagels.Caribou Coffee Blend
Burger KingArabica
Culver’sArabica
Dutch BrosPrivate Reserve

* Drink availability will vary by restaurant. Not all countries serve the same drinks.

FAQs

Read on and you’ll find FAQs surrounding Americanos.

What’s Americano Coffee in Korea?

An Americano in Korea is an espresso shot mixed with cold water or ice. Due to its popularity, many South Koreans have dubbed Americanos as “Ah-Ah.” 

How Does an Americano Differ from a Regular Drip Coffee?

An Americano differs from a regular drip coffee as it’s made by diluting a shot of espresso with hot water. You’d brew drip coffee through a filter using ground coffee beans and hot water.

What is the Origin of the Name “Americano” for This Coffee Drink?

The origin of the name “Americano” dates back to WWII when American soldiers stationed in Italy found the local espresso too strong.

They diluted the espresso with hot water to resemble the taste of American-style drip coffee, hence the name “Americano.”

Can I Make an Americano with a Single, Double, or Triple Shot of Espresso?

Yes, you can make an Americano with a single, double, or triple shot of espresso.

What is the Ideal Ratio of Espresso to Hot Water for an Americano?

The ideal ratio of espresso to hot water for an Americano is 1:2 or 1:3. Meaning 1 part espresso to 2–3 parts hot water.

How Does an Americano Compare to a Long Black Coffee in Terms of Taste & Preparation?

Prepare an Americano when you pour espresso over hot water. You’d pour hot water first in a long black, followed by the espresso. Doing so preserves the crema and yields a stronger taste.

Can I Make an Americano Using Other Brewing Methods?

Yes, you can make an Americano using other strong brewing methods like a Moka pot, AeroPress, or French press.

But the taste and texture may vary compared to using an espresso shot. Since you’ll have an “espresso-like” taste and not espresso.

What is the Caffeine Content of an Americano Compared to Other Coffee Drinks?

An Americano made with a single espresso shot (30 ml) contains around 60–80 mg of caffeine.

A double espresso shot (doppio) has 120–160 mg, and a regular 8-ounce cup of drip coffee has approximately 95–165 mg of caffeine.

Does an Americano Have Crema?

An Americano may have a thin layer of crema, depending on the preparation method. But it is usually less prominent than the crema found on a straight espresso shot.

What is the Difference Between an Americano & a Red Eye, Black Eye, or Dead Eye Coffee?

An Americano is an espresso-based drink diluted with hot water.

A Red Eye, Black Eye, or Dead Eye coffee consists of drip coffee combined with one or more espresso shots.

What is an Americano Coffee at Tim Hortons?

An Americano at Tim Hortons has a mixture of warm water and espresso from their Premium Blend coffee beans. A blend that has 100% arabica beans from regions in Indonesia, Honduras, and more.

What is an Americano at McDonald’s?

An Americano at McDonald’s is a coffee drink where the barista pours hot water over McDonald’s Rainforest Alliance Certified espresso.

The amount of espresso and hot water used will vary by the size chosen.

What is Caffe Americano Misto?

A Caffe Americano Misto is an espresso-based drink made by combining equal parts hot water and espresso, and then topped with steamed milk.

It differs from Caffe Misto because it doesn’t use brewed coffee. And Caffe Americano Misto isn’t a latte since it uses more water.

Wrapping Up

When you see an Americano at Starbucks or other coffee shops, you’ll know it’s just a diluted espresso shot. Also, the way that you add the ingredients makes it different from identical drinks like the long black.

You may want to learn more about different types of coffee drinks. Explore a separate guide I wrote to learn more.

Footnotes:

* Caffeine content varies depending on bean type, roast level, and preparation method. The provided values are approximate ranges for an 8-ounce serving, except for espresso, which is for a single 1-ounce shot.

Photo of author

Author

Tim Lee is, as you might have guessed the founder of TimsCoffee.com. He is a former barista and a professional web publisher. He has now combined his knowledge and expertise in both subjects to create TimsCoffee.com.
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