So what’s in an americano coffee? In a nutshell, an Americano is a shot of espresso with hot water added.
But this seemingly simple drink is a complex and delightful experience, for both casual drinkers and coffee connoisseurs.
Choosing Your Beans
As with a regular espresso, the flavor of the beans is the central taste, and therefore it’s even more important to choose great beans.
For an americano, you want dark roast beans for their strong flavors.
Espresso refers to an extraction method, not to a kind of roast. However, some companies offer an espresso blend specifically designed to be used for espressos (and espresso-based drinks).
One of the issues many people have with strong coffee, such as espresso, is that it tends to be quite acidic.
You can solve this problem, and ensure you get high-quality beans, by selecting one of Lifeboost Coffee’s Dark Roasts. Lifeboost Coffee focuses on producing low-acid, environmentally friendly, and chemical-free coffee.
This ensures a great cup of coffee, every single time.
Bitterness is another issue people have with strong coffee. Here again, the choice of beans is vital. But one of the benefits of an americano vs an espresso is that the addition of the hot water can tone down the bitterness.
In fact, the urban legend about the history of the americano is that American soldiers added hot water to Italian espresso to make it less bitter and more like the drip coffee they were familiar with.
The full name of the drink is ‘Cafe Americano,’ which is Italian for ‘American coffee’.
Even if you take your americano sweetened or with creamer, you want a good foundation and that means choosing great beans.
Choosing Your Equipment
After your beans, the next most important thing is the equipment that you have. In order to make an americano, you have to first make espresso.
Making espresso requires dark roast beans, but it also needs to be finely ground. This is because of its short extraction time and the strong concentration of coffee in a little water. Espresso is made using high pressure to push hot water through finely-ground beans. This process normally takes about 25-35 seconds.
While this may just sound like a highly concentrated coffee, espresso is more than that. It’s bold and rich with complex flavors. It also has something called crema, a pale golden-brown foam that adds richness.
In order to get a proper espresso, you need an espresso machine, an espresso maker, or something like an Aeropress. This achieves sufficiently high pressure and allows for proper extraction.
An espresso machine is what you see in most coffee shops - not always industrial size though. These are great for real coffee aficionados and those who are willing to splurge on their caffeine habit.
An espresso maker, on the other hand, is smaller and more portable. This is great for those on a budget or on the move.
Both methods can result in a great, rich, flavorful espresso, so it's just about choosing the one that’s right for you.
If you don’t have either of these but you’re craving an americano right now, don’t fret. You can also use your French press to make the brewed version of espresso, by brewing a small amount of very strong coffee.
It won’t have the rich and creamy crema, but it still makes a good base for your americano.
We’re going to give you a basic guide for how to prepare an americano, but once you have the basics down, there’s a lot of freedom to experiment.
For a classic, single-shot americano, you need around a third of an ounce of ground coffee, compressed and then extracted with your espresso maker of choice.
The most important part of the process is extracting a good espresso shot, which just takes practice and playing around with the amounts you use. Once your espresso has been brewed, you can add your hot water. The traditional ratio for an americano is 2:1 hot water to coffee, but you can further dilute your espresso if you want a milder taste.
You can also decide if you want a single or double-shot americano, and change the ratio from there.
Variations and Comparisons
Anyone who knows coffee knows there are a huge variety of espresso-based drinks.
However, an americano can also be compared to drip coffee, otherwise known as filter coffee.
The difference between an americano and a drip coffee is that an americano is espresso-based and has a stronger coffee taste due to the high heat and pressure of extraction.
Filter coffee is brewed over a longer time and it’s not as strong rather than having to be diluted.
A classic americano is served black, so if you like your americano coffee with milk, that’s called a “white americano.”
A similar drink is a long black which contains the same ingredients as an americano but the espresso is added to the water rather than the other way around. There’s not much difference between a long black coffee vs an americano.
While an americano is normally served hot, you can also make an americano iced coffee. To do this, you simply dilute the espresso with cold water and ice cubes rather than hot water.
Looking at some other favorite espresso-based drinks, you might ask about the difference between an americano and a latte. A latte consists of one part coffee and two parts steamed milk, whereas an americano is traditionally served black.
If you like less intense coffee, a latte might be for you, with the natural sugars of the milk sweetening the beverage.
Another great option is a cappuccino, which consists of one part espresso, one part steamed milk, and one part frothed milk. It’s perfect if you like something light and airy.
Americano Coffee Recipe FAQs
How Much Caffeine Is In An Americano?
A standard shot of espresso has around 68 mg of caffeine, meaning a single-shot americano has the same amount. A double-shot americano has around 136 mg of caffeine in it.
Can You Make A Decaf Americano?
To make a decaf americano, you just need to make sure you are using decaf beans, like the Lifeboost Organic Decaf Coffee. Otherwise, the process is the same.