Americano vs Espresso

8 min read MAR 28, 2022

We’ve all encountered that awkward coffee shop experience of placing an order and being surprised when it’s nothing at all like you expected it to look or taste like.

If you don’t know what the difference between an americano and espresso is, odds are this might have happened to you once or twice.

Expecting a latte-looking coffee and receiving an espresso can leave you utterly confused. This is why it’s essential to get clued up on the differences between coffees.

Two of the most popular choices are americano and espresso.

It’s always a good idea to know how your coffee is made as this contributes to the appearance and unique taste of different types of coffees. 

Once you understand how americanos and espressos are made, you may even want to attempt making your own at home.

Whether you’re looking for a strong coffee like an espresso or ready to sip on a smoother, weaker coffee like an americano, both of these options are a great energy booster for a long day.

What is an Americano?

difference between espresso and americano

Among all the different varieties of coffee on a menu, the americano always seems to be the safest choice as many people think it’s just a regular coffee. 

To fully answer the question, “what is americano coffee?” you need to understand the history of americano and where the name originated.

Americano comes from American soldiers who were stationed in Italy. Because of their dislike of the espresso, they decided to create a coffee that had a less bitter taste. 

They did this by simply diluting the espresso with hot water, resulting in a much more palatable coffee, which they named the “Cafe Americano.”

The americano can therefore be described as a diluted version of an espresso, consisting of equal amounts of hot water and espresso. 

If you’re deciding which coffee to order and would prefer something less overpowering than an espresso, this is the drink for you.

What is an Espresso?

espresso vs americano

We’ve all heard of the name ‘espresso’ and most of us know that it’s used as the base of many coffee beverages.

You may still be wondering what an espresso is and what makes it different from other coffee variants. 

Espresso originates from Italy and was invented in Venice. The espresso was discovered when a businessman, Luigi Bezzera, discovered that he could create a strong drink in a shorter amount of time by adding steam pressure to a coffee machine.

Espresso is an extremely concentrated form of coffee. 

It’s made from coffee beans and it’s strong, thick and usually served in small shots.

How Much Caffeine is in an Americano vs Espresso?

difference between americano and espresso

Coffee is known to give a boost of energy and is often used as a means to get through long and exhausting days of work. 

The energy you get from coffee is thanks to its caffeine content. Some coffees may have more caffeine than others. Depending on your preferences, knowing the caffeine content of each beverage helps you to make a decision on which one you want.

An americano is usually made with a double shot of espresso, however, it can also be ordered with a single shot.

An espresso has 68 mg of caffeine, therefore the caffeine in an americano coffee is as follows:

Americano with a single shot of espresso = 68 mg of caffeine

Americano with a double shot of espresso = 136 mg of caffeine

Water to Espresso Ratio for Americano

is americano espresso

The first factor to consider is the water to espresso ratio for an americano. The typical ratio is two parts hot water to one part espresso. This results in a dark and bitter taste. 

If you prefer a more smooth, mild form of coffee, then the ratio will be three parts water to one part espresso.

There are two different methods when combining your water and espresso to make the americano. 

Method one is to add the water first. This creates more foam that forms on the top, which adds flavor.

Method two is to add the espresso first, however, this is usually not the preferred method as when the hot water is added afterward, it breaks up the espresso and changes its rich flavor.

How to Make an Americano

When ordering an americano, we usually don’t put too much thought into how it’ is made because it seems pretty straightforward. is espresso americanoThere are a few factors to consider when making an americano, and there are also two different ways in which one can make it.

Good coffee beans are an essential component in making an americano. It’s important to choose a dark roast coffee, as this creates that dark, rich flavor. Once you’ve selected your Dark Roast Coffee Beans, the ratio of water you’re using, and the method, you can start to make your americano.

Step 1: Decide on the size of the mug to use for your americano. The ideal size to use for an americano drink is a 12 oz cup.

Step 2: Use your roast coffee to make your espresso using an espresso machine or espresso maker.

Step 3: Boil the water

Step 4: Mix the two, using your preferred order of pouring, and enjoy

How to Make an Espresso

There are different ways to make espresso. 

A few of these include using an espresso machine, a portable espresso maker, a french press, a Moka pot, and an Aeropress. Espresso machines are the most common.

Here is how to make an espresso using an espresso machine:

Step 1: Grind the coffee. Using espresso roast coffee, grind approximately 0,3 oz of beans for a single shot and 0,6 oz for a double-shot. This should be done until the beans are finely ground. 

Step 2: Pack the coffee grounds. The grounds should be evenly pressed into the portafilter and fully compressed.

Step 3: Pull the shot. Place the portafilter in the machine head. The portafilter must be placed firmly in the espresso machine. It should take about 25 to 30 seconds to pull the shot which will result in a rich espresso flavor with a foamy crema.

Is There a Difference in Calories?

In a world full of hidden calories and health-conscious individuals, choosing the healthier, less fattening option is always a consideration.

Both americano and espresso are black coffees and therefore contain no calories, as long as you aren’t adding anything to them. 

The calories in coffee usually come from the addition of milk and sugar. If you add milk to espresso, however, then this would make it a cappuccino or a latte. Some people prefer to add milk to americano coffee.Water To Espresso Ratio For AmericanoAmericanos are often ordered with hot or cold milk and sugar or sweetener. If you use around 2 oz of low-fat milk, this equals approximately 25 calories. 

Sugar has around 16 calories per teaspoon, so a better alternative is to add a zero-calorie sweetener. 

Either way, choosing an espresso or americano is usually the healthiest option as other beverages such as lattes, cappuccinos, and flavored coffees may contain more calories. 

Does an Americano Taste Like an Espresso?

Although the only difference between these two coffees is the amount of water in them, the americano does have a different taste when compared to the espresso.

If you prefer a strong, bitter coffee you can drink within minutes, espresso is what you’re looking for. 

An americano is the perfect drink for you if you prefer a coffee that’s more diluted, smoother, and takes longer to drink.

Both of these contain espresso and they differ in taste depending on which coffee beans are used.

Knowing the difference between an iced americano and iced coffee can help you decide which to order and which you might prefer. The main difference between these two beverages is the type of coffee that’s used as the base.

An iced americano coffee is made by first pouring two shots of espresso and then topping it off with ice cubes and cold water.Iced Americano Vs Iced CoffeeRegular iced coffee is made from brewed coffee and the ice blocks are used to cool it completely.

The water that’s used to dilute these coffees doesn’t change the caffeine content in each. 

The caffeine might take longer to get into your system because iced coffee is sometimes consumed more slowly than hot coffee.

If you’re making your iced coffee at home, simply brew your coffee, fill a glass with ice cubes and pour the coffee over the ice. The hot coffee melts most of the ice, but more ice can be added if desired. 

If you enjoy a sweet iced coffee, adding flavored syrup, sweetener, or honey creates a perfect sweet beverage.

Key Takeaways

Although americano and espresso are similar in many ways, the differences in the method of making them and the water ratio are what create unique flavors and differences in taste.

If you feel like a larger, smoother coffee than espresso and have the time to sit down and enjoy it, choosing an americano is the best option for you. 

Not only does it contain the same amount of caffeine, but because it’s made with espresso and water, you get to enjoy the great taste of the roast coffee without such an overpowering flavor. 

You can even add some milk and sugar to it too.

In a rush and looking for a strong, rich coffee that can be drunk in minutes? Order an espresso and get the full, rich taste of freshly brewed coffee in a few sips. This allows you to taste the full flavors of the roast coffee. 

Whether you’re choosing an americano, an espresso, or an iced americano, you won’t miss out on the caffeine they provide as well as the flavors of your favorite roast coffee.

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