Wondering what is an Americano coffee? Want to learn the difference between an americano and a latte?
In this post, you’ll discover everything about americanos: the definition, origin, caffeine and calorie content, what makes them different from other espresso-based drinks and you’ll also learn how to make them at home.
What is an Americano
Americano is an espresso-based drink prepared by diluting espresso shot with hot water. It consists of just water and espresso and doesn’t have any milk in it.
How was Americano invented
According to the most popular belief, the americano was invented in Italy during World War 2. The story goes that American soldiers stationed in Italy weren’t fond of the strong espresso shot that Italians drank. In an effort to replicate drip coffee back home, soldiers added hot water to the espresso shot.
There is no real standard for Americanos. While some prefer 1:1 ratio, others like 1:2 ratio more.
At Starbucks for example, they make 8 ounce Americano with a single shot, and use two shots for a tall (12 ounces).
A good way to make americano is a double espresso shot and 6 ounces of hot water. You can test different ratios. Add less water (or more espresso) if you want stronger americano, or use more water if you like it less strong.
The content of caffeine varies depending on how many espresso shots are used. If you use a single shot, the drink will have 75 mg of caffeine. Double has 150 mg of caffeine, and there’s 225 mg of caffeine in a triple.
Since it’s made only with espresso and hot water, it is very low in calories. Usually, around 5 calories with a single shot and about 10 calories when prepared with two shots.
But, that’s a straight drink with no sugar. It will have more calories with extra sugar or cream.
Americano vs coffee
Americano tends to have a richer taste than drip coffee. It has intense deep espresso notes and nutty flavors. Brewed coffee has a more subtle, lighter flavor.
The main reason is that the crema keeps coffee oils and flavor, while the paper filter removes most of the coffee oils when preparing drip coffee.
But, that doesn’t mean that Americano is stronger than drip coffee. These two drinks have similar strengths, and if you use the proper coffee ratio, drip coffee can be much stronger and taste better than americanos.
Pro tip: If you want to keep the flavors and preserve oils, and you love a strong cup of coffee, the French press can be a great choice for brewing coffee at home.
Americano vs espresso
Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that is served in “shots”. It is made by forcing hot water through very finely ground coffee using an espresso machine. The result is a liquid stronger than coffee and topped with crema. The crema adds to the rich flavor and lingering aftertaste of espresso.
An americano starts with an espresso shot, but then it’s diluted with hot water. It has all of the same flavors as espresso but you get a much larger drink that is not too strong as straight espresso.
So, they are different in intensity and volume.
As far as caffeine content, they have the same amount of caffeine – about 75 mg per serving.
Americano vs latte
While both drinks start with espresso shots, these are two completely different drinks. While americano is a shot of espresso topped with hot water, a latte is a shot of espresso topped with steamed, foamy milk.
Real americano doesn’t have any milk in it. While some people add milk or cream, you will likely never get an americano with any form of milk unless you specifically ask a barista to add it.
The main characteristic of a latte is creamy, foamed milk.
Americano and a latte have the same caffeine content since there’s no additional caffeine in milk. Starbucks short latte and short americano have the same caffeine content – around 75 mg. However, a latte has more calories than americano because of the milk. A short Starbucks latte has 100 calories, and a short americano has only 5.
Americano vs long black
An americano and a long black are actually the same drinks, with one difference. An americano is made when you pour hot water over the espresso shot. A Long Black is where you pour the espresso shot over hot water.
The term Americano is used in the USA and parts of Europe, and Long Black in Australia and New Zealand.
Americano at Starbucks
Like most Starbucks drinks, americanos come in several sizes: short, tall, grande, and venti.
When you order an americano, you will get a straight americano (only espresso and water). You can add a splash of milk, half and half, or heavy cream.
There are also Iced Americanos – espresso shots topped with cold water and served over ice.
Americano Starbucks caffeine
short, 8 oz: 75 mg
tall, 12 oz: 150 mg
grande, 16 oz: 225 mg
venti, 20 oz: 300 mg
The caffeine content is the same for Iced Americanos.
How to make an Americano
To make an americano at home, you will need an espresso machine.
Using a standard espresso machine
As mentioned, there is no real standard for americanos, but you can start with a double espresso shot and 6 ounces of water.
1. Measure out coffee beans for a double shot (18 grams) and grind them very fine.
2. Tamp and place a portafilter on the machine
3. Make the espresso (go for 25 – 30 seconds)
4. Get 6 ounces of hot water from your machine, or bring water to a boil and pour it into your mug
5. Dilute your espresso with hot water (americano) or slowly pour your espresso into the water (long black)
Play with different ratios. Use more water if you like your americanos less strong, or use 1:1 ratio for a really strong drink.
Using a capsule espresso machine
You can make them using capsule espresso machines like Nespresso as well.
You can either use a single espresso capsule and dilute it with 4 ounces of hot water, or use two capsules and 8 ounces of hot water to get a 10 ounce drink.
How to make an Americano without an espresso machine
If you don’t have an espresso machine and you really wish to make americanos at home, the Moka pot is the next best thing.
You can make really nice americanos with a Moka pot, yet it’s inexpensive, simple to use, and doesn’t require any space.
Once you have a Moka pot, you can start making americanos at home. Here’s my favorite guide on how to use a Moka pot to make americanos and iced americanos.
Now you know everything about americanos. Use this information to order americanos with confidence at Starbucks, or to start enjoying your own americanos at home.