What Is an Americano Coffee?

Americano on the background of the mountains.

This is a great question! The Americano is a type of coffee made from 1/3 espresso and 2/3 water. The Americano differs from other types of coffee as it generally doesn't have any milk in it — although sometimes people do add milk.

Where Did the Americano Come From?

It is said that the Americano first came from World War Two when American soldiers were stationed in Italy. They couldn't drink the local espresso as they found it too bold, so they decided to add a little more water to the espresso shot.

This turned it both into a beverage that they could stomach and into a coffee that would soon be popular internationally.

A cup of americano.

What Comes First, Espresso or Water?

Because there are only two ingredients in an Americano, the only real debate comes from whether the water comes first, or the espresso. Most people add the espresso to the cup first and then add in the water. This is so that one key factor is not disturbed: the crema.

Do Americanos Have Crema?

Espressos are made by forcing water through finely-ground coffee at high pressure. This results in strong, richly-flavored coffee where the oil has been forced out of the beans.

This oil creates a creamy brown substance at the top of the espresso. This is sometimes referred to as “the Guinness effect” and is often considered a mark of a great cup. As such, the “crema” you see in espresso is also present in an Americano, as it is more or less the same beverage - just with more water. The oily richness is preserved and the Guinness effect is nice and clear.

Americano and other coffees.

Americano Vs. Other Coffees

Whilst it may not seem clear at first, many things make an Americano stand out from other types of coffee.

  • Americano Vs. Drip Coffee: Drip coffee is made by using a machine that slowly allows the coffee grounds to dissolve and pass through a filter, by using hot water and gravity. Drip coffee typically has a flavor that is subtler than an Americano.
  • Americano Vs. Long Black: There is very little difference between these two drinks. The main defining factor is that whilst you make an Americano by pouring hot water over an espresso shot, a long black is made by pouring an espresso shot over hot water.
  • Americano Vs. Latte: Conversely, a latte is made by topping a shot of espresso with creamy foamed milk.

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