The rumor has it that American World War II soldiers stationed in Italy have diluted the local espresso with hot water, and that way, the Caffè Americano was born.

Nowadays, it is widely popular in North America, or in Australia and New Zealand, where a similar drink is known under the name Long Black.

What Is A Long Black?

It is "Americano made the opposite way." While with a typical Americano, espresso comes first, with Long Black, heated water comes first, and then the espresso shot is poured over it.

Some people prefer it and say it has a stronger taste than the Americano coffee. The size of this drink is usually 4-6 ounces.

What Is An Americano?

Americano coffee is a simple, espresso-based coffee drink, made using espresso and hot water in a 1 part water 2 parts espresso or 1/3 espresso (1-2 espresso shots) and 2/3 water. The shot comes first, then water.

Unlike many other espresso-based drinks, original Americano does not contain any milk. It may be served hot, or iced.

Thanks to the mix of espresso and water, it is more delicate than espresso, and since it is missing milk, it is not heavy.

How To Make An Americano?

To make an Americano at home, you will need:

  • espresso coffee beans (medium-dark to dark roast),
  • water,
  • kitchen scale,
  • burr grinder (perhaps one of the top 2020 burr grinders),
  • espresso machine, such as Breville.
  1. 1
    Grind your beans really fine ( consistency is salt-like), and fresh.
  2. 2
    Select your coffee cup or mug. I prefer latte cups (always bear in mind the ratio and size you are aiming for)
  3. 3
    Pre-heat your mug. This way the heat stays in your coffee instead of being absorbed by the mug itself.
  4. 4
    Measure the coffee (14-18g for two shots) and prepare the espresso (in a separate cup)
  5. 5
    If you have an espresso machine, tamp (compress) your coffee in the portafilter. Your espresso machine might do it automatically, but some do not.
  6. 6
    Pour hot water (170°F) into the cup, then shot of espresso over it, or the opposite way. Try which one feels better to you. I will explain the difference in the following section.
  7. 7
    Do not stir to retain the crema on top (layer of coffee froth created during the extraction)
  8. 8
    If you want, you can add honey or sugar. Most people prefer their Americanos black, though.
  9. 9
    If the taste feels “off”, experiment with the water/shot of espresso ratio more.

Pour Hot Water or Espresso First?

With a traditional Americano coffee, popular in North America, it is espresso first: the hot water is poured over a shot of espresso 3 seconds after extraction.

With a Long Black coffee, popular in New Zealand and Australia, an espresso shot is poured over a heated cup of water.

I personally prefer one shot poured over the hot water because the crema remains intact.

What Is The Secret To A Good Americano?

I would say it is all in pulling a nice shot of espresso. You do not want a bland taste, and the crema on top is a must.

You will need:

  • beans as fresh as possible,
  • good water,
  • espresso machine,
  • and of course, get the technique, ratio, and extraction times right.

The Importance Of Quality Of Water

If you are getting bad results, or your espresso coffee tastes flat, I highly recommend testing your water. You can use Ph test strips, that can be bought in the pool supply section of any big hardware store/supermarket.

Good water for espresso should be low in calcium and sodium and be close to the neutral pH of 7. pH between 6.5 and 7.5 is acceptable according to the Speciality Coffee Association of America.

The high pH of water results in a flat taste of coffee and a high amount of calcium causes build up in your coffee machine. Regardless of the water quality, always clean and descale your coffee equipment.

Is There Milk In Americano?

Not originally, but you can add milk, especially if the coffee feels too bitter for you. The milk is not foamed though, like in a latte or cappuccino.

How About Iced Americano?

Iced Americano is possible, no one would look at you in a weird way. I consider it very refreshing in summer, along with Iced Cold Brew.

The process of making the Americano is the same — with Iced Americano you only top espresso shot with water, and serve it over ice.

It should always have a nice crema. Iced Americano coffee is a popular item even at chains such as Starbucks, or McDonald's.

What Is In The Starbucks Caffè Americano?

Americano coffee in Starbucks comes in Short, Tall, Grande, and Venti sizes. Short Americano contains 1 shot (75 milligrams of caffeine), Tall two shots of espresso (150mg), Grande three shots (225mg), and Venti Americano contains four espresso shots (300mg.)

Is An Americano The Same As A Regular Coffee?

The strength of an Americano coffee depends on the number of shots of espresso and the amount of hot water added.

If one shot of espresso has 77mg caffeine in it, a 6 - 8 oz. Americano would contain around 77mg of caffeine and a 12-16 oz. Americano would contain about 154mg.

Is An Americano Stronger Than Black Coffee?

In terms of caffeine, Americano coffee contains approximately the same amount of caffeine as a regular drip black coffee.

What's The Difference Between Americano And Black Coffee?

They are prepared differently. Black coffee (brewed coffee) is usually made with a drip coffee machine, while Americano coffee is made with an espresso machine.

The secret to a good espresso is 200ºF water temperature, 9 bars of pressure during extraction, and 25-30 seconds of extraction time.

Drip coffee does not have crema, while correctly prepared Americano coffee has one.

Coffee used is different, too: for drip black coffee, you need a medium-coarse grind, for espresso and Americano coffee you need a fine grind.

Even if Italians call Americano dirty water (aqua sporca) I think it established its place on cafe menus, and found its admirers, even if mostly in North America. How about you, do you like your espresso as it is, or diluted?