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What Is An Americano? Definition, Origins and Recipes

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The Caffè Americano coffee is a popular espresso drink in coffee houses around the world.

It’s story is one of the most fascinating in the beverages world.

In WWII, American soldiers that were holding positions in Italy, didn’t want to drink the same type of coffee that their enemies were drinking.

They decided to take the original Italian espresso and add a ton of water to make the flavor change.

And thus, the americano was born (allegedly).

Think it sounds easy enough to make at home?

We’ve got you covered.

Continue reading for more information on this popular, yet simple coffee.

What Is An Americano?

An americano is an espresso drink made by mixing a freshly brewed shot of espresso and water.

Depending on the geographical area, you add one to 16 fluid ounces of water to the espresso shots.

It is also possible to add two espresso shots for a stronger taste.

Caffeine Content For An Americano

The caffeine content for traditional americanos is about 63 mg of caffeine.

A single shot of espresso contains about that much.

However, if you use two espresso shots, it can be up to about 125 mg of caffeine in one drink.

Is An Americano Different Than Regular American Coffee?

Regular American coffee is freshly brewed coffee in a carafe or a pour over apparatus.

Americano coffees have similar strength and texture to brewed coffee, but a different flavor since espresso substitutes coffee grounds.

This is to say it is different from regular American coffee.

Is An Americano Stronger Than Coffee?

Unless you use two shots of espresso, an americano is not stronger than freshly brewed coffee.

There are exceptions to this rule.

Caffeine content can vary depending on the type of bean, amount of water, and temperature of the water.

However, speaking in a traditional sense, an americano is not stronger than coffee in terms of caffeine.

Is Americano Just Espresso With Water?

Yes. An americano is a simple drink consisting of espresso and water.

For the most part, water goes in a 1:2 ratio.

For a short americano, sometimes called an italiano, the ratio is more like 1:1.

You can add flavored syrups and kinds of milk to your americano if you prefer.

The Origins of Caffé Americano

It is not a foolproof explanation, but people suggest that an americano originates from World War II-era United States soldiers staying in Italy.

Allegedly, the typical American GI would add water to their espresso shots to dilute the drink and make it taste more like the freshly brewed coffee they became accustomed with in America.

This is the reason why café americano translates to American coffee.

Remember, this is just a theory.

It’s only anecdotal evidence.

There is also evidence from popular culture references like books and movies before World War II where characters mention an americano.

It is unclear what is in the drink they are ordering, so we do not know if it is the same drink.

What Does An Americano Taste Like?

Americanos are light drinks because of the dilution effect of the water.

However, they are not sweet drinks.

The bitterness from black coffee or straight espresso shots is prevalent in the taste.

You can add splashes of milk or syrups to the mixture to make it taste less bitter if you like.

How A Caffé Americano Is Made

Making a café americano is relatively easy.

It does require that you can make espresso pulls through a type of espresso machine or other coffee apparatus.

The rest is simple!

The Espresso

Using quality tasting espresso is key here.

Generally speaking, americanos have a full body and rich taste.

To keep to this tradition, use rich-tasting, fuller-bodied beans.

Then be sure to grind them finely.

The Water

Of course, water is an easy element of this drink.

You have to be sure to heat it to the right temperature.

If the water is too hot, it can take time to cool down enough for you to drink it.

If it is too cold, it will bring down the quality of the espresso, thus bringing down the entire drink.

It is also worth it to use purified water if possible.

Making An Americano

Again, making an americano is one of the easier café drinks that you can make yourself.

Here are a few quick steps on making an americano at home.

  • Finely ground your coffee beans
  • Press them into your espresso machine and pull one shot of espresso, two shots if you choose
  • Be sure to warm the water to the right temperature! About 150 degrees Fahrenheit, 70 degrees celsius, is perfect. Feel free to use a kettle or hot water out from your steam boiler tap.
  • Pull the espresso into a glass, then top it with hot water. Be sure to slowly pour the hot water into the serving glass to avoid messing up the taste and texture of the fresh espresso.
  • Enjoy!

If you prefer any add-ins in your drink, be sure to make the americano first, then add them in as you are finishing preparation.

Can You Add Milk To An Americano?

Adding milk into an americano is a possibility.

If you worry about making a drink entirely different from an americano, as long as you make the drink in the correct order with the right ingredients, adding a dash of milk for taste will not ruin the drink.

Other popular cafe items like lattes and macchiatos are different drinks containing varying amounts of steamed milk.

Adding in a small splash or even a couple of ounces of milk to your americano will not result in an accidental latte.

Adding milk will slightly affect the taste because it will neutralize the drink and bring some of the bitterness down.

Can You Make An Americano Without An Espresso Machine?

Espresso is simply a way to brew coffee.

Espresso pulls are thicker than regular coffee.

The flavors and caffeine content are also more concentrated.

This higher concentration is due to the highly pressurized production.

In short, espresso is both a drink and a method of preparation.

But how can you make espresso with this meticulous preparation without the necessary tools like an espresso machine?

There are a few ways!

Be aware that the signature crema on top of espresso will not be present if you use one of these methods.

Here are a few ways to make espresso at home without an espresso maker.

  • Moka Pot Method
  • French Press Method
  • Aeropress Method

Moka Pot Method

A Moka pot is a method of making coffee on the stove.

Steam forces itself through the beans to create the coffee in the pot.

It is a usable substitute for an espresso machine and works well for americanos because the taste and texture are similar to a dark roast coffee.

The result will give you about 5 ounces of product versus the traditional one ounce of espresso from a machine.

If you have a Moka pot, this is a good choice as a substitution for an espresso machine.

French Press Method

Since french presses have a plunger mechanism, you can use the french press to apply pressure to the beans and get that espresso-like result.

The flavor is comparable, but be sure to use a 1:2 ratio for water and ground beans.

You can expect a little sediment remaining in your cup from this method and you won’t end up with the iconic espresso crema here.

It does work as a method for making espresso drinks like an americano.

Aeropress Method

People looking to make coffee drinks without electricity created this method.

This is not the preferred method.

It produces bitter and flat coffee, and you should only use it as a last resort.

It will work for an espresso substitute, but do not expect fan-favorite results.

So, yes.

You can make espresso without a machine which means you can make an americano without an espresso machine.

However, the best way to get great espresso that has the taste and texture you’d expect is with an espresso-specific machine.

Caffe Americano vs. Other Coffee Drinks

Caffe americanos are not like other coffee drinks that contain lots of milk or other added ingredients like lattes or flat whites.

However, they do bear some similarities to other espresso and water drinks that are popular in cafes.

Two drinks that are similar to an americano are the red-eye and the long black.

What Is Red Eye Coffee?

A red-eye coffee is a strong coffee made like an americano but instead of water, you top the espresso with regular drip coffee.

This is a highly caffeinated option that tastes bitter but will wake you up in an instant.

What Is a Long Black?

A long blackis very similar to an americano and is popular in Australia.

It tastes like an americano.

The difference lies in its preparation.

Instead of pouring hot water after the pulled espresso, you pour it in before.

Some say this helps the drink mix better and provides a smoother flavor.

It also allows the crema to stay on top.

Wrapping Up

The americano is a favorite by many coffee lovers and considered a nice everyday espresso drink.

If you want to try your hand at making one, follow our recipe and give it a try!

If you like traditional drip coffee, you won’t be disappointed.


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