Everyone knows about the famed coffee drink available on every coffee shop menu, the Americano. But unfortunately, there aren’t many who know everything about this historical coffee that had to be toned down because it was too intense.
Today, let’s learn all about American coffee and help you boast about your historical knowledge, aside from Sabaton songs 😉.
To answer the question simply, it’s just a shot of Espresso with hot water on top. It’s usually a hot drink, but you can get an iced version of Americano when you’re at Starbucks.
Let’s look at 5 other popular names for this drink in different countries.
- American: In America.
- Caffè Americano: In Italian.
- Caffè All’americana: Also in Italian, but this term refers to filtered coffee
- Un Café Allongé: In French, it can refer to either an Americano or a long double Espresso.
- Café Americano: In Spanish, which literally translates to “American coffee.”
Though the most famous account of this coffee’s origin goes back to World War II, there are speculations that the name came even earlier. In his writing, Somerset Maugham mentioned the characters drinking an “Americano” without any details of how said coffee was made.
Now, back to World War II. Back then, coffee was so necessary for any army personnel that they were going through more than 32 pounds of coffee each year. All that coffee had to be ground and supplied, which wasn’t always a consistent solution.
American soldiers stationed in Italy searched local Italian coffee, which was Espresso at the time. But the traditional Espresso was way too intense for the army to drink. So to make the coffee more bearable, the army men diluted the Espresso with hot water, the taste of which had more resemblance to drip coffee.
Italian locals called this ingenious version of Italian coffee “Americano.” The name stuck with the coffee type and got more popularized over time.
We all know what crema is now, so I’ll not bother you with the details. But, in short: it’s the foam you find on top of a cup of coffee.
When you brew Espresso, the natural coffee oils cause crema to form on the coffee cup.
When you brew yourself a cup of Americano, you’re essentially pouring water over the Espresso. Yet, even when you do so, the cream floats up on top, and the oily richness of the crema is still there.
So yes, a cup of Americano coffee can have crema.
An Americano sounds like the easiest thing to brew since it’s just water over Espresso, and everyone knows how to make Espresso at this point.
However, there are a lot of small details that can lead to either a great cup of Americano or just a watery Espresso that’s a total mess.
The best way to brew your Espresso is by using a drip coffee maker. You can get yourself a strong cup of coffee in seconds.
The most commonly used roast for Espresso is a dark roast since they offer you a full-body mouthfeel while being less acidic. Dark roast beans are also the best choice if you want that fine crema at the top.
Though choosing single-origin coffee beans would be a great choice, the Espresso is an exceptional case.
If you’re picking up an “Espresso blend” from a nearby supermarket, there’s a high chance you’re getting a combination of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans.
It’s not a bad thing since the blend only enhances the overall quality of the Espresso.
After choosing a preferred method, the beans, and the roast, comes the coffee itself. The three previous factors will determine how good or bad your Espresso is.
Of course, freshwater is the most important part when making an Americano. Or any kind of coffee, for that matter.
Why so much emphasis on freshwater? When your coffee depends on a layer of water for the coffee to be drunk through, the water determines the final taste that hits your taste buds.
As for the temperature, boiled water may sound good, but it really isn’t. Exposing the coffee to water that’s too hot can burn the coffee grounds, ruining the taste. The best suitable temperature you want to go for is 185°F.
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Every barista in different coffee shops has other preferences. But there’s always the option to make an Americano customized for yourself.
The most standard method uses a single shot of Espresso, but you can get an Americano with a double-shot Espresso. Then, the Espresso is diluted in three possible different portions.
Despite the main content of the drink being Espresso, the Americano tastes a lot different.
Americano tastes less intense since the water “waters down” the kick of the Espresso. It has a less rich body compared to regular drip coffee, but at least the crema is there.
The overall flavor of the coffee is still pretty rich and bold, with a bit of resemblance to black coffee.
Another thing that sets Americano apart is the temperature. Americano is hotter than Espresso or any other drip coffee counterpart.
Are you trying to watch your caffeine intake levels? You can enjoy an Americano without a worry in the world. Espresso has a lower amount of caffeine content (47-64 mg of caffeine) compared to regular coffee (95-165 mg of caffeine)
Since the Americano is made by pouring water over Espresso, the water lowers the caffeine content further without taking away the taste.
It’s really not. And the reason behind it is the brewing time and the flavor.
When you’re brewing drip coffee, you’re relying on gravity to get your coffee, which can take a few minutes for your coffee mug to fill up.
Though the Espresso takes a shorter time to be ready, the drip coffee will always provide a superior flavor profile.
Now that we know about Americano let’s compare this all-time classic to its closely related cousins. I say “closely related” since they use Espresso as the base drink.
Black coffee takes a long time to complete brewing since, in the case of Espresso, the water is forced through the coffee grounds at high pressure.
Black coffee is less diluted compared to Americano, so it’s stronger.
Cappuccino is just an amped-up version of the Latte with the extra shot of Espresso and the milk.
Like Americano, Espresso goes into the cup first, and then the hot milk. Finally, some foam is added to the top as a finishing touch.
The core difference between Americano and Cappuccino is the inclusion of milk to mild down the bitterness and intensity of the Espresso instead of just water.
Like black coffee, Espresso is the more intense drink of these two. Americano is just mild Espresso.
Like Cappuccino, Latte is just Americano where you mix in milk instead of water.
Latte is 1:3 Espresso, and the rest is water and foamed milk, making the drink sweeter and creamier.
Though Americano and Latte are both nearly similar, many prefer the Latte because of the sweet contrast of flavor with the Espresso in the cup.
Macchiato is basically a 50-50 mix of Espresso and hot milk. Compared to a latte, Macchiato is less creamy since Macchiato is made with regular warm milk.
Macchiato can give you a fine mixture of flavor, compared to the bitterness of Americano.
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The Americano may seem like a very basic black coffee with extra water in the cup; there’s more significance to this coffee than just the flavor profile determined by coffee connoisseurs.
In a world where everyone’s excited about sweet coffee drinks, you’re a legend if you’re an Americano fan. Enjoy your coffee, King.
A Latte is an Espresso mixed with milk and creamer to mask the bitterness of Espresso.
Iced Americano is just a colder version of the traditional Americano that you can find in Starbucks.
A regular coffee is stronger than an Americano since the Americano is a watered-down version of Espresso, which is a regular coffee.
Long black coffee is a stronger version of the Americano, and it’s trendy in Australia and New Zealand.
Depending on the recipe of the barista, a standard Americano will at least have a 1:2 coffee-to-water ratio.