What Is An Americano?

If you actively avoid coffee shops because of simply how confusing the menus are, you’re not alone. There are countless types of coffee out there, from flat whites to lattes to mochas, and they don’t all mean the same thing. 

You need to know exactly what you want when ordering a coffee. If you just order a “coffee”, your barista might make something that is completely different to what you were expecting.

What Is An Americano?

Even if you ask for a black coffee, it could be one of several types of coffee. 

So, what is an Americano? Is an Americano just a standard name for coffee, or is it a specialty drink? 

Here is everything you need to know about what an Americano actually is. 

What Is An Americano? 

To put it simply, an Americano is one shot of espresso topped with hot water. The strength of an Americano can be altered depending on the customer’s preference, so they can ask for one or two shots. 

Americano coffees actually derive from the 1940s, when American soldiers stationed in Italy didn’t like the strong espresso coffees drunk by the locals.

After all, American soldiers were used to drip coffee, which was (and still is) substantially weaker than espresso.

So, the soldiers decided to combine the espresso with hot water, and the Americano was born. 

This is also why Americanos are called Americanos. If you go to a coffee shop today and ask for a coffee, you are more likely to be served with a black Americano as the standard.

You can ask for milk to be added to an Americano, but a traditional Americano comes black. 

In Italy, however, you will still be served with an espresso, which is a pure shot of coffee resulting in a rich, strong flavor. 

Do Americanos Have Crema?

Crema is the semi-thick layer of froth that lies on the top of an espresso. This occurs because the coffee beans have been carefully processed with aromatic oils.

When making an espresso, hot water forces the oils out of the beans, resulting in a layer of crema. 

The fresher the beans, the more crema you will get. It has long been known that crema is an indicator of good coffee. The substance is also known as “the Guinness effect”. 

Even though an Americano is simply a diluted espresso, it will still have a layer of crema on top.

The crema isn’t likely to be as thick as an espresso thanks to the inclusion of hot water, but if the crema has risen to the top, it’s a sign of a good brew. It means the oils have been preserved, resulting in beautifully tasting coffee. 

How Do You Make An Americano?

Making an Americano is easy, and doesn’t require much barista knowledge. You will need access to an espresso machine to make the most authentic Americano. 

Here is how to make an Americano!

  1. Brew a shot of espresso. You can brew two shots of espresso if you prefer your coffee strong. 
  2. Fill an empty cup with hot water. Make sure to pour the water first before the coffee. 
  3. Finally, pour the espresso over the hot water. 

It’s important to pour the espresso over the hot water rather than the other way around. Not only will this encourage crema to come to the top, but pouring hot water over an espresso shot can burn the coffee.

This will result in a bitter brew, and ruins all the richness of the beautiful oils. 

Traditionally, Americanos don’t come with milk. However, some prefer to add cold or hot milk to make the drink less strong. Make sure to leave some room at the top of the drink for milk if you desire. 

Americano VS Drip Coffee 

While some will say that an Americano and drip coffee are basically the same thing, this is not true. 

An Americano is a quick drink that requires a freshly brewed espresso shot and hot water, whereas drip coffee is a slower drink that involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds.

It takes more time for the coffee grounds to dissolve through the filter, making for a subtle cup of Joe compared to an Americano. 

Not only this, but an Americano contains more caffeine than a drip coffee, and a drip coffee does not produce any crema. Drip coffees are also sweeter and more floral than Americanos, which feature deeper, nutty tones. 

So, if you go to a coffee shop asking for an Americano and expecting a drip coffee, you’ll actually receive a fresher, quicker, and stronger drink. 

What Is An Americano? (1)

Americano VS Latte 

It’s much easier to differentiate between an Americano and a latte. 

An Americano is hot water with added espresso, whereas a latte is a shot of espresso topped with foamy hot milk. Lattes do not contain any water, unlike an Americano.

As a result, a latte is a much weaker and creamier alternative to Americanos, as they consist mostly of milk. 


So, there you have it! An Americano is generally regarded as a staple black coffee in most coffee shops, but now you know what an Americano is, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Happy brewing! 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do You Put Milk In An Americano?

Traditionally, an Americano is just espresso and hot water, resulting in a black coffee. However, some prefer to add some milk to the coffee to make it less strong and more creamy.

If you wish to add hot or cold milk to your coffee, make sure to allow enough room at the top of the mug for milk. 

Is Americano Stronger Than Cappuccino? 

Yes, an Americano is stronger than a cappuccino. A cappuccino consists of one shot of espresso and frothy hot milk, which works to make the coffee less strong and more creamy.

An Americano, on the other hand, is a shot of espresso with hot water, making for a stronger brew. 

While both have the same caffeine content, the addition of hot milk in a cappuccino works to dilute the flavor of the espresso. 

Mark Williams
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