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What is an Americano?

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

What really is a Caffé Americano? Is it any different from a normal traditional black coffee? These are the different questions that sometimes cross one's mind when thinking about this coffee beverage or about to order from the local barista. An Americano is one of the most popular and is part of the standard offering of a typical good coffee offering.

Some people tend to confuse the Caffé Americano with a normal black coffee. There is however a huge difference between the two. In terms of strength there is a long-standing debate between the two. We will discuss this in future topics.

In simpler terms, an Americano is an espresso-based beverage prepared by diluting a shot of espresso with hot water. It consists of just water and espresso and doesn’t have any milk in it, however served with milk on the side as an option for the drinker. The filter coffee, popularly known as normal black coffee is makes using the drip filtration method where hot water passing over course grounds of coffee through a filter without applying any pressure and allowing the coffee to drip through the filter into the coffee cup/coffee pot. That’s why some call it drip coffee.

Legend has it, the Americano came about in Italy during World War 2, during the time the American soldiers stationed in Italy. The soldiers weren’t fond of the strong espresso shot that Italians drank as they were used to the filter coffee back home. This was not the case with the Italians as Italians popularly drank an espresso that time. In an effort to replicate drip coffee back home, soldiers ask for hot water and added hot water to the espresso shot. Hence the beverage Caffé Americano came into being in Italian coffee shops, which basically translates, ‘coffee for Americans’.

Preferably, some want a single shot of espresso with around 230ml of water in a normal cup and some a double shot of espresso mixed with 200ml of water in the same cup or some with go for the trendy large cup with 300ml of water.

When it comes to strength, the caffeine content depends on the number of shots used. For a single shot americano, there is between 60 mg - 75 mg of caffeine and for a double its between 120 mg -150 mg of caffeine.

Because an Americano is an espresso being poured over hot water or an espresso being diluted, a good americano tends to have a nice light brown creamy top layer. This is because of the espresso. Coffee beans have rich, delicious and aromatic oils, when an espresso is brewed, the hot water forces those oils out of the beans. Some of the oils create a nice thick smooth brown or golden layer on top called ‘the Creama’.

Since an Americano is made from only espresso and water, there is very few calories in this beverage. Although some people, prefer it with sugar or milk, that will mean the more sugar or milk you add to your beverage the more calories you are adding.

With all this being said, most baristas are able to tailor make your Americano according to the specifics and the way you prefer it made. This is the beauty of the coffee culture.

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