What is Americano Coffee?

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So you are wondering, what is Americano coffee? I asked the same question after my son started his fascination with both World Wars. He wanted to know everything about the soldiers and he even asked me what they did for coffee, so I did some research.

Americano coffee consists of a single or double shot of espresso brewed with water added.

Americano History

In the coffee world, Americano means “American”. It’s said that Americano coffee started during World War II when American soldiers would dilute their espresso with hot water while in Italy to make it taste like the drip coffee they were used to back home.

vintage soldier drinking coffee in an aluminum cup

They did this because Italians mostly drink espresso and not the coffee that the soldiers were used to. So, they decided to dilute it with hot water. When they added water to the Italian espresso, it became known as an “Americano”. (because the Americans did it- lol)

Italians prefer espresso and they call diluted espressos “dirty water”.

An Italiano is known as a smaller Americano.

Ways to prepare an Americano

It’s really simple to prepare, you just need espresso and hot water. The typical Americano is 1-2 shots of espresso and 2/3rds of a cup of hot water.

If you order it from a coffee shop, they have found that the majority of the customers don’t like the strong espresso taste so you will get more water in your Americano from the barista.

americano coffee infographic

Can you add Milk to an Americano?

The typical Americano doesn’t contain milk but I have seen where some like to add it in. You won’t get it this way in the coffee shop unless you order it specifically.

It will contain the crema that espresso is known for because the creme will rise to the top.

If you add milk to your Americano, it will be more robust in flavor and less bitter. It is perfectly acceptable and you shouldn’t worry about the coffee snobs turning their nose up at you. Lots of people add sugar and milk because most Americans can’t handle the bitter taste of an espresso.

What is Crema?

It is the light-colored creamy substance that rises to the top of an espresso. Coffee beans are full of oils and when they are brewed in an espresso machine it forces the oils to come out of the beans.

A freshly made espresso has a more bitter taste because the beans put off Carbon Dioxide after being roasted. This is the coffee bloom. The longer it has time to release Carbon Dioxide, the more the flavor will change.


There is, however, more than one way to fix your Americano.

Variation #1: Hot water 1st, Espresso 2nd

Variation #2: Espresso 1st, Hot water 2nd

It changes the flavor if you do it each of the two ways. I say, give them both a try and see which you prefer.

There is also what is known as a Long Black. People think it is an Americano but it is actually not as diluted. It’s made by pulling one or two shots of espresso over water. This makes it full of flavor.

What is a White Americano?

This is when you dilute the espresso with hot water and top it with milk. It makes it a much lighter cup and as I said earlier, you don’t need to worry what people think when they see you drinking it.

What is Iced Americano?

You can have an iced Americano by adding cold water to the espresso. Then, add ice.

Is Americano just Black Coffee?

An Americano is not black coffee. Since it’s an espresso and water, it will taste different from a drip coffee. It’s going to have a similar strength but a different flavor. Black coffee (drip coffee) is also higher in caffeine content.

How much Caffeine in the Americano?

There is less caffeine in an Americano than in drip coffee. A typical Americano with 1-2 shots of espresso will have around 94 to 150 mg of caffeine. A standard cup of drip coffee can have around 95 to 200 mg of caffeine.

Home Brewed Americano

If you have an espresso machine at home…bravo to you. If you can’t afford an espresso machine at home, you can make your own Americano by using a French Press, Aeropress, or Moka Pot.

You can’t use an alternative espresso method for a straight espresso shot but you can use them for Americanos because you are diluting it with water.

So now that you know what an Americano is, let me know in the comments below if you plan on giving it a try or if you already have I would love to know if you love it or not.

americano coffee pinterest pin

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