What Is Americano Coffee?

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By: Ken Van Wagoner


Americano coffee is a simple but timeless drink. It consists of an espresso shot and hot water, allowing you the same kick and boldness of an espresso while mellowing down the taste.

This is one of my all-time favourite coffee drinks. And in this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about Americano coffee, from its origins all the way to its variations.

Read on to learn more.

What Is an Americano Coffee?

Americano coffee is one of the oldest drinks available at your local coffee shop. Chances are that it was one of the drinks you ordered when you first visited a cafe. This classic drink has a fun and rich history and has tons of qualities that make it one of the most popular coffee drinks of all time.

So, let’s dive into the details and characteristics of Americano coffee.


There are many conflicting reports on the history of the Americano. There are some that claim the drink originated in WWI, when American soldiers were stationed in Italy. However, there are some accounts that the term was used to describe a drink since the 1920s, but there’s no specific description on how the drink was made.

The most accepted origin story for Americano coffee can be traced back to WWII. At the time, the American government couldn’t supply its troops in Italy with enough coffee to go around. So, many soldiers went to the locals to find a cup of joe. However, many Americans couldn’t handle the strength and intensity of an espresso, which is why they diluted it with water, creating the Americano.


Americanos are known for their bold aroma. Most modern coffee shops place one or two espresso shots in every Americano. This produces a much more intense flavor compared to your regular brewed coffee.


An Americno’s flavor heavily relies on the espresso shot. TO make a good Americano, it’s important to pull a balanced espresso shot and use high-quality beans. While the hot water dilutes the flavor of the espresso shot, it also helps bring out some of the more subtle details of the coffee.


One of the reasons an espresso is so strong is because the extraction method also extracts various oils from the coffee. Even when diluted with hot water, the espresso shot has a fairly viscous mouthfeel with a smooth and velvety texture.

Caffeine Level

The caffeine levels of an Americano can vary from cafe to cafe. When baristas make an Americano, they use different beans and pressure settings. So, some cafes may make stronger Americanos than others. However, most espresso shots don’t have as much caffeine as brewed coffee, which is important to note.

How It’s Made

What Is Americano Coffee? - How It’s Made

An Americano isn’t hard to make. In fact, once you master the art of pulling an espresso, everything becomes really easy. Americanos have two main components, which we’ll explain in this section.


The most important part of an Americano is the espresso. To make a good Americano, you need to pull a balanced espresso with all the flavors you want to taste. It can take some time to learn to use an espresso machine and prepare your coffee puck properly. But once you know how to pull a good espresso shot, you can make an Americano.


For the best flavors, I recommend using hot water that’s slightly below boiling point when mixing the espresso in. This allows you to retain the Americano’s best flavors without burning the coffee.

Making the Americano

To make an Americano, simply pull an espresso shot in a coffee cup. I find it best to pour your espresso shot into hot water. However, there are others that pour their hot water on top of the espresso shot. Either way is fine and I recommend finding the one you prefer. An Americano is a really simple drink that’s easy to make. But if you want to make the best possible Americano, make sure to choose the right beans and practice pulling a perfect espresso shot.


Since the Americano is a classic drink, many baristas have tweaked it over time, which is why there are many variations, which you might actually prefer. Here are some of the msot popular Americano variations you can find at any local coffee shop.


A lungo or “long coffee” is similar to an Americano. However, the difference is that a lungo is made by pulling an espresso shot using double the volume of water. With an Americano, you add hot water to a regular espresso shot.

White Americano

A white Americano is an Americano that you finish with a splash of milk. This adds a creamy flavor and lessens the overall intensity of the drink.

Iced Americano

An iced Americano is an Americano made with iced water. So, after you pull your espresso shot, pour it into a glass filled with water and ice. Then, you stir the drink and enjoy the Americano cold.

Americano vs. Other Coffee Drinks

What Is Americano Coffee?

You won’t find a coffee drink as classic as the Americano. But while it’s been around for ages, it still has distinct features that sets it apart from everything else. Here are some of the main differences between an Americano and other common coffee drinks.

Black Coffee

Black coffee is typically brewed. An Americano is an espresso shot mixed with water to temper it. This is why an Americano has a thicker texture and more intense flavor compared to regular brewed coffee.


While an Americano is an espresso shot with water, a macchiato is an espresso shot with a splash of milk. You don’t add too much milk to a macchiato, which provided a strong, yet tempered flavor.


A cappuccino has an equal layer of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. An Americano only consists of espresso and water. So, a cappuccino has a very creamy taste and thicker texture.


A latte is basically coffee and steamed milk. Typically, it will have a very thin layer of milk foam on top, making it a bit more viscous and much creamier than an Americano.


The espresso is the Americano’s base. If you remove the water from an Americano, you’re left with an espresso. This is why I highly recommend learning how to pull a high-quality espresso shot if you want to make the best possible Americanos.

Difference Between Regular Coffee and Americano

Regular coffee is typically brewed in a coffee maker. This is a great everyday drink that has a balanced flavor and a strong kick. To make an Americano, you need an espresso machine to pull a bold and dark espresso shot that you temper down with hot water. Both drinks are great, but for more complexity, I recommend the Americano.

Differences Between Americano and Drip Coffee

Drip coffee is very strong and has a unique flavor. However, you miss out on the taste and mouthfeel of an espresso shot, which is still present in an Americano, despite the presence of hot water. 

Differences Between Americano and a Long Black

A long black is an espresso pulled with double the volume of water. With an Americano, you mix in water to an already-pulled espresso.


Is Americano Black Coffee?

Yes, Americano coffee is typically served black. However, it’s different from regular brewed coffee.

Is Americano Stronger Than Regular Coffee?

This depends on the beans and amount of espresso in your Americano. However, if you put multiple espresso shots in your Americano, you can expect it to be stronger than a regular cup of coffee.

Can You Make Americano Without an Espresso Machine?

No, you need an espresso machine to make an Americano. However, you may also use a Moka pot or an Aeropress for a similar flavor. That said, this won’t be an authentic Americano.

How Many Espresso Shots in an Americano?

Typically, coffee shops put two espresso shots in every Americano.

What Is an Americano with Milk Called?

An Americano with milk is called a white Americano and is available in most coffee shops.


The Americano is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a simple drink that offers a great flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel. So, if you’re looking for a classic coffee drink to bring you into the world of coffee, I highly suggest trying the Americano!

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Ken Van Wagoner

Ken Van Wagoner is a born and raised Flintstone who, after spending time away from the area attending Central Michigan University, returned to open Good Beans Café in 2000. His 18 years of running the café has made it an enduring hub in Carriage Town for locals – a welcoming meeting place and performance venue. In his free time, Ken can be found rooting on the Flint Tropics, playing pick-up basketball, or spending time with family and friends.

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