Can You Add Milk To An Americano?

Are you wondering ‘can you add milk to an Americano’? Read this article to find out the answer and various things you can add to your beverage.

Can You Add Milk To An Americano?
Adding milk to your Americano tone down the sourness

There are days when I get up in the morning and wish for a richer, darker, and a stronger cuppa to start my day. On those days, I enjoy drinking an Americano, which is an espresso shot or double shots of espresso watered down with hot water. However, I don’t like my coffee to be all black and prefer adding milk to tone down the sourness.

Some people often ask me ‘can you add milk to an Americano’ and I say why not! It’s perfectly fine to ask for a little milk to add to your Americano and don’t worry about being looked down upon by the barista or coffee snobs. Millions of people out there add milk and sugar along with hot water with a shot of espresso to get a perfect balance of flavors to their liking.

Read on to find out why Americano with milk is different in taste and flavor from a latte, how the tradition of watering down espresso started in the first place, the difference between black and white Americano, and so on.

Americano With Milk Is Not The Same As Latte

Another commonly asked question is – why not go for a latte if you want to have milk with your shot of espresso? I have often heard about people getting frowned upon for asking for milk to add with Americano. So, I would like to clear the air and let people know why Americano with milk is not the same as a latte in the first place.

A cup of Latte coffee on a table.
Latte actually contains a lot of milk

Latte actually contains a lot of milk with or without foam, to a point that the creaminess of milk starts to dominate the flavor of the coffee. With an Americano, you have the liberty to choose how much milk you want to add to the drink. I usually prefer one-third of the total volume and it comes out perfectly balanced for my tastes.

The milk in an Americano is also not foamed so you don’t get a lot of bubbles on the top. Hence, there’s nothing distracting you from the authentic taste of coffee. If on any day, I wish to enjoy the smooth texture of foamed milk, I opt for a latte or espresso macchiato.

Coming back to Americano, let’s take a quick look at history to understand why there’s such confusion about adding milk to Americano and how this drink originated in the first place.

The Origin Of Americano

The original Americano has an interesting history and it is believed to be invented in World War II when the American soldiers stationed in Europe could not find coffee to their liking. Used to drinking drip coffee, they were not familiar with the bitter and robust taste of espresso, hence they added hot water to mellow down the flavors.

coffee on a table with a book and a spoon
Coffee americano was started in Europe by the American soldiers

Traditionally espresso was served in a small serving cup but the soldiers wanted a large mug of coffee, hence adding hot water also increased the quantity. Even after the war was over, the tradition of adding water to espresso to get a jolt of caffeine continued. The Americano became a popular drink in the United States and Europe.

Difference Between Black And White Americano

Now that you know the answer to ‘can you add milk to an Americano’, let’s take a look at the difference between the black and white versions. Black Americano is used to refer to the original thing – the watered-down espresso shots with hot water. In an espresso shot, the ratio of water to the coffee grounds is 4:1, which means the buffering is limited when compared with the drip method where the ratio is 17:1.

When espresso is diluted, the extra hot water added to the beverage buffers the acids, and the acidity level goes down. Sourness is drastically reduced, and the sweetness and bitterness increase. If you wish, you may add milk, cream, or sugar to enhance the taste of Black Americano.

The name ‘White Americano’ may make you think that it’s got something to do with adding milk, but it’s not. White Americano is a type of Americano that is not filled to the top and there is some white space visible over the coffee. However, this is slightly tricky as in some coffee bars, you may be offered Americano with milk if you order a White Americano.

So, while ordering always make sure that you specify what type of Americano you would like to drink, and if you want milk then whether it should be hot or cold. In some places, you may get a frown or a cold stare for asking for milk, but don’t let that deter you. If you like your Americano better with milk then so be it!


Things You Can Add To Your Americano

I know the coffee snobs may raise eyebrows on trying to add things to your Americano but believe me, if adding was prohibited then Americano would not have originated in the first place. Here are a few other things you can add to your Americano.

Classic Americano

The first thing you probably add in an Americano is hot water and it’s a fairly simple process, to begin with. You just need to pull a shot or a double shot of espresso (depending on whether you like your coffee strong or weak) and then add hot water to create a rich and smooth drink.

Most ardent coffee fans argue that Americano tastes best in its classical form but here are some suggestions that can further enhance the flavor.

Steamed Half And Half Or Cold Creamer

It’s a known fact that espresso is bitter in taste and adding hot water helps in cutting the bitterness to some extent, however, this may not be enough for some people. Half-and-half, also known as half cream is a mixture of equal parts of light cream and whole milk.

Some people prefer adding steamed half-and-half instead of just milk to add a creamier taste to the beverage.

I prefer steaming the blend so that the drink does not cool down due to its effect. Another exciting option is to add cold creamer to the Americano if you think the drink is too hot to be consumed. The cold creamer helps in cooling down the beverage slightly.

Sugar To Sweeten Things Up

It’s normal to add sugar to balance the bitterness of espresso and sweeten up your drink, especially for those with a sweet tooth. However, I suggest that you add sugar directly to the espresso as the intense heat will allow the sugar to dissolve much better. After adding hot water, the beverage still stays hot but there are chances that the drink may become grainy due to un-dissolved sugar.

Another item you may add to Americano is fruits. I know that sounds bizarre but there are certain coffee bars that sell iced Americano topped with lime, apricot, and mint for a refreshing taste. I know this might not go well with a lot of people but if you are feeling adventurous, you might want to taste it.

Can You Add Milk To An Americano Related Questions

Why is Americano bitter in taste than an espresso?

In theory, Americano should taste less bitter because it is the diluted version of an espresso. However, science says that any water with alkaline levels has the ability to neutralize or buffer the acid. So, when hot water is added to a shot or double shots of espresso, hot water buffers the acids present in the brew and intensifies the bitter aspect.

What is an iced Americano?

Making an iced Americano is pretty simple and follows the same method as making a regular mug of Americano. First, add hot water to the espresso and let the beverage cool down slightly before adding ice cubes to it.

Some people may prefer to add cool water instead of hot water to cut down the waiting time. It works both ways and comes down to your personal preference.

What comes first – water or espresso?

Well, it can be done both ways but this has been a much-debated topic since the Americano became popular across the world. For Americano, the standard method is adding hot water to espresso to get a rich and flavorful drink. 

See Also: Espresso Vs. Americano: Which Drink Is For Me?


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.