Did you know that Americano was modeled after drip coffee? That’s right! But these two are nevertheless very different.
“But both are just black coffee!” – I hear you say. And my inner barista screams. As someone who spent years in the coffee industry, I can assure you that Americano and drip coffee taste, look, and are brewed differently.
The main difference is that Americano is an espresso drink, and drip coffee is filtered. That’s why Americano has a richer and bolder flavor and thicker consistency.
Dive into my complete Americano vs. drip coffee showdown and learn:
- The difference between Americano and drip coffee
- The history of both coffee drinks
- How to make these drinks at home
If you are wondering what’s the best coffee to drink black, we’ve got that covered, too. Let’s get to it!
Americano Coffee: An Overview
Remember how I said that Americano was modeled after drip coffee? Let me give you a short history of Americano.
During World War II, American soldiers in Italy were visiting coffee shops. And what did they get there? You guessed it – an espresso. Well, espresso wasn’t their cup of tea.
It was too bitter and robust since they are used to sipping drip coffee at home. Finally, they found a solution. They diluted the strong espresso with water and got something that resembled drip coffee – an Americano.
Little did they know that they invented a new espresso drink that would become popular and end up head to head on a coffee shop’s menu with some famous espresso-based beverages such as cappuccino and latte.
In its essence, Americano (also called Caffè Americano or American coffee) is an espresso drink with added water. Its richer flavor, higher caffeine content, and thicker consistency differentiate it from regular brewed coffee.
Intrigued? If you want to know more, we answer the question on your lips in our article: What is an Americano coffee? And also tell you how to make it at home.
Drip Coffee: An Overview
It looks like inventing your own coffee drink when you don’t like the traditional method was a bit of a trend. In the case of drip coffee, a housewife, Melitta Bentz, was irritated by the coffee grounds in her cup and cleaning up the pot after brewing. After a few trials and errors, she took a piece of blotting paper from her son’s school notebook and used it to filter the grounds.
It led to the patenting of the first paper coffee filters in 1908 and the famous Melitta pour-over coffee maker we still use.
Drip coffee, as we know it today, traveled a long road since this invention, but the brewing process is essentially the same. You place ground coffee in a filter in a drip coffee maker and pour over hot water. What you get is a cup of coffee without sediments and oils.
If you like these history bits, check out our article about who invented the coffee maker and learn how different brewers were created.
Americano vs Drip Coffee: The Comparison
Apart from their history, there is more to their difference than you would guess. So, to make sure you don’t make a mistake when ordering either of these two coffee drinks, I will give you a complete comparison of Americano and drip coffee.
What Makes Them Similar?
Not much, actually. You might confuse them because of their black color and the generous amount in the cup. Both are served in large cups, allowing you to sip them for hours.
Also, depending on the amount and type of beans used, they can have the same amount of caffeine. However, everything else about these coffees is quite different.
Since these drinks are made with two completely different coffee machines, these coffee brewing methods are nothing alike. Americano requires pulling a double shot of espresso on an espresso machine, which requires water passing through finely ground coffee beans with high pressure. Meanwhile, you make drip coffee with a coffee maker that uses a pour-over brewing method.
Other coffee makers, such as Chemex or Hario V60, also use this method for extracting coffee. It requires pouring hot water over medium coarse ground placed in a filter. The brewing is slower than with an espresso machine.
What defines the Americano taste is that it’s essentially an espresso-based drink. Although you dilute it with water, it still has that rich and bold flavor of espresso coffee. It’s usually stronger and more bitter than drip coffee, which tends to be slightly acidic.
However, the actual flavor notes depend on the type of coffee beans used for brewing, especially their roast level. And this one is up to a personal preference.
Although you can use any beans, true coffee lovers know the best coffee for each brewing method. Coffee connoisseurs usually make espresso with a dark roast that gives you that nutty and bitter flavor. The pour-over process allows more citrusy and floral notes to shine, so drip coffee is usually brewed with a medium or light roast.
If you still don’t know your way around these nuances of flavors, check out our article about different types of coffee beans.
Do you remember how espresso coffee gives you that rich and thick mouthfeel? Americano still preserves some of that, although it’s diluted with water.
Brewing with an espresso machine allows oils to pass and form a crema on top of the drink. Americano won’t have the same amount of crema as a regular shot of espresso, but it will have more than drip coffee, which has none. The filter in the pour-over method keeps sediments and oils out of your cup so no crema can form.
What you get is a thinner consistency compared to Americano.
You might think Americano has more caffeine than drip coffee since it’s made with two espresso shots containing about 125 mg of caffeine. However, that’s not necessarily the truth. The caffeine content of drip coffee can vary from 70 to 140 mg of caffeine.
It all depends on the amount and type of coffee you use for brewing.
Americano Is For…
…coffee lovers who prefer rich, thick, and slightly bitter brew. Especially those espresso lovers who want something weaker but can’t give up that boldness of espresso coffee. Also, there is something special in brewing with the espresso machine that makes you feel like a barista.
Drip Coffee Is For…
…early birds who like to fill their thermos with large amounts of coffee to fuel them through their day without being too strong. Plus, if you, like Melitta, don’t like to clean up after brewing, throwing out the paper filters with used coffee grounds is as easy as it can get.