Espresso Vs. Americano: Which Drink Is For Me?

If you’re a hot coffee lover, you’ve likely tried both espresso and Americano beverages. But what’s the difference? Learn more in our espresso vs. Americano guide.

espresso vs. americano
If you like a bold flavor, you might struggle to pick between these two drinks

Sometimes, I like to drink coffee for the flavor, like a latte. Other times, I’m looking for a caffeine kick, which is why I like to reach for a shot of espresso. However, since espresso can be so intense, I’ll sometimes get an Americano.

If you like a bold flavor, you might struggle to pick between these two drinks. No matter which one you prefer, let’s dive deeper into the espresso vs. Americano debate and uncover the secrets of both types of coffee.

What Are Espresso And Americano Coffees?

An espresso is a concentrated form of coffee produced by using an espresso machine. This coffee drink is served in shots, with a single shot of espresso containing about two ounces of liquid.

The basic anatomy of an espresso shot includes the following:

  • The body: The dark bottom part of the beverage
  • The heart: The lighter-colored middle section
  • The crema: Crema is a froth that sits on espresso. It is created when the air bubbles mix with the coffee oils; it’s usually a sign of a quality brew

Espresso shots are often used as the basis of other brewed coffee drinks, including the Americano. An Americano is little more than a single shot of espresso mixed with hot water. Generally, the ratio is two ounces of espresso to eight ounces of water. 

During World War II, American soldiers would drink Americanos to help them stay awake – which is where the name came from. For those who love drinking espresso, an Americano is a poor substitution for a cup of coffee.

Even though it uses the same black coffee beans as its base, the diluted nature of the beverage can be a big turn-off for many espresso enthusiasts. That said, thanks to the larger drink size, it’s much easier to customize an Americano and add other ingredients, such as milk, sugar, creamer, and more. 

What Do Espresso And Americano Coffee Have In Common? 

The primary element that these coffees have in common is that they both use espresso beans. Basically, when making an Americano, you have to brew an espresso first and then add hot water. The amount of caffeine in both beverages should be identical unless you add an extra shot. 

Dark rich espresso coffee beans
These coffees have in common is that they both use espresso beans

Finally, the nutritional value and caloric content of both beverages are roughly the same since the Americano is only diluting the mixture with water. Overall, you can enjoy these coffees without feeling like they will add too much to your waistline. Otherwise, there isn’t much about these beverages that are similar or identical (besides being mostly Italian).

Americano Vs. Espresso: The Differences

8-20 oz. size 2-3 oz. size
64-150mg of caffeine per serving 64mg of caffeine per shot
Often brewed with a double espresso shot Comes in single-shot servings
Combines espresso & water Only one ingredient
Smoother tasteStronger taste
Easy to customize Used as a base or enjoyed as is

What’s Better About Espresso?

If you’re not a coffee lover, you may find shots of espresso to be too intense and bitter. Because all of the coffee and caffeine are concentrated into a single shot, this beverage is much harder to drink straight out of the mug.

However, there are some tangible benefits of using an espresso machine to make this kind of coffee:

  • Increased caffeine content: If you’re trying to wake up in the morning (or any time of day), a shot of espresso coffee is enough to have you feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. 
  • Robust flavor: While black coffee enthusiasts will enjoy the intensity of espresso, most casual coffee drinkers won’t. Drinking espresso takes time to become fulfilling, but the effort is almost always worth it.
  • Versatility: Since espressos come in shots, you can increase the amount you drink pretty easily without having to use multiple coffee machines. With a little more effort, you can brew a double shot of espresso and get a higher caffeine level. Just make sure you know what you’re doing before going overboard with espresso.

What’s Better About Americano?

As an espresso-based drink, an Americano comes with many of the same benefits. The main selling point is that it’s easier to stomach than espresso. However, here are a couple of other reasons to order a Caffé Americano:

  • Less intense coffee flavor: If you prefer a milder coffee experience, an Americano is much better than a traditional espresso, as the water dilutes the flavor. 
  • Easy customization: You can add milk, sugar, and flavorings to your Americano to fit your tastes. You can also turn an Americano into an iced coffee, giving it an even smoother flavor profile.

Who Should Buy Espresso (And Why)?

For the record, when we’re talking about buying espresso, we’re referring to a shot of this coffee by itself with no additives. So, even though other drinks like a mocha, macchiato, or cappuccino use espresso as a base, they’re unique. Overall, anyone who wants extra-strong coffee they can drink quickly should buy espresso.

That said, if you don’t have an espresso machine, you’ll have to invest in one if you want to brew this beverage at home. You might also be wondering, is Cuban coffee stronger than espresso

Who Should Buy Americano (And Why)?

americano coffee
Buy coffee Americano if you want more of a regular coffee

Those who want more of a “regular coffee” experience should buy an Americano. However, keep in mind that adding different ingredients like steamed milk or foam can turn an Americano into something else entirely.

Also, you can feel free to add more espresso shots to your beverage, so don’t assume you have to cut back on caffeine or calories to enjoy an Americano. If you liked this post, you might be interested in our espresso powder vs. instant coffee guide.

FAQs About Espresso Vs. Americano Coffee

Does Adding Milk To An Americano Turn It Into A Different Drink?

Technically, no. However, some may consider an Americano with milk to be identical to a latte, although that’s up for debate. If you’re something of a purist, you may decide to forgo any extras and just stick to the original recipe.

Can I Brew Espresso With A Drip Coffee Machine?

No, you can’t brew espresso with a drip coffee maker. Since this beverage requires high pressure and less water, putting espresso coffee grounds into a drip machine will yield far worse results. You have to invest in a decent espresso machine that uses high-pressure systems to extract the flavor and caffeine from the beans.

What Is A Red Eye? Is It Similar To An Americano?

A Red Eye is a cup of regular drip coffee with a shot of espresso added in. You can also order a “black eye,” which uses two espresso shots instead of one. This kind of beverage will wake you up in the morning, so make sure you plan accordingly if you order this coffee from a regular coffee shop.


  • Jonathan

    Jonathan is an avid coffee drinker, although he's known to knock back a few energy drinks too. He's been a writer for over seven years, which is why caffeine runs through his veins.