What Is an Americano Coffee? 4 Valuable Facts

This article tells you what is an americano coffee, why it’s such a popular coffee drink, and how it got its distinctive name. Read below to find out more…

What is an americano coffee
An americano is a coffee made by pouring hot water over a shot of espresso in a cup

The Americano is more than just a cup of plain black coffee. It’s an ode to simplicity, where recipes don’t have to be complicated to be absolutely delicious.

In its simplest form, an americano is a coffee made by pouring hot water over a shot of espresso in a cup. Also known as the caffè americano, the coffee ratio is usually about 1/3 espresso to 2/3 water.

You can use a strong espresso or a double shot for the extra boost. It’s still an Americano as long you keep a similar ratio of brewed coffee to water. In fact, one of the most wonderful facts about this drink is its flexibility… but we’ll discuss that more later in the article. If you’re unsure, we compare the espresso to an Americano.

Is An Americano A Healthy Option?

This black coffee never gets the same love as the other espresso-based drinks. According to the National Coffee Association, only 13% of coffee drinkers prefer the Americano, with the milkier cappuccino and latte leading the way in the popularity stakes.

That is despite it being a much healthier cup of coffee than those options. In fact, Americanos are one of the healthiest coffee beverages out there as they only consist of an espresso shot and water – unless you add sugar, milk, or creamer. And the iced coffee version (the iced americano) is just as healthy, as it’s the same drink, except it is poured over ice.

You should be wary of the number of shots you add per serving and your caffeine tolerance. Your body can take up to 400 mg of caffeine per day. That is six to seven cups of americano with one espresso shot each.

Overdoing it with caffeine is unlikely to be fatal, but the effects are far from pleasant. However, this is true when applied to any type of coffee, not just espresso-based drinks. If you want to try an americano without worrying about caffeine content, then use decaf beans which have only a small amount of caffeine in them. You might also be wondering, what is Yuban coffee?

Americano vs. Long Black vs. Lungo

In terms of coffee drinks, the long black is a close relative, as it is made with the same ingredients (either a shot or double shot of espresso). However, what differs between the two is the long black is where an espresso is added to water, but an americano is where the water is added to the espresso within the cup. Both drinks are made with about 2/3 water, and 1/3 espresso.

Truth be told, most experts would struggle to tell the differences between the two in a blind taste test.

Another Italian espresso drink you can order from a barista that is made similarly to the americano is the lungo. Instead of adding water to an espresso, the lungo is made the same way as a shot of espresso with the espresso machine, the only difference being you use twice the amount of water.

How To Make An Americano At Home

When it comes to accessibility, it’s hard to beat Americanos as they are one of the easiest espresso drinks to make. All you need is your ground beans, your espresso machine, and hot water.

1. Measure enough beans for a double shot (14 to 18 g of espresso beans)

2. Tamp them and place the portafilter into the espresso machine

3. Make the espresso

4. Heat water (you can also do this before you begin making the espresso shot) to between 160 and 170 degrees F

5. Mix the water and espresso using a 1: 3 ratio (for every ounce of espresso you need 3 ounces of hot water)

That’s it. If you are starting with whole beans, you’ll need to grind them very finely, as you would for espresso. This is ideal because you’ll get the freshest drink possible with freshly ground beans.

Making An Americano Without An Espresso Machine

Brewing americano with moka pot
Moka Pot are great alternatives for making an espresso shot

If you don’t have an espresso machine, then worry not, because you can still make a drink very similar to the americano. It won’t be the traditional, purist coffee makers’ version of the café americano. However, there’ll be very little difference in the taste, and at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.

The Aeropress and Moka Pot are great alternatives for making an espresso shot. A disadvantage to this is that you won’t be able to extract the full flavor of the espresso and thus will lose some of its trademark rich taste.

If you have a Keurig or Nespresso machine, there are K-cups and pods you can use to make your Americano base. I would recommend Illy’s Forte Extra Dark Roast for the K-cup, while for the pods, you should opt for the Arpeggio.

5 Clever Reasons Why Americano Coffee Is Underrated

For lovers of this espresso coffee drink, there is a feeling that it doesn’t get the praise it deserves. The Americano is one of the most low-maintenance types of coffee out there. Yet, as previously stated, it lags behind in terms of popularity.

Here are five reasons you should consider it next time you’re ordering a coffee in your local coffee shop.

1. It Is The Most Balanced Black Coffee

One drawback of drip black coffee is its unpredictable taste; it can taste too bland or too bitter. Granted, it can also happen when brewing espresso, but you are still pretty much guaranteed to get an intense and balanced flavor. The americano also emits a much more delightful aroma than the regular pour-over, French press, or drip coffee.

Americano is a mixture of water and espresso shot, so the strong flavor of the latter is diluted but not compromised, giving you that ideal cup of joe that you can sip comfortably without wincing at the espresso’s bitterness. 

2. It Has The Same Bold And Robust Flavor With Less Caffeine

You would think that because Americanos are made with an espresso shot, they have more caffeine, but that is simply not the case. A serving of americano usually contains around 65 to 120 milligrams of caffeine compared to the usual black coffee, which has around 90 to 200 milligrams. 

The water essentially dilutes the espresso shot. Even so, because the espresso’s concentrated, the americano will give you a more palatable flavor even when diluted. There is also room for adjustment; you can add extra espresso shots if you love a bold flavor or need a strong pick-me-up.

Of course, a quality coffee bean will make or break your americano. But you can use an arabica or robusta for your ground coffee depending on your taste. You can check out our list of tips for picking the best coffee for your espresso.

3. It Is Widely Available

I have never encountered a coffee shop, big or small, that doesn’t offer an Americano. I have seen some that don’t serve flat white or other common espresso-based drinks, but an Americano is always on the menu.

Not to mention, it’s usually cheaper than lattes, mochas, cappuccinos, and the other milky drinks on the menu. 

If you have an espresso machine, it won’t take much effort to brew an Americano, Simply slide in your coffee beans, bring out the freshly brewed espresso shot, mix it with water, and serve it hot or iced.

You can read our guide on how to make a mean Americano at home.

4. It Has Many Variations You Can Enjoy

A classic Americano can be served hot or iced, but you can also add a myriad of things to the beverage without losing that distinct robust flavor. A trending variation that has captured the hearts of Gen-Z is the White Americano. It is created by adding a small amount of milk.

It can either be cold, foamed, frothed, or steamed milk.

Ice Americano and behande milk with coffee beans
A classic Americano can be served hot or iced

Another interesting take on this black coffee is the Americano Con Crema, a drink conceptualized by Starbucks a few years ago that has now been discontinued. Using the americano as a base, brewers incorporate orange syrup and foamed milk into the drink, giving the americano a well-balanced citrus tang and creamier texture. 

My favorite version is the easiest one, a Hazelnut Americano. Just add a shot of hazelnut syrup and mix thoroughly. This is best served cold and blends well with milk if you want it creamier.

It’s probably not how the purists think it should be drunk, but worry not – rules are there to be broken!

5. It Has An Interesting Origin

Coffee has seen its fair share of wars and is a must-have drink for soldiers. So it isn’t surprising that the Americans emerged during World War II. Though the story is hard to corroborate, it was said that American soldiers stationed in Italy disliked the usual espresso shot as they preferred the flavor of drip coffee they regularly drank back home.

These soldiers started diluting the espresso with hot water to combat this bold flavor. The locals started referring to the drink as an Americano, and the rest is history. Thus, that’s why many believe this drink to be the quintessential American coffee.


  • Cian Murray

    Cian Murray is an experienced writer and editor, who graduated from Cardiff University’s esteemed School of Journalism, Media and Culture. His work has been featured in both local and national media, and he has also produced content for multinational brands and agencies. Find Cian on muckrack.com.