What is an Americano and how is it prepared?

Americano is prepared with one part espresso and two parts hot water. In the traditional way of preparing it, an espresso (or double espresso) is extracted in a large cup to which two parts of hot water are added.

The Americano is well known worldwide, being one of the most requested coffee beverages in coffee shops. This coffee has a peculiar history and origin, which explains why it became such a popular beverage.

Why is this coffee known as Americano?

Its history dates back to the Second World War, over 80 years ago. At that time, the American soldiers who had recently arrived in Europe found a very intense and full-bodied coffee (the espresso).

The soldiers did not enjoy it because they considered it extremely strong compared to the filtered coffee drunk in the United States, which was lighter and weaker. In addition, they could drink more coffee at one time; from 120ml to 250ml, while in Europe, they drank espressos; from 25ml to 40ml.

The Americano was born at this moment in history, as soldiers asked Italian baristas to dilute hot water in the espressos they served to make them a little weaker. And so, little by little, this drink became “an Americano”, spreading rapidly from Europe to the world.

What is an Americano, and how is it prepared?

The Americano is a drink that can be made at home due to its easy preparation, but we must remember that the espresso we use must be extracted correctly and with high-quality coffee.

It can be served as an espresso (or double espresso) in a cup of 6 ounces to 8 ounces, to which hot water is added in a proportion of 2:1; this varies depending on the place and the person. As Americano has less body than espresso, it is perfect for people who do not like their coffee as strong.

Does the order in which the espresso and water are added matter?

When we talk about order when making an Americano coffee, we should know that it is important to consider which of the two ingredients is poured over the other. Although on some sites on the internet, you will read that the order of the factors does not alter the product, in reality, you will obtain different results.

If you add hot water to espresso, you will get an Americano; if you add espresso to hot water, you will get a Long Black. Next, I will explain the step-by-step to obtain the perfect Americano.

  • The first thing to do is get a cup between 4 and 5 ounces. Remember that we will add hot water to the espresso that we will prepare; that is why the cup is so big.
  • Afterward, prepare an espresso (or double espresso) in the cup. To do this, you need an espresso machine, either a traditional espresso machine or an alternative espresso machine, such as a capsule or superautomatic espresso machine.
  • Once the espresso has been poured into the cup, add hot water in a 2:1 ratio. If you have brewed 1 ounce of espresso, add 2 ounces ml of hot water; if you have brewed 2 ounces, add 4 ounces of hot water.
Americano coffee and its proportions between coffee and water
Americano coffee and its proportions between coffee and water

Note: This measure of water varies depending on your taste. If you are looking for a smooth finish, add more water, and if, on the contrary, you like a stronger coffee, use less amount of water.

After following these steps, the only thing left to do is to taste your coffee and enjoy it with a little sugar or without additives depending on your taste.

To get a good Americano, you need a good espresso

An Americano is an excellent option for those who prefer a milder coffee than an espresso. Still, to get a good Americano, we must make a good espresso prepared with high-quality coffee and extracted correctly.

It should be noted that it is important to use specialty coffee beans and grind them properly to get an espresso with a balanced flavor. The final flavor of our Americano will depend on our espresso, although it will be diluted.

Here I show you how to prepare the perfect espresso. In this way, our espresso will come out with that delicious crema on top that characterizes it, and it will be ready to become an Americano.

If the espresso is not prepared correctly, the flavor we are looking for in the Americano will not be the same; therefore, our results will not be as expected.

Is a Lungo the same as an Americano?

An Americano and a Lungo are both coffee-based drinks but with different preparations. The Americano is composed of an espresso (single or double) to which hot water is added. While the lungo is an espresso that is prepared with the same grams of ground coffee, more water than usual is added, in this case, twice as much.

The lungo has a stronger and slightly more bitter taste, while the Americano tastes like filter coffee.

  • The proportion used for espresso is 2:1, which means that for 20 grams of ground coffee, 40 grams of the beverage are extracted.
  • In lungo coffee, the proportion is 4:1, which means that for 20 grams of ground coffee, 80 grams of the beverage are extracted.

As you can see, the flavor of both can vary greatly depending on how they are prepared and the amount of water used in each one.

Does water also matter in an Americano?

Undoubtedly, water is important when making Americano. We should know that an Americano is twice as smooth as an espresso due to the amount of water used.

In addition to using quality coffee, we must use adequate water. But neither should we forget that this water should be filtered, with low sodium content, so that it does not ruin our Americano.

Let’s consider that water is not important. This could cause undesired aromas in our coffee and a more acidic flavor or lack of body, among other negative results. Of course, the water will depend on where we are, but the ideal would be to use water that has no color or flavor to obtain a better result.

Is it possible to prepare an Americano without an espresso machine?

Only espresso machines can prepare the perfect Americano if we are looking for a perfect flavor. As an alternative, since the base of the Americano is an espresso coffee, other coffee makers that prepare “espresso” can be useful:

  • Coffee pod machines
  • Superautomatic coffee machines

What if I do not have an espresso, pods or super-automatic coffee machine?

Some people consider the coffee extracted with a Moka pot as espresso since it has quite a lot of body compared with manual pour-over coffee makers. The Aeropress also prepares a more full-bodied coffee than other methods, so it could be used to replace the espresso machine.

Although if we return to the point where we affirm that a good Americano is prepared with an espresso machine, none of these options would be optimal since only the espresso machine can prepare a quality espresso.

Which has more caffeine, an Americano or an espresso?

Both coffees have the same amount of caffeine, but the amount of water and the technique we will use in each one varies.

We obtain different flavors and textures since an Americano has less body than an espresso, which makes it smoother and milder. However, as both coffees contain an espresso inside, both coffees have the same amount of caffeine.

Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

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