The standard Americano is perhaps the backbone of many coffee lovers. It is a straightforward and reliable cup of coffee in the morning that won’t do you wrong.
This is why it’s no surprise that this coffee is a crowd favorite. However, your standard cup of black joe may or may not be an Americano coffee.
So how do you determine what is a classic Americano from the rest of the mixtures of coffee, milk, and water? Read on to find out.
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What is Americano?
Caffe Americano, also known as the Americano, is one of the staple coffee types in the world. The simplest form of Americano coffee is a shot of espresso that is diluted with water.
Unlike other coffee types that require different machines or equipment to traditionally make, the Americano coffee is perhaps the perfect type of coffee to homebrew. All you need is your desired number of espresso shots and hot water to dilute it into your perfect cup.
The simplicity of this coffee comes from its long history of practicality. Despite the easy way of making it, the coffee still packs a punch of needed caffeine without having to deal with the extreme bitterness of the pure espresso.
The History of Caffe Americano
The term “Caffe Americano” is Italian for Americano coffee, while “Americano” was derived from the American Spanish dialect. This type of coffee first emerged during World War II, then later titled by the term “Americano” in the 1970s.
The most commonly accepted origin of the Americano coffee dates back to World War II, where deployed United States soldiers serving in the war in Italy weren’t able to become accustomed to the coffee traditions of the foreign country.
Back then, the Italians were big on their espresso shots which is their quick caffeine fix. On the other hand, the traditional cup of joe for Americans back then is prepared through the method of drip coffee.
Since the US soldiers can’t really take the time every morning to prepare their coffee through the drip method, they found a way to nearly replicate the taste of drip coffee back home. Thus, the birth of the Americano.
The US soldiers would carry a thermos of pure espresso and just simply dilute it with water whenever they want to drink coffee. It’s also convenient for them to prepare their coffee Caffe Americano style since they could just share a small quantity of espresso among them, and it would already go a long way.
The Grand Debate About Americano
For such a simple preparation of the Caffe Americano, you would think that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. After all, it only takes a shot of espresso and some water to make it.
While other coffee types have their own coffee bean preferences, or whether to add milk or sugar or both — for coffee enthusiasts, the controversial debate is centered on how you can make this beloved drink. It’s a true carbon copy to the chicken and egg argument or the cereal-to-milk debate.
So the big question is: Do you pour the water into the espresso or the other way around?
One might think that this might seem arbitrary to your coffee experience but the order in which you make your Americano actually affects the coffee itself. Because for this debate, it’s all about the crema.
Since the Americano is essentially diluted espresso, a lot of coffee enthusiasts really take special notice of the espresso —and that includes the crema. The crema refers to that thin layer of foam that naturally occurs on the top layer of the espresso shot.
It’s a result of the natural process by which the oils from the coffee bean reacts with carbon dioxide; thus, forming a thin layer on top of your espresso shot. If you pour water into the espresso shot, the water actually disrupts that layer. This allows all the oil and foam to be evenly distributed throughout your drink.
But if you pour the espresso into the water, that crema film won’t be properly distributed in your drink and will just stay in place.
In this debate, the general public usually favors the water-to-espresso method of making Caffe Americano. The reason behind this is that when the crema is properly mixed, it creates a mellow flavor and body —which is more synonymous with the drip coffee that the US soldiers were originally trying to duplicate.
For those who favor the espresso-to-water method, they are usually more concerned about the flavor of the shot coming through. The rationale behind this is when you drink the Americano made using this method, you’re going to get that hit of crema first which allows you to experience the maximum amount of flavor that you can get with the coffee.
So which side do you think you’re on?
How to Make the Americano Coffee
Making the Americano coffee is pretty straightforward. But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of this coffee to make sure that you have an excellent cup waiting for you in the morning.
Let’s start first with your espresso shot:
20-22 grams of coffee beans
Coffee machine or any of the alternatives:
Start off by grinding your fresh coffee beans depending on the method you’re going to use. If you have a coffee machine at home, you want fine, even grounds to completely extract all the flavors from your beans. But if you’re using any of the alternatives above, adjust your grinder settings appropriately. Skip this step if you’re using pre-ground beans.
Once your coffee beans are ready, place them in your coffee machine or brew them with your choice of method.
For French Press: Add your coffee grounds to a pre-warmed French Press and let it bloom for a couple of minutes. Then add the remaining water and slowly stir.
Let the coffee steep in for as long as you like. Finally, press the plunger and serve.
For Moka Pot: Boil water in the bottom chamber of the Moka Pot then add your coffee grounds to the filter basket. Screw the pot together and place it on a medium-heat stove.
The pressure will gradually push the coffee as the water boils. Once you hear the final puffing sound from the pot, espresso is now ready.
For AeroPress: Prepare your AeroPress first by preheating the brewer and placing a filter in the lower basket. Place your coffee grounds and another filter on top of it. Wet it with a little bit of water then press the plunger.
Once your coffee grounds form similar to a puck, add hot water and press the plunger again. Repress until you’ve extracted all the coffee from the puck then serve.
Pre-heat your mug by running boiling water inside. This will help stabilize the temperature of your drink and won’t “shock” your coffee with the sudden change of temperature.
Boil your water or simply heat it in a microwave.
With your pre-heated empty mug, pour your desired number of espresso shots. The more espresso you put in, the stronger your coffee will be.
Grab your heated water and pour it into the espresso. Fill up your mug or experiment with your espresso-to-water ratio.
As an alternative, you can also try to pour your espresso shot into the water. Try which one suits your palate and enjoy your Caffe Americano.
Tips in Making Americano Coffee the Traditional Way
1. The best way to ensure that you have a perfect cup of Americano ready for you in the morning is to take note of the espresso-to-water ratio.
The standard ratio, and the most acceptable for coffee shops, is 1:1. So for every shot of espresso, you would also put the same amount of water.
2. Another important factor is your mug size. While this might seem obvious, a lot of people depends on their mug to measure the ratio without referring to the same scale of unit.
For example, you might use two shots of espresso and fill your cup with water to the brim. The next day, you’ll do the same thing but with a different mug. These inconsistencies definitely affect your brew.
3. Use at least two or three shots of espresso for a standard cup of Americano. The amount of espresso you’ll use will depend on the amount of coffee you want to drink.
So if you like a standard serving of coffee, you’d need at least two or three espresso shots. A single shot won’t make much and if you stretch it with water, it won’t give your coffee enough strength or flavor.
Don’t like drinking hot coffee? Turn it into iced Americano! Follow the same brewing method but lessen the amount of water just a little bit and replace it with ice.
What’s the Difference Between Caffe Americano and Black Coffee?
If it’s black and doesn’t have any cream or sugar in it, then it must be Americano, right?
Well, not necessarily. One common mistake for coffee lovers is having to distinguish the Caffe Americano versus the standard black coffee. After all, both of them can practically look and even taste the same way.
The main differences between Caffe Americano and the standard black coffees are the coffee beans and the brewing method. For Caffe Americano, it’s made by diluting espresso shots.
On the other hand, black coffee (also known as house-brewed coffee) is prepared by using the drip method and simply uses the regular coffee bean.
As for the caffeine content, a standard Americano starts at 60mg of caffeine, while black coffee contains 120mg of caffeine.
Of course, it’s easier to add more espresso shots with Americano if you need an extra kick of caffeine which can surpass the standard caffeine content of black coffee.
Now that you know how easy to make hot or iced Americano at home, make your mornings brighter by brewing your own coffee! Unlike other fancy coffee drinks, this essentially takes a couple of minutes and you’ll have your caffeine fix right away.