Coffee shops use different names to describe the various products they sell. Today, we shall dive deeper and find out what Americano means. If you are American, probably you have an idea what Americano means. If not, worry not because this post has everything you need to know about Americano.
What Is an Americano?
In simple words, an americano is a shot of espresso topped with hot water. If you have ever tried Starbcukcs Americano, without a doubt, you know it comes iced or hot.
History of Americano
According to the New York Times, American soldiers while stationed in Italy during WWII encountered espresso; a drink loved by Italians. To them (American soldiers), espresso was unfamiliar, and they decided to water it down to have concoction similar to coffee they enjoyed at home. That is the short story that explains why Americano came from.
Note: that Italians call any diluted espresso dirty water.
Does an Americano Have Crema?
Yes, a true americano will have a layer of crema. Now going back to the process of brewing espresso, when brewed, the hot water first forces the aromatic oils out of the beans. These oils come out of the espresso machine before the dark coffee in the form of light brown creamy substance, which rises to the top. And since Americano is simply an espresso, this means your drink will have a layer of crema.
Note: The presence of crema for a long time has been seen as mark of great brew.
How to Make an Americano?
- Pull a shot of espresso
- Fill a cup with hot water
- Pour espresso into hot water
Beginning an Americano
Begin by filling the mug or cup with steaming water (about 200 degrees works well). Use about three ounces of water per shot of espresso, and be sure to leave a few inches of room for the shots and any desired cream or sweetener.
Next, pull shots of espresso. As soon as you pull each shot, add it to the cup of water to save the shot from losing its flavor. Below you’ll find the steps to pulling the perfect shot of espresso.
Pulling the perfect shot of espresso isn’t as easy as the baristas at the local coffee shop make it look. Many factors determine how a shot will pull: the temperature and humidity level, how fresh the coffee beans are, the fineness or coarseness of the grind, how hard or soft the tamping is, and the seal made with the espresso machine.
The fresher the espresso beans are, the more flavor they’ll have and the better they’ll yield to great espresso shots. Always grind the beans just before pulling a shot if possible: this will lead to the best crema.
Preparing to Pull a Shot
Heat the portafilter handle before pulling the first shot by pulling a blank shot (a shot without the espresso). Next, grind the espresso beans and dose espresso into the portafilter, slightly overfilling it.
Loosen the grounds by hitting the portafilter from the side a few times. After the grounds settle into the portafilter, add more grounds if necessary to fill the basket. Once the basket is filled, hit the portafilter on each side a couple more times to settle the grounds again.
On a level surface rest the bottom of the portafilter and tamp lightly down on the grounds. Tap the sides of the basket once more to loosen any stuck grounds, and tamp again, this time harder with a quarter of a turn clockwise to seal the espresso grinds.
Now the espresso should be tightly compacted and level. Remove any stray espresso from the rim of the portafilter by rubbing a finger around the rim to ensure a watertight seal forms against the machine.
Pulling a Shot of Espresso
Now it’s time to pull a shot of espresso (or two shots, depending on the machine). Lock the portafilter into the machine, ensuring a tight seal to prevent water from leaking out of the highly pressured machine.
Press the button on the machine designated for pulling the shot(s), and either wait or time the shot if the machine does not have a built-in timer. The perfect shot is between 18 and 23 seconds. The mark of a great shot is a golden-colored froth that separates on top of the shot — the crema.
Pulling a shot any longer or shorter will result in flavorless shots (too short) or highly bitter shots (too long). The shorter side of the acceptable shot range will result in a sweeter, less intense shot.
Modifying Shot Length
If a shot pulls too quickly, use finer grinds and/or tamp harder. If a shot pulls too long, use coarser grinds and/or tamp lighter. Remember that many things affect the machine’s pressure including temperature, humidity, and usage, so pulling shots can vary from day to day or hour to hour.
Pulling shots is as much a science as it is an art. Making espresso can be frustrating at first, but through practice and experimentation of different techniques, you too can pull great shots of espresso for an americano.
After pulling the desired number of shots for the americano and pouring each into the cup or mug, give the americano a quick stir, add sweetener and/or creamer to taste, and enjoy.
Isn’t Drip Coffee the Same Thing?
While some people tend to think that drip coffee is the same as espresso (Americano), that is not true. You need a few minutes to prepare espresso compared to the time you need to prepare drip coffee. Below, is what you have to do to make a cup of drip.
Pour water just off boiling water over grounds and let the gravity do the work. This process allows some of the grounds to dissolve and pass through the filter along with those flavor particles. The process takes more time, but the resulting drink has a more subtle coffee flavor than an Americano.
Americano vs Other Black Coffees
Americano vs Drip
The obvious difference we have so far discussed is that Americano is brewed from a shot of espresso while drip coffee is through filtration. That is not all; below is a table with more differences.
|Flavour||Intense, deep coffee notes. Nutty, earthy flavors – floral and lighter notes are destroyed by the high temperature.||Subtle, lighter flavor. Sweeter, more floral and delicate flavors are allowed to develop with time.|
|Grind||Fine grind for espresso||Medium-coarse|
|Crema||Crema is available is the espresso is not broken||No crema.|
|Caffeine||0 mg per espresso (average). It’s common to use 2 shots per 12 oz serving, so 80 mg per cup on average..||Average of 10 mg per ounce of coffee. 120 mg per average 12 oz serving.|
Americano vs Long Black
Honestly, there is no difference between Americano and long black. The only thing that makes them unique and triggers some people to think of them as different drinks is how they are made.
As mentioned above, you make an americano when you pour water over the espresso shot. Now, when it comes to making long black, you pour the espresso shot over the hot water. This slight difference is what makes the two drinks differ among some coffee aficionados.
Americano vs Espresso vs Latte
The difference between a latte and Americano is clear. While both are prepared from a shot of espresso, the shot of espresso used to make a latte is topped with a creamy foamed milk.
Can You Add Milk to An Americano?
Yes, it is ok to add milk to your Americano. You can add milk (not limited to the amount to add) if you find your drink bitter. Adding milk and sugar help tone down that bitterness. Note the milk in Americano is not frothed like in a cappuccino or foamed like in a latte.
How Much Water Is in An Americano?
There is no rule on the amount of water to add. You have the freedom to add water depending on the strength and texture you prefer. But usually, the ideal espresso to water ratio is 1:2 or about 30-50ml.
Is Americano Stronger Than Drip Coffee?
Most people will tell you drip coffee is stronger than Americano. In fact, 12-oz drip coffee contains 115-175mg while 12-oz americano contains about 40-80mg.