Americano – Everything You Need To Know

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Caffe Americano

Every single coffee drinker all across the world; even the biggest self-declared caffeine connoisseur out there has at one point or another, been intimidated by the piece of paper that calls the coffee menu its title. 

Through the years since its discovery, the world’s fascination for the little brown bean has only grown. With every remote, and not so remote corner adding in its own twist either in the order, or the ingredients that make that cup of coffee just a little bit extra special. The result is an avalanche of options available. 

One such option is the Americano. And we’re here to tell you everything there is to know about it!

What is Americano (Caffè Americano)

It would be fair to say whoever decided to christen this particular caffeinated drink, didn’t really stretch their imagination too far. While it did not originate there, the drink is more popular on the continent of North America than anywhere else in the world. 

So what exactly is an Americano or Caffè Americano?
If you’ve ever enjoyed the taste and punch that comes with an Espresso but get saddened by the fact that it’s over so quickly, the Americano is the answer you’ve been waiting for. It offers up a comfortable balance between flavour and quantity.
If you need to put into layman’s terms, an Americano is basically an Espresso with additional water.

History

In order to dive into the origin story of an Americano cup of coffee, we’re going to take a trip back in time. We’re going to travel a long way to the war torn trenches of Italy in the midst of world war two.

 

World War II Trenches
World War II Trenches

If watered down whispers are to be believed, it was during this time that the watered down drink we today call the Americano was born. Stories say American palates seemed unable to adapt to the strong Espressos that Italians turned to in order to satisfy their caffeine craving every day. American soldiers were more in tune with larger cups of drip coffee and were habituated to adding sugar and milk to their daily cup. With an aim to appease their allies, coffee shops offered Espresso shots in larger cups filling the empty space with water. And lo and behold the world was introduced to the Americano; a drink which today can be seen on the menu boards of most cafes and watering holes the world over.

How to Make Americano Coffee

As you might have already guessed, in order for you to be able to enjoy an exceptional cup of Ameircano. You’re going to first have to brew an exceptional Espresso.

What You’re Going to Need for an Espresso 

  • Coffee – It would probably go without saying but the first thing you’re goin to have to keep ready is a bag of your favourite coffee beans.Everyone has a favourite coffee brand. If they don’t, they probably simply haven’t found it yet.
    In order to truly get the most out of your Espresso and by following default, your Americano, you’re going to need to use Espresso coffee beans. While any other sort will still get the work done, Espresso beans will noticeably add in that extra zing you might be hunting for.
  • A grinder – If you’re bringing coffee beans home instead of coffee grinds, you’re going to need to get your hands on a grinder.
    If you haven’t got one and don’t know which to opt for, try to make a good quality burr grinder a permanent part of your kitchen. Once you start using a burr grinder you will see a uniformity in the quality and consistency every time your grind your coffee.
  • Scale – If precision is where your paradise lies, it’s smart to have a kitchen scale ready to measure out the exact amount of coffee beans you’re going to be using.
    An Americano usually tastes better with a double shot of Espresso; it is what most caffeine drinkers opt for. If it’s the way you choose to go, you’re going to need to measure out roughly between 14 and 18 grams of coffee beans.
  • An Espresso machine – The market today is flooded with coffee machines. There are automatic and semi-automatic ones. There are coffee machines strictly designed to get you the best Espresso out there. And then there are others that can whip up an Espresso and nine other types of caffeinated beverages with the press of the button.
    If you’d rather brew an Espresso by hand with a manual apparatus, that’s a fair option to work with. The fact that the end result is an Espresso, is all that really matters.
  • A coffee tamper – While there are a few Espresso machine’s that tamp the coffee for you, in case the one in your home needs a little human aid, it’s important to have an external tamper ready for the job.
  • Water – Another ingredient that could go without mentioning. However it is interesting to note that most coffee drinkers opt to use filtered water. Tap water can contain a few uninvited guests that can play a role in changing the taste of your coffee.
  • Vessel – Whatever method you’re using to brew, you’re going to need something to collect Espresso in. It can be a glass dish, a carafe or even a mug of some description.

How to make an Espresso

  1. Start measuring out and grinding your coffee beans
    If your particular grinder doesn’t have a specific Espresso setting, work it till the coffee beans feel finer than table salt in your hands.
  2. Next, check to see if the water reservoir has enough water for your brew. If not, be sure you fill it up with cold, filtered water.
  3. Place the ground coffee beans you’re going to be using in the portafilter.
  4. Once you’ve placed the coffee grinds in, make the tamper your friend. While tamping you’re going to have to Goldilocks the pressure you use to lock the grinds into place. The main reason you tamp is to make the water work hard to work its way through the coffee grinds. Pack them in too tight, or too loose and you can effectively change the taste of your drink. The best way to get it right would be to get it wrong a few times first. Figure out the force that works best for you and your taste-buds and go from there. Just be sure you’re applying even and consistent pressure everywhere.
  5. After this, place the portafilter into its slot on the machine and let the machine do its work. Depending on the type of machine you own, this step could simply involve pushing a button, or could require more human intervention.
  6. A visual testament to a perfectly brewed cup of Espresso is the unmistakable layer or Crema on the top. Nail this and you’re ready to compete in the caffeine olympics whenever these come into being.
  7. Once you’ve got your Espresso ready it’s time to treat yourself to the much awaited Americano. However before you begin, make sure you’ve properly cleaned out and whipped off all the necessary surfaces of your Espresso maker. 
Espresso Double Shot
Double shot of Espresso

What you’re going to need for an Americano

  • A double shot of Espresso – You can always go higher or lower depending on the level of intensity you prefer. It is preferable for the Espresso to be freshly brewed. 
  • Coffee cup – Your special favourite mug that makes the coffee taste a little bit better than ordinary.
  • Hot water – There has been a long standing discussion and debate over what should the exact temperature at which this water needs to stand be. You’re not going to want it either too hot or too cool as there are fears of it impacting the taste of the coffee. The general consensus locks the number between 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Make an Americano

A standard Americano only consists of two primary ingredients. The ratio of the two however can be experimented with and altered every time you create to suit your tastes. The safe fallback option is 1 part of Espresso for every 2 parts of water. That’s a general assumption but we can vary according to our needs between 30-50 ml of espresso into 60-100 ml of water.

There has been a lot of discourse over the order in which the water enters the cup. Does the water move over the Espresso in the cup? Or we add Espresso into the cup containing hot water?
The overall consensus is to add the Espresso into the cup that already contains hot water. The effect of this will ensure that the oh so beautiful Crema remains intact, and also results in a nuttier more grounded flavour profile.

Americano Step by Step

  1. Pour hot water in your mug

    Start by having your heated water ready in your mug.

  2. Put two shots of espresso into the mug

    Slowly and carefully pour in the two shots of Espresso into the water. The speed is not just important to measure for the taste of the drink, it is also a smart move in case of splash-back since both the ingredients will be relatively warm.

  3. Enjoy your Americano

    Sit back and enjoy your caffeinated drink.

Variants of your Americano

The coffee community like any group is split into splinter sects. There are those who cannot begin a day without a cup of coffee. There are those who cannot survive a day without a few more spaced every few hours. There’s those that can name the brand and origin of the coffee bean from a single sip, and there are others who cannot tell one cup of coffee from another if their life depended on it. Each sect has its own members and each member has their preferences; a ship that they will go down with.

Americano With milk

Americano with Milk
Americano with milk

There are those amongst the caffeinated community that have to look away whenever they spot someone adding any form of milk to their cup of coffee. There are also those for whom a little creamer equals comfort in a cup. 
If it is the style your palate prefers, don’t shy away creating one for yourself. 

How to make Americano with milk

Get your hands on a freshly brewed cup of Americano. This isn’t a mad or rocket scientist experiment. There aren’t any particular measurements that you need to weigh out. All quantities depend on preferred tastes.

Fill your favourite coffee cup up to the halfway point or more with the delicious Americano, and simply pour in the warm milk till it reaches the level you prefer. If you cannot digest a bitter cup of caffeine, scoop in some sugar afterwards. Stir well, sit back and enjoy.

Iced Americano

Iced Americano
Iced Americano

Coffee is a beverage that transcends seasonal limitations adapting its composition through the year.
In winter and when it rains, it is the perfect companion to snuggle with. A steaming cup of coffee is almost the mascot for comfort and warmth. On the other side of the scale, nothing cools you down and balances you on a blazing summer day quite like a chilled cup of coffee. Almost every variant of coffee has a hot and cold offering . An Americano is no exception.

The iced version of the Americano is usually constructed without the additions of milk and sugar. It is however not a rule that is pound on stone. If you think the added ingredients are necessary for you to enjoy your cup. Go right ahead.
Creating an iced Americano isn’t as simple as replacing the hot with cold. 
However, should you choose to do it that way there isn’t any rule against it. 

How to make Iced Americano

Experts in the trade however suggest if the iced version is what you’re aiming for, brew an extra shot of Espresso. This means if your usual steaming cup of Americano contains two shots of Espresso. An iced version of the drink would contain three. The reason is simple. Iced Americanos contain two cooling agents. The cold water and ice. The melting ice will play a role in further diluting the intensity of the Espresso. The extra shot of Espresso stops the taste from getting any bad hints.

  1. One of the ways to create the drink is to begin by filling a glass to the top with ice cubes.
  2. If the bitter taste of an Espresso is not for you, pour a sweetener over the ice.
  3. Follow that up with the shots of Espresso.
  4. Lastly fill the remaining space in the glass with some cold water and voila.
  5. Sit back, sip and enjoy your iced up of Americano in the sun.

FAQs

  1. What is the difference between an Americano and a Latte?

    Do not confuse an Americano that contains milk with a Latte. A key element of an Americano is the water that dilutes the intensity of the Espresso. A Latte on the other hand uses milk and foam to accomplish the task. The key differences lie in the proportion of ingredients. An Americano with milk doesn't contain any foam and offers you the freedom to decide the quantity of milk and water to add into each cup.

  2. Is the Americano just a black coffee?

    Well, not at all. An Americano is espresso that is carefully diluted with hot water to reduce the stronger taste.

  3. Is there milk in an Americano?

    Traditionally, an Americano is actually the 'no-milk' coffee alternative. It is prepared by adding hot water into espresso shots. When milk is added, it qualifies as a latte. However, there is freewill. If you like to experiment with your Americano, go on and add milk. Try the taste. Don't let the coffee snobs command you.

  4. What is the difference between an Americano and a Long Black?

    Another caffeinated beverage eerily close to the Americano, is the long black. Most commonly available in cafe's across the continent of Australia and New Zealand, do not confuse one with the other. The difference is the order in which the drink is created. While an Americano has you pouring water over the Espresso, a long black demands you add Espresso shots into hot water. While it might sound insignificant to a few. Try it and you will taste a difference.

  5. Why is it called an Americano?

    Digging into the Italian lingo, “Caffè Americano” means “American Coffee“. The unconfirmed folklore states that origins date back to World War II. Apparently, the American G.I.s in Italy diluted their espresso with hot water to adjust their coffee to the kind they were used to drinking.

At the End of the Day

There are as many types of coffee drinkers out there as there are types of coffee. In fact there are probably more. Everyday everywhere there are people who probably choose to add their own special element to their daily caffeinated cup.

If there is one thing the story of the Americano has taught us, it’s that there is no right or wrong when it comes to coffee. Your drink is often an expression of who you are and how you’re feeling at the time. Whether by choice or chance, your cup of coffee is probably not going to be the same every single day. Don’t be shy to play around with it and experiment. You never know. You might end up as the inventor of the next big thing to take the coffee community by storm.