Americano Vs Coffee: Compared For Making & Drinking

Coffee has a long history dating back to 850AD. The concept has remained essentially the same all that time, but there’s now an incredible variety of coffees to choose from. The only challenge now is telling them apart. 

Americano and brewed coffee are two of the most popular choices. This guide will explain the key difference between an americano and regular coffee so all true coffee lovers can choose the best drink for them. 

1. Taste

The taste of your black coffee drink is impacted by the coffee beans used, and the brewing technique. This is the reason two black coffee drinks can have completely different flavor profiles.

An americano has a rich, full-bodied, and slightly bitter taste. A regular black coffee is more bitter, and has less depth of flavor.

So why does an americano taste better for coffee lovers? The difference between an americano and brewed coffee comes down to the beans and coffee grounds used

Americanos are made with espresso shots which are in turn made from espresso beans. These are robust and more flavorsome than the ground coffee used for standard black coffee. 

2. Caffeine Levels

The amount of caffeine in americano and brewed coffee drinks is again impacted by the caffeine content of the coffee beans used. However, despite the noticeable difference in taste, the caffeine levels are almost identical for Americanos and drip coffees.

Both a regular americano and a black coffee will have 80-100mg of caffeine in a serving. Americanos can have more caffeine, but only if specific coffee beans are used in the shot of espresso.

This caffeine level is fairly average for a cup of coffee. A latte has more caffeine (around 130mg), and a cold brew has much more caffeine (around 250mg), so you need to watch your caffeine intake more carefully with these coffees. 

If you just have an americano or drip coffee at home you should exceed your recommended caffeine intake because the main difference here is flavor, not strength.    

3. Cost

Everyone knows the cost of buying from your favorite drink from a coffee shop every day can add up, but even if you're making them at home there can be big differences in price.

Brewed coffee is almost always cheaper than americano because it can be made using simple brewing technique. To make your own americano you need an espresso machine for the single shot of espresso, and the coffee recipe is slightly more complicated. 

If you want a simple cup of brewed coffee and don't own an espresso maker then a regular coffee is the cheaper option. If you're in a coffee shop either of these drinks are cheaper than most other coffees.

4. Brewed & Iced Coffee Options

Good coffee is available year round and there are lots of different options with both brewed coffee and americano coffee. 

Regular brewed coffee is typically served with milk and sugar. You can go about making regular coffee in a variety of ways (though the pour over method using a drip brewer is most common).

Americano coffee is also typically served with milk and sugar. They work well with hot milk as well to make the drink richer, but people are more like to drink an americano as a black coffee.

Both americano and regular brewed coffee can be served as iced coffees too. The shots of espresso, brewed black coffee, is just made using a colder water temperature and poured over ice, giving you a refreshing option on a cold day. Sweet syrups are sometimes added too to give more flavor.

Americanos and brewed coffee are both vegan as standard, and if you use dairy free milk (like oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk) it's the perfect vegan coffee drink.

Americano Vs Coffee: Compared For Making & Drinking

5. Popularity

When gauging the popularity of a drink, we need to consider the number of people who order when out and the overall number of people who drink at home.

The Americano is ordered more often in cafes and is a lot more popular than regular black coffee in coffee shops. This is partly because regular brewed coffee is seen as a more functional drink and you're less likely to order something you can make at home. 

However, regular brewed coffee is consumed a lot more at home because people are less likely to have an espresso machine to make the shot of espresso for an americano. Plus there's a much shorter brew time and you can make the perfect cup instantly. 

It all comes down to personal preference, but overall regular brewed coffee is more widely consumed. However, if you gave people a choice between americano and brewed coffee then they're more likely to choose an americano. 

What Exactly Is Brewed Drip Coffee?

Considering how much coffee we all drink, we often know very little about it. What's most confusing when it comes to americano vs coffee recipes is that they're actually both brewed coffee - an americano just always has an espresso base.

Regardless of coffee recipes, all coffee originates from coffee plants. The cherries from the plant are harvested, and the coffee bean inside are cooked to a specific roast level and then used to make a cup of brewed coffee. 

Some of the most popular coffee beans come from South America, but they are grown worldwide.  

coffee bean fruit

Making coffee became very popular in the Middle East in the 15th Century, and from there it spread into Europe and further afield.

In the early 1900s, mechanical developments led to the creation of coffee machines which changed the game by allowing people to produce different varieties of coffee in their own homes.

Four Types Of Brewed Coffee

Most coffee recipes start with an espresso base, and baristas have a machine that passes hot water through the ground coffee to create it. Then hot water (for an Americano), steamed milk (for lattes and cappuccinos), and sometimes frothed milk are added on top. Most people add milk, cream, or sugar into their coffee, but that all depends on individual preference. 

Historically, the difference with americano vs coffee was that you couldn't make an espresso at home. New espresso machines, and access to a selection of coffee bean options, now allow homebrewers to get an excellent cup of coffee in the comfort of their own home - but many people still rely on classic methods.

Filter Coffee

Drip coffee or filter coffee tend to be the most common option. Filter coffee is where hot water is passed over grounds, through a filter, and into your cup. You can then add milk, sugar, or whatever else you fancy.  

French Press Coffee

French press coffee uses an immersion technique rather than infusion, which means that you need to use thicker coffee grounds to get the right flavor. It also means you get higher caffeine levels compared to using a drip brewer.  

You let the water sit with the grounds for 3-4 minutes and then push the plunger down to complete the process. French press coffee should give a stronger and more bitter taste.  

plunge brew coffee

Drip Coffee

Drip coffee may have featured in a coffee blog you've seen because this fancy drip brewing is increasingly popular. Drip coffee is basically the same as filter coffee, and it's made by drip brewing.

This process tends to be slower than standard filter coffee process, as water is slowly drawn through coffee grounds by gravity. It takes roughly 5 minutes to make a cup of coffee.

Drip coffee and the drip method leaves the water in contact with the coffee bean grounds for longer. This gives drip coffee a stronger flavor, but also a smoother texture. The best thing about drip coffee is that it's super simple, so anyone can make it at home.

The quality of your drip coffee depends on the type of bean used, and the exact drip method - but it's considered one of the best methods for brewing regular coffee.

Pour Over Coffee

The pour over method is often used to make a cup of brewed coffee at home or on the go. The process is basically identical to filter and drip coffee, but it's often made in a single cup so you can brew coffee wherever you need to.

Americano Overview + How They Are Made

Americano is an Italian word that is shortened from 'Caffe Americano,' meaning American coffee. They look pretty similar to drip coffees, but there is a different brewing process which gives them a stronger and more bitter taste than those brews.  

An Americano is made from espresso and hot water. Generally, a machine is used which pours high pressure hot water through fine coffee grounds.  

There's roughly 60ml of espresso with 90ml of hot water poured on top to create the drink, but you can add more hot water if you prefer. Most customers choose to add milk or hot milk to the Americano to make it a bit richer and you can also add sugar to sweeten it.  

espresso shot for americano

Americanos became mainstream in the 1970s when they suddenly became the drink of choice in cafes. However, the origins of the Americano allegedly date back to the 1940s when American soldiers stationed in Italy during World War II needed a different type of coffee. 

They apparently couldn’t handle the strong, bitter taste of the Italian espresso and needed to soften it. Hot water was poured into the espresso to help make it more palatable, and thus, the Americano was born. Following the end of the second world war the americano came back to the U.S and quickly began to challenge traditional drip coffee.  

Americanos are a simple, but strong coffee perfect for people who enjoy drip coffee but want a bit more of a kick. You can choose between one or two shots of espresso if you want it stronger, and Americanos also make a great cold brew in the summer.  

Americano Vs Lungo: Is There Any Difference? 

Lungo is the Italian word for long, and this type of coffee is slightly different from an Americano. Both drinks are made with an espresso base, but the key difference between an americano vs lungo is that the lungo is larger and takes longer to make.  

When making espresso, about 30ml of water is poured through beans to make the coffee. About 60ml of water is poured through a lungo, making it about the size of two shots of espresso.

The different ratios in an americano vs lungo makes the lungo less harsh than an espresso, but a lot smokier than an Americano. This makes the lungo closer to a brewed coffee than an americano, and while the flavor can take some getting used to, it’s a great one for coffee enthusiasts to try.  

The other similar drink is the long black. A long black has slightly less water than a lungo, but still more than an americano. The key difference with a long black is that the espresso it added after the hot water, giving it a very different taste.

lungo coffee

A Baristas Tips For Making The Perfect Americano

The good news for all Americano lovers is that you can make them at home without much hassle. You’ll need: 

  • Espresso machine 
  • Coffee grounds 
  • Tamper 
  • Coffee grinder with a find grind setting (with your choice of coffee bean instead of grounds) 
  • A mug

You’ll then need to follow these steps: 

  • 1
    Turn on the espresso machine.  
    The machine can sometimes take a few minutes to heat up, so it’s worth getting it switched on first.  
  • 2
    Grind the beans
    If you’re using whole beans, use the grinder to create grounds. You want these to be as fine as possible, and ideally you should use an espresso coffee bean. You’ll need about 8-10g of coffee grounds for a single shot of espresso, and generally 2 shots per cup of coffee.  
  • 3
    Tamp the grounds 
    Pour the grounds into the portafilter and tamp down, so it’s all even. This should leave you with a cylindrical disc of coffee grounds in the filter.  
  • 4
    Make the espresso shots
    Put the portafilter into the machine and switch it on. Water will flow through the portafilter and into your mug. The end result will be your espresso. If you want a higher caffeine content then go for two espresso shots instead of one. 
  • 5
    Pour in the hot water 
    Add hot water from your kettle and into the mug to create the Americano. You’ll ideally pour in about 60ml of water, but you don’t need to be exact. Just be sure to use a larger cup if you use more water. 
  • 6
    Add the finishing touches and serve 
    Add in any water, sugar, or other flavors you want to add. Traditionally, you’d serve an Americano straight up, but cinnamon or honey can really add to the taste. Once you’re happy with it, then serve and drink while it's hot. Remember, the beauty of coffee is that there's always room for personalization. Experiment with different water ratios to see which you prefer and use different grounds to find your perfect homebrew.  

Americano & Coffee Questions Answered

What is the key difference between espresso vs Americano coffee? 

An espresso is the base for an Americano. An Americano is made by taking an espresso and pouring hot water through it.  

Is an Americano just watered down espresso? 

Technically, yes, but there’s a lot more to an Americano. It offers a rich, full-bodied flavor that makes it a really popular coffee choice.  

Do you put milk in an Americano? 

Traditionally an Americano would be drunk as it's brewed and without milk, but most people choose to add milk to give it a smoother taste.  

Is Americano stronger than a latte? 

An Americano tastes stronger and more bitter than a latte, but they actually have the same amount of caffeine because they both use an espresso shot as a base.  

Does an Americano need to have sugar? 

No, you don’t need to put sugar in your Americano, but a lot of people prefer the sweeter taste. 


Both drinks might look similar at first glance, but when you actually compare an americano vs coffee you can see the differences.

The biggest difference is that to make an americano you use espresso rather than regular ground coffee beans. This gives the americano a bolder taste, but makes it slightly more difficult to make at home. 

Hopefully, this guide has shown you all the differences between these two coffee options and you now know which is best for you.

Kayla Stavridis

Kayla Stavridis

Kayla Stavridis is the Head of Marketing here at Barista HQ. While keeping up-to-date on the latest trends in coffee, you can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening. She is passionate about keeping you informed about what’s new in coffee.

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