Coffee is enjoyed in every country globally, and it has a long history dating back to 850AD. The concept has remained essentially the same all that time, but the choice of beverage has developed massively. There’s now an incredible variety of coffees to choose from, and it can actually be quite difficult to determine what sets each one apart.
This guide will help explain the similarities and differences between two of the most popular choices: brewed coffee and Americano's, and give you everything you need to know to choose the best option for you.
Regular Coffee & An Americano - Key Differences Explained
Generally, americanos have a richer and more full-bodied taste than filter coffee. Filter coffees can be more bitter and often have less depth of flavor. However, both Americanos and filter coffees are impacted by the beans you use and how they are ground.
Some coffee beans are better suited for espressos and Americanos, and others are created especially for filter coffee. It’s worth considering the beans first before any brewing options because this will have more of an impact on the taste.
2. Caffeine Levels
Despite the noticeable difference in taste, the caffeine levels are almost identical for Americanos and drip coffees. Americanos can be slightly stronger, but that is generally because of the beans used in the process.
Filter coffees are almost always the cheaper option both at home or in a café. Filter coffees are slightly easier to make with fewer steps, and you’re only really paying for the filters and the coffee grounds.
Americanos are somewhat more complicated, and you may need a specific espresso machine to do it correctly. However, both are very affordable options and will likely be the cheapest options in most cafes.
4. Brewed & Iced Coffee Options
Filter coffees are often served with milk and sugar. They make a decent iced coffee option, and all you need to do is replace some of the hot water with cold and pour it over ice.
Americanos are also typically served with milk and sugar, depending on taste. Americanos make an excellent iced coffee option, and all you need to do is top up the espresso with cold water instead of hot. Sometimes a flavored syrup can be used in the bottom of the coffee to sweeten it.
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.
Typically, the Americano is ordered more often in cafes and is a lot more popular than filter coffees, but that’s more due to the fact that filter coffee is considered a more functional drink. For a similar reason, filter coffees are consumed a lot more at home than espressos.
Overall, filter coffee is consumed a lot more than espressos, but if you gave people a choice between them, they're likely to choose an espresso.
What Exactly Is Brewed Coffee?
Considering how much coffee we all drink, we often know very little about it. Coffee comes from coffee plants. The cherries from the plant are harvested, and inside are the beans used to make coffee.
The coffee plants themselves can live for over a hundred years, so you can harvest a lot from them. Some of the most popular coffee beans come from South America, but they are grown worldwide.
It’s believed coffee has been around for over 1000 years, but it became a popular drink in the Middle East in the 15th Century. From here, it spread into Europe and further afield. In the early 1900s, mechanical developments led to the creation of coffee machines.
These allowed people to produce different varieties of coffee in their own homes and contributed to a massive boom in coffee drinking worldwide.
Typically, cafes offer a wide variety of different coffees. The most popular are generally the Americano, latte, and cappuccino, but there’s a lot to choose from.
Most coffee varieties start with an espresso base, and the baristas have a machine that passes hot water through the coffee grounds to create this. 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.
Coffee is also consumed regularly in the home, and new machines allow homebrewers to get an excellent cup of coffee in the comfort of their own home.
Drip or filter coffee tends to be the most common option, where hot water is passed over grounds, through a filter, and into your cup or pouring jug. You can then add milk and sugar or whatever else you fancy.
Some homebrewers also use a French press. This uses an immersion technique rather than infusion, which means that you need to use thicker coffee grounds to get the right flavor. 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.
Not all coffee is the same, and you’ve probably seen the vast amount of choice in the supermarket. The brewing method will impact the taste, but the growing location and the roasting method of the beans will also have a noticeable impact, so it’s worth finding out what you like.
What Is An 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 filter or drip coffees, but there is a different brewing process to create them. This 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 to create the espresso, which is made by pouring hot water through fine coffee grounds.
It’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. The majority of customers choose to add milk or hot milk to the Americano to make it a bit richer. You can also add sugar to sweeten it if that suits your tastes.
Americanos really 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 troops stationed in Italy during WW2 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.
Americanos are a simple but strong coffee perfect for people who enjoy drip coffee but want a bit more of a kick in the morning. They typically have milk, hot or cold, added to them, and many drinkers add sugar. 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 different from an Americano. An Americano is made with an espresso base, and a lungo is brewed using a similar process to make an espresso, but it's larger and takes longer to make.
In an 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 a double espresso. This makes it a bit more subdued and less harsh than an espresso, making it a lot smokier than an Americano. The flavor can take some getting used to, but it’s a great one for coffee enthusiasts to try.
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:
You’ll then need to follow these steps:
- 1Turn on the espresso machine.
The machine can sometimes take a few minutes to heat up, so it’s worth getting it switched on first.
- 2Grind the beans
If you’re using whole beans, use the grinder to create grounds. You want these to be as fine as possible, and you’ll need about 8-10g of coffee grounds per cup of coffee.
- 3Tamp 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.
- 4Make the espresso
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.
- 5Pour in the hot water
Take hot water from your kettle and pour it into the mug to create the Americano. You’ll ideally pour in about 60ml of water, but you don’t need to be exact.
- 6Add 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.
Filter coffees and Americanos might look similar, but they’re actually quite different. An americano isn’t just a watery espresso, and hopefully, this guide has given you more insight into and appreciation of the brewing process.
Whatever your choice, Americano or filter coffee, it’s all about making it your own and experimenting until you find what works for you. So, try different ratios, different beans, and be bold so you can make that morning coffee your own.