Over 400 billion cups of coffee are drunk each year, which is pretty insane. Part of the reason coffee remains the second most popular drink in the world (after water) is the huge amount of choice.
Coffee comes in all shapes and sizes, but the two most popular coffee drinks are the Americano and a latte. You'll definitely have seen them on the local coffee shop menu, but most people can't even tell the difference.
Well don't worry, because in this guide will tell you all about the similarities and differences between the two coffees so you know which one to choose next time.
Key Differences Between Latte & Americano Coffee
Lattes and Americanos both have pros and cons, but a few key factors really separate them.
The coffee recipes are pretty similar for a latte or americano, which is partly what causes the confusion.
A regular americano is made with:
- Single espresso shot (or double espresso shot if your prefer more espresso)
- Hot water
A regular latte is made with:
- One shot of espresso (or multiple espresso shots if a single shot isn't enough)
- Steamed milk
- Milk foam / milk froth
The simpler ingredients list makes americanos it the easier cup of coffee to make at home and it's less expensive to order one from a coffee shop.
When comparing an americano and latte the tastes are quite different. Both drinks have a classic espresso flavor from the espresso shots in the base, but the other ingredients really impact the taste.
Americanos have a strong and intense flavor which some people find bitter. The espresso and hot water do dilute the taste, but you may still need to add milk to make it easier to drink.
Lattes are a mild and sweet coffee drink. This is because the high levels of steamed and foamed milk in the caffeinated drink give it a gentler taste. The silky richness and creamy texture from the milk helps to disguise the espresso shots, making it much easier to drink.
The texture of each drink comes down to the coffee recipe and directly impacts how easy your coffee is to drink.
Americanos are basically black coffee so they are quite thin and watery - pretty natural considering they are mostly water. This is the perfect caffeinated drink for true a coffee enthusiast who enjoys the stronger taste.
A caffè latte has a much thicker consistency because of the large amount of steamed milk. This gives it a velvety texture and people tend to enjoy this espresso based drink more even if coffee isn't they go to choice.
4. Caffeine Content
Whichever drink you order you want to make sure you're getting your espresso based wake up so it's a key consideration in americano vs latte.
Both drinks are made with a single or double shot of espresso, so in theory you should be getting the same level of caffeine, however this doesn't mean they both taste equally as strong.
Both lattes and americanos have 80-120mg of caffeine, and you can choose to add a double espresso (or even a triple) if you want to increase the strength of the caffeinated drink.
Many people think an americano tastes stronger and has more caffeine because of the perceived bitterness. This is just because it's basically only espresso with no milk to soften the it.
5. Milk Content
Milk coffee is the favorite in most coffee shops and it's the main reason they have so many different espresso drinks with milk added. This one of the biggest differences between an americano vs latte.
Most lattes are made with 1/ 3 espresso and 2/3 milk, making milk the primary ingredient.You can use any type of milk in your latte, though, so you aren’t held back if you’re vegan or intolerant of dairy.
A standard Americano is only espresso and water, and therefore contains no milk. Many people choose to add milk or cream to make it more indulgent, and adding hot milk in an Americano is also a popular choice too.
Again, you don't have to add cow's milk to an americano, and many people choose oat milk or almond milk with is suitable for vegans and actually has fewer calories.
6. Iced Options
One of the best qualities of most espresso drinks is that you can make an iced version. When considering americano vs latte it's important to know which you can get iced so you know whether you can enjoy them year round.
You can get an iced americano and latte from almost every coffee shop.
An iced latte is made using cold milk with the espresso shot, and it's then poured over ice. By using cold milk you generally get less milk foam, and this can make the iced coffee bolder than the hot version.
Iced americanos are made by pouring espresso and cold water over ice. The espresso is still made with boiling water, but the addition of ice cools the entire drink down. Many people then choose to add milk, sugar, or syrups to sweeten the taste.
7. Extra Additions
Both Americanos and lattes can have additions put on top to meet your individual tastes, but it's much more common to add ingredients to a latte.
Popular latte additions include:
- Vanilla syrup
- Caramel syrup
- Toffee nut syrup
- Cinnamon syrup
- White chocolate syrup
- Chai flavorings
- Chocolate powder
Baristas may also use the thin layer of frothed milk on your drink to create some unique latte art. Experienced baristas can create some amazing designs, and it's one of the perks to ordering a latte.
Typically, an Americano will just have milk, cream, or sugar added depending on individual taste preferences.
As we said, these are two of the most popular coffee beverages in the world, and it’s only natural that different variations have sprung up over time. Here are some of the most common you’ll see in coffee shops:
9. Price In Cafes/Starbucks
Every coffee shop is slightly different and the price you pay will vary depending on the size of your drink (because this impacts the volume of ingredients).
A regular latte will cost about $3.65, whereas a regular americano will cost $2.50. This makes an americano the cheaper cup of coffee.
Starbucks additions and extras will generally cost $0.80, but it can depend on what you order. Just bear that in mind when you order your next latte or americano because it can push the price up for your cup of coffee.
If you're trying to be healthy with your coffee drink option then it's important to understand how many calories there are. Neither a caffè latte or americano are particularly unhealthy compared to other espresso drinks, but there is still quite a difference.
A caffè latte has 120-150 calories depending on the exact recipe, whereas a regular americano coffee drink has 0 calories.
This all comes down to the different coffee recipes. An americano is basically just espresso shots and water, which is essentially regular black coffee) so if you don't add anything else it's really low calorie.
A café latte has espresso shots with steamed and foamed milk. More steamed milk means more calories, so it isn't the best choice if you're a coffee lover trying to lose weight.
Of course, if you choose to add extras to your coffee drink then it will add to the calories too. Americanos often have milk added to dilute the pure espresso, and this can add 50-100 calories (depending on the milk you choose).
Both espresso based beverages work well with syrups, flavors, and other additions, and most coffee shops will actually have flavored latte options on the regular menu. These make for delicious drinks for those who love coffee, but they can seriously add to the calorie count.
What Exactly Is An Americano? (Overview + How They Are Made)
Americano comes from the Italian ‘Caffe Americano' and literally means American coffee. Some people confuse Americanos with regular coffee, but it’s actually made by adding hot water to a brewed espresso. This gives it a different taste and flavor to drip coffee or filter coffees.
An Americano contains a single shot or double espresso with hot water added on top. There's usually 3-5 shots, depending on personal preferences, of added hot water to the espresso to create the drink.
This brewed coffee is typically served as a short americano which has an equal measure of espresso and hot water, or an iced Americano, where you use cold water and ice instead of hot water. It’s a really common drink, and baristas are always experimenting with new varieties, so you shouldn't be surprised to see modern twists on the menu.
Americanos became popular in the 1970s, but the story goes that it actually originated in world war II Italy. Allegedly it was created for American soldiers stationed in Italy because they couldn’t handle the rich, robust flavor of Italian coffee. This led to Italian espresso coffee being diluted with hot water, and the Americano was born.
Americanos are the perfect wake-up drink for a coffee enthusiast who enjoys standard drip or filter coffees but need that extra kick in the morning. They have a higher amount of caffeine than other homebrews and help get you going first thing. Americanos can be drunk black or with milk, making them well suited for different tastes.
Pros & Cons Of Drinking Americanos
What We Like
Things We Don’t
What Exactly Is A Latte? (Overview + How They Are Made)
In Italian, ‘latte’ literally means milk, so it’s not too surprising that the beverage is made up of 2/3 milk. Like an Americano, lattes have an espresso base, but instead of hot water being added, there's steamed milk to give it a smooth and silky texture.
A latte is made with a thin layer of frothed milk poured over the top of an espresso. You then pour the steamed milk on top to fill up the cup and give you a creamy coffee. Lattes can be confused with cappuccinos, but to make a cappuccino, the espresso is poured into the steamed milk. This impacts the texture and taste of the coffee, making it different from a latte.
There’s less heritage around the latte, but it first rose to popularity in the 1980s, originating in Seattle. With a latte, it’s all about texture, and the silky-smooth nature of the beverage makes it well suited to more casual coffee drinkers. If you're somebody who likes to rise gently and ease into the day, then a latte is definitely the best choice for you.
Pros & Cons Of Drinking Latte’s
What We Like
Things We Don’t
How To Make A Caffe Latte Or Americano At Home
Americanos are a pretty cheap coffee drink, and lattes aren't too pricy either so it's easy to see why you would go to your local coffee shop to order them. However, both espresso drinks are easy to make at home and the coffee recipes are easy to follow.
When making any espresso based drink you need to start with the espresso shots. The word espresso means forcing high pressure water through coffee grounds, and it's the most important part of an americano and latte.
Espresso machines are the easiest option for this, but if you don't have access to an espresso machine then there are a few other easy methods:
- Moka Pot
- French Press
You'll need to use finely ground coffee in all of these but you can buy these from virtually any coffee shop or store. You should aim to make about 3oz of coffee, but you can make more if you want a strong espresso taste.
Now you have you base completed you'll need to finish each drink slightly differently.
Making An Americano
An americano is basically just a black coffee, so it's easy to finish once you have your espresso made.
- Finish the americano by pouring hot water directly onto the shot of espresso. Ideally it's about 3oz of water, but you can add less to keep the americano stronger.
- Add whole milk (or alternatives), creamer, sugar, or any additional flavors to make it your perfect americano.
- Relax and enjoy your cup of coffee at home.
Brewing A Latte Coffee At Home
For a true americano or caffe latte you should use only espresso shots for the bold flavor, but if you're struggling you can use drip coffee or regular brewed coffee for your latte instead.
Once you have the base of the espresso drink you'll need to follow these steps:
- Steam the milk by putting a small cup in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
- Whisk the warm milk until a milk foam forms on the top. (You can also use a steam wand or milk frother if you have one).
- Pour this slowly into the espresso drink.
- The milk foam will rise above the steamed milk giving you a perfect home made latte.
- Add any milk, sugar, creamer, syrup, or other additions to your coffee beverage
- Relax and enjoy your coffee drink.
Common Latte & Americano Coffee Questions
Which coffee is stronger, Americano or Cappuccino?
Americano and cappuccinos are both espresso topped and both have the same amount of caffeine (one shot of espresso), but a cappuccino will taste smoother because of the higher milk content.
What is stronger espresso or Americano?
An americano is just a shot of espresso with hot water, so they have the same amount of caffeine. An Americano will not taste as bitter as an espresso, though.
How many shots of espresso are in a 16 oz Americano?
A 16oz Americano is considered large and will generally have 2 shots of espresso. This will vary from café to café.
What are some popular milk options for latte drinkers?
Alongside cow's milk, there are several other popular dairy free milk choices, including oat, soy, almond, and coconut.
Is Americano just espresso with more water?
Yes, an Americano is just a shot of espresso with hot water on top.
What’s the difference between a long black and an Americano?
These are two very similar beverages, but they are made differently, which gives them unique tastes. An Americano contains hot water poured onto an espresso, but a long black has espresso poured into hot water.
Coffee is a great way to kick-start your morning and get the most from your day. When it comes down to Americano vs. latte, you just need to consider your personal preferences.
If you’re a coffee enthusiast and like the taste of a filter or drip coffee, then an Americano is the one for you. If you’re more about luxury and texture, then you should choose a latte.
Ultimately, they both have the same amount of caffeine, so if you're just looking to perk yourself up, then an Americano is easier to make and cheaper to buy. However, if you still can't choose between an Americano and a latte then you should consider a latte macchiato next time, because it's a great halfway house.