Coffee is insanely popular. In fact, it's the most popular drink worldwide after water, and it’s estimated that 400 billion cups are drunk every year.
Coffee comes in all shapes and sizes, and there’s more choice out there than most people even realize. The two most popular, by far, are the Americano and the latte.
We’ve all probably chosen between them at some point, but most people probably don’t even know the difference. This guide will tell you all about the similarities and differences between the two coffees so you can better understand which suits you.
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 filter coffee, but it’s actually made by adding hot water to a brewed espresso. This gives it a different taste and flavor to drip or filter coffees.
An Americano consists of a single or double espresso and hot water. Roughly 3-5 shots, depending on personal preferences, of hot water will be added to the espresso to create the drink. It can be 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 WWII 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 those who enjoy 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 by layering frothed milk 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
Key Differences Between Latte & Americano Coffee
Lattes and Americanos both have pros and cons, but a few key factors really separate them.
Americanos are made with just water and espresso. Lattes have espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. This makes Americanos a lot simpler to make at home and less expensive when you’re buying one from a coffee shop.
Americanos have a strong and intense flavor that some people can find bitter. Lattes have a much gentler taste because of the milk, making them a much more luxurious drink. It’s worth noting that this silky richness from the milk is what has all the calories, and lattes are not suitable for anyone on a diet.
Americanos have a thin consistency because they are made up of primarily water. In contrast, lattes are much thicker and smoother because of the high milk content. This is one reason that more people enjoy lattes even if coffee isn’t their drink of choice.
Many people believe that Americanos have more caffeine because of the stronger taste, but they actually both have a single espresso as the base. This means you’ll get the same caffeine hit from a latte or an Americano. You can have a double espresso in an Americano or latte if you want it a little stronger.
A standard Americano has no milk in it, though many people choose to add milk or cream to make it more indulgent. Hot milk in an Americano is also a popular choice that can add to the flavor. This doesn’t have to be cow's milk, and many people choose oat milk instead, which is suitable for vegans.
Lattes, on the other hand, are 2/3 milk, and it’s 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.
Both lattes and Americanos can be made over ice for a cold brew. For an iced latte, you use cold milk in the espresso and pour it over ice. For an iced Americano, you just pour the espresso and cold water over ice. Iced lattes and iced Americanos are great for sunny days when you definitely don’t want a hot coffee.
Both Americanos and lattes can have additions put on top to meet your individual tastes, but typically this is more common with a latte.
Lattes often have a flavored syrup in the bottom to give that extra kick of taste, and you might also have marshmallows and cream on top. Chocolate powder is often layered on top of the frothed milk, and experienced baristas can do unique latte art on the top of your drink.
Typically, an Americano will just have milk, cream, or sugar added depending on individual taste preferences. Of the two beverages, lattes are definitely customized more often.
As we said, these are two of the most popular 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:
Price In Cafes/Starbucks
Coffee shops offer a wide range of sizes and modifications, but your basic latte will cost about $3.65, and your basic Americano will cost about $2. (Both on average as some starbucks are much higher priced. This is generally because there are fewer ingredients in an Americano.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Which coffee is stronger, Americano or Cappuccino?
Americano and cappuccinos both have the same amount of caffeine (a single espresso), but a cappuccino will taste smoother because of the higher milk content.
What is stronger espresso or Americano?
An americano is just 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 milk choices, including oat, soy, almond, and coconut.
Is Americano just espresso with more water?
Yes, an Americano is just an 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 has 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 more of a coffee purist 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.
Hopefully, this guide has given you everything you need to know, and you’ll feel comfortable making an informed choice in the future.