Long Black Vs Americano – Compare These Low Caloric Coffees

Do you love coffee but worry about the calories?

A lot of modern coffee drinks are piled full of sugar and calories, and if you're on a diet that can be a real issue. An americano and a long black differ from other coffees by offering a significant caffeine boost without the calories. But which of the two drinks is best? 

In this article we'll answer that question and give you everything you need to know about americano vs long black so you can choose the best low calorie morning coffee.

1. Calorie Content 

We're all counting the calories these days and unfortunately some espresso based drinks are pretty unhealthy. However, when it comes to americano vs long black they're both very similar and are low calorie options that coffee lovers can enjoy guilt free.

The long black and the americano both have 5-10 calories - much less than most other coffee drinks.

The reason they are so low calorie is because they are basically just hot water and espresso. They aren't typically served with milk or cream, and they don't have any of the syrups or fancy extras that make an espresso based coffee drink unhealthy.  

If you want to have something that is better than a basic cup of coffee but don't want to consume lots of sugar, these are the two choices to pick from. 

2. Caffeine Content 

If you're drinking espresso drinks the chances are that you're after a caffeine hit. Knowing how much caffeine is in a long black vs americano can help to influence your decision and make sure you get the energy boost you're seeking. 

A long black has more caffeine than an americano. A regular long black has 90-130mg of caffeine, whereas a regular americano has 60-100mg. 

To keep that in perspective, a regular french press coffee has 60-80mg, and a cold brew coffee has 150-250mg - so these are both strong (not not overly strong) coffees.

The differences in caffeine content come down to the composition of both coffee drinks. Even though they have the same ingredients, a long black is equal parts espresso and water. In contrast, an americano has more hot water, with a 1:2 coffee to water ratio. 

Long blacks have less water and more caffeine, so if you want more of a kick then this is the one for you. However, if you want a lighter dose of caffeine and a slightly richer taste you should make an americano instead.

3. Coffee Taste And Texture  

The taste differences with an americano vs long black have long been debated, and it can actually come down to how your local coffee shop makes them. Many coffee drinkers will say there are distinct differences, while others say they are basically the same drink. 

However, the differences in how the water and espresso are combined does impact the flavor and texture:

A long black coffee has a heavy and intense coffee taste. This comes from the espresso's crema which forms a thick layer on top of the drink.

An americano has a lighter flavor with a thinner layer of crema on top. It still has the bold espresso flavor from the arabica or robusta beans, but it's easier to drink than a long black.

Some people prefer more intense espresso based coffees, but if you want a lighter drink then you should go for a caffè americano.

4. Coffee Strength  

The strength of a coffee isn't just the caffeine content, it's the intensity of the coffee flavor throughout. 

A long black has a stronger flavor than an americano. This is because of the subtle differences in the long black coffee making process. 

By pouring water over the espresso for an americano it makes the drink thinner and lighter. By pouring espresso into hot water for a long black you preserve the layer of crema on top, and keep the bold espresso taste. 

The long black and the americano are both usually made with the same amount of espresso (two shots), but a long black has more caffeine and a stronger flavor- making it a noticeably stronger coffee. 

5. Brewing Methods 

Both of these strong coffee drinks are made using espresso beans and some kind of coffee maker. Double shots of espresso are at the heart of the two drinks, and they are made by forcing pressurized hot water through the espresso coffee grounds. 

The main difference in the brewing process is what you do when you have the espresso. For a long black coffee the espresso is added to hot water, but for an americano hot water is added into the espresso. 

The dilution of the espresso shots is what makes these drinks unique and makes the café americano taste different to the long black.

The brewing technique is simple for both and you can make either drink in just a few minutes. 

6. Variations  

Coffee, particularly american coffee, is so exciting because there are lots of different variations. The bold flavor of both of these drinks makes them the perfect base for other coffees, and you can add extra ingredients on top. 

Both long blacks and americanos can be customised. However, an americano has more variations than a long black which is typically served just as it's made.

Americano variations and additions include:

  • Adding whole milk or a dairy free alternative (like soy, coconut, or almond milk)
  • Adding sugar or sweetener to balance out the bold flavor
  • Using syrup to change the taste (vanilla is a popular choice)
  • Adding espresso shots to make it stronger
  • Switching to lighter or darker roasts in the espresso to change the flavor
  • Having a smaller amount of water added to make it more concentrated
  • Serving it cold over ice as an iced americano

Long black variations and additions include:

  • Adding milk (regular or dairy free)
  • Adding sugar or sweetener
  • Switching to a single shot of espresso for less caffeine
  • Adding espresso shots for more concentrated coffee
  • Adding syrup (maple syrup gives it a rich flavor)
  • Serving it cold over ice as an iced long black coffee

You can have either of these two drinks your own way, but coffee lovers tend to appreciate the authentic coffee taste of the long black so it's less likely to be altered.

Just bear in mind that all of these additions will have an extra cost, and add to the calorie content of the coffee. 

Long Black Coffee: Overview & Brief History 

A long black coffee is a unique form of low-calorie coffee that comes from Australia and New Zealand.

This coffee is a dark coffee that is made by pouring two shots of espresso into piping hot water. You make this coffee in the opposite order from an Americano, which is the major difference between the two kinds of coffee. 

Long black has been around since the 1870s when Italians began settling in Australia. This was a stronger version of the classic Italian espresso that these immigrants brought with them when they immigrated. A short black is the traditional espresso drink with a single shot of espresso in it. 

Long black coffee is perfect for people who don’t like to sip on a full cup of coffee and enjoy the stronger taste of a really dark brew. Espresso is always a big pick-me-up, and it is considered a delicacy in Italy where it is woven into the fabric of daily life and after-dinner culture. 

Long Black With Cake At Cafe

Americano Coffee: Overview & Brief History 

The Americano is common in the US, and many people are familiar with this drink. It is strong and bold and very dark and has a light and thin crema on the top of the drink. The crema is the foamy and light colored topping that results from the espresso-making process. 

This is like the upgraded version of a regular cup of coffee, and it is a little stronger than regular coffee. This is because it has been made with espresso rather than brewed coffee. The crema results from the pressurized process of making the espresso shot.  

The Americano came to the United States from Italy during World War II. The American soldiers stationed in Italy found a regular espresso too harsh, so hot water was added to dilute it. 

It instantly caught on due to its unique flavor and its intense caffeinated nature. The Italians and Americans then brought espresso with them to the US and the Americano was born. The drink hasn't changed much since the second world war, and even though the standard of espresso machine has improved it is largely still the same cup of coffee that we drink today. 

Long Black Vs Americano

How To Make An Americano Or Long Black

Both of these espresso coffee options are easy to make and have very similar coffee recipes. Ideally, you'll have an espresso machine to make the espresso shot from the coffee beans, but you can use a moka pot instead. 

Both drinks share the same ingredients: 

  • Espresso coffee beans for the espresso shot
  • Hot water (you will need slightly more water for the long black)

Making a long black coffee or an americano will take about 10 minutes and you just have to follow these steps:

1. Grind The Beans 

To make your espresso shot you'll need to grind your coffee beans. Coffee drinkers all have slightly different preferences, but Arabica coffee beans are good for espresso. 

2. Brew The Espresso Shot 

Once you have your ground coffee you need to press the grinds into your espresso machine and pass high pressure water through them to make your shot. Both of these espresso based drinks can be made with a single or double shot, just make sure you use enough water. 

This is where the process differs slightly for long black vs espresso.

To make a long black:

3. Add The Espresso To Water 

To make a long black you have the espresso diluted by pouring it into hot water. This is what gives you the intense flavor and a nice layer of crema on top. 

To make an americano:

3. Add Water To The Espresso

Create your americano by pouring hot water over the espresso coffee. This is what gives you the light, but bold coffee flavor. 

4. Add Your Extras

Finish either drink by adding milk, sugar, syrups, or other additions then sit back and enjoy your perfect cup of espresso coffee.

Common Black Coffee FAQs

What's another name for a long black? 

Long blacks have also been called the Down Under in the past. This was back in the 1800s when the drink was first invented. This name is still familiar in Australia in some areas. 

How much water is in a long black? 

Typically, a long black is made with 3-4 oz of water. However, it's a very flexible drink and you can choose how much water to add to your long black (it's usually 2 oz -5 oz). This will affect the overall taste of the drink as smaller amounts of water will make the drink stronger. 

Is an Americano just black coffee? 

Both drinks have some similarities, but a caffè americano is made with one shot of espresso, not just black coffee. This means that the drink is much stronger than a regular black coffee and is made using aa different process.

How do I order an Americano? 

The way that you order an caffe americano can depend on the shop you are ordering at. Some coffee shops allow you to pick the number of shots as well as the temperature and the amount of room in the cup for added sugar and milk. The Americano is rarely ordered in the US without some personal twists. 


Americanos and long black coffees are both great options for a morning pick me up, and espresso machines around the world make thousands of these high caffeine coffees every day. 

The key difference is that an americano is espresso topped with water, but a long black is hot water with espresso poured on top. By having the water then espresso you change the taste, making it stronger and more intense.

Hopefully this guide has helped to explain the differences and you now know which drink to order on your next coffee shop visit. 

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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