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What is an Americano? Your Ultimate Guide to the Classic Coffee Drink

You may be asking what is an Americano? In short it's an espresso shot topped with hot water. Although that sounds simple the Americano is actually quite complex and has been argued about in the coffee community for decades. So what makes an Americano so complex and how do you make the perfect Americano?

As someone who has been drinking coffee for over 15 years, I know how important it is to understand the different types of coffee on offer. I have had many occassions where friends or family have asked me – What is an Americano? The Americano is one of my favourite drinks to order due to its simplicity but also the strong espresso taste we all love.

Although there are so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to know what to order – especially if you’re new to the coffee scene. That’s why I’m here to share my knowledge with you and help demystify the world of Americano. Even convince you to try it next time you are in your local starbucks.

By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to order an Americano, at your favourite coffee shop or even make one at home. So, grab a cup of joe (or an Americano, if you’re feeling adventurous) and let’s dive in.

The origin and evolution of the Americano

The history of Americano is as rich and complex as the drink itself. Legend has it that during World War II, American soldiers in Italy would dilute their espresso with hot water to make it more palatable, tasting a lot more like coffee they were used to back home. They called it the “Americano” as a nod to their American heritage and the drink gained popularity among the troops.

Since then, the Americano has evolved and taken on different forms depending on where you are in the world. In Italy, the Americano is still considered a drink for tourists, and locals often prefer a straight espresso even calling watered down espressos ‘dirty water’.

Today, the Americano has a special place in the coffee culture. It’s the perfect drink for those who want the richness and intensity of espresso, but with a little more volume to enjoy. It’s also a great option for those who find straight espresso too strong or bitter.

In a way, Americano represents the melting pot that is the coffee culture. It’s a drink that has adapted and modified to suit different tastes and preferences, like how the coffee culture has influenced different countries and cultures over time.

How do you make an Americano?

Making an Americano is as simple as it is satisfying. All you need are a few ingredients and a little bit of know-how. Although it’s one of the more simple coffee drinks to make, it still has some complexity to it.

Before we jump over to the machine to start with our espresso shot we need to consider the bean and also what temperature the water needs to be. A lot of baristas express that 185°F is the perfect temperature, but some believe 200°F makes a better Americano. All is the preference of the barista but ensuring the temperature is around this mark makes a big difference.

The coffee bean is also important when creating the espresso shot. Most Baristas will use a dark-roasted bean because it creates a better fuller body experience without the Americano being very acidic.

On the flip side if you want a sweeter Americano you could use Arabica beans which produce coffee which is sweeter and softer but also more acidic. This comes down to preference and place. Different countries have their own spin on espresso and of course how the Americano is made. Anyway back to it …

Image of what is an Americano?

First things first, you’ll need

  • Hot water (usually around six ounces)
  • 1-2 shots of espresso (depending on preference)
  • A cup to put it all in.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can even use a demitasse spoon to stir in your sugar or cream. But let’s be real, who has time for that?

Once you’ve got your ingredients ready, it’s time to brew. Start by pulling a shot of espresso, like you would for any other espresso drink.

Next, add hot water to the espresso, leaving room for your desired amount of water. And voila! You’ve made yourself an Americano. Easy as that. aye?

But, there’s still more! Do you realise there are various Americano varieties? A long black has the same ingredients but prepared backwards! To prepare a long black, pour boiling water to the cup first, followed by the espresso shot. This alters the flavour profile and increases the amount of crema on top. The crema is the light foam you find on top of most Americanos. Australia and New Zealand are two nations where this technique is well-liked.

Additionally, why not flavour your Americano if you’re feeling adventurous? Before adding hot water, you can give your espresso shot a dash of cinnamon or vanilla for a creative Americano variation.

Making an Americano is a quick and enjoyable process. Never forget that balance is the secret to a superb Americano. If everything else fails, add espresso. Cheers!

What are the benefits of drinking Americano

First up, let’s talk about caffeine. If you’re someone who needs a little pick-me-up in the morning, then Americano is the perfect coffee for you. It has a higher caffeine content than drip coffee, which means you’ll be up and at ’em in no time. Be careful not to overdo it, or you might end up vibrating like a cell phone on a dryer.

Another benefit of Americano is its simplicity. You don’t need a fancy machine or a degree in coffee science to make a great cup of Americano. Because of this it’s super quick and easy for barristers to make you one, making it a great choice for all you in a rush. It’s like the coffee equal of a grilled cheese sandwich – simple, delicious, and satisfying.

Let’s talk about the health benefits of Americano. It’s a low-calorie coffee that’s perfect for those watching their waistlines. Plus, it has been linked to lower risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s like the superhero of coffee drinks – saving you from the dangers of sugary, calorie-laden coffee drinks which are now everywhere in your local starbucks!

So there you have it, folks. The benefits of drinking Americano – caffeine, simplicity, and health benefits. It’s the coffee drink that keeps on giving.

How to make an Americano at home.

If you are tired of spending your hard earned money in your local Starbucks like me, then why not bring the coffee shop to you by making an Americano at home? Not only will you save money, but you’ll also impress your friends with your barista skills.

To make an Americano at home, you’ll need a few things.

  1. First, you’ll need hot water, from a kettle or a coffee machine. Then, you’ll need an espresso shot. Don’t worry if you don’t have an espresso machine, you can use instant espresso or even a French press to make your shot.
  2. Once you have your hot water and espresso shot, it’s time to put them together the same way the barristers do it at your local coffee shop. Pour the shot into a cup, and then add the hot water. It’s like making tea, but way cooler. If you like your coffee strong, add more espresso shots. If you prefer a milder taste, add more hot water.
  3. Now, for the finishing touches. If you like your Americano black, you’re good to go. But if you’re like me and prefer a little cream or sugar, go ahead and add it. Making Americano at home is simple and fun, the more you make it with new beans and methods the better the Americano will get.


In conclusion, the Americano is a straightforward yet sophisticated coffee beverage that has developed over time and established itself as a mainstay of the coffee culture. Understanding the Americano’s history, origin, and variants is crucial whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned barista.

You can prepare the ideal Americano at home or buy one from your local coffee shop with a few basic ingredients and a little bit of knowledge. There are several advantages to drinking Americano, including its simplicity, higher caffeine level, and even some health advantages.

Try the Americano the next time you need a coffee fix and find out why it has grown so popular all around the world!

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