What Is Americano Coffee?

By: | Updated: April 13, 2021

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One of our favorite coffee drinks is without a doubt the Americano. Although here at CoffeeScanner we love our espressos, this long coffee is at the top of our list. But what is americano coffee?

The best way to enjoy Americano (and how we recommend it) is black without sugar. However, to be able to enjoy an Americano without sugar or milk, it has to be prepared perfectly.

Sadly, a lot of coffee shops don’t know how to make perfect coffee drinks. Luckily, that won’t be a problem if you know how to prepare an Americano at home.

With the help of this guide and a few tricks, you’ll be able to enjoy the quintessential American drink at home.

The Key To a Great Americano Is In The Espresso

 The foundation of the Americano lays in having a great shot of espresso.  It is important to get this step right as any mishaps when preparing the espresso will result in a bad Americano.

This is due to the hot water diluting the oil content inside the coffee beans. What this means is that if the espresso is bitter, the resulting Americano will make the espresso taste more bitter.

To counteract this issue, we recommend you to: 

  1. Know how to make a great espresso. Using an excellent coffee maker is ideal.
  2. Choosing less intense coffee beans. We recommend 100% Arabica beans.Let’s go through the list of what you will be needing in order to make your Americano at home.

You’ll need:

  • Hot water
  • Espresso machine, or a fresh double shot of espresso from your local coffee shop.
  • Coffee mug
  • Freshly ground coffee / coffee beans
  • Coffee grinder (if you’re using whole beans)
  • Kitchen scale to measure your beans / coffee grounds

The Steps For a Perfect Americano

Step 1: Use Good Coffee Beans

Coffee beans are a personal choice. However, to make great americano, you must have good espresso beans. The process of making an Americano is to dilute the espresso shot, which means that any flaws in the coffee beans are amplified.

Vice versa, any profiles and aromas in the beans will be amplified too. So get coffee beans that you are familiar with and that you like. Coffee beans are a personal thing. But, to make a good americano, you need good espresso beans. 

We recommend coffee beans that are full-bodied and rich in tastes, however, many others work also great. The point here is to pick coffee beans that you like.

Step 2: Measure Out The Beans

The next step is to measure out your beans. It is recommended to use a double shot of espresso for your Americano. Measure 14-18 grams for a double shot.

If you’re a fan of Americano, a single shot of espresso just won’t be enough. Good Americano has to be strong. Remember, we need to dilute the shots, so putting a single shot will result in a diluted drink.

Step 3: Fine Grind The Coffee Beans

Your grinder is a key tool for making tasty espresso, which is the number 1 step to an americano.

As we mentioned in the steps above, this coffee drink is made with one or two espresso shots. Which means, you need to grind the coffee beans the same as you would for an espresso – go for a really fine grind.

Getting the grind right is essential for a great espresso.

Don’t skip this step. For a detailed guide on the best coffee grinders out there have a look at our guide.

Step 4: Tamp The Grounds Well

Tamping is an essential part of this whole procedure. Some machines on the market do the tamping for you, while others don’t.

Tamping is the process of compacting the coffee grounds together to allow the water to extract the essential oils and aromas of the coffee. Whether your machine does the tamping for you, or you need to do it manually, this step is key to the Americano.  

Step 5: Make The Espresso

Every espresso machine is different, this next step involves brewing your espresso of choice with your machine. 

Step 6: Heat Up The Water

While you are preparing the espresso. It’s time to prepare the water. There is some debate on how hot the water should be for an americano. Again, this depends on personal preference. 

Too hot, and it takes very long to cool down, affecting the taste. Too cold, and the quality of the espresso goes down too ( water temperature is essential to preserve the aromas of an espresso).

However, you want a specific number, right? We recommend going for 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 7: Pour The Espresso Into The Water

Again the ratio of water:espresso depends on personal preferences. We recommend mixing 2 parts water to one part espresso for a balanced Americano.

Don’t rush this step, pour the espresso slowly into the water. You will want to preserve the crema of the espresso. Pouring it too fast, and some of the aromas can be lost. 

Step 8: Enjoy Your Freshly Prepared Americano!

Typically, an Americano is served black without cream or sugar. However, everyone is different and if you like to cream and sugar to your coffee, help yourself.

Once you have poured the espresso shot into the water, you have your Americano! Sit back and enjoy.

Some Key Points To Remember When Making an Americano

It’s All About Ratios

Since you will use water to dilute your espresso and turn into an Americano, the amount of water plays a crucial role in the taste of the drink.

The thing is – there is no precise amount of water you need to put into an Americano.

The key is to put the right amount. Add too little, and the Americano will taste very strong. Add too much, and the coffee will be very diluted.

Put The Water Before The Espresso

An integral part in the taste of coffee is the crema. If you add the espresso before the water, the crema is lost, which may result in a less aromatic (and tasty coffee).

By adding the water first, you will keep all the natural flavors of the coffee bean.

Is It Possible To Make an Americano Without an Espresso Machine?

Since espresso is such a key ingredient in producing an Americano, can it be made without an espresso machine? In short, the answer is yes and no. This will largely depend on what your definition of what an Americano is.

Traditionally, americano uses a double espresso shot. If we’re going by that definition, then no, you can’t make an americano without an espresso machine as creating an espresso without one is almost impossible.

However, if you look at an americano as concentrated/diluted coffee ( hence why it’s sometimes referred to as long black) that’s mixed with hot water, then yes you can make americano without an espresso maker.

So, what coffee brewer can achieve a quality americano similar to an espresso machine?

If we look at using a French Press for example, and then diluting the coffee with water, in theory, that would be an americano.

Unfortunately, the flavor of French Press coffee is completely different from espresso. So using a French Press wouldn’t be our choice.

The closest you can get to an espresso flavor without a machine is the Moka pot. The Moka pot is the precursor to the espresso machine, and it kind of works in the same way.

Hot water filters quickly through ground coffee and produces a similar texture to crema. While it’s still not espresso (technically), this is good enough to create an americano.

As long as you keep in mind that the flavor is different from that of an espresso machine, then you can easily create an americano with other brewing methods.

Final Thoughts

Making your own Americano at home is simple, and now that you know all the steps needed to make this coffee drink, you have added another drink that you can make from the comfort of your home.

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by Brett