Americano vs. Latte – The Comparison

You love coffee, but you don’t really know the differences between the most common coffee shop drinks?

Well, if that’s the case, you will definitely find this Latte versus Americano comparison useful.

These two are classic coffee beverages that you can find in virtually any coffee shop around the world.

By reading this post, you will learn how the Americano compares to the Caffè Latte in terms of ingredients, caffeine, and calories.

Furthermore, you will find out more about the different types of Lattes and Americanos. For example, you will learn what’s an Americano Misto, White Americano, Latte Macchiato, or, say, a Long Black.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Americano versus Latte – The Difference

The Americano and the Caffè Latte are both espresso-based coffee drinks.

The Latte is usually made with a single or a double espresso shot, steamed milk, and it’s topped with a thin milk foam layer (around 0.2 in, 0.5 cm).
The Americano, on the other hand, is made by diluting a single or a double espresso shot with hot water.

Unlike the Caffè Latte, the Americano doesn’t contain milk. The Latte is usually topped with latte art, while the Americano has a layer of espresso crema on top.

The Latte’s serving size varies – it’s often served in an 8 oz. to 12 oz. (240 to 350 milliliters) cup. The Americano’s serving sizes vary within a relatively wide range too, but more often than not, you’ll get an Americano, served in a 12 oz. (350 milliliters) cup.

Of course, at Starbucks and Dunkin’ you can order a large 20 oz. (590 ml) Caffè Latte or Americano.

In most popular coffee places, you can also get an Iced Latte or an Iced Americano.

Instead of diluting the espresso shot with steamed milk or hot water, the barista dilutes the beverage with cold milk or cold water and serves it over ice cubes.

If you want you can check out my full drink guide on what’s a Latte, to find out more about the Latte Macchiato, the Spanish Latte, and the Piccolo.

Caffeine Comparison between an Americano and a Caffè Latte

Since they’re both espresso-based beverages, the caffeine content in an Americano and in a Caffè Latte depends on the number of espresso shots the drink contains.

A single espresso shot (~1 fl. oz., 30 ml) generally contains between 63.6 mg. and 76.02 mg. of caffeine [1, 2].

Naturally, if an Americano is made with a double espresso shot, and a Latte – with a single, then the former will be more caffeinated.

At Starbucks, a Grande Caffè Americano (hot or iced), contains more caffeine than a Grande Latte (hot or iced), as the former is made with 3 espresso shots, while the latter – with 2.

Keep in mind, though, that you can always ask the barista to make your Grande Latte with 3 espresso shots instead of 2, to make it stronger.

Contrarily, you can order a Grande Americano, made with 2 espresso shots instead of 3 – this way, you’ll decrease the amount of caffeine your coffee drink contains.

To be fair, no matter if you’re at Starbucks or another coffee shop, you can always make adjustments to your drink’s recipe when you order.

You can also ask for a decaf Latte or a decaf Americano if you want to lower the amount of caffeine your drink contains to a minimum.

Calorie Content Comparison

An Americano contains only espresso and hot water, so it has fewer calories compared to a Caffè Latte.

The latter contains steamed and foamed whole milk, which is why it usually has more than 100 kcal per serving.

Furthermore, some coffee shops offer flavored Lattes, made with syrups and sauces that significantly increase the calorie count of this coffee beverage.

On the other hand, Americanos, both hot and iced, aren’t usually sweetened or flavored.

Even at Starbucks, a Grande Iced Caffè Americano contains only 15 calories.

Comparatively, Starbucks’ brewed Iced Coffee is usually sweetened and a Grande serving contains 80 calories.

So if you want a caffeinated beverage, but you’re simultaneously looking for a drink that doesn’t contain too many calories, go for an Americano, be it iced or hot.

Flavor: Americano vs. Caffè Latte

Many find the flavor of pure espresso to be too intense and bitter.

The Americano and the Caffè Latte appeared when people were looking for ways to mellow down the strength of espresso that was too unpleasant to some.

There is a popular belief, that the Americano was invented in Italy after World War II.

The American soldiers, stationed in the homeland of espresso, found its flavor too harsh, which is why they often asked for the intense shot to be diluted with hot water.

The addition of hot water resulted in a drink, which resembled the strength of traditional American coffee.

That’s how this beverage got its name – “Caffè Americano”.

If you feel like the espresso is too strong for your liking, but you still want to enjoy the intrinsic flavor profile of the beans your coffee’s made of, order an Americano.

Diluting the espresso with steamed milk is another great way to decrease its bitterness. That’s why the Caffè Latte was invented.

Furthermore, milk’s lactose also adds sweetness. Therefore, if you want to stay away from sugar and you don’t like bitter coffee, the Latte is perfect for you.

If you’re a vegan or a lactose-intolerant individual, you can always order a Latte, made with plant-based milk of your choice.

Furthermore, as I already mentioned, at many coffee places you can find flavored hot and iced latte drinks, such as the Pumpkin Spice Latte, or the Honey Vanilla Latte.

You may also come across tea latte beverages, such as the London Fog Latte, the Matcha Latte, or the Chai Latte.

Author’s Note: ‘Latte’ actually means ‘milk’ in Italian. So if you go to Italy and you want to order a Latte, don’t forget to add the word ‘Caffè’ to your order. If you only say that you want a Latte, you may get disappointed, as you’ll likely be served a pure cup of milk.

The Caffè Latte is, in fact, pretty similar to the cappuccino – another espresso-based drink. With that being said, the Latte contains more steamed milk, while the cappuccino – more milk foam.

Related Posts:

Main Types of Americano and Caffè Latte

As I mentioned, you can get both hot and iced Americanos and Lattes, as well as flavored Latte coffee drinks. Nevertheless, there are other variations of these beverages, depending on the way they’re prepared.

There are a few types of Caffè Americano that you can come across:

  • The White Americano is just like a regular Americano, but not filled with hot water to the brim.

    If you order a regular Americano the cup will be filled to the top, while in a cup of white Americano there will be extra space for you to add a splash of milk or creamer.

    Some people mistakenly believe that the White Americano is actually made with milk. That’s why, if you’re a barista, I recommend asking what it is exactly that the customer wants to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Long Black: instead of pulling the espresso shot and then diluting it with hot water, the Long Black is an Americano, made by pulling an espresso shot over hot water. It usually contains a double espresso shot.

    Many coffee enthusiasts prefer this type of Americano, as, because of the way it’s made, the crema layer on top remains intact. Some people would also argue that pouring hot water over a shot of espresso may ruin it, but I don’t really see why that would be the case.

    Speaking of crema, many people believe that the espresso crema is a very essential component of the Americano.

    Nevertheless, according to James Hoffmann, you’ll get a better flavor if you scoop the crema off the top of the drink, and have your Americano without it.

    This would mellow down the unpleasant bitterness of your beverage. I read this suggestion in his book “The World Atlas of Coffee” and immediately tried it out.

    To be fair, he’s got a point. So if you want to decrease the perceived bitterness of your drink, remove the crema and see if you like it better.

    Anyway, if you want a double espresso shot, poured over hot water, order a Long Black.

  • Americano Misto: made by diluting an espresso shot with equal parts of hot water and steamed milk.

When it comes to the Latte, in some coffee shops you may come across a drink that carries the name Latte Macchiato.

It’s made with the same components as the regular Latte.

Nevertheless, the Latte Macchiato is made by pouring the espresso shot last, on top of the steamed and foamed milk.

This way, the top milk layer gets stained with coffee.

‘Macchiato’ actually means ‘stained’ or ‘marked’, and ‘Latte Macchiato’ practically means ‘Stained Milk’, as the milk foam is marked with the espresso.

You can check out this post to find out more about the Espresso Macchiato and how it compares to the Latte Macchiato.

The regular latte is made by pouring the steamed and foamed milk over the espresso shot and topping the drink with beautiful latte art.

Final Words

I hope that you found this Americano versus Latte comparison helpful.

I made sure to include the basic information that will make it easy for you to tell them apart and decide which one suits your taste better.

Feel free to leave me a comment below to ask me a question or share your thoughts.

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