What is an Americano: Definition and Types


As part of my “coffee drink guide” series, I’m moving on to the next caffeinated beverage that you will find on the menu of virtually any coffee shop around the world.

In this post, you will get a clear definition of what an Americano is.

Furthermore, I will go over its variations and types, such as the Long Black, Americano Misto, and White Americano.

What are all of these drinks made of? How would you order an Americano with milk? Is there a specific name for this type of drink?

After reading this guide, you will be able to easily tell how Americanos compare to espressos, lattes, or flat whites.

So without further ado, let’s dive in.

What is an Americano: The Definition

The Americano originated in Italy in the 1950s.

American soldiers who were stationed there after World War II, found the flavor of espresso to be too intense.

So they’d often order espresso diluted with hot water, which resulted in a drink that resembled the brewed coffee they were accustomed to at home.

So here’s what’s an Americano:

The Americano is an espresso-based coffee drink made of a shot of espresso, diluted with hot water.

It is usually served in a 5 fl. oz. to 7 fl. oz. (150 ml to 200 ml) cappuccino cup.

It has a thin layer of crema on top.

Caffè Americano served in a cappuccino cup.

If you’re trying to minimize the intense flavor and bitterness as much as possible, you can skim the crema off the top of your Americano.

Some coffee enthusiasts believe that diluting espresso increases the perceived bitterness of the drink, which may result in a not-so-well balanced flavor.

The crema has coffee fines trapped in it.

Those fines add bitterness, which is why some people don’t mind taking the time to remove the crema.

Ideal Americano Water Temperature:
The ideal temperature of the hot water, used for dilution of the espresso, is within the range of 158°F to 176°F (70°C to 80°C).

Nevertheless, at some coffee shops, baristas would dilute the espresso shot with water coming from the hot water spout of the machine.

This isn’t ideal, as its temperature is usually too high.

Furthermore, if you haven’t used the machine’s tap for a while, the water coming from it may also taste a bit unpleasant.

In other words – it’s always better to use a separate kettle to heat the water when making an Americano.

Related Post:Best Water for Coffee: Beginner’s Guide

At some coffee shops, when you order an americano, the barista pulls an espresso shot in a cappuccino cup and then serves it with a jug of hot water on the side.

You may also come across iced Americano coffees. They are made of a shot of espresso and cold water, served over ice cubes.

This cold drink is a common order at Starbucks and other mainstream cafes.

Speaking of Starbucks, they have this classic espresso-based beverage listed as “Caffè Americano”.

There you can order a short (8 fl. oz., 1 shot), tall (12 fl. oz., 2 shots), grande (16 fl. oz., 3 shots), or a venti (20 fl. oz., 4 shots) serving.

Is an Americano stronger than a cup of Drip Coffee?

The Americano is made with espresso, which contains the most caffeine per fluid ounce.

Nevertheless, on average, a shot of espresso contains 76 mg of caffeine, while a 6 fl. oz. (180 ml) serving of drip coffee contains 201 mg of caffeine.

Therefore even an Americano is usually less caffeinated than a cup of drip coffee.

Still, if you want your drink to have a stronger caffeine kick, you can ask the barista to prepare it with a double espresso shot.

What is a Long Black?

The Long Black and the Americano are made of the same ingredients – hot water and espresso.

Nevertheless, when making an Americano the barista adds the hot water last, while the Long Black is made by pulling an espresso shot over hot water.

The Long Black is popular in New Zealand and Australia and it’s often made with a double espresso shot, instead of a single one. Therefore it’s frequently more caffeinated than an Americano.

With that being said, you can always inform the barista how many shots you’d like to have added to your drink.

A Long black usually has a thicker crema layer.

So it has a more intense aroma and a stronger flavor compared to an Americano.

Skim the crema off the top of your Long Black if you want to minimize its bitterness!

Americano Misto: Description

If you want to have an Americano with milk, then order an Americano Misto.

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

If you want a creamier drink, you can ask the barista to use half-and-half instead of regular milk.

Adding a bit of cream to your Americano is also a great idea, especially if you’re a fan of coffee condiments.

Author’s Note: Did you know that a cappuccino, made with half-and-half is called a “Breve”? Learn more about this creamy coffee beverage in this drink guide.

With that being said, I wouldn’t ever order an Americano Misto. If I feel like having an espresso shot or two, diluted with steamed milk, I’d order a cappuccino, a flat white, or a latte.

If you want to find out what’s the difference between a latte and an Americano, click here.

What is a White Americano

A White Americano is made of a shot of espresso diluted with hot water, but instead of filling the cup to the top, the barista leaves some extra space in the cup.

Consumers would often use up said space by adding a splash of milk or creamer.

Some people mistakenly believe that a White Americano contains milk. It’s white, as the coffee cup is not filled to the brim and you can see a white section on its inside.

Over to you

Since you now know what an Americano is and how it compares to a Long Black, or an Americano Misto, you can go to a local cafe and confidently order the drink that matches your taste best.

Leave me a comment below if you have any questions!

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