The Americano Coffee Is an Ode to Simplicity

Espresso and hot water make for an incredibly simple, satisfying coffee drink for the purists among us.

It’s hard for me to pin down when and how the Americano became my favorite espresso drink. Maybe it’s because it tends to be cheaper than your average latte, but still comes in a bigger cup relative to a cortado. Maybe it’s because it happens to have the same name as one of my favorite cocktails, the Americano. Whatever the reason, the Americano coffee is an incredibly simple, satisfying espresso beverage that more people should get excited about.

“We love Americanos because we’re still able to experience the flavor and complexity of the espresso in a higher volume drink,” explains Cary Wong, director of coffee for Partners Coffee. “Although it isn’t the same as drinking a cup of espresso, it is a great way to experience the coffee.” Wong notes that the added water can enhance the experience of drinking a single origin espresso, as the water will help open up the nuance of flavors. “It can make distinct coffees that may be very intense when served as espresso more approachable. It is also a great alternative to filter coffee if you don’t have a drip coffee machine handy!”

What Is Americano Coffee?

A classic Americano calls for just two ingredients: a shot of espresso and somewhere between eight and 12 ounces of hot water. You can also make an Americano coffee with a double shot of espresso; just know that you’ll need to adjust the ratio of water accordingly to keep the drink balanced. The order of operations is up to the maker –– you can add hot water to the espresso, or espresso to the hot water, the latter of which makes for what’s often referred to as a Long Black. “Our preferred way of making these drinks is to add hot water to the cup first, and then to brew the espresso over the water to prefer the crema,” explains Wong. “A long black is hot water first with espresso floated on top to preserve the crema. An Americano could be made in either order, but our preference is to add the espresso to the water after.”

What is an Americano coffee

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Lucy Simon

While some caffeinated drinks mask or dilute the flavor of beans with syrups, spices, or milk, the Americano’s simplicity makes it especially worthwhile to use high-quality beans. 

Why Is It Called Americano Coffee?

During World War II, American soldiers stationed in Italy commonly complained that classic espresso was too strong for their tastes. So, local coffee shops began watering down their shots, calling it a “caffé Americano.” 

How Do You Make an Iced Americano?

To make an iced Americano –– think of this as a less caffeinated alternative to cold brew –– simply use cold water to dilute the espresso as opposed to hot water. 

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles