What Is an Americano?

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Written by: John Beans

Last Updated on April 19, 2021

Interested in what Americano coffee is? You will find the answer here.

In this article, you will learn how the Americano appeared, how it differs from espresso and black coffee, and what variations it has.

Let's get started.

What Is an Americano? How Did It Come About?

Americano coffee is rumored to have originated during World War II. A significant number of American soldiers were stationed in Italy during and after the war, so Italian bars and cafes were packed with American G.I.s.

But Italian espresso was not to American soldiers' liking: they found it to be too small and overly saturated. It was completely unlike the black coffee they were used to.

So baristas began to dilute the shot of espresso with hot water. This is how the caffè Americano was born. Over time, the drink gained popularity.

Americano vs Drip Coffee vs Espresso

Sometimes, Americano coffee is confused with drip coffee or is expected to taste like an espresso. However, these are different types of coffee. Let's take a look at how they differ.

Espresso is coffee prepared in an espresso machine: hot water is passed through ground coffee in a portafilter under high pressure. The result is a drink with a dense body and rich taste.

Drip coffee is prepared by passing hot water through a layer of ground coffee and a filter, but not under pressure. The result is a drink with a lighter body and different flavor descriptions.

An Americano is a shot of espresso with hot water added. The classic ratio of espresso to hot water is 1:1, but ratios of 1:2 and 1:4 are also used—you can brew an Americano however you like. The more water you add, the less concentrated the drink will be.

An Americano is not as dense as an espresso. And unlike drip coffee, an Americano has no pronounced taste descriptions.

By the way, don't confuse an Americano with a lungo (a long espresso). A lungo is brewed with more water, while an Americano has water added after brewing.

Americano Coffee Variations

Even though the Americano is frowned upon in the specialty coffee industry, it has its connoisseurs. Some coffee lovers have even come up with various recipes based on the classic Americano. You can add milk, ice, and even alcohol. Here are some Americano-based coffee options:

  • Americano with milk — some of the hot water used to dilute the shot of espresso is replaced with milk.
  • Americano with alcohol — water and 1-2 teaspoons of whiskey or rum are added to the shot of espresso.
  • Cold Americano — instead of adding hot water, the barista adds ice cubes or cold water.
  • Long Black — hot water is poured into a cup first, followed by a double espresso. This drink is especially popular in Australia and New Zealand, where it was invented. This method allows you to keep the crema on the surface of the drink.
  • Red Eye — A shot of espresso is mixed with a cup of drip coffee.
  • Black Eye — Two shots of espresso are mixed with a cup of drip coffee. Milk can be added.

Why Is the Americano Becoming Less Popular?

As more and more people are discovering filter coffee, especially pour-over coffee, Americanos are becoming less popular.

The reason why the Americano has become unfashionable is simple—coffee culture is expanding. People are trying new coffees—from different regions, with different roasts, and brewed by different methods.

Still, there are connoisseurs of the Americano. And we recommend trying the drink at least once so you can taste a piece of coffee history.


Caffè Americano - Wikipedia

The History of the Americano - Americano Lounge

The Team That Worked On This Blog Post


Editor & Coffee Consultant

Patty Cramer

I'm the coffee consultant at MyFriendsCoffee. I've been in the coffee business for over 21 years and still have a passion for coffee. My most important skill is that I know how to organize work processes.

John Beans Editor & Founder

Resident Editor-in-Chief

John Beans

I’m the resident Editor-in-Chief of MyFriendsCoffee. For more than 5 years I tried a large variety of coffees from different brands and master 7 ways to brew coffee and am not going to stop there. I switched my first coffee maker with a professional espresso machine and now my kitchen is filled with various coffee equipment.

Tessa Dixon – Beginner Barista & Content Creator


Tessa Dixon

I was born in Seattle, and this city has a strong connection to coffee culture, so it's no wonder I decided to become a barista! I’ve learned many ways of making coffee and now I know how to make any coffee delicious.

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