The world of coffee is an incredibly vast place. There are so many different drinks out there for you to drink, but a lot of them seem fairly similar at first glance. That is definitely the case when it comes to americanos and a regular cup of coffee.
If you clicked on this article, you might have had the experience of going to a coffee shop, looking at the menu, and having the Americano pique your interest. You order it, and it looks and tastes like a regular cup of coffee. Maybe you were a bit confused and thought you were supposed to get something different.
Well, this article is here to clear the air. Keep reading, and by the end, you’ll know all of the differences between the Americano and a cup of regular coffee, so you’ll know what to order the next time you hit up your local coffee shop.
The Differences Between an Americano and a Coffee
A caffè Americano and a regular cup of coffee have fascinating origin stories, tastes, and brew methods, and they all have some slight differences that are important to take note of. Let’s go through the various differences between these two classic coffee beverages.
The Origin Stories
The history behind each of these drinks is wildly different. One of them has been around for hundreds of years, while the other hasn’t even been around for a century. But before we look at the stories of these drinks, let’s first look at the history behind coffee in general.
Nobody knows exactly when coffee was discovered, but we know that the plant originated in Ethiopia, Africa. The Ethiopians have consumed coffee beans in a paste or as a drink for hundreds of years.
It wasn’t until the 13th century that coffee beans were roasted for the first time. In the 14th century, the plant was brought to Yemen, where it became incredibly popular.
In Yemen, coffee plantations were created, growing and shipping coffee to various parts of Africa and the Middle East. By the 17th century, coffee made its way into Europe, and from there, it moved throughout the whole world.
All that to say, black coffee has been around since the 13th century. In its earliest form, the roasted beans were ground up and boiled together with water and served just like that, grounds and all. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the grounds were filtered out to make for a less coarse, smoother drink.
The Americano, however, is made with espresso, which is a relatively recent addition to coffee history. Espresso is a concentrated version of coffee made with fine grounds and lots of pressure. It wasn’t invented until the 1800s in Turin, Italy, by Angelo Moriondo.
But it wasn’t until World War II when American soldiers in Italy wanted coffee. The only option was espresso, which many American soldiers thought was too strong. They diluted espresso with water to get a taste similar to the coffee brews they knew from back home. The Italians dubbed the drink “Americano,” which means “American coffee.”
For the most part, espresso beans and coffee beans are roasted slightly differently. In general, espresso is roasted for longer to create a darker roast. When roasting coffee, the beans will crack at different intervals throughout the roast process.
Regular beans are typically roasted until the first crack or slightly longer than that. But espresso beans are roasted until the second crack. This creates a richer, darker flavor and also makes for a more rich, heavy mouthfeel.
This means that coffee beans typically have a lighter roast than espresso beans. They tend to be medium to light roasts with brighter flavors than espresso tends to possess. These lighter roasts have a bit of a smoother feel to them while still being able to have complex flavors.
The Brew Method
But, far and away, the most significant difference between these two drinks is how they are brewed. Although these drinks create a product that tastes and looks pretty similar, they have very different ways of getting there.
A cup of regular coffee is pretty simple to make. You grind coffee to a medium-fine size and then place it in a coffee filter. The coffee filter is placed in a coffee machine, a pour-over funnel, a Chemex, or some other coffee brewer.
Then, hot water is poured over the beans, and coffee comes out the bottom of the funnel, pouring into the cup or pot. It creates a simple drink with delicious flavor and a smooth texture.
Espresso is a bit more complicated. You need to know how to work a complex espresso machine in order to make it. Espresso is made by pushing pressurized water through a compressed puck of finely ground coffee over the course of 25-30 seconds. It makes about two ounces of delicious, rich, concentrated hot coffee.
To make an Americano, you make an espresso shot and then simply dilute it with water. A traditional Americano is made with a two-ounce shot of espresso and four to six ounces of water to dilute it.
The best way to make it is to pour the water into the cup first and then pour the espresso over the top. This preserves the golden crema atop the espresso, which has a pleasant aroma and lovely texture.
Although these two drinks taste fairly similar, there are some differences to take note of. In general, an Americano is going to taste a bit more toasty, nutty, or chocolatey than a cup of coffee will. There are exceptions to this, but, by and large, Americanos have a darker profile, while coffee can be more acidic (in a good way).
On top of that, a cup of coffee has a smoother feel with a milder finish. On the flip side, espresso has a richer mouth feel and a bolder finish, so the Americano tends to carry those qualities.
Neither one is better than the other, it just depends on what you prefer to have in your coffee drink. These two drinks offer a slightly different experience, so pick the one that best suits you and your taste.
Are There Other Versions of the Americano?
The Americano isn’t the only version of diluted espresso in the world. Even though it’s just espresso and water, there are a lot of different methods around the world for diluting coffee in this way.
In Quebec, for example, they have the Allongé. The espresso shot is pulled for a long time for this drink, so the extra water comes directly from the espresso machine. The result is a coffee beverage that has a strength somewhere between espresso and regular coffee, even though it’s brewed with a similar method to espresso.
In Australia and New Zealand, there are the Long Black and the Little Buddy. The Long Black is made the same way as an Americano but uses less water to dilute the drink. And the Little Buddy is made with equal parts water and espresso to make a four-ounce drink.
Is There an Easier Way?
If you want an Americano, an espresso machine is a requirement, but espresso machines are expensive, tough to use, and difficult to clean. Making an Americano every morning is a pretty time-consuming task, and if you mess it up, you won’t even have a delicious cup of coffee at the end of it.
Luckily there’s an easier way to get the taste of an Americano without having to go through all that hassle: coffee concentrate. This magicalmiracle brew of coffee comes in a bottle that lives in your fridge. It makes crafting your morning brew far simpler than you ever dreamed possible.
The coffee concentrate is exactly what it sounds like, a concentrated form of coffee. It’s incredibly strong and meant to be diluted to give you a delicious cup of joe. It’s similar in function to espresso, but it’s brewed a little bit differently.
It’s made with about a 1:1 ratio of coffee to cold water and is brewed over a long period of time. The result is a concentrated form of cold coffee that can be used to make any drink you want.
Simply take your bottle of concentrate out of the fridge, put a tablespoon or two into a glass along with some water, and you have an Americano. The whole process takes just a matter of seconds for you to be drinking delicious coffee.
So if you’re craving an Americano, or if you’re just craving an easier coffee experience that’s still packed with flavor, coffee concentrate like Javy is the way to go. So check out Javy today and watch your morning caffeine boost become easy, fun, and delicious.
The Caffeinated History of Coffee | PBS
The History of Americano Coffee | University of Southern California
The History of Coffee | Alimentarium