Americano vs. Coffee, Explained

An americano is espresso with extra hot water

by Matt Gibson

Though indistinguishable to the naked eye, an Americano and a cup of coffee are two wholly different things, down to the ingredients that they are made of. Americanos are made from a double shot of espresso and hot water, while coffee is brewed using an extraction process involving coffee grounds and hot water.

If you have ever tasted a shot of espresso, as well as a cup of coffee, you are very aware of the difference between the two drinks in terms of strength and flavor. The difference between the flavor of the Americano and regular coffee is the same way, but the difference in strength is more equally matched.  

What Is Americano?

The Americano, or Cafè Americano is a simple coffee drink made out of a shot of espresso and heated water. To make an Americano, a shot of espresso is pulled into a coffee cup and then topped with however much hot water you desire, but typically an Americano uses anywhere between 8-12 ounces of hot water. An americano is not a coffee drink, but an espresso drink. The Americano got its name from how American soldiers during the second World War would alter their espresso to make it seem more like the traditional American coffee that they were used to. 

The Americano is a more versatile way to have your espresso, as you can adjust it in a variety of ways. The typical Americano is made with two espresso shots, or a double shot of espresso, but you can add an additional shot if you want, and it is completely up to you how much hot water to add to the mix as well. If you like a stronger Americano, you just get less water, and if you like an oversized Americano, add as much water as you like. Most coffee shops allow you to add the hot water yourself, but you could always direct your barista as well. 

What Is Coffee? 

Regular coffee is what you get when you brew coffee with an electric drip coffee maker or a pour over device. It’s also served at restaurants, and coffee shops, usually taken either black, or with cream or milk, and/or sugar. Drip machines make coffee by slowly adding hot water to coffee grounds and filtering it through a paper filter. The flavor of drip coffee is decided by the type of coffee beans you use to brew your coffee. 

Coffee can also be made using the pour over method, a french press, a percolator, and countless other brewing methods and techniques, but the most widely used coffee maker is still the drip electric, though pour over and french press each have a loyal following. French press coffee is strong, acidic, and very flavor forward. Pour over coffee is generally a light, well-balanced brew with very nuanced flavors. Both of these brewing methods require a much more hands-on brewing process. 

Americano vs. Coffee: Flavor and Caffeine Content

Though Americanos were made to imitate the traditional western coffee, it is still very much an espresso drink and it tastes like it too. There is a distinct difference between the taste of an espresso and the taste of coffee, and there is a distinct difference between the Americano and the traditional form of coffee. The caffeine content of the two drinks are remarkably similar however, with a very slight bit more caffeine in a cup of coffee than there is in an Americano, based on averages. 

Americano vs. Coffee: Which Is Best? 

It is not for any one person to decide the superiority of either of these superb beverages. Some people prefer Americanos and others prefer Coffee. Neither opinion is invalid, and each drink has its strengths and weaknesses. We love Americanos and coffee pretty equally. Let us know what your favorite is and why in the comments. 

Learn More About Americano and Regular Drip Coffee

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