Caffè Americano is a type of coffee drink prepared by diluting an espresso with hot water, giving it a similar strength to, but different flavor from, traditionally brewed coffee. The strength of an Americano varies with the number of shots of espresso and the amount of water added. The name is also spelled with varying capitalization and use of diacritics: e.g., café americano.
In Italy, caffè americano could mean either espresso with hot water or filtered coffee (caffè all’americana).
The term “Americano” means “American”, and derives from American Spanish, dating to the 1970s, or from Italy. The term “caffè Americano” specifically is Italian for “American coffee”. There is a popular, but unconfirmed, belief that the name has its origins in World War II when American G.I.s in Italy would dilute espresso with hot water to approximate the coffee to which they were accustomed.
Earlier, in his 1928 novel Ashenden: Or the British Agent, Somerset Maugham has his protagonist order and drink something called an americano in Naples during World War I, but there is not enough information to indicate whether it is the same drink.
And in Maugham’s short story “The Wash-Tub” from 1929, taking place in Positano, near Naples, “americano” appears again. The narrator states, “I asked what there was for dinner and drank an americano, which is by no means a bad substitute for a cocktail”.
The drink consists of a single or double shot of espresso brewed with added water. Typically in the UK (and in Italy) between 1 and 16 imperial fluid ounces or 28 and 455 ml of hot water is added to the double espresso.
Long Black is an Australasian term for a drink similar to the Americano (in contrast to Short Black for espresso), with an emphasis being placed on the order of preparation, adding water to the cup first before pouring the espresso on top.
The term Italiano is sometimes used in the Western United States, meaning a short Americano, specifically a 1:1 espresso/water ratio.
The hot water can be drawn directly from the same espresso machine that is used to brew the espresso, or from a separate water heater or kettle. Using the same heater is convenient, particularly at home, not needing a separate heater, and the water can in fact be drawn directly into the glass, either before (for a Long Black) or after (for an Americano) pulling the shot of espresso. Some espresso machines have a separate hot water spout for this purpose, while others allow the use of the steam wand for dispensing hot water. Using a separate water heater is more practical in a commercial setting, as it reduces the demands on the espresso machine, both not disrupting the temperature of the brew water and allowing an inexpensive water heater to be used for hot water, rather than the substantially more complicated espresso machine.
Uses and Variations
Most commonly, an Americano is used when one orders a brew-coffee sized drink from an espresso bar.
Americanos—particularly short, long-black-style Americanos—are also used within artisanal espresso preparation for beans that produce strong espresso. This is particularly used for single origin espresso, where many find that undiluted espresso shots can prove overpowering; and with lighter coffees and roasts not generally associated with espresso, such as beans of Ethiopian or Sumatran origins. For this preparation, generally a ratio of 1:1 espresso to water is used, to prevent excess dilution, with the espresso pulled directly into a cup with existing water to minimize disruption to the crema.
The iced americano is made by combining espresso with cold water instead of hot water. A lungo is made by extracting an espresso shot for longer giving more volume, but also extracting some bitter flavours. A caffè crema is also made by extracting an espresso shot significantly longer than a lungo. A red eye is made with drip coffee instead of hot water, and may be called a shot in the dark.
Beans We Recommend
Beans matter. Roast matters. We’ve tried a few, but you have to particular if you want a decent americano. This is an espresso drink, after all. We recommend the following roasts we’ve found most suitable:
Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean Coffee
This has rich notes of hazelnuts and brown sugar, adding to the “creamy” texture and flavor Lavazza produces with this bean. It readily grinds very finely for the rich espresso you’re trying to make. Many reviewers describe being completely “hooked” on Lavazza after their first cup.
Stone Street Coffee Company Knee Buckling Espresso
This blend is made from a selection of five different beans for an incredibly bold and fragrant brew. Reviewers love that this blend packs a ton of flavor without the usual espresso bitterness. For those of you on the lighter side of the tongue, this is your roast.
Starbucks Espresso Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee
I know, I know – “you’re recommending something from STARBUCKS? SERIOUSLY!?” Yes, yes I am. Deal with it.
This roast has a rich caramel flavor that provides the perfect base for a good americano. It’s a dark blend with a strong taste to match.
Illy Espresso Medium Roast Finely Ground Coffee
This Italian espresso brand Illy has a bit of a cult following here in the States, and for good reason. This finely ground espresso coffee is made from slow-roasted 100% Arabica beans for a rich, super smooth taste.
Peet’s Coffee Italian Roast Dark Roast Ground Coffee
The smoky yet slightly sweet flavor of this dark Italian Roast is a good match for the americano. Peet’s is a name not everyone is familiar with in spite of being sold in stores across the country.
This blend is quite a bit darker than any mentioned here, but it’s balanced with a smooth and robust flavor. It’s a bean for those who take their espresso strong.
- “Americano”. Oxford Dictionary of English. 2013. Retrieved December 3,2013.
- “Americano”. Collins English Dictionary. 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
- Allerton, David J. (2010). I Only Have a Kitchen Because It Came with the House. The Foodies Handbook. p. 26.
An espresso coffee diluted with hot water and containing no milk. An Italian term literally meaning ‘American coffee’
- Coyle, Cleo (2009). Holiday Grind – a coffeehouse mystery. Berkley Publishing Group. p. 228.Retrieved November 2,2016.
caffe Americano, Americano—The Italian answer to American-style drip coffee. An espresso diluted with hot water. It has a similar strength to drip coffee but a different flavor. The drink’s origin dates back to World War II when American GIs stationed in Italy added hot water to their espressos to create a drink closer to the type of coffee they were used to back home.
- Maugham, W. Somerset (1928). “6. The Greek”. Ashenden: Or the British Agent.
Then he took a fly drawn by a small and scraggy pony and rattled back over the stones to the Galleria, where he sat in the cool and drank an americano and looked at the people who loitered there…
- “Menu: Starbucks Coffee Company”.
- “perthcoffeeproject.com”. Archived from the original on 2015-02-24.
- Espresso: Questions and Answers – Italiano drink order Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine, 2005, Portland, OR; Regional: United States West – espresso profeta in westwood? Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine, Los Angeles, CA, 2009
Non-review text riginally published by Wikipedia, 12.11.2006, under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.