Americano is one special type of coffee. It is a perfect blend of Italian quality and style, and American pragmatism and practicality. The name comes from Italian: “Americano Caffe” (American coffee). In the Second World War, Americans liberated Italy. And while they were there, American soldiers didn’t hesitate to have an espresso or two on their way to Germany.
However, espresso was rather different from what they were drinking at home- long, diluted drip coffee. So, to make espressos a bit more drinkable, they simply added water. And that’s how they made it- espresso+water. Not that complicated? Unfortunately, it is.
This drink is so popular that Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, once jokingly stated that Americano should be called “Russiano”. The trend didn’t become viral, but this little anecdote stands to show just how this drink is popular all around the world.
The Making Of Americano Coffee
So, Americano consists of hot water and a single or double shot espresso. The exact coffee/water ratio is up to you. The more water you add, the more “American” the drink becomes. For instance, in some parts of the United States, a beverage that has 1:1 water to coffee ratio is called “Italiano”. In other words, for a caffeine drink to be a real Americano, it needs to have more how water than espresso.
Generally speaking, bartenders making Americanos add the water directly from the espresso machine, after pouring the espresso shots. This is often the case when a typical Americano is made. Australian variation of this drink (Long Black) is almost the same- the only difference is the moment when you add hot water.
As we’ll see, this part is important, especially if you like a good “dose” of crema.
Type of Beans
Americanos are sometimes made from peculiar roasts and blends, which produce unusual, strong short espressos. As these roasts might be hard to drink when undiluted, adding water sometimes “does the trick”. For instance, some lighter roast beans, which are not commonly used for espressos might produce a nice-tasting beverage.
Adding milk to an Americano would be blasphemous. Although some people do this, real Americanos are made without milk: just coffee and hot water. This is Americano’s defining characteristics, the one that sets it apart from other espresso drinks like latte macchiato, cappuccino, etc. All these drinks are made with milk.
The Crema Dilemma: Australiano or Americano?
We’ve already mentioned this little thingy. Simply put, people in Australia and New Zeland first add hot water and then add espresso to their Long Black. As a result, the crema is retained. On the other hand, a typical Americano is made by adding hot water to an already poured shot (or double shot) of espresso. Americanos usually don’t have any kind of crema, which is not a problem for most coffee-lovers. On the other hand, some java enthusiasts swear that crema is essential for a good cup of java.
If you ask us, we would say that crema indeed can change the way coffee tastes, but thanks to a certain placebo effect. In our opinion at least, crema doesn’t necessarily have any flavors to it.
The Confusion around Americano Coffee
You remember how the Americano was made: American soldiers wanted to mimic the way their favorite drip coffee looked and tasted. In other words, Americano can be regarded as the imitation of the standard drip brewing method. This is why, in Italian cafes, standard drip coffee is called Americano.
In our opinion, this doesn’t make much difference, but hardcore coffee lovers are most certainly ready to pick a fight when a bartender brings them the wrong drink.
Americanos and Home-Brewing: Is it Possible?
Making an Americano would be a piece of cake if you possess an espresso machine. We’ve spoken about espresso machines elsewhere, but chances are that you’ll be able to find an affordable and practical one.
On the other hand, it’s safe to say that most people don’t have an espresso machine sitting at their homes. This type of caffeine drinks can be made with French Press or Aeropress makers, but the espresso scent and flavor will be lost in the process. Similarly, even if you have an espresso machine at home, the flavor of this tasty drink will be lost if you add milk
Americano Coffee: The Verdict
This is one interesting kind of java, with a long history behind it. The name says it all: Americano coffee transfers the “American way” of doing things to coffee brewing. And we all know how Americans do things. They take something good, and make something that’s even better!
Americano coffee is good if you like to experiment a bit- there is no one standard recipe, so you can come up with your own. Trying different coffee to water ratios (1:2; 1:2.5; 1:3, etc.) will add a lot of enthusiasm to your normal coffee-brewing routine. Cheers!