Americano vs Espresso: What Are The Differences Between Them?

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When you need something strong and full of flavor in the coffee house, Americano and Espresso may come to mind. These two types are so similar that some cannot tell them apart. 

What are the differences between Americano vs Espresso? Knowing how bad you feel not being able to tell between the two, we’ve composed everything you need to know to distinguish them. Let’s scroll down to grasp all the details!

What Is Espresso?

It is a coffee concentrate type that is generally served without sugar or with a sprinkling of sugar. It boasts a robust, full-bodied flavor and is well-known for its potency. 

One shot of this variant weighs about one ounce on average. Some individuals like a doppio also called a double shot or even a triple shot.

It is made up of three parts. The “body” is the darker bottom, the “heart” is the brighter center, and the “crema” is the frothy light-colored head on top. Its unique aftertaste is due to the air bubbles in the crema.

What Is An Americano?

Espresso shots mixed with hot water are known as Americanos. This method produces a less concentrated flavor and can help eliminate some of the bitterness seen in pure Espressos. They are also easier to drink since they have more liquid. 

Weighing from eight to twenty ounces, it is similar to conventional drip or pour-over coffee because it is larger and less strong. You can add some sugar or cream for extra flavor.

What Are The Differences Between Americano Vs Espresso?

Even experienced people are sometimes confused between the two types. To distinguish them, you can depend on the following key points: 

Consistency

Although these drinks are relatively similar, you can recognize them through how they are served and via their taste. 

They share the same beans and brewing methods, so consistency is the main distinction. As shared above, Americano is a diluted shot from its rival, so it’s larger and not as straight. It’s also weaker and less concentrated. 

Baristas know this secret and use the following method to make Americanos. They would pour two Espresso shots in a cup with a top coat of hot water to make such drinks.

Variety

When it comes to flavor, it’s easier to customize Americano. You can add milk or cream or top it with cinnamon or caramel to boost its taste. Moreover, you can also enjoy iced ones for hot days. 

On the other hand, the other type is often served hot with no additional flavorings to keep its original flavor!

Caffeine Content

The caffeine content also makes them different. Let’s see how they differ:

  • The caffeine content of Espresso is 68 mg.
  • An Americano contains 136 mg of caffeine (for double shot americano).

It should be mentioned that caffeine content can vary considerably between these drinks based on the strong level you want.

Depending on the number of shots used, the latter drink may contain the same amount of caffeine as the former. A single shot with the same caffeine concentration as Espresso is ideal for those who like a more mellow flavor.

Crema

The crema influences Espresso’s first flavor by encasing the concentrated characteristics of the specific beans used in the brew. The water pouring process in making Americanos often destroys this layer. 

Still, a variant of this drink, the Long Black one, utilizes hot water in that process to preserve the crema.

Maybe some of you are wondering, this is not worth paying attention to. Believe me, you can make a different flavor when you reserve the steps. 

In particular, if adding water first and the shot later, this brew will create a cup of coffee with a stronger and deeper flavoring.

Taste

Without a doubt, the taste of Espresso is much stronger and more concentrated than its opponent in this comparison. Yet, it’s up to your preferences. If you love the bitter and burned taste, Americano is a must-try!

How They Are Made?

Espresso is made using extremely finely ground coffee and hot water heated to the proper temperature under high-pressure water, from 15 to 20 atm. This process creates a strong flavor with a layer of crema on top. 

You usually find it served in a cup of 2 oz or 4 oz shot as its flavor is concentrated. Adding more oat milk or foamed milk can make it special or better fit your taste. 

On the flip side, the other is brewed with a medium drip grind coffee and a single-cup drip maker or pour-over. It is typically served in 8 oz and is less intense.

How To Make An Americano At Home?

If you love this type of drink, especially Americano, you cannot miss out on how to make a shot of your favorite beverage at home. Follow these steps below to get a perfect cup just like those from the shop!

Step 1: Get Good Espresso Beans

To have a good cup, you must consider the quality of beans you are using. Remember that the taste depends extremely on the types of beans. Hence, it would help if you choose coffee beans that are good enough to make a great shot.

Step 2: Measure The Beans

Measuring the right ratio is incredibly essential, so don’t calculate arbitrarily. The ratio should vary depending on the kind of shorts you want, a single shot or double shot variant. 

Step 3: Grind Them

After weighing and measuring, it’s time to grind the coffee beans. You need to prepare a good coffee maker because it is among three important elements that determine the consistency of your drink. In this case, a fine grind consistency is recommended.

What’s more, the coarse grind is not suitable to make this drink because you may lose the original nature and result in a disaster. That’s why choosing a proper grinder is the first necessary tool. A burr grinder is usually recommended for grinding coffee beans.

Step 4: Tamp Well

After you have ground your beans, make sure you tamp them down thoroughly, as this is an important step in the process. Some espresso machines can automatically tamp coffee grounds, but others don’t. So sometimes, you will have to do it manually. A little additional effort can result in an excellent cup of joe, so try to tamp beans well.

Whether you use automatic makers, the advice is you should still tamp the coffee beans well.

Step 5: Put In The Portafilter

After tamping beans properly, put them aside. All you need to do is to insert the portafilter into your machine.

Step 6: Get The Espresso Shots

After all preps, now you can truly make your own shot. You have to know that the mechanism of different machines is varied, so you should follow the guidance to have a tasty concentrate of the intense brew.

Frequently Asked Questions About Americano Vs Espresso?

Below are common questions usually asked about Espresso and Americano you may find helpful! Let’s take a look at all of them!

Does It Matter Whether You Pour Hot Water Into Espresso Or Vice-Versa?

The answer is always yes. When you add hot water, the drink you get is not consistent, and the crema may be spoiled. So, if you want to pour water into it, remember to add an Espresso ratio to get a perfect mixture. This tip also helps to preserve the crema layer.

Should I Get A Fine Or Coarse Grind?

A fine grind always ranks first in the list of machines to get the job done correctly for this drink. Whereas, you should never use a coarse grind because you may make your beans lose their original essence. 

Do Americanos Taste Like Drip Coffee?

Some people may mistakenly believe that its taste is similar to drip coffee. The reality proves the opposite. They are different. 

Despite stemming from the same beans, water-to-grounds ratio, water temperature, brew time, and grind setting are crucial factors making them distinctive. Generally, Americano flavor is much bolder and more intense than drip coffee.

In A Nutshell

This article has eventually helped you distinguish between the two perfect beverages: Americano Vs Espresso. The biggest differences lie in the caffeine content created after adding hot water and their taste. Now you might discover your favorite one between them. 

If you are still confused, here are some useful tips to determine which coffee suits you better. If you prefer a more robust brew that you can enjoy within minutes, an Espresso shot will be a perfect option for you. Do you want to drink longer? Americans will meet all your demands!

What’s more, while the latter is suitable for lunch, the former is the best choice for the morning! Hopefully, you can decide your desired shot!

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Almost 20 years already spent committed to coffee and more than 3 years of experience as a barista at Starbucks. Madelyn Doyle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California and finished the Coffee Skills Program at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).