What Is An Americano?

The rise of cafe culture has brought us a lot of wonderful things.

The availability of iced coffee all year round. An easy way to get coffee on-the-go when you’re running late for that morning meeting. The perfect place to meet up with friends on a lunch break or Saturday shopping trip.

But it has also made ordering a traditionally brewed ‘coffee’ a thing of the past. Coffee is a black drink with a splash of milk and sweetener. That will not do.

Navigating specialities in coffee shops can be overwhelming and confusing – especially if a queue is building up behind you and you have forgotten your glasses/can’t understand what anything means/are looking for something plain and specific.

If you want a normal classic brewed coffee, then ordering an Americano is the way to go these days. Hold your head up high as you order, and nobody will be able to tell you don’t like anything too exotic or that you don’t really know what you’re doing.

The History of The Americano

Where did it come from? Why an AMERICANo and not, say, well any other country?

Well actually, it is a very precise reason. The story goes that during World War II, American soldiers were not fond of the strong espressos which the Italians drank when they were stationed in the country. It was very different from the taller, weaker coffees they were used to back home, and like all of us, they couldn’t just go without it.

So, they simply added more water. Which seems the obvious thing to do now, of course. The Americano was born and it is now a staple basic coffee on cafe menus around the world.

Making An Americano

Does this mean that it is just espresso with more water in it?

Basically, yes. It is usually 1/2 and 1/2 water to coffee or 1/3 espresso (1-2 shots) and 2/3 water. The latter is perhaps the most common, especially in chain shops, as many people can find the 1:1 ratio makes things too strong and bitter.

It can be as long as you wish, whether kept in a regular coffee mug or a tall latte glass, as long as you stick to the ratio.

Americano Graphic

But why should you choose it over, say, a latte or cappuccino then? Well, the coffee and water are all there is to an Americano.

Drinks such as lattes have risen in popularity over the years again because of their less bitter or strong taste, but this is because the milk and water have reduced it down. Instead, Americanos don’t have milk or any other form of dairy unless you ask the barista precisely for it.

There are some arguments based on how the Americano is served, despite the fact that there are only two ingredients. Generally, however, you should put espresso first and then the extra water, which will create the perfect crema.

While not a necessity, a crema is thought to be a big part of what makes a cup of coffee truly American.

Variations

Americanos make a great iced coffee too. Just make it longer, with cold water and add some ice, and a splash of milk if you wish.

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