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Making an Americano Coffee: A Simple Guide to Brew

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By Daniel Bruce

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One of the most-debated drinks on modern coffee menus: is the Americano

The Americano is a popular drink among coffee lovers but has its fair share of debate. Some people see it as a watered-down espresso for those who don’t enjoy the intense flavor. However, the truth is that adding water to espresso can enhance its taste and bring out critical aromatic elements. Much like adding water to whiskey, the water in an Americano can open up the flavors in the espresso, resulting in a deep, rich flavor with a lighter body and lower intensity, similar to drip coffee.

I am making an Americano Coffee! Why is it Called Americano?

The name “Americano” can be traced back to World War II in Italy. It is believed that American GIs, who were not accustomed to the intensity of Italian espresso, would dilute their shots with water to resemble the drip-style coffee they were used to. However, in modern times, it’s somewhat ironic that the name still stands, as most Americans prefer large, sweetened lattes over the sophisticated flavor of the Americano.

how americano coffee got it's name

Making an Americano Coffee – Brewing an Americano

Making an Americano does not have a specific recipe or set of requirements. The only rule is to add water to the espresso. However, there are a few things to remember when brewing this drink.

espresso plus water

1. Water Temperature

It is common for cafes to use the water from their espresso machine’s “tea spout” to make americanos. However, this water is often too hot or too cold. Ideally, coffee should be enjoyed at around 185 degrees Fahrenheit; any more desirable, and it can burn your lips. The water from the tea spout, sourced directly from the steam boiler, is usually around 200F, which is too hot for an American.

Water Temperature

2. Flavor Profile of the Coffee

Different coffees will respond differently to being diluted with water, affecting the flavor profile of the Americano. While there are no specific requirements for the flavor profile, knowing how different coffees may taste after being mixed with water is essential.

3. Shot Style

Many espresso lovers prefer ristretto shots, which are more intense and sweeter than standard espresso when drinking them straight. It is logical to believe that this increased intensity would hold up better when diluted in an American.

In conclusion, the Americano is a debated drink on coffee menus that offers a different experience from traditional espresso. Whether you enjoy it or not, it has a rich history and a unique flavor profile that can be customized based on personal preferences. So, the next time you see it on a menu, try the Americano and see which flavor notes you can discover.

Flavor Profile of the Coffee

The opposite is true.

Read MoreRistretto shots have a higher concentration of flavors because they are brewed with less water. But the actual quantity of flavoring compounds is less in a ristretto than in a standard shot.

ristretto shots

Ristretto shots will produce a weaker flavor in your Americano than you’ll get from a standard pull.

Americano VS Lungo or Long Black

There are many variations on the add-water-to-espresso theme. The most significant differences from one to the next are the ratio of water to espresso and the order in which the two are mixed.

Many cafes in the U.S. make americanos by pulling a shot of espresso into the bottom of a 12- or 16-ounce cup and then adding water to dilute it. This is the easiest way to achieve the goal of blending water and espresso, but this method can damage the delicate flavor balance of the espresso.

Espresso is topped by a thick layer of foam called crema. When you drink a straight shot of espresso, the tiny bubbles in the crema increase the surface area of the coffee as it comes in contact with your taste buds. This makes the coffee sweeter and more intense. The crema also helps preserve the shot’s freshness by locking in escaping volatile aromatic compounds.

Americano vs Lungo or Long Black finalinfographic

When you dump a large amount of water on top of a freshly pulled shot of espresso, the crema is disturbed, and the flavor of your Americano may suffer as a result.

The Long Black

A popular drink in Australian cafes, the long black is an americano-like drink made by filling the cup with water and pouring the shots on top.

This method helps to preserve the crema and gives the long black a slightly richer flavor.

americano vs long black

Read MoreThe distinction between the long black and the Americano may be subtle, but it makes a big difference in flavor and presentation.

Many third-wave cafes take the long black concept one step further and pull the espresso shots into the water. This is the best way to preserve the flavor potential of the crema. It also creates an aesthetically-pleasing pattern of crema and coffee oil on top of the drink.

The Lungo Espresso

One of the three classic styles in Italy is the espresso lungo or caffe lungo.

Caffe Lungo is an espresso pulled much longer than a standard shot. While a “normale” (a regular shot of espresso) is brewed in about 30 seconds, lungo brews for about 1 minute or more.

7 Long Black coffee

What is Caffee Lungo?

Caffee lungo is a type of coffee drink that consumers often misunderstand. Many people mistake it for a regular drip coffee or Americano, but it is pretty different. A coffee lungo is a watery drink, measuring around 5 ounces, that may resemble these common coffee beverages, but it is important to note that the similarities end there.

The Brewing Process

Unlike regular coffee brewing methods, coffee lungo over-extracts the coffee. This means that after the desirable portion of the brewing has finished, the process continues to pull out flavors from the coffee grounds. This extended extraction period distinguishes coffee lungo from the traditional approach of adding extra water to an adequately brewed shot.

Making an Americano Coffee

Off-Flavors and Bitterness

Due to the prolonged extraction process, coffee lungo often results in off-flavors and intense bitterness. Improper extraction can lead to an unpleasant taste experience, leaving consumers disappointed. It is important to note that this bitterness starkly contrasts the rich and balanced flavors of properly brewed coffee.

Consumers need to understand the nuances of coffee lungo to avoid any misconceptions. While it may resemble other coffee beverages in appearance, the over-extraction process creates a distinct taste profile that may not be to everyone’s liking.

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