I have probably tried every coffee on most coffee shops’ menus. Whereas most people stick to what they know in coffee shops, I’ve surfed the menu over the years, always trying new drinks in case I find something new and exciting to add to my favorites. I’ve found black americanos tend to taste a little harsher than black filter coffee, and this got me thinking. Is an Americano stronger than regular coffee?
Is an Americano stronger than regular coffee? It is unlikely that an Americano is stronger than a latte or cappuccino of the same size in a coffee shop. Usually, all these drinks are made with the same amount of espresso shots, which dictates the strength.
As a teen working in a local coffee shop, all drinks were made with a double shot of espresso, and the strength was dictated by the size of the drink (i.e., how much water or milk diluted it). In terms of filter coffee, an Americano is probably a little stronger.
When making a single cup of filter coffee, I use 15 – 16 grams of coffee, and 18 to 19 grams for a double espresso. Your Americano may taste stronger than a cappuccino or latte of the same size because an Americano is an espresso and water (topped up with milk if you like it white).
A cappuccino or latte is espresso and milk. When milk is steamed, it becomes sweeter. If it’s full-fat milk, it will also be creamy. When added to it, these things tend to dampen down any harsher or more bitter flavors from the espresso. So, because a cappuccino has much more milk in it than a white American, it will taste sweeter and creamier.
What is an Americano?
At its most basic, an americano is an espresso and hot water. How much espresso and water is entirely up to the person making it. The most common way to serve an Americano would be a double shot of espresso (around 2oz) with between 6oz and 10oz of hot water over the top of it.
Incidentally, it doesn’t matter which way round these go in the cup, but many coffee shops choose to pull the espresso into the hot water. This way the crema stays intact on the top of the drink, and looks more pleasing to serve.
Suppose you like your Americano black; it’s as simple as that. If you prefer it white, you can add hot or cold milk, cream, or even half and half. If you order a very large americano, there may be three espresso shots in there, and possibly only one shot of espresso in a very small americano.
An Americano is not the same as a filter coffee. An americano is always made with espresso and water. Filter coffee is always made without espresso, through a method that does not involve an espresso machine (like a V60, or AeroPress). Americanos tend to be slightly more robust and contain more caffeine than filter coffee, but just because you tend to make an Americano with slightly more coffee due to it being made with espresso.
Variations of Americano:
The most obvious way to make a variation of an Americano is to add something into the black coffee. You can add milk, cream, half and half, or even flavored syrups if you’re so inclined. Many people add non-dairy alternatives too, although watch out with soy milk; it tends to curdle in a fresh, hot Americano. You could even ice cream if you wanted!
Beyond that, you may have heard of a drink called a long black or a ‘lungo’ which are very similar in style to an Americano.
Short and Strong: The Lungo and the Long Black
A long black seems like a deceptive name because a long black is a very short Americano. It is usually a double shot of espresso topped up with hot water and served in a 6oz or 8oz cup—basically, a short, robust and black Americano.
Its name comes from the idea that its similar to a longer espresso; an espresso made with more water. However, the idea of a long espresso is a much better description for a lungo. This is a very long espresso.
Usually, when making espresso, you would use a 1:2 ratio of coffee to water. Typically, 18g of coffee would yield a 36g espresso. However, you would pull an espresso twice the size with a lungo. So 18g of coffee to yield 72g of espresso.
Flavor-wise, a lungo compared to an Americano is slightly more bitter and quite a bit stronger. Rather than adding the hot water to the espresso (like in an americano or long black), you push that extra water through the coffee and extract more espresso from it.
Tall and Cold: The Iced Americano
An iced Americano is just a cold version of the drink, and all the same variations apply – adding milk, cream, etc. Usually, to make an iced Americano, a cup is half-filled with ice, and the espresso is poured straight over it to cool it down quickly. The drink is then topped off with cold water (in whatever size cup you ordered).
These are popular in summer and very refreshing. One point to remember on the strength of these is that they will become less strong the longer it takes you to drink. As the ice melts, it will further dilute the espresso.
Oh and while we’re here, let’s dig a little deeper into the coffee world.
What is a ‘Blonde Americano’?
Starbucks has developed an espresso blend to compete with specialty coffee shops, which is lightly roasted compared to their standard espresso blend. This blend is called ‘Blonde’ (the roast profile of the ‘blonde’ beans will be a lighter brown than the standard espresso blend beans).
You can ask for any espresso-based drink to be made with these beans. So, a ‘blonde latte’ or ‘blonde Americano’ is perfectly normal to ask for! The lighter roast profile should give you a smoother, sweeter coffee than the same thing made with their standard espresso blend.
I have now tried a ‘blonde flat white,’ and I have to stay I did prefer it to a regular flat white. I would still recommend visiting an independent coffee shop over a chain.
But hey, if you’ve been wondering about that ‘blonde americano’, get down to a Starbucks and give it a try.
Trying new coffees and experimenting with them is one of my joys. Be adventurous and don’t hesitate to try something new. You never know when you’ll find your new favorite cup of Joe!