The famous Americano had its origin during World War II and it is one of the easiest coffee beverages to make. It is composed of just water and coffee and it is perfect to combine with breakfast or to drink during the day.
My “relationship” with Americano started after I moved to China, because here this is more popular than espresso, especially because of its lighter taste.
I was curious about why it became so popular and in this guide, I tried to explain its origin, benefits, and how to make it at home.
Origin of Americano
The origin of the Americano is a very interesting one.
But before explaining that, I want to take a step back to the situation of coffee in the United States.
Coffee was first introduced to the new world (America) in the 17th century. But at that time, the settlers were still drinking tea and this was the most popular drink.
This changed when the colonists staged the Boston Tea Party against the British government and from that moment, coffee became increasingly popular.
Coffee remained the most popular beverage in the United States, and it only grew in popularity after John and Charles Arbuckle began pre-roasting coffee and selling it by the pound to ranchers and cowboys who had gone west in 1864.
Coffee not only made individuals successful, but it also made them wealthy.
But how did Americano become one of the most popular drinks in the world?
This is mainly because of what happened during World War II.
American soldiers were used to the drip coffee that they always had back in the USA, but when they went to Italy and encounter a new kind of coffee, the espresso, they felt that the taste was too bitter for them.
To solve the problem, they added hot water to the espresso shot, and in this way, they were able to make the drink like the one that they used to drink back home.
And this is how the Americano became popular both in Europe and the USA.
What is an Americano made of?
Americano is composed of only two elements:
But it is important to clarify what is the ratio between these two elements.
Caffe Americano’s ratio is 2:1. This means that it is composed of 2 parts of hot water and 1 part of coffee. This ratio gives the drink a dark and bitter flavor, similar to a lightened version of espresso.
An Americano is made differently by each barista and coffee shop, and you may adjust the ratio based on your personal taste.
For a smoother, softer coffee with more volume, use a 3:1 ratio. The Americano tastes like a bitter drip coffee with this ratio. (This is how an Americano tastes if you get one at Starbucks.)
Americano VS drip coffee: what are the differences?
Coffee is produced in a variety of methods, although drip brewing is the most popular in the United States. Many Americans have been brewing coffee at home since Mr. Coffee introduced the first auto-drip coffee machine in 1972.
Americano and drip coffee look very similar, but actually, the method of preparation is different.
Espresso is the base of an Americano, which is created by forcing steam through coffee grounds at high pressure.
Pulling a shot of espresso takes less time than drip brewing because it uses hotter water (steam), finer ground coffee.
The preparation method of the Americano is very fast compared to the drip method.
In the drip brewing method, the coffee is produced by allowing hot water to drip down through the grounds, whether using auto-drip equipment or a manual pour-over.
The force that propels the brewing is gravity, which draws the water down through the grounds. The final product is a standard cup of coffee.
Americano and drip coffee differ also regarding the taste.
This is because of the different methods of preparation that will extract a different taste from the ground coffee.
For example, because an Americano is a diluted espresso, it will retain many of the properties of the espresso, but in a more diluted form.
Brewing the coffee with a metal filter will also allow more oils to end up in the final product.
The traditional drip coffee is made with a paper filter. This brewing method produces a coffee that is smoother and lighter in the body.
As a result, drip coffee tends to be more acidic and subtle in flavor, whereas the Americano is thought to be stronger and bolder.
Regarding the amount of caffeine, both the drinks have almost the same level.
The exact amount varies depending on the size of the cup and the ratio of water and ground coffee.
How to make an Americano
One of the simplest espresso-based drinks to create at home is an Americano.
An Americano has a lot of space for personalization and ratio adjusting, despite the fact that it only has two main ingredients: espresso and water.
The actual equipment that you need to make an americano is:
- Espresso machine (it can be automatic or manual like moka pot or AeroPress)
- Tamper to press the ground coffee
- Hot water
- Your favourite mug
- Coffee beans or ground coffee
- Coffee grinder if you need to grind the coffee beans
Once you have the equipment, you can start to prepare the Americano.
Step 1 – Grind coffee beans (skip this if you already have ground coffee)
Step 2 – Heat up your water
In this step, you can decide how much water you want for your Americano. It depends on your personal preference, but you can experiment with different ratios to try different tastes.
Step 3 – Make the espresso shot and pour it into your hot water
I don’t suggest adding the water to the espresso because if the water is too hot, there is the possibility to ruin the espresso and you will lose the typical crema. However, adding the espresso to the water preserves the crema (a creamy foam on top of the espresso) while also allowing the water to uniformly temper the espresso, resulting in a smoother overall composition.
The dilemma: crema or not crema?
The big debate for the Americano is regarding the order of pouring coffee and water. This can actually affect another aspect of the coffee: the crema.
As I explained in the article about what is espresso, the crema is one of the parts of the espresso and the one that sits on top of the other layers.
Crema is made up of oils derived from coffee beans and carbon dioxide.
When you add the hot water to the espresso shot, the crema mixes into the drink. This is the preferred method in general.
The other method is to add the espresso shot to the hot water. In this way, the crema will stay on top of the water and will not mix into the drink.
Is an Americano healthy?
An Americano is one of the healthiest drinks in the coffee world, mainly because it is made of only two ingredients.
One cup of Americano has around 9-15 calories and zero sugar, making it a very good drink also for diet.
What are the benefits of Americano? Below I will show you the top ones.
Top 5 benefits of Americano
- Helps with digestion – If you drink an Americano after a large meal, your body will be able to break down the food more quickly and burn the additional calories. At the end of the day, your digestive system will not be overworked and will not cause any discomfort.
- Weight loss – Helping to digest the food better, the Americano also helps to lose weight. It can help to burn fat and reduces the appetite.
- Reduce risk of diabetes – Coffee aids in the treatment of diabetes by increasing insulin production and cellular insulin sensitivity. However, this is only true for caffeinated coffee, as adding more sugar may increase the risk of diabetes.
- Natural detox – Coffee stimulates the liver, which is our body’s cleaning agent. Drugs, food, and other substances that enter our bodies are broken down by the liver. The liver functions better when we consume coffee.
- Makes you happy – Caffeine in an Americano has a slew of advantages. Caffeine is a legal psychoactive substance that can raise your mood and make you instantly joyful when used. This is because it causes the brain to produce more neurotransmitters.
I hope this article helped you to understand more about the origin and benefits of Americano and how to avoid mistakes when making it.