Americano is a style of coffee that consists of simply adding hot water to espresso. The combination gives the drink the strength of regular drip coffee with a different flavor.
Narrowly defined, americano refers to adding water to espresso. Adding espresso to water is often referred to as a long black. However, in the U.S. “americano” refers to combining water and espresso in either order.
The name may be spelled several ways with varying capitalization, such as Café Americano, which uses the French word for coffee and the Italian word for American.
The name arose during World War II, when American GIs in Europe, to approximate the coffee to which they were accustomed, would pour hot water into espresso. Stores in the U.S. later adapted the drink for mass consumption.
The drink is a single or double-shot of espresso combined with between 1 to sixteen fluid ounces of hot water.
The “long black” is prepared the opposite way – by adding water to espresso. This method preserves the crema in espresso, which is destroyed in the making of an Americano.
“Italiano” is a term common in the western U.S. that refers to a short americano, or a ratio of 1:1 espresso to water. This drink is called a “Vermonto” in Europe, possibly referring to the U.S. state. A Vermonto often includes a small amount of cold milk.
Hot water for an americano can be drawn from the same machine used to brew the espresso, or from a separate source. A separate source is more practical in coffeeshops and stores, since it reduces the demands on the espresso machine.
Americanos, and especially long black style americanos, are well suited for beans that produce strongly-flavored espresso. Some drinkers may find undiluted espresso shots overpowering.
- Iced americano combines espresso and cold, not hot, water.
- A lungo is made by extracting the espresso shot for a longer time. It makes for more volume and a more bitter taste.
- A caffe crema is made by extracting the espresso shot for period of time even longer than a lungo.