What is Americano Coffee? (Recipes, History, & Why it’s so Popular)

An Americano is simple to make but tough to get right. Discover the secrets to making the most amazing Americano every time.

June 21, 2024
A freshly made Americano coffee with smoke coming out of it.

An Americano is a staple coffee drink enjoyed around the world. The right ratio of espresso and water plus a little know-how can transform a mediocre Americano into the best Americano you’ve ever tasted. 

In this article, we'll cover what makes an Americano stand out and how to make the perfect cup. We'll also let you in on the secrets to making it, along with tips on how to customize it to your tastes.

What is an Americano?

An Americano is a simple coffee that’s popular around the world. It isn’t a straight-up black coffee — it’s a combination of espresso and hot water.

This type of coffee is typically made with a 1:4 ratio of espresso to water, although it can change depending on the coffee shop and brewing method. An Americano with a 1:4 ratio of espresso to water will be stronger than one made with a 1:6 ratio of espresso to water. 

You’ll rarely be asked how you want your Americano in a coffee shop. But when you make your own Americano at home, you can make it as mild or strong as you like. 

There are two common ways to make an Americano:

1. Adding Hot Water to Espresso

This is the correct way to make an Americano. Pull an espresso into a cup and top it up with as much hot water as you like. This allows the crema (the creamy froth on the top of the espresso shot) to mix into the coffee, creating a mellow, balanced flavor. 

Crema is important when making an Americano because it gives the coffee a fuller flavor and a longer aftertaste. Even when it’s stirred into water, it imparts a bolder and more complex flavor than you get from an espresso without a crema. 

2. Adding Espresso to Hot Water

This type of coffee isn’t an authentic Americano — it’s a long black that’s popular throughout Australia and New Zealand. Adding espresso to hot water prevents the espresso from fully diluting, creating a strong coffee with a thin layer of crema on the surface. 

How to Make an Americano

An Americano is an easy and rewarding coffee to make at home. You can tailor the coffee-to-water ratio to suit your palate and customize it so it’s perfect every time.

Note: If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can make this rich, bold coffee at home using an AeroPress, moka pot, or phin filter. 

Tools & Ingredients You Need

  • Coffee Machine — Use an espresso maker, AeroPress, moka pot, or phin filter; anything that makes a strong, condensed cup of coffee.
  • Gooseneck Kettle — Gooseneck kettles provide more precision than regular kettles.
  • Hot Water — You'll need enough water for a double shot of espresso and some extra from a kettle to top up after it's finished brewing. Always opt for filtered water.

Step-by-Step Guide on Making an Americano

Americanos are typically made using an espresso machine but can also be brewed using a moka pot, AeroPress, or phin filter. Here's the simple step-by-step process for brewing with each of these popular devices.

1. Espresso Machine Americanos

  1. Turn on your espresso machine and wait for it to warm up.
  2. Measure enough coffee beans for a double shot — you’ll need around 18 g. 
  3. Grind them to a fine consistency similar to salt.
  4. Add the ground coffee to the portafilter and tamp it down evenly. 
  5. Lock the portafilter into the group head and pull your espresso into a large cup.
  6. Gently pour 8 ounces of water just off the boil over the espresso using the gooseneck kettle.
  7. Customize to your taste by adding sugar, sweetener, milk, creamer, etc. 

Related: How to Use an Espresso Machine Like a Pro.

2. AeroPress Americanos

  1. Measure 15 g of coffee beans and grind them to a fine or medium-fine consistency similar to sand.
  2. Assemble your AeroPress and add a filter.
  3. Fill the chamber with the ground coffee and add water to the second line.
  4. Stir the coffee and water for 8-12 seconds, then leave to sit for 30 seconds.
  5. Attach the plunger to the top of the device and push it down, forcing the coffee through the filter and into a large cup. 
  6. Gently pour 8 ounces of water just off the boil over the espresso using the gooseneck kettle.
  7. Customize to your taste by adding sugar, sweetener, milk, creamer, etc. 

Related: How to Use an AeroPress Coffeemaker.

3. Moka Pot Americanos

  1. Measure 12 g of coffee beans and grind them to a fine or medium-fine consistency similar to sand.
  2. Fill the bottom chamber of the Moka pot to the fill line. Place the filter basket into the chamber and fill it with ground coffee. Screw on the top half and set on the stovetop.
  3. Turn on the heat and wait for the brewing process to begin. When the pot starts brewing, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and wait for 2 minutes until the process is complete.
  4. Pour the espresso into a cup and top with 8 ounces of water just off the boil using the gooseneck kettle. 
  5. Customize to your taste by adding sugar, sweetener, milk, creamer, etc. 

Related: How to Brew Delicious Coffee with an Italian Moka Pot.

4. Phin Filter Americanos

  1. Measure 14 g of coffee beans and grind them to a fine or medium-fine consistency similar to sand.
  2. Measure out 4 ounces of fresh, filtered water.
  3. Assemble the phin filter on top of a large cup.
  4. Add the ground coffee into the phin filter and gently push the gravity press on top.
  5. Use the gooseneck kettle to add a small amount of water to bloom the coffee. The water level should be ½ inch (1-2 cm) above the gravity press. Wait 45 seconds.
  6. Add the rest of the water using the gooseneck kettle. 
  7. Place the lid on top and wait around 5 minutes for the brewing process to complete. 
  8. Gently pour 8 ounces of water just off the boil over the espresso using the gooseneck kettle.
  9. Customize to your taste by adding sugar, sweetener, milk, creamer, etc. 

Related: How to Brew Traditional Vietnamese Coffee with a Phin Filter.

4 Expert Tips for Getting the Perfect Americano

Here are a few expert tricks that can make the difference between a mediocre Americano and the best Americano you've ever tasted:

  • Use filtered water — Water is one of two ingredients that goes into making an Americano. You need top-quality coffee beans and top-quality water for the best results.
  • Grind the beans yourselfGround coffee is convenient, but freshly ground coffee beans will give you a much better Americano. Use the correct grind for your brewing method.
  • Get the temperature right — If you’re using an espresso machine, set the temperature between 197°F and 205°F (92°C and 96°C). If you’re using an AeroPress, moka pot, or phin filter, boil water and leave to cool slightly for 2 minutes before using.
  • Get the tamping pressure dialed in — Tamp the ground coffee down evenly and firmly. Under-tamping can lead to weak, watery espresso; over-tamping can lead to bitter, sour espresso.

5 Ways to Customize Your Americano

The best thing about making an Americano at home is you can customize it however you like. 

Here are some ideas to help you get started and develop the perfect Americano:

  • Brew strength — Most Americanos are made with a 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio, but you don’t have to do it that way. Experiment with different ratios until you find what you like. Try a 1:3 coffee-to-water ratio for a stronger flavor or a 1:6 coffee-to-water ratio for a milder one.
  • Additional flavors — You can easily jazz up a standard Americano by adding different syrups. Vanilla, almond, caramel, and hazelnut all taste amazing. You could even stir ground cinnamon or cocoa powder in for a flavor kick. 
  • Add some milk — If a straight-up Americano is too strong for you, stir in a little milk, cream, or half and half. Dairy products and dairy alternatives both work well. 
  • Make it iced — An iced Americano is just as easy to make as a regular Americano. After making your espresso, pour it over ice and top with cold water. Adjust the coffee-to-water ratio to your taste. 
  • Perfect your crema — If you want more crema in your Americano, use a coffee blend that includes robusta beans. Our SaiGon OG Coffee includes a combination of robusta, arabica, and peaberry beans, making it ideal for a thick, velvety crema. 

Related: What’s the Difference Between Robusta & Arabica Coffee?

Americano vs. Drip Coffee

An Americano and a drip coffee may look similar, but they’re two very different drinks. Here’s a side-by-side comparison so you can see how they differ.



Drip Coffee

Preparation Method

Espresso machine, AeroPress, Moka pot

Drip coffee maker


Espresso and hot water

Filtered coffee

Coffee Type

Medium-dark and dark roast

Light roast


Rich and intense

Textured and full-bodied




Caffeine Content

150 mg

80–100 mg

When you taste an Americano and a drip coffee side-by-side, you’ll notice the differences in texture and flavor immediately. Neither coffee is better than the other — which one is the best is ultimately up to personal preference. 

Americano coffee is better if you’re craving a strong, intense coffee that will kickstart your morning. A drip coffee is the better choice if you’re looking for a textured, rich coffee that you can easily sip all afternoon. 

Both Americano and drip coffees are typically served black — but they don't have to be. You can add sugar, sweetener, milk, cream, half and half, etc., to taste until your coffee is right for you. 

The History of the Americano

The Americano coffee (also known as Caffè Americano) dates back to World War II. American soldiers stationed in Italy at the time were craving coffee but found the Italian espresso too strong.

To make it more palatable, they mixed espresso with water and invented the Americano. This coffee was more similar to the drip coffee they were used to at home and was much milder than straight espresso. 

Americano goes by many different names around the world. 

In Australia and New Zealand, it's known as a long black. However, this is technically a different style of coffee that's made by adding espresso to hot water. (An Americano is traditionally made by adding hot water to espresso — it does make a difference.)

Locals in Quebec make a similar drink called allongé. Instead of adding hot water to a shot of espresso, barristas pull the espresso shot for a long time. The additional water comes through the espresso machine — it's not added separately.

FAQs: What is an Americano?

1. What is the standard water-to-espresso ratio for an Americano?

The typical espresso-to-water ratio for an Americano is between 1:4 and 1:6, depending on the desired strength. An Americano made with a 1:4 ratio is stronger than an Americano made with a 1:6 ratio.

When making your own Americano at home, experiment with different ratios until you find your perfect brew. 

2. Can I make an Americano without an espresso machine?

You don’t need an espresso machine to make an Americano at home. While an espresso machine will work, you can also use an AeroPress, moka pot, or a phin filter

All these machines create an espresso-like coffee that can be transformed into an Americano with some hot water. 

3. What is the difference between an Americano & a long black?

The biggest differences between an Americano coffee and a long black coffee are the preparation methods and the flavor.

An Americano coffee is made by adding hot water to espresso, while a long black coffee is made by adding espresso to hot water. The methods aren’t interchangeable because they affect the crema (the creamy froth on the top of the espresso shot).

In an Americano, the crema mixes into the coffee, creating a mellow, balanced flavor with a long aftertaste. In a long black, the crema is diluted and loses its intensity and boldness. 

4. Is an Americano stronger than regular coffee?

An Americano and a regular coffee have a similar caffeine content, although an Americano tends to have more. An Americano contains a double shot of espresso (150 mg of caffeine), while regular drip coffee typically contains 80–100 mg of caffeine, depending on the strength and coffee beans. 

Each coffee has a unique flavor profile due to the type of beans used and the brewing method.

An Americano is made using dark or medium-dark roasted beans (such as our HaNoi or DaNang) and creating an espresso before adding water. Regular coffee is made by using light roasted beans to create drip coffee through a filter. 

5. Can I add milk or sugar to an Americano?

An Americano is traditionally served black, but you can add all kinds of things so it suits your palate. Sugar, sweetener, honey, flavored syrups, milk, cream, and half-and-half, are all things you can add to make your Americano even better. 

6. How does the taste of an Americano compare to espresso?

Even though an Americano is made from an espresso, they have two different flavor profiles. An Americano tastes less intense than a straight espresso but retains its rich and intense flavor characteristics. 

7. What is the best time of day to drink an Americano?

An Americano contains caffeine and because of that, you should avoid drinking it 6-8 hours before you go to bed. Drink it later and you may struggle to fall and stay asleep.

Your caffeine tolerance affects how late you can drink coffee without having sleep problems. If you consume a lot of caffeine, you may be able to drink an Americano in the late afternoon or after an evening meal without any consequences.

Many people prefer to drink an Americano first thing in the morning for an early caffeine boost. However, you can enjoy this coffee any time in the morning or early afternoon without it impacting your sleep.

Related: Why Doesn’t Caffeine Affect Me?

8. How do I preserve the crema when making an Americano?

The crema is one of the best parts of an Americano. You can preserve it by pouring the water into the espresso slowly and carefully. A gooseneck kettle is an excellent tool that makes this step simple. 

For a larger crema, use coffee beans that contain robusta. Our SaiGon OG coffee includes a combination of robusta, arabica, and peaberry beans, making it ideal for a thick, velvety crema. 

9. What type of coffee beans are best for making an Americano?

For the best-tasting Americano, you need high-quality espresso beans. It doesn’t matter whether you choose robusta, arabica, or a blend — whatever you like the best will produce a great-tasting Americano.

Dark and medium-dark roasts are the best when it comes to Americano. Our HaNoi Coffee (100% robusta) and BanMe Coffee (100% Peaberry Robusta) make excellent Americano coffees. 

10. Can an Americano be part of a healthy diet?

Americano coffee can absolutely be part of a healthy diet. Coffee is low in calories (a single Americano coffee has just four calories) while being high in caffeine and antioxidants which may come with various health benefits.

As with anything, it’s important to enjoy Americano coffee in moderation as part of a balanced diet. If you take your Americano with cream and sugar, you’ll need to drink fewer cups than someone who has it black and sugar-free to stay healthy. 

Related: Is Vietnamese Coffee Healthy?