americano vs espresso difference

Americano vs Espresso (Taste, Caffeine, Calories)

Americano vs Espresso

Black coffee is a more common drink than you might think with several variations available.

While we don’t really associate coffee shops with just a plain cup of coffee, they offer many different kinds, especially Starbucks.

Some of their names may even be quite misleading, making you think you’re going to get something you’re used to when it’s completely different.

To help you figure things out, we’re going to fully explore two of these coffees in great depth, the americano and the espresso.

If you thought they were one and the same or maybe the americano was just a fancy name for American coffee, you’re in for a great learning experience. 

We’re sure you’ve seen these two drinks on the menu at your favorite coffee shop.

We’re about to explain everything you ever needed to know about them

including how they’re made, what they look like, what not to confuse them with, where they originated from, and how they are different from each other.

By the time we are done, there won’t be anything you don’t know about these two drinks.

Read on so that you can become an expert in Americano vs espresso coffee.

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What is Americano coffee? 

americano coffee description vs espresso

Don’t let the name fool you.

Despite how it sounds, an americano is anything but a traditional American coffee.

In fact, this drink is not even made of drip coffee at all even though its taste is somewhat similar to diner coffee or what your coffee maker produces for you in the morning.

It actually even resembles traditional black coffee to some degree as well. 

When making an americano, you start with one or two shots of espresso and then pour hot water over it.

You’ll want to end up with roughly 4 parts water to 1 part espresso.

This dilutes the espresso to make it right around the strength of regular coffee.

It still has the same aroma and flavor as espresso, its flavor is just not nearly as powerful.

You can adjust the ratio based on your preferred tastes to have more or less coffee flavor.

You might be wondering what the difference is between an americano and all the other types of black coffees.

Let’s start with drip coffee.

First of all, the espresso in an americano is brewed quickly unlike drip coffee which brews much more slowly.

The flavor of an americano is much bolder, nuttier, and earthier than the drip coffee’s subtler, sweeter, and more floral flavors.

Additionally, an americano offers 40 mg of caffeine per shot of espresso and these drinks are typically made with two shots per 12-ounce serving.

A standard drip coffee offers roughly 120 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce serving.

Also, if the espresso is not broken, you’ll find creama on top of your americano but you’ll never find it anywhere on your drip coffee.

The number one drink that is most often confused with the americano is the long black due to its similar ingredients of espresso and water.

The main difference is that with a long black you pour the espresso over the water, which is the exact opposite of the americano. 

Additionally, with the long black method, you are more likely to preserve the crema of the espresso than you are with the americano method.

Many believe that simple fact makes the long black superior to the americano for flavor because the crema lends more of the traditional espresso flavor to the drink.

An americano can be easily made at home so long as you have an espresso machine.

Our #1 best recommendation for an espresso machine is this one here. It’s also a cappuccino and latte maker. And it’s reasonably priced.

You’ll simply brew your espresso and add your water to your liking, and enjoy. 

What is an Espresso?

espresso coffee vs americano difference

Espresso is a type of coffee but don’t all coffee is espresso.

A thick, concentrated form of coffee, espresso has a very bold flavor that is almost overpowering for some drinkers.

It is made with espresso makers that use nine bars of pressure to force water through finely-ground beans.

An affordable but high-quality espresso machine we recommend is this one.

The brewing process causes the rapid extraction of coffee, leaving a high density of soluble oils in the shots of espresso. 

The primary variance between espresso and coffee is the brewing method.

While espresso machines use pressure, regular coffee machines use gravity during the brewing process.

Espresso beans are typically the same beans that are used in other coffee brews but are ground finer and are usually of a darker roast, adding to the robust flavor of the drink.

Espresso coffee has a very bold taste and, because of its high ratio of coffee to water, has more expressed coffee flavors than other brews.

Additionally, espresso machines do not use paper filters which allows the oils to reach the cup, further enhancing the flavors of the coffee.

There are very low levels of bitterness in espresso because of the fast brew times.

The compounds that cause this taste take the longest to come out and are more commonly associated with longer brewing methods.

An espresso drink is typically enjoyed in one shot but sometimes drinkers will opt for a double or a triple shot.

They are usually drunk plain or with a sprinkle of sugar on top. (not my favorite)

Like the americano, if you have an espresso machine at home, you can enjoy this drink without ever leaving the house.

Difference between americano vs espresso

It might be easy to confuse the americano with the espresso due to them both being black coffee drinks consisting of espresso as the main ingredient.

However, they have quite a few differences, including their origins, ingredients, appearance, and customization options. It’s clear that these two drinks are nowhere near the same thing.

Americano vs Espresso: Origin

The story behind the americano dates back to World War II.

American soldiers were stationed in Italy and at the time the only available coffee to drink was espresso, which was nothing like the coffee that the they were used to drinking back home.

Used to drip coffee, the full-bodied flavors of the espresso were just too much to bear.

They came up with the idea of adding more water to a shot of espresso to dilute it and thus the americano was born. 

Espresso has its origins in Italy as well. However, it’s much earlier than that of the americano, dating back to the early 20th century. L

uigi Bezzera of Milan was the first to be noted as the first person to use a steam-pressure device to brew coffee.

This device produced a robust cup of coffee in nearly an instant, becoming known as an express coffee-making method, which is where the name espresso came from.

The first espressos were rather burnt and bitter so over the following decades significant research was conducted to perfect the method.

It wasn’t until the 1940s that Gaggia devised a system that created the perfect espresso that was packed with flavor and extremely simple to make.

It even left out the burnt flavor of the original.

However, by this time espresso had already become a staple across Italy.

Americano vs Espresso: Ingredients

An espresso is just that, espresso. There is nothing else to this popular drink.

This is one of the major differences between an espresso and an americano, as the americano is a combination of espresso and hot water.

They are both very simply made drinks as they have very basic ingredients without all the frills of other popular drinks.

Americano vs Espresso: Appearance

Americano vs espresso color is another big difference between the two drinks.

The espresso shot is layered and has three parts to it.

It starts with a body or the darker bottom part and then moves on into the heart, which is the lighter middle.

It is topped off by the foamy, light-colored head called the crema.

The crema often features air bubbles, which help provide the aftertaste that espresso is known for.

An americano, on the other hand, has the appearance of a typical cup of black coffee. It’s usually unassuming and plain.

However, it may have a layer of crema on top if it is not broken by the addition of the water, which will add more to the flavor of the drink.

Americano vs Espresso: Customization Options

The espresso shot is not a very customizable drink.

The only real addition that is made to it is a light sprinkling of sugar that some people choose to add.

Most of the time it is enjoyed plain.

Americanos are a different story. They are highly customizable with different flavor additions optional like cinnamon.

Cream and sugar can also be added as the drinker’s taste requires. 

When it comes to americano vs espresso at Starbucks, the same rules apply. 

Every regular Starbucks customer knows you can have your shots of espresso added to any drink on the menu.

You can also order just a shot of espresso in four sizes, from a single up to a quadruple shot but it’s just espresso.

When you order an americano, you can fully customize your drink with flavors, cream and sugar, or even go so far as to order it iced.

Americano vs Espresso: Caffeine

A single shot of espresso will have the same amount of caffeine as an americano made with a single shot.

This is because the espresso is the same regardless of the added water.

The caffeine content will not change because of the water. The average shot of espresso contains 40 mg of caffeine.

Americano vs espresso caffeine is going to be compared relative to the number of espresso shots per serving of each drink.

However, it should be noted that the typical americano is made with a double shot of espresso.

This would actually mean that it has double the caffeine of a standard single shot of espresso.

Americano vs Espresso: Taste

An americano will have some of the same flavor notes as an espresso but will be more laid back and slightly weaker because of the added water.

For many, it will make the espresso much more palatable.

It offers a smooth taste but still lets you have an idea of the full robust flavor of espresso without overwhelming you.

The additional water also means you’ll get to enjoy this drink quite a bit longer than a shot of espresso.

Espresso has a very bold, slightly acidic taste that takes some getting used to.

You may not enjoy it the first time you try it. Additionally, the experience is over rather quickly as it comes in just a shot.

Espresso vs Americano: Calories

Both of these coffees are excellent options if you are looking for a guilt-free drink.

As long as you don’t add any sweeteners or other add-ins, they are inherently nearly calorie-free because black coffee is virtually free of all calories.

So if you’re on a strict diet and you need a drink that will support your caloric needs, give one of these a try today. 

Conclusion on Americano vs Espresso

An americano is, roughly speaking, the diluted version of the espresso.

It’s made by adding hot water to your espresso, creating a softer, smoother but still slightly robust flavor.

Despite its close similarities in appearance, it should not be confused with regular drip coffee or a long black, which are two alternative black coffee drinks.

The americano offers customization options whereas the espresso is typically drunk plain.

Both drinks offer the same levels of caffeine when the same size shots are used to make them. However, the espresso will always have a much more robust, full flavor that is sometimes considered unpalatable by many drinkers.

Additionally, the flavor of the americano can be altered by the amount of water added.

For more flavor, you’ll want to add less water and for less flavor, you’ll add more water.

If black coffee is something you enjoy, give one of these two drinks a try.

If you like extremely bold flavors, try a shot of espresso but if you prefer something a little more laid back that you can add a little cream and sugar to, try an americano.

You’ll get quite the kick from your espresso.

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Americano vs Espresso (Taste, Caffeine, Calories)

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