Americano is wildly popular in North America, and luckily it's actually very simple to make. If you've never made one at home, don't worry, I'll guide you through it.
Just remember that, like with all coffee drinks, the name doesn't really tell you anything about the drink. But one you see what needs to be done, you'll notice they're fairly easy to make.
What is an americano ?
An americano is a shot of espresso, usually double but can sometimes be a triple shot, that's topped with twice as much hot water. SO it's basically a very long and diluted espresso shot.
The theory of how the americano came to be is that way back when, when G.I.s were stationed in Italy, they couldn't really stomach the strong espresso shots that were so common there.
So, they added hot water, to make the drink more diluted, and thus easier for them to drink. The Italians named that drink 'americano', in honor of the American soldiers who came up with the idea.
Other stories claim the Joes added water simply to make the drink longer, to make their rations last more, and it had nothing to do with the flavor.
Whichever story is true, the name stuck and now americanos are well known across several continents, though they're most popular in North America.
How to make an americano at home
Making your own americano doesn't sound very complicated now, does it ? After all, what you have to do is fairly simple. Of course, pulling a great espresso shot is important, but practice does make perfect.
Even if you don't get it right, don't worry. You'll end up making so many of these you'll become a pro in no time.
So, let's run through a list of what you'll be needing in order to make your americano in the comfort of you own home. You'll need:
- Espresso machine, or at least a fresh double shot of espresso from the best coffee shop around
- Hot water
- Coffee mug
- Coffee cup
- Fresh coffee beans, or freshly ground coffee
- Burr grinder, if you're using whole coffee beans
- Kitchen scale to measure out your beans
It might sound like a lot, but this is only because we're striving to get that perfect espresso shot. If you're using K-cups or other simplified espresso devices then you won't need the kitchen scale, grinder, or beans.
Useful gear, if you're missing any
If you're missing some of these items, then check these recommendations and see if you like anything.
The espresso machine is what you'll be needing the most since this is what you need to get that perfect espresso shot.
You can get a smaller or a larger espresso machine, it's up to you. There are some differences, mainly the fact that larger machines offer more tweaks and dials and things for you to control, whereas smaller ones usually use espresso pods or are just more simplistic.
If you're generally an espresso lover, or at least drink many espresso based drinks, I recommend you get a larger espresso machine. Sure it's a beast, and will take up some counter space, but the flavor difference is undeniable.
And pulling your own espresso shot is so much more satisfying.
This is why I recommend this espresso machine from Breville. It's the Barista Express Espresso Machine, and boy does it pull a shot.
It's got an integrated conical burr grinder, meaning your coffee beans are ground on the spot, to the exact size you want it to be.
The wand will let you steam and froth milk, even if it's not useful in this scenario for an americano, but you might want to use it for a cappuccino or latte.
It can perform single or double shots, and can grind coffee directly into the portafilter if you want it to.
You'll still have to tamp it by hand, which I think adds a nice touch (get it ?) to the whole process. It comes with a nice, heavy tamper and a small cleaning kit.
You can check the listing on Amazon here.
If you have no grinder at home, or you do but it's a blade grinder, you might want to consider getting a burr grinder.
This conical burr grinder by OXO manages to provide 15 different size settings, and more. Plus, it's got possibly the largest hopper to load your coffee beans in - it can hold up to 0.75 lbs/340 grams of coffee beans at a time.
You can grind a lot of coffee in one go, but I recommend you only grind enough for a couple of days at a time, simply to get the freshest coffee possible.
You can check the listing on Amazon here.
A good kitchen scale is going to save you a lot of trouble, and also remove a lot, or most, of the guesswork from making any shot of espresso. if you don't already own a kitchen scale, then take a look at this one by Ozeri.
It's a battery operated, digital screen kitchen scale. Fairly basic in what it offers, then again kitchen scales have to just measure, and not much else other than that.
It comes in several different colors, if you'd like to match it to the pre-existing color scheme of your kitchen. Or maybe you prefer neon green, what do I know ?
You can check the listing on Amazon here.
Alright, now you've got everything you need to get things started, let's get to actually brewing your americano.
1. Prepare your espresso beans and mug
Turn on the espresso machine, let it heat up, as this will take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes if it was completely cold.
Turn on your kitchen scale, and measure out 14 grams of coffee beans. This is for a double shot of espresso. If you're planning on using a triple shot (only if your portafilter is big enough !!) then you'll need 21 grams of coffee beans.
Take the beans add add them to the grinder, and grind them on the lowest possible setting. You're looking for very fine, almost powdery coffee. It might take a couple of minutes.
Once it's done, measure it again, just to be sure.
Set coffee aside, and in the meantime rinse the wand. Use it to warm up your empty cup, into which you'll be brewing your espresso.
You'll need to pour the espresso into the water, so make sure both the cup and the mug are warm.
2. Pull a double or triple shot
Once the espresso machine is hot, take out the portafilter, make sure it's completely dry and clean.
Add in the ground coffee, and tamp it. Apply gentle, even pressure. Try not to push too hard on one side or the other, lest you get an imperfect espresso shot.
A double serving of coffee might fit in your portafilter, but a triple (21 grams) might be a little much. Make sure you check this before beginning.
A double shot (or a triple one) is pulled in the same amount of time as a standard shot, but is much stronger. It's basically two ristrettos in one cup.
Pull your espresso shot, and this can take about 30 seconds, possibly less, depending on what speed and pressure your machine uses for the hot water.
Your shot should end up in the already warm empty coffee cup.
3. Add hot water, flavorings optional
Alright, as for how much water to add to your shot of espresso, it's up to you. Normally you'd need to add double the amount. SO if a double shot of espresso is one oz/33 ml, then you'd need to add 2 oz/66 ml of plain hot water.
But, if you like, you can add more water, depending on how diluted or what volume you'd like your coffee to have.
Be sure to add the espresso to the hot water, not the other way around. This make sure you don't accidentally scald the espresso, if your water is too hot.
And it also makes for a better, smoother mix between the espresso and the water, since it gets tempered with the water. And you also save the crema, which yes does matter.
And that's it, you've just made a cup of americano ! Congrats, you know one more method to make coffee.
Normally you add no flavorings, since this is just a long espresso, or a long black. But if you want to add some vanilla syrup and sprinkle some nutmeg in, who;s gone stop you ?
They're optional, but you can do as you like.
Can you make an americano without an espresso machine ?
Yes and no. The answer is found in what your definition of an americano is.
The traditional americano uses a double espresso shot, so by that definition, no, you can;t make americano without an espresso machine.
But if you're looking at americano as being a concentrated coffee that's mixed with a lot of hot water, then you can adapt that definition to suit your needs.
For example making French press coffee and then diluting that with water would be an americano in theory, but not in practice. The flavor of French press is very different than espresso, and this makes it not the best candidate for an americano.
The closest you can get to non-espresso espresso is the Moka pot. It's a sort of precursor to espresso machines, and works kind of the same way.
Hot water passes rapidly through ground coffee, and produces some sort of semblance of crema. But it's still not espresso, you won't fool anyone with that.
So to answer your question: a true americano, in terms of flavor and structure, cannot be made with anything but an espresso machine. But, you can get something close to an americano, at least in structure, by using other brewing methods.
Know that you're getting a different flavor in your coffee, though.
Americano is one of those coffee names that doesn't tell you anything, and you have no idea what to expect when you order it. It's other names - long black, long americano, sometimes long espresso - are clearer.
Making your own at home is not complicated, and now that you know all the steps you need to take I'm positive you'll be enjoying this drink most mornings.
If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?