Americano vs Coffee: Not The Same! (6 Differences Explained)

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Have you wondered what are the differences between Americano vs coffee before choosing which one to order at your favourite coffee shop?

Americano and coffee may seem the same, but they are different. These are the 6 differences  between Americano and coffee:

 AmericanoCoffee
BrewEspresso diluted with hot waterInfusion
Coffee GrindFine grindCoarse Grind
Coffee MachineEspresso MachineManual Pour Over or Drip Coffee Maker
CaffeineMore caffeine concentration per ounce of drink but cups are smallerLess caffeine concentration per ounce of drink but cups are larger
TasteRich, dark tasteFloral, delicate and sweet flavors
CremaYesNo
  • The brewing
  • The grind
  • The machine
  • Caffeine
  • The taste
  • The Crema

Americano vs Coffee: What they really are.

Americano coffee is a coffee beverage that you get when you dilute an espresso with hot water.

In this manner, you end up with strength like traditional brewed coffee, but a total different flavor.

The strength can vary with the number of espresso shots and the amount of hot water added. It is a coffee drink of Italian origin, with the term caffé Americano meaning “American coffee.”

It is a belief that the term Americano comes from American GIs during World War II, who would dilute the espresso given to them to recreate the cup of  coffee they were accustomed to.

Drip coffee is prepared by pouring hot water over onto ground coffee beans and allowing it to brew.

You may have heard this called by the names drip brewed coffee, filtered coffee, or ground coffee.

This method of making brewed coffee can be traced back to 1908, as that is when the Melitta Benz Company invented paper filters.

They are still used today, and you might have them in your home or office. Drip coffee machines came to replace percolators in the 1970s, as percolators are known to over - extract coffee and make it bitter.  

While this coffee brew method is popular around the world, it is appreciated in Japan, being a central part of coffee culture.

Americano vs Drip Coffee: the 6 Differences

americano coffee

Let’s Brew Some Coffee…How Do We Do It?

Americano

To make a great Americano, you must pull an espresso shot, and have a mug ready. 3 ounces is a good starting point, but you will want more if you would like a stronger Americano.

The espresso is pulled by the espresso maker, and following this, 3 to 5 ounces of hot water is put into a mug and the drink is ready for consumption. Coffee connoisseurs experiment and try different amounts of espresso and hot water until they find the correct blend for their Americano. 

You might consider adding cinnamon, sugar or honey, although many prefer it as is.

Drip Coffee

A great drip coffee can be brewed using the manual pour-over method, or an auto-drip coffee machine.

For the manual pour-over, hot water is poured over grounds. Gravity takes over and pulls the hot water down through the grounds, and you get a delicious cup of coffee.  The grounds remain inside the vessel the hot water was poured into. It is advised that you grind coffee beans before brewing the coffee to ensure the freshest flavor. 

You can brew drip coffee in a variety of ways: by using a filter, French press, or a percolator. This method can be done using  paper filters or with a reusable filter made of fine wire mesh. Or you can purchase automatic coffee brewers or manual coffee machines that help you control the flavor.

Grinding It Out

The way in which you grind your coffee beans will affect the flavor of your brewed coffee, so it is important to follow the right methods to get maximum taste and enjoyment.

We recommend to invest in a burr grinder for a better taste from consistent sized granules.

You can find a variety of burr grinders at all price points, and it will be worth it.

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  • Grind for Americano: a good shot of espresso begins with a fine consistency of grinds. This should feel smooth, but you should have the ability to feel the individual grains. Remember, do not grind until just before you prepare your drink, as you do not want the flavor to diminish.
  • Grind for dripIf you have a cone-shaped filter, or an automatic coffee maker, you will want to grind the coffee beans to a gritty texture.It should feel like coarse sand, says Driftaway Coffee blogger Scott. If you are using a French press, you will want grinds that are quite coarse in nature, or similar to that of kosher salt.

You may be curious why grind size matters. It all comes down to flavor. 

Three things play into coffee taste


CONTACT TIME, EXTRACTION RATE, FLOW RATE 


Contact time is the time the water comes into contact with your brewed coffee. For a higher extraction, you need less contact time.

Americano does not require a long of contact time, and because it has a fine grind, it runs the risk of being over-extracted which can make the taste bitter.

In a finer grind, the flow rate of water is reduced, which means a longer contact time.

 If your grounds are too coarse, or contact time is short, the coffee can come out weak.

The machine: What Do I Need?

americano vs drip coffee

To make an Americano, you will need an espresso machine. There exist several types of espresso machines.

  • Manual Lever Pumps work by extracting the espresso shot out by hand with a lever, no electricity needed.
  • Electronic Pumps use electricity to extract the pull from the coffee beans. You just have to set the right temperature.
  • Semi-Automatic Pumps require you to grind the beans and tamp them into the filter. Then you switch on the machine and pump the button until the water turns black, after which you turn it off.
  • Automatic Pumps work by you pouring in the grinds and tamping them into the portafilter. You then turn on the machine and it will brew the espresso shot for you.
  • Super Automatic Pumps will do all the grinding, tamping, and extracting for you. All you need are the best coffee beans for espresso.

There are lots of excellent coffee machines available in the market for home coffee lovers.

Some of these are fancy, you might say, and include things like a conical burr grinder, big bean hopper, a steaming wand to froth your milk, and a frothing pitcher.

The machines and equipment included come at all price points.  You can find some features like precision dosing for perfect taste, and digital temperature control for a consistent extraction. Some even feature cleaning kits like the Breville BES870XL, which will preserve the taste of your coffee.

If you prefer another espresso brewing technique use a stovetop espresso maker.

You can purchase these espresso coffee makers in multiple cup sizes, making it great for those of us with families that come over or friends that like to linger.

But I Want Drip Coffee, Not Espresso

drip coffee

To make a brewed coffeeyou will need a quality drip coffee maker

No matter which one you choose, you must have the right grind consistency.

After you pick up the drip coffee maker of your choice, make sure to get a nice burr grinderIt should be noted that some machines come with a grinder. Be sure to check before buying an extra item.

You can choose drip coffee machines that turn on auto according to a timer, so that way your coffee can be ready to go upon waking up. You can pick from a variety of brew sizes for your drip coffee, some pots will hold 12 cups of coffee, for instance.

And some even feature brew strength control, and brew pause, meaning you can pour a cup of coffee for yourself and resume brewing the rest as you go.

Americano vs Drip Coffee: Let's talk about Caffeine Content

Let’s see how the Americano and the brewed coffee compare when it comes to caffeine.

Caffeine enters the brew by way of the hot water acting as a solvent.

Other factors include saturation - all grinds have to be saturated for all available caffeine to be extracted.

Water temp can affect the brewed coffee. Most suggest 95-105 degrees is optimal. And as discussed, the grind size plays a role too.

Smaller grinds mean caffeine is extracted faster.

  • Caffeine of Drip: If you ask the average citizen which has more caffeine content, and offer the choices of espresso and brewed coffee, they will likely say espresso. However, you may be surprised to learn that this may not be always so! According to Kicking Horse Coffee, one 2 ounce double shot of espresso has about 80 milligrams of caffeine.  A 12 ounce drip coffee nearly doubles this at 120 milligrams. Perhaps the reason that some feel it has more caffeine content comes from the fact that it is drank much faster than a standard cup of coffee, resulting in effects being felt much faster.
  • Caffeine of Americano: a 2 ounce double shot of espresso is about 80 milligrams of caffeine, and many cafes use two shots in their preparation. However, depending upon the size of the Americano purchased or your personal preference, your caffeine content can be higher.

Talking About Taste

  • What to Expect from an Americano. From an Americano you can expect a rich, dark taste from this coffee brew. Due to the high temperatures used in this brew, coffee's lighter notes are often eliminated.  An Americano coffee is made up of three distinct parts: a shot of espresso, hot water and the crema, or layer of foam produced by oils and fats in the beans.
  • And What to Expect from a Drip Coffee. A drip coffe’s slower process allows floral, delicate and sweet flavors to develop over the time spent brewing. You get more of a subtle flavor with this coffee drink. Lastly, no crema is present here.

The Crema De La Crema

You may have noticed the Americano coffee has a thin white layer of foam on top of the liquid.

You wondered what is that? In short, it is the mark of a great coffee brew.

It is called the crema, and this comes from the oils forced out of the coffee beans during the coffee brewing process.

These oils are important in the sense that they are packed with flavors that make what you’re drinking great.

Where Does It Come From?

As the coffee is brewed, fat and oils are emulsified and suspended in tiny air bubbles.

After coffee undergoes the roasting process, it lets out C02 for 24 - 72 hours. Coffee that was roasted and used for brewing will emit C02 as part of the extraction process. 

The presence of crema means that the bean’s natural fat and oil content is higher, and that it is roasted recently enough that C02 is still being unleashed from the bean.

Espresso lovers take a great interest in the appearance of crema, because it means quality, and freshness. Yet crema tastes sour as a result of the C02. Crema may look nice, but it is not everything.

Shots with no crema can be pulled due to roasting methods at the plantation, and some espresso coffee makers aerate coffee during extraction so that it looks like crema is present, but the sour flavor is not.

The folks at Seattle Coffee Gear point out the following factors.

What Affects the CREMA

  • 1
    Plantation Processing. Certain beans will maintain more of their sugar and fat, which means more crema during extraction. Beans from different parts of the world will also have different effects on crema production due to their processing.
  • 2
    Roasting Date. If you pull a shot with coffee roasted less than 72 hours before, you might end up with a blonde shade that you might think is crema.
  • 3
    Color of Roast. If you roast a darker color, more of the bean’s natural oil comes to the surface and thus transfers to containers, grinders and equipment, meaning less oil goes into your pull.
  • 4
    Technology. A pressurized portafilter will aerate your coffee as extraction takes place, which will make it look like you have crema. While this is wonderful for eliminating any unwanted sour taste, it does take away from the taste you might find using traditional methods.

Conclusions

When it comes to what to choose between Americano vs drip coffee, we hope that this article has given you with the ability to make an educated decision about which coffee is best suited for your individual taste.

Preparing Americano or Coffee at home is simple. The complexity of these coffees’ flavors and the care that goes into their preparation, from bean to grind to pour, make them an experience, not just a morning ritual.

So, which do you prefer, American or drip coffee?