Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Barry Gray
I find there to be a significant amount of confusion when it comes to coffee, and it often stems from people being unaware of what different terms mean. Not everyone knows their Macchiatto from their Latte or their Doppio. But in this instance, I will focus on the difference between an Americano and drip coffee.
The difference between an Americano and drip coffee is easy. An Americano is made with espresso, while drip coffee is your standard filter coffee. Both are served black, but the Americano has a more intense flavor thanks to the coffee concentration included in it.
I know it took me some time to get to grips with the various terminology, and I want to put my knowledge out there to help people struggling to come to terms with the wordage used in the world of coffee.
After all, when we are unsure about what to ask for, we find ourselves struggling to order and miss out on potentially fantastic coffee experiences.
Well, that’s something I would love to change.
The best way to do this is by offering a better explanation of terms, starting with the Americano and drip coffee.
The Common Misconception of an Americano and Drip Coffee
People make the mistake of thinking that both an Americano and drip coffee are one in the same thing. Honestly, I can understand why some people fall into that trap if they simply look at the coffee.
Both appear to be the same. You should serve them both black, and they will undoubtedly smell strong enough, so there’s clearly coffee included.
But that doesn’t tell the complete picture of this. Instead, the Americano and drip coffee are not the same, and I will take you through the various reasons why this is the case.
What is An Americano?
I’ll begin by talking about the Americano, and for good reason. It’s one of my favorite ways to drink coffee.
This is an espresso, and it can come with either a single shot or a double shot of espresso to make the drink. However, before you think this is a doppio in disguise, that’s not the case.
Instead, more hot water is added to ultimately make the drink bigger than it would be if it was simply a different name for a double shot of espresso.
The addition of this hot water is crucial in making an Americano. It makes it somewhat milder and less potent, so that could help you if drinking an espresso is too much to comprehend.
But I don’t want you to then worry that this additional hot water poses a problem for the flavor.
That’s not the case, and you will still be able to enjoy the different flavors and notes that come with whatever coffee bean you have used to make your espresso.
What is Drip Coffee?
Drip coffee is quite self-explanatory when you look at the name. While I’m not its biggest fan, I know it’s one of the most popular ways to have coffee worldwide.
I see this type of coffee as being popular for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s very easy to produce. You do not require an expensive machine to make some drip coffee, yet it’s still capable of creating a nice-tasting coffee.
However, as with any other coffee, it all comes down to the coffee beans used in its preparation to determine just how tasty it may be.
But the way drip coffee works is easy to follow.
All you need to do is to add some ground coffee beans into a filter basket and then add water to the reservoir on your coffee machine.
After switching on the machine, you will see how it takes the water and drips it through the ground coffee beans to then get the drink at the end.
I love this simplicity, and it’s relatively quick to do, so it could be the perfect morning cup of coffee for so many people.
Actually, that’s why it’s so popular around the world.
The Flavor Difference Between An Americano and Drip Coffee
I could spend all day talking about the way different beans create different flavors with your coffee. Still, I’m keeping it way more simplistic.
The Flavor of Americano
An Americano comes with more of a kick to it. The taste and flavor will be way more intense with an Americano than with drip coffee, which is unsurprising.
It’s all because the Americano is an espresso with some extra water added. So, it’s not the full-blown espresso experience.
Still, it’s close enough to it for you to then appreciate all of the flavor and smoothness that comes with an espresso. Plus, you need to pull an espresso through a machine to even get your Americano.
I tend to find the Americano to be quite rich in taste, but the exact flavor changes depending on where the beans come from.
Also, if you have used dark roasted beans for the espresso, then it will make your Americano even smoother thanks to the greater oil content being released.
At that point, I find a good Americano to be capable of leaving that silky taste down your throat. However, that smooth taste is not as profound as it is with a full-on espresso, thanks to the added water.
In short, if you like the idea of tasting espresso but are unsure about its strength, then an Americano could be the perfect solution.
In addition, you may find your Americano has more of a roast flavor to it, but exactly how “roasty” it tastes will depend on the beans you have used.
It’s more like to happen with dark roast, but medium roast can also work well for your Americano.
The Flavor of Drip Coffee
With drip coffee, it’s different.
Here, it’s filter coffee rather than espresso, which instantly changes the flavor profile. However, you tend to find that drip coffee has more of a full-bodied taste, and that could be something you appreciate.
I also don’t feel you get the same caffeine hit as you do with an Americano. It’s milder when it comes to intensity, and I get that’s something that people could appreciate.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking less intensity means less flavor. Actually, I feel the opposite is true.
I feel that drip coffee has more flavor to it than you would expect.
At times, the strength of the Americano can overpower the more subtle flavors, and that’s just not going to happen with drip coffee.
Yet, I need to explain why drip coffee can come with those deeper flavors, and it’s all to do with the coffee-making process.
The key here is with the brewing aspect. It takes its time, allowing more of the oil from the ground coffee beans to make its way into the coffee.
This increase in oil then means you get a smoother taste as the oil adds a sort of silky feel to it all.
But that’s not the only advantage.
The increase in oil level adds to that sense of the coffee being more full-bodied when it comes to flavor.
Think about it in the same way as if you are making tea and leave the tea bag in the cup for longer than usual. It allows more of the flavor to seep out, and this is the same sort of process.
Also, I personally find drip coffee to often come across as more acidic in taste, and that’s not entirely my thing. This is because the coffee beans used for drip coffee are either light roast or medium roast.
The difference in roasting levels will change the flavors’ characteristics, which is why it may be more acidic or floral in taste compared to an Americano.
The Different Brewing Process Between Americano and Drip Coffee
I just mentioned the brewing process for drip coffee.
Still, it plays such an important role that I need to stress just how different the brewing process is between an Americano and drip coffee.
With an Americano, you are getting your coffee via the standard espresso method. That means it’s using steam and pressure to force the water through the coffee beans giving you that intense shot of coffee at the end.
Drip coffee is different.
It doesn’t use pressure at any point. Instead, it uses gravity and the gradual process of the water effectively dripping through the ground coffee with the coffee itself, then landing in the glass jug sitting below the filter.
What are the Caffeine Levels in Drip Coffee and an Americano?
I’ve mentioned a few of the differences, but one area I’ve not discussed yet is the caffeine levels, and this is where you may be surprised.
People automatically presume an Americano will have more caffeine, which is an easy mistake. However, the added liquid to the Americano changes things.
According to the Mayo Clinic and a study they carried out, an 8-oz cup of coffee has anywhere from 95mg to 200mg of caffeine. However, an Americano with a double shot in it will have from 94mg to 150mg of caffeine.
So, it shows how it’s the intense taste from an Americano that makes the difference.
The Key Differences Between Americano and Drip Coffee
To round things off, here are the key differences for you to consider when comparing an Americano and drip coffee.
- An Americano is an espresso with hot water added
- An Americano has more of an intense taste
- Drip coffee uses gravity to allow the water to come through
- Americano uses pressure and steam
- Americano tends to use dark roasted beans
- Drip coffee uses light to medium roasts
- Drip coffee has a silkier taste
- Americano is more full-bodied
- Americano is often viewed as the stronger coffee, but caffeine is the same
In short, they may both be black coffee, but there are significant differences between the two that ultimately turn them into entirely different drinks.
As you can see, there are some significant differences between an Americano and drip coffee, and the taste result at the end will be markedly different as well. Which one is best does depend on personal preference, but why not try both and mess around with different beans as well to see which one comes out on top for you?
For me? It has to be an Americano all the way, as it just gives a better blast of flavor that is often missing from drip coffee, in my opinion.