Americano Vs. Espresso (Quick Facts)

Last Updated on September 25, 2021 by John Moretti

Two of the most common terms or words heard in coffee shots are Americano and Espresso. The difference between Americano and Espresso can become confusing when you earn that Americano is prepared with Espresso. To help to clear up any confusion, here are the facts.

Americano is prepared by pouring hot water into a single or double shot of Espresso. An Espresso is simply drinking a straight shot of Espresso without any additives. Hot water dilutes Espresso into an Americano, making it easier and lighter to drink. Straight Espresso is dark, thick, and bitter.

The differences between an Espresso and an Americano becomes very clear if you try both drinks side-by-side. Americanos are made with Espresso, but a straight Espresso has its own special prep methods and characteristics that can not be found anywhere else. Let’s directly compare the Americano with the Espresso to clearly identify the differences between them.

Americano Vs. Espresso: The Facts

To make the difference between these two drinks more clear, let’s directly compare an Americano and an Espresso:

Prepared with espresso shots and hot waterPrepared straight with no added ingredients
Easy drinkingVery intense and difficult to drink
All subtle coffee flavors are easily identifiableIt tastes very bitter and heavy
Not made with milk or creamNot made with milk or cream
Not made with sugarNot made with sugar
10 – 16 ounces total volume1 – 2 ounces total volume
Can be prepared using any type of coffee beansIs typically prepared with specialty Espresso beans

How Is An Americano Prepared?

The Americano, also known as the Café Americano, is an espresso-based drink, but it is a drink on its own. An Americano is very different from a straight Espresso.

An Americano is prepared by pulling a single or double shot of Espresso and adding it to hot water. The addition of the hot water dilutes the Espresso, dissolves the espresso crema, and makes the coffee much lighter and easier to drink.

To prepare an Americano, first, prepare a single or double shot of Espresso, depending on your preferences.

A single espresso shot is typically about 1oz of fluid. Have some hot water on hand, and once the Espresso is prepared, combine 10 – 12 ounces of hot water with 1 – 2 ounces of Espresso.

An Americano can be made with any type of coffee beans. No specialty beans are required for this. In fact, the addition of hot water to dilute the Espresso used to make an Americano helps to soften the flavors of the coffee.

This softening allows the drinker to identify the more subtle flavor tones in the coffee, rather than being overpowered with the intense taste of Espresso.

This means that an American be prepared with any type and roast of coffee beans and allows roasteries and baristas to experiment more with the beans they use for Americano-style drinks.

Americanos can be made cold and served over ice for a strong iced coffee drink.

How Is Espresso Prepared?

Espresso is the purest, strongest, most intense form of coffee, and drinking it as a stand-alone drink is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart.

Espresso is made with a pressurized espresso machine. The drink “Espresso” is the unaltered product of finely ground coffee beans pulled through a high-pressure machine to release the full and intense flavor of the coffee beans.

This Espresso is used to make other types of coffee drinks such as Cappuccinos and Lattes, but it can be enjoyed straight and on its own, in which case it is referred to as Espresso.

The drink Espresso is very strong and can be prepared as a single or a double shot. A single shot is Espresso is typically 1oz of fluid. It is thick, similar to hot honey, very dark, and very intense tasting.

This drink is not diluted or combined with any other ingredients, and it is simply the roasted coffee beans brewed quickly and at high pressure with very hot water in an espresso machine.

This is one of the most simple coffee drinks around, but it is also the most intense and flavorful coffee drink possible.

Espresso is typically made with coffee beans that are specially prepared for Espresso. Roasteries often use high-quality Robusta coffee beans for the extra caffeine content and dark, full flavor that they provide.

Espresso is famous for being Italian, and Italian Robusta coffee beans are a favorite among Espresso drinkers.

Americano Vs. Espresso: Taste Comparison

The best way to compare these two coffee drinks is to directly compare the way they taste.

Let’s begin with Espresso:

Espresso is very intense tasting. This drink is very bitter, very rich, and feels thick in the mouth. The flavor of Espresso gets more intense the more you drink it, and it can be challenging to identify any subtle flavors unless you are an experienced Espresso drinker.

The beans that are used for this type of drink are designed to be heavy and dark, allowing for the full Espresso experience. These beans taste extra bitter but can leave an aftertaste of chocolate or earthy flavors on the tongue.

The taste of an Americano:

Americanos are so-called because this drink was invented in World War 1 when American soldiers diluted the strong Italian coffee that they were introduced to in Italy with hot water to make the coffee less strong and easier to drink.

This explains the taste of an Americano quite well. 

An Americano is a diluted Espresso. However, the diluted nature of the drink makes the coffee much less bitter, much more palatable, and it makes it far easier to identify and enjoy all of the subtle flavors within the coffee.

The Americano tastes stronger than regular black coffee, and the way the Espresso for an Americano is prepared releases more flavor from the beans than regular black coffee. This means that an Americano is an extremely flavorful cup of coffee without the intense bitterness of an Espresso.

The Final Word

At the end of it, an Americano is a diluted Espresso. Both of these drinks have their strengths and weaknesses, but most coffee drinkers will prefer an Americano for its lighter flavor. 

Espresso is very intense, and it can be difficult to drink, but once you get used to it, there is simply nothing that will match the flavor and kick of a true, straight Espresso.

One thing is for sure – if you want to get into Espresso drinking, give yourself time to become accustomed to this style of coffee, and take your time to find the right beans and roast for your own preferences.