While we love drinking espresso on a daily basis, it’s certainly not an all-day drink.
What We'll Cover
What can you do, then, if you fancy the immediacy and intensity of espresso but you also want a longer drink?
An americano is the obvious solution and we’ll show you how to make one the easy way today.
The good news first: making an americano involves nothing more than a shot of espresso – ideally a double or triple shot – and some hot water.
The bad news?
You’ll need to know how to make great espresso as the success of your americano hinges on the quality of this base.
Luckily, we can show you how to enjoy short shots just like the Italians make them.
Once you’ve got this in place, you can elongate your shots into a first-class americano.
What’s this drink all about, then?
I. What Is an Americano?
Americano is Italian for American coffee.
To confuse the issue, in Italian, a caffé americano can refer to either an espresso diluted with hot water or filtered coffee.
For the purposes of today, we’ll be using the definition recognized in the US: espresso diluted with hot water.
The name is rumored to originate from WWII with American GIs in Italy claimed to have watered down their espresso so it tasted more like the coffee from home. This rumor is not substantiated but it makes a nice story.
Whatever the origins, an americano is a staple of modern life so we’ll show you how to make one at home without too much trouble.
II. How To Make an Espresso
As we mentioned above, the core component of an americano is the espresso base.
While you can make espresso-style drinks without a machine, we wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re serious about coffee and you hanker after americano, you’ll need to invest in some simple kit to make that happen…
What You Need
- Espresso machine
- Fresh whole coffee beans
- Filtered water
What To Do
- Dose your coffee: Weigh 7 to 9g of coffee beans for a single shot or 14 to 18g for a double. Use a digital scale if possible. Accuracy is key to achieving that golden cup of coffee.
- Grinding time: For optimum results, grind your beans right before you brew. You should grind the beans to a fine consistency like table salt for great espresso.
- Don’t stint on the water: Given that fully 90% of the contents of your cup are water, why not use the best? Skip the faucet water and use bottled water instead. Failing this, filter your water before brewing to eliminate impurities.
- It’s portafilter time: Place your grounds directly into the portafilter. Try to ensure they’re evenly distributed. Rap your knuckles on the side of the portafilter to make sure the grounds are neatly settled.
- Tamp the grounds: You should use the tamping tool you have in place to press down with perhaps 30 pounds of pressure so your grounds are fully compacted.
- Brew: Lock the portafilter in place and fire up your espresso machine.
- Pour and serve: 25 seconds is the norm for extraction time. Pour your double shot of espresso and you’re ready to take things to the next level.
III. An Alternative Way To Make Espresso
Now, we’re not going to highlight manual espresso makers or moka pots, both of which make serviceable approximations of espresso.
Instead, we’d suggest a single-serve, pod-based espresso machine if you want a short, strong shot with adequate pressure but without resorting to a semi-automatic espresso machine.
With these Nespresso or Keurig single-serve espresso machines – you can find plenty of other brands, too – what you lose in terms of flexibility you gain tenfold when it comes to convenience.
Espresso purists might scoff at single-serve machines but for a no-nonsense espresso you can use for your next americano, try one of these push-button gems.
IV. How To Make an Americano
Whatever the origins of the name, you’ll need an espresso to get your americano started.
Whether you make it using an elaborate lever-driven machine, with a moka pot, or a single-serve pod-based machine, get the espresso right and the rest of the process falls neatly into place.
What You Need
- Double shot of espresso
- Hot water
What To Do
- Preheat the mug you’ll be using for your finished drink by adding some hot water.
- Set aside a double shot of espresso in a separate glass.
- Many baristas recommend water heated to 185F for americano. Add hot water to the cup you preheated having discarded the contents.
- Pour your espresso shot into the hot water for a perfect americano
Note: You can add hot water to an espresso shot rather than adding the shot to the hot water. Doing it as recommended above will give you the best crema.
V. Bonus Tip: Ratios
Now, before we wrap up for today, we need to mention the importance of water ratios.
We’ll also take this chance to underscore that there is no right or wrong when making coffee. All that counts is harnessing and fine-tuning a brewing method so the end result in your cup is exactly to your liking.
Nevertheless, there are certain guidelines you should use as a base to operate from.
One area you need to focus on when making americano is the water ratio.
The obvious starting point is that the amount of water you use to dilute your espresso will determine the strength of your americano.
Now, there are complicated tables you could use to start weighing up water and working with precision. In the case of americano, though, we’d urge you to start out by using roughly 8oz of water for a double shot of espresso. This will give you a reasonably strong americano so dial things back if you prefer a slightly more subtle drink.
As with all elements of making coffee using various brewing methods, record your results. Keeping a simple notebook or electronic record makes it much easier to replicate your preferred brew every time.
We would also suggest you embrace the experimentation stage rather than getting impatient. After all, making great coffee is all about getting hands-on and exploring variables so you can tweak things and get gourmet coffee on-demand at home.
Well, you should now be absolutely clear on how to make an exceptional americano rather than relying on Starbucks to make it for you.
To recap, you’ll need to start with a double shot of espresso. This forms the basis of your americano. From there, experiment with water ratio until you’ve dialed in the drink of your dreams.
We would add in closing that using freshly ground beans really does make a difference that far outweighs the minimum effort involved.
Before you leave, don’t forget to bookmark BestCoffee. We strive to be your one-stop shop for all things coffee-related so pop back any time you need some handy hints on making that golden cup at home.