If you are an avid coffee drinker always in coffee shops looking for something new to try, a Caffè Americano is a great coffee selection, although it is not a new coffee. If you own an espresso or aeropress machine, you can fulfill your morning coffee needs with a Caffè Americano easily in the comfort of your own home. Surprisingly, it has no special additions to its ingredients and is fairly easy to make with only a few steps required. You have probably seen it on the menu and have been curious about what it is exactly and how you can make it yourself. This guide will teach you that, step by step.
The Caffè Americano, also known as the Americano, has its own certain way to be made; it has its own neat history, and it has its own exclusive taste and texture. If you have tried espresso and feel it is too strong, the Caffè Americano is a good alternative. If you enjoy drip coffee but feel it is too thin, Caffè Americano is a good alternative as well. This coffee has a nice, low-key aroma, a light taste of espresso, and an amazing flavor of crema on top.
What is Caffè Americano?
Caffè Americano is a type of popular coffee drink usually found on the menu in coffee shops to place for order. This type of coffee is even found at the well-known, American-coffee company, Starbucks. To simply put it, a Caffè Americano is a watered-down espresso-based drink. If you take a cup of hot water that was just boiled and pour one or two shots of espresso over it, you have an easy Americano. The espresso shots in an Americano are topped over hot water to produce a light layer of crema. A true Americano will have this unique layer of crema on top from where the hot water has forced the aromatic oils out of the coffee beans. You can add milk, cream, or sugar, but it is best served black for its original taste. If you enjoy the combination of coffee and milk, check out this guide on Caffè Latte.
The history of Caffè Americano
The Caffè Americano comes from the traditional Italian espresso during World War 2. The American soldiers stationed in Europe enjoyed drinking coffee, but they found the Italian espresso to be too strong for their tastes. It was too different than the coffee they enjoyed in the United States. Therefore, the American soldiers began adding hot water to the Italian traditional drink to dilute it and solved this problem.
Most Italian baristas would automatically start giving the American soldiers a cup of hot water on the side because they knew they would request it. So, it became a popular solution and a standard practice to begin putting the espresso into a larger cup and top it with hot water. Additionally, the soldiers brought the Caffè Americano back with them when they returned to the United States, and it was enjoyed by all.
This coffee is now commonly known all over the world as the shortened version, “Americano” and easily found and will remain on menus at coffee shops.
What does Caffè Americano taste like?
The Caffè Americano may be made up of the same ingredients as an espresso and a cup of black coffee, but the taste is quite different. If you do not like black coffee and want a terrific cup of coffee that is full of flavor but not too strong, you should try an Americano. If you drink a regular cup of black coffee and then drink a cup of Americano, you will likely taste the significant difference. So if you love drip coffee, imagine a coffee that is just as good and not burned, bitter, or sour; that is the famous Americano.
The Americano offers a variability in flavor. The espresso grounds come from different places around the world and each brewer has their own formulas and ingredients to making it. If you drink espresso alone, it might taste burnt, bitter, or overpowering. However, you will be able to enjoy the espresso and taste it better with added water. An Americano’s added water brings out all the hidden flavors you did not know were there before. You will be able to taste all the different varieties of roasts and coffees from around the world if you try them in a Caffè Americano form.
The Americano also comes with a rich flavor and creamy, smooth texture that people enjoy and keep coming back for. It is not as thick as plain espresso but not as thin as regular drip coffee; it is just a perfect in-between. The layer of foam called the crema adds another layer of flavor to the Americano that truly sets it apart from regular drip coffees. Another feature to mention is the Americano’s temperature is warmer than other coffees from adding the hot water to it. So, the warmth should last slightly longer.
How to make Caffè Americano
All this talk about coffee makes you thirsty, right? Let me show you how you can make your very own Americano at home. First, you will need an espresso machine or aeropress to make the espresso. The other items you also need are espresso beans to fill the espresso machine or aeropress with, a tamper, a filter if you choose to use an aeropress, a serving cup, and an espresso glass. Once it is made, you then pour the espresso over hot water slowly and voila, you have a Caffè Americano to enjoy. Believe me, it is not that difficult. Here is how you make the perfect Americano, step by step.
First, we make the espresso with an espresso machine:
1. Measure and grind the espresso beans
It will have the most desirable flavor if you grind the beans at home. Be sure to grind the coffee for the espresso finer than you would when making drip coffee. For a double shot of espresso, measure 18-21 grams (3-4 tablespoons). You also can purchase espresso that is already ground.
2. Pour the espresso into a portafilter
Pour the espresso grounds in a portafilter. Make sure it is completely clean. Pack the espresso into the portafilter by pressing down on it using the tamper. If the grounds are not packed well enough, the espresso will go through the machine much quicker and there will be no flavor remaining. You also want to make sure that the surface of the portafilter basket is covered evenly with espresso grounds. Ensure that by pressing down with about 30 to 40 pounds of pressure.
3. Place the portafilter in the espresso machine
Turn the group head of the espresso machine on and off, then the hot water will begin dripping out of it. Make sure you complete this step before putting the portafilter that contain the espresso into the machine. This cleans it and makes sure it will make you the best possible cup of espresso. Then you take the portafilter and place it in the group head. Make sure it is twisted firmly in place.
4. Make a double espresso shot
Once you have placed the grounds in the machine, begin making the shot of espresso to prevent the grounds from burning. Place a cup or a drinking pitcher below the portafilter. You will begin to see the espresso dripping out from the spout after some time, it usually takes several seconds. A few seconds later it will run consistently through the portafilter.
5. Stop the process after 23-28 seconds
The espresso will start to thin down and the color turns lighter. Once this happens, you may stop pulling it. It should only take around 23-28 seconds to make a double shot of espresso. Now, you have completed the step of creating the espresso for the Americano.
Next, we create the Americano:
6. Begin boiling water
Pour water into a kettle and begin heating the water until it boils. You can use an electric kettle, or you can heat the water in a kettle on the stove. Keep in mind that a kettle on the stove takes time to bring the water to a boil, unlike an electric kettle.
7. Fill cup with hot water
Pour as much water as you would like in your cup. Most people use 2 parts of water to 1 parts of espresso. The more water used, the weaker the taste of the Americano will be. If you plan to add milk and cream, you may want to use a little less water as well. You will need to leave room for cream or sugar if you or the person you are serving desires them.
8. Pour espresso over the hot water
You should not pour the espresso before the water because it will ruin the rich crema of the espresso. If you do not mind not having the crema, then you can pour the espresso before the water. This is often debated by coffee lovers. The crema is a distinctive feature of the Americano, so I recommend pouring the espresso last for better results. Slowly pour the espresso over the hot water in your cup. Then, enjoy the Americano immediately. You also can place your cup with hot water under the espresso as it drips out of the machine, if you prefer. The Caffè Americano can be topped with whipped cream to make sweeter if desired.
Use an Aeropress to make espresso
You can also make the espresso with an Aeropress, which is done a little differently:
1. Measure and grind the beans. For the most desirable flavor, use whole beans. Grind the beans on a fine setting. The espresso grounds should almost look like sand in consistence. Measure out around 15-20 grams for a shot of double espresso. I mentioned before that you should use whole beans, but it does not have to say specifically for espresso on the packaging. You can use whatever kind of coffee beans you want; just make sure that you finely grind them for espresso.
2. Boil some water and clean the aeropress filter. Pour cold water in a kettle. Wait for it to begin boiling. Then take the aeropress and place a paper filter at the bottom of it. Wet the filter by pouring some hot water through it. If any water drips into the cup through the filter, throw it out.
3. Pour the espresso grounds and hot water in the aeropress. Place the aeropress on top of a cup. Pour the grounds of espresso in it. Then add the hot water. Stop when it reaches right above line number 2 on the aeropress.
4. Let it steep and then plunge it. Begin stirring the water and then let it steep for a few seconds. Add the plunger and slowly press it all the way to the bottom. It takes around half a minute to press the plunger down completely. Then, lift up from the aeropress. Again, if you do not mind having less crema, instead of pouring the espresso into the hot water, you can do it the opposite way around and pour it in the espresso for a quicker Americano.
Iced Caffè Americano
Another excellent Americano option in the summer heat is the iced Caffè Americano. For this type of Americano, you do not need the hot water. Simply, fill up a glass with ice and pour cold water on top of it. Pour the espresso that you made with one of the two options mentioned above over the fresh iced water. Here is a bonus tip: use leftover coffee to make ice cubes. This will give the drink a stronger coffee taste which will help your Caffè Americano not become as watered-down because the coffee ice cubes will melt inside it. Enjoy your ice-cold Americano on a warm day!
Before you go, would you like a cup of cappuccino? I know I do!