7 Things About Americano Coffee You Didn’t Know

With a long and fascinating history dating back to World War 2 and other names such as long black and dripped coffee, Americano can be confusing to most of us.

But nevertheless, it remains a staple on the menu of every hipster coffee shop.

So, what actually is Americano coffee?

Let’s take a deeper look in to this very popular coffee in the United States.

Quick Summary : Americano is a drink popular among US military during World War 2.  It is a type of coffee where hot water is used to dilute the espresso, making it a lighter than other coffee.

1. Its Origins Date Back to World War 2

Soldiers Drinking Americano during WW2

Americans have been enjoying coffee since the early ranchers and cowboys brewed Arbuckle Coffee around campfires during the Gold Rush era. 

But it wasn’t until World War 2 that the American coffee industry really took off.

The caffè Americano in particular dates back to World War II and ranging from small-town America to the gritty army barracks in 1940s Italy. 

The Americano is about as American as apple pie and has its roots, as many U.S. trends do, in military history.

2. American Soldiers Invented Americano in Italy

Coffee for the Army

The Marines’ secret weapon during the war, apparently, was coffee, according to a New York Times article that dove deep into the history of American coffee culture. 

Servicemen were drinking 32.5 pounds of coffee per capita, encouraging the Army Quartermaster Corps to roast, grind, and ship vacuum-sealed coffee beans overseas.

In part due to the ritual of making it, and in part due to the effects that helped them stay awake for long hours, soldiers during WW2 became obsessed with coffee, including those stationed in Italy. 

The Italians had their own peculiar way of preparing coffee, and the American servicemen found it too bitter for their tastes. 

As a result, they began adding water to the rich, heady dark espresso, and the Americano was born.

3. It is Not Dripped Coffee

2 Cups of Dripped Coffee

When most people think of Americano coffee, they think of drip coffee, contained in a flask that keeps it warm until it needs to be served. 

This oddly specific image is probably a result of too many British detective movies and literature, many of which featured grizzled characters slugging lukewarm coffee from tin flasks as they ventured through the English countryside.

This portrayal is simultaneously hokey and romantic, but it’s unlikely you’ll find any law enforcement officers drinking it this way in contemporary Britain.

On the other hand, there is some truth to the stereotype. 

The drip coffee method is occasionally used when preparing the Long Black style of Americano. However, it is understood among baristas that this is a more diluted and thus less authentic version. 

Typically, modern coffee bars will differentiate between the Long Black and the traditional Americano.

4. Americano is Very Easy to Prepare

Pouring Hot Water into Americano

If you are interested in learning how to brew an Americano on your own, the preparation is relatively simple. After all, this drink needed to be prepared in army barracks. 

The original soldiers who invented the Americano weren’t interested in adding any extra-special steps to their morning coffee routine. Fortunately, the preparation is still a breeze, even for those who are new to brewing coffee at home.

5. Americano is Espresso Infused with Hot Water

Pouring Espresso into Water to Make Americano

Consider the process of making a latte. 

It’s essentially an espresso with steamed milk, right? 

The Americano is exactly the same, except infused with hot water. All you need to do is pull an espresso shot into a glass, typically at least 3oz, while heating up another 3oz of hot water.

Once the water is heated, pour it into the mug you plan on drinking from, and blend the espresso shot. 

Depending on which you pour first, you may get a more diluted flavor; water poured over a shot can occasionally break apart the espresso.

6. There is A Golden Water-Espresso Ratio

Composition of Americano Coffee

It goes without saying that the ideal water-to-espresso ratio ensures that your Americano will taste just right, as opposed to too bitter or too watery.

Preparing the perfect Americano is a bit like going back to chemistry class, but without the stress of finals and with the benefit of walking away with a delicious caffeinated drink.

The science behind the Americano has been established by much greater minds than ours, and at least one at-home barista has figured out what appears to be the ideal ratio of water to espresso.

Apparently, this was calculated based on the mass of the ground coffee beans and the desired strength of the Americano. If you’re preparing your drink at home, you can, of course, tailor it to your liking. 

7. Not Every Coffee Shop Follow the Golden Ratio

Americano Golden Ratio between Espresso and Water

If you order an Americano at any given coffee shops, you should keep in mind that most baristas follow a different ratio that is slightly heavier on the water, resulting in weaker coffee drinks. 

Coffee shop baristas serve dozens of people per day, and as such, are trained to accommodate different customers’ tastes. Most likely, they will err on the side of caution and make a weaker drink. 

If this is a dealbreaker, don’t be afraid to ask what ratio they’re working with. This will save you and the barista a lot of hassle.

Ryan Hamilton

About Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Hamilton is in the process of opening his own roastery after working in a cafe for the past 5 years. He graduated with a degree in English literature and decided to combine his passion for writing with the knowledge he had gained about the coffee industry.