Caffè Americano

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Caffè Americano
Hokitika Cheese and Deli, Hokitika (3526706594).jpg
A Caffè Americano from Hokitika, New Zealand
Alternative namesLong Black
Region or stateUnited States
Main ingredientssteaming water and espresso

Caffè Americano (also known as Americano or American; Italian pronunciation: [kafˈfɛ ameriˈkaːno]; Spanish: café americano, literally American coffee) is a type of coffee drink prepared by diluting an espresso with hot water, giving it a similar strength to, but different flavor from, traditionally brewed coffee. The strength of an Americano varies with the number of shots of espresso and the amount of water added. The name is also spelled with varying capitalization and use of diacritics: e.g., café americano.

In Italy, caffè americano could mean either espresso with hot water or filtered coffee (caffè all'americana).


The term "Americano" means "American", and derives from American Spanish, dating to the 1970s,[1] or from Italy.[2] The term "caffè Americano" specifically is Italian for "American coffee".[3] There is a popular, but unconfirmed, belief that the name has its origins in World War II when American G.I.s in Italy would dilute espresso with hot water to approximate the coffee to which they were accustomed.[4]

Earlier, in his 1928 novel Ashenden: Or the British Agent, Somerset Maugham has his protagonist order and drink something called an americano in Naples during World War I, but there is not enough information to indicate whether it is the same drink.[5]

And in Maugham's short story “The Wash-Tub” from 1929, taking place in Positano, near Naples, “americano” appears again. The narrator: “I asked what there was for dinner and drank an americano, which is by no means a bad substitute for a cocktail”.


The drink consists of a single or double shot of espresso brewed with added water. Typically in the UK (and in Italy) between 1 and 16 imperial fluid ounces or 28 and 455 ml of hot water is added to the double espresso.[6]

Long Black is an Australasian term for a drink similar to the Americano (in contrast to Short Black for espresso), with an emphasis being placed on the order of preparation, adding water to the cup first before pouring the espresso on top.[7]

The term Italiano is sometimes used in the Western United States, meaning a short Americano, specifically a 1:1 espresso/water ratio.[8]

The hot water can be drawn directly from the same espresso machine that is used to brew the espresso, or from a separate water heater or kettle. Using the same heater is convenient, particularly at home, not needing a separate heater, and the water can in fact be drawn directly into the glass, either before (for a Long Black) or after (for an Americano) pulling the shot of espresso. Some espresso machines have a separate hot water spout for this purpose, while others allow the use of the steam wand for dispensing hot water. Using a separate water heater is more practical in a commercial setting, as it reduces the demands on the espresso machine, both not disrupting the temperature of the brew water and allowing an inexpensive water heater to be used for hot water, rather than the substantially more complicated espresso machine.

Caffè Americano is brewed coffee in the Philippines.


Most commonly, an Americano is used when one orders a brew-coffee sized drink from an espresso bar.

Americanos—particularly short, long-black-style Americanos—are also used within artisanal espresso preparation for beans that produce strong espresso. This is particularly used for single origin espresso, where many find that undiluted espresso shots can prove overpowering; and with lighter coffees and roasts not generally associated with espresso, such as beans of Ethiopian or Sumatran origins. For this preparation, generally a ratio of 1:1 espresso to water is used, to prevent excess dilution, with the espresso pulled directly into a cup with existing water to minimize disruption to the crema.


The iced americano is made by combining espresso with cold water instead of hot water. A lungo is made by extracting an espresso shot for longer giving more volume, but also extracting some bitter flavours. A caffè crema is also made by extracting an espresso shot significantly longer than a lungo. A red eye is made with drip coffee instead of hot water, and may be called a shot in the dark.


In 2016, the Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev humorously proposed for the coffee style to be 'renamed' to Russiano following deterioration of relations with the United States. The proposal, though humorous, had its implementation in one of Moscow's cafés.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Americano". Oxford Dictionary of English. 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  2. ^ "Americano". Collins English Dictionary. 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
  3. ^ Allerton, David J. (2010). I Only Have a Kitchen Because It Came with the House. The Foodies Handbook. p. 26. ISBN 9781446130018. Retrieved October 19, 2014. An espresso coffee diluted with hot water and containing no milk. An Italian term literally meaning ‘American coffee’
  4. ^ Coyle, Cleo (2009). Holiday Grind - a coffeehouse mystery. Berkley Publishing Group. p. 228. ISBN 9781101151143. Retrieved November 2, 2016. caffe Americano, Americano—The Italian answer to American-style drip coffee. An espresso diluted with hot water. It has a similar strength to drip coffee but a different flavor. The drink’s origin dates back to World War II when American GIs stationed in Italy added hot water to their espressos to create a drink closer to the type of coffee they were used to back home.
  5. ^ Maugham, W. Somerset (1928). "6. The Greek". Ashenden: Or the British Agent. Then he took a fly drawn by a small and scraggy pony and rattled back over the stones to the Galleria, where he sat in the cool and drank an americano and looked at the people who loitered there...
  6. ^ "Menu: Starbucks Coffee Company".
  7. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2015-02-24.
  8. ^ Espresso: Questions and Answers – Italiano drink order, 2005, Portland, OR; Regional: United States West – espresso profeta in westwood?, Los Angeles, CA, 2009
  9. ^ "'Russiano' coffee joke sparks online humour". November 17, 2016 – via

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