If you are in the States, chances are you already know what an Americano is. You may order it every day, enjoy the taste, and swear your brain is not functioning properly without it. But you may not know the history that lies behind the creation of an Americano. The same with its friend, or rival Brewed Coffee, depending on what you feel about these two drinks. So let’s go find out about their origins, brewing methods, down to the caffeine content from each cup.
What is Americano?
Americano is an espresso-based beverage that make by topping up hot water on a cup of espresso. According to the New York Times, legend has it that Americano was the creation of American servicemen who stationed in Italy during World War II. By that time, the US serviceman consumed roughly 32.5 pounds of coffee per capita annually.
Coffee was obviously a famous drink among millions of soldiers, whether they loved it, or it merely helped keep them going. Espresso from Italy was a strong, rich small cup of coffee that US soldiers were not familiar with. To dilute it, they added hot water to espresso, and the humble Americano was born. So much can change from that day, but Americano remained as a popular drink, made by American and geared toward American taste.
What is Brewed Coffee?
People often make brewed coffee by pouring hot water over ground roasted coffee and let it brew. There are several methods of making brewed coffee, with or without a coffee machine. Some places use a mesh filter; some use paper, cloth, or French press to produce brewed coffee.
The hot water poured over ground coffee helped extract various soluble compounds in coffee. It creates brewed coffee that is flavorful and has a more subtle flavor compares with a cup of espresso.
Americano vs Brewed Coffee
Types of coffee beans
Any coffee starts with the coffee beans. The quality of the beans, its original characteristics, and flavor all contribute to the taste of the coffee. Then comes the roasting method that ranges from a light roast, medium roast, medium-dark roast, and dark roast. From then, the coffee oil, bitterness, body texture, caffeine content, aroma, and flavor change.
There is no difference in the type of coffee beans use for Americano and brewed coffee. However, some coffee beans and roasting levels that are more suitable to make espresso (main ingredient in Americano) than brewed coffee. It would be best for the coffee shop owners or barista to taste different kinds to find their favorite.
The grind size is essential as it differs depending on which coffee you intended to make. People usually use a finer grind for espresso, Americano, and coarser grind to make brewed coffee.
In addition, for brewed coffee, depend on the types of coffee makers that you use, the grind size will also vary. For example, if you use French press or Percolator, you will need coarse grind, however if you use Chemex, you need medium-coarse grind.
If you want to buy your coffee beans and grind them, make sure to grind as close to the time of brewing as possible for maximum freshness and flavor.
As an espresso-based coffee drink, Americano is made by using espresso machine. At first, the barista need to extract espresso shot into the coffee cup. Then the coffee will be topped up with hot water from the hot water valve in the espresso machine. In the other world, Americano cannot be made without espresso machine.
On the other hand, brewed coffee is more traditional brewing method. The coffee is made by pouring hot water over roasted ground coffee and let it drips down to a pot or cup underneath. People make brewed coffee differently based on what type of coffee makers they have. Or they follow the conventional method and create tasty coffee based on their preferences. But Drip or Filter Coffee is among the most popular form of making brewed coffee. The filter can be disposable (like a paper filter) or build in. Other methods for brewed coffee include Pour Over, Percolate, or French Press. Each method has its characteristics, but for a good cup of coffee, temperature, time, and technique are important.
Even though both Americano and Brewed Coffee use the same two components, coffee grounds, and hot water. The differences in preparation set them apart from each other. Some find that a cup of Americano is richer with a full-bodied taste. As it starts with a shot or two of espresso that already has an intense flavor. Some prefer the aroma and soft flavor of brewed coffee as for them, Americano is the diluted, weaker espresso. However, the taste of coffee also depends on the coffee’s origin, flavor, quality, and roasting level. So some coffee may be more suitable for brewed coffee than Americano and vice versa.
While Americano may have more consistency in terms of taste, the brewed coffee taste can vary significantly from place to place. It is because there are various ways to brew coffee. Each coffee brewing methods will alter the flavor of coffee and also its caffeine content. Brewed coffee from a French press coffee machine would taste different from Drip Coffee or Percolated Coffee, and so on.
One small 6 to 8 fl. oz (177 to 236 ml) cup of Americano contains about 77 milligrams of caffeine. One 12 fl. oz (355 ml) cup of Americano contains up to 154 milligrams of caffeine. It is considered a high amount of caffeine per cup. The caffeine content would be different from the type of coffee beans, the amount of ground coffee used, and brewing methods.
One 8 fl. oz (236 ml) cup of brewed coffee contains, on average, 95 milligrams of caffeine or as high as 163 milligrams. Just like a cup of Americano, the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee depends on many factors. But in general, a regular cup of brewed coffee has a higher amount of caffeine compared to a cup of Americano. If you want to limit your caffeine intake, that may be what you need to keep in mind the next time you order a cup of coffee.