Americano vs drip coffee – an ongoing debate among coffee aficionados and today’s topic. Which tastes better? Which is stronger? How is an Americano made? And what grind size should you use for drip coffee?
Keep reading to find out all these answers and more as we break it all down.
How is an Americano made?
Americano is a coffee beverage that you get when you dilute an espresso shot with hot water. In this sense, an Americano will have the strength of a traditionally brewed coffee, but with an entirely different yet distinct flavor.
The common belief is that the name Americano comes from American soldiers during World War II, who would dilute the espresso given to them to recreate the coffee they were used to back home.
So how exactly is an Americano made? Well, as you read above, the Americano is basically an espresso shot diluted using hot water. This means that you’ll first need to pull a shot of espresso.
Espresso is produced by forcing steam through coffee grounds at high pressure. Compared to the drip brewing method, pulling an espresso shot requires hotter water (steam), much finer coffee grounds, and way less time. At the end of the process, you’ll get one or two shots of espresso.
Once you have your espresso ready (one espresso shot is about 1 ounce), add hot water to transform the small, strong shot of espresso into a larger, weaker, cup of coffee that takes after drip coffee.
The exact amount of hot water you should use to make an Americano can vary depending on your preference. But generally speaking, 3 ounces of hot water for every shot of espresso is a good place to start.
Of course, you can experiment all you want and try different amounts of espresso and water until you find the perfect blend that hits the right spot. You can even add sugar, cinnamon, or honey although lots of people prefer to keep it as is.
As for how it looks, there are two ways you can prepare an Americano to alter its final look:
- Espresso first then diluting with hot water – this will make an Americano that looks exactly like a cup of regular coffee.
- Hot water first then adding espresso on top – this method will keep the crema of the espresso intact on top of the drink.
How is Drip Coffee made?
Almost every household across the country has a drip coffee maker sitting on the kitchen counter or at least had one at some point. These machines are just so convenient; they’ll brew you a nice cup of coffee with a simple flip of a switch – that’s what coffee dreams are made of!
To understand how drip coffee is made, you need to know how a drip coffee maker works. As far as modern-day coffee machines go, the drip coffee brewer is about as simple as they come. If you take a look inside any drip coffee maker, you’ll find the following components:
- Heating Element – a simple coiled wire that’s very similar to the heating element inside your toaster or the filament inside of a light bulb. This coil gets seriously hot as soon as electricity runs through it.
When you first put water into a drip coffee maker, the heating element heats it up. After brewing, the same heating element keeps the coffee warm.
- Plaster – the coil we just talked about is usually embedded in some plaster to make sure it remains intact with repeated use.
- Grease – the heating element is sandwiched between the machine’s warming plate and water tube. Grease is located at the site of contact between the heating element and the warming plate to ensure an efficient transfer of heat.
There’s nothing too complex inside a drip coffee maker. Now, it’s time to explain how this fascinating machine makes drip coffee.
- When you pour cold water into your drip coffee brewer, it’ll flow from the main reservoir to an orange tube via a hole.
Then, the water will move through a one-way valve to enter an aluminum tube positioned in the machine’s heating element. After that, the water partially rises up through a white tube.
Keep in mind that all of this happens under the effect of gravity.
- Once you flip the switch to turn on the drip coffee maker, the heating element will instantly start to heat up the aluminum tube and the water inside of it will begin to boil.
As the water boils, the produced bubbles will travel up into the white tube, just like mentioned above. These bubbles are also the reason you may hear a gurgling sound.
- A column of water will then ride up on top of the bubbles. This is due to the tube being small enough and the bubbles being big enough to carry water across a short distance.
The hot water will continue to rise up the tube until it’s evenly dispersed over the coffee grounds in the filter.
- After completely covering the coffee, the water will flow through the grounds to pick up the oil essence of coffee. This happens as the water makes its way back down, dripping into your coffee pot.
Do You Use the Same Kind of Coffee for Drip Coffee and Americano?
If by that you mean a certain coffee brand or type of coffee beans, then yes, you can use the same kind of coffee. The difference between drip coffee and Americano is mainly the method of preparation and the grind size of the coffee.
Using the same kind of coffee in both brewing techniques, here’s what you should expect:
- Drip coffee – the slower process of a drip coffee maker allows delicate, floral, and sweet flavors to shine through over the brewing time. You’ll be able to get the subtle flavors of the used coffee beans with a drip coffee. But you’ll find no crema here.
- Americano – you’ll get a rich, dark, full-bodied taste from an Americano with no trace of coffee’s lighter notes due to the high temperature used in brewing this beverage.
What Kind of Coffee Grinds Can You Make? Fine? Coarse?
Before all else, you should know that the way you grind your beans can extremely affect how your coffee tastes. To get the best flavor and achieve maximum enjoyment, you need to use the correct coffee grounds.
- Drip coffee – you should use coffee beans that are coarsely ground. It should have a gritty texture similar to coarse sand or kosher salt.
- Americano – a great espresso requires finely ground coffee. It should feel smooth yet you should be able to sense the individual grains.
What Type of Roast Produces Better Coffee? Dark? Light?
The choice of roast type mainly depends on the preference of each individual. However, most baristas recommend medium roast beans for both drip coffee and Americano.
In drip coffee, the automated machine is likely to take just a little bit away from the flavor, so a light roast is probably going to be too weak while a dark roast can be too strong for many folks.
For an Americano, any roast type can be used to brew an espresso, but medium or medium dark roasts are the holy grail for pulling a perfect shot. This will give you a more balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity without the typical bitter aftertaste of a dark roast.
Which Brews Stronger Coffee?
If you mean which coffee has a stronger flavor, then the Americano will take this one home. Yes, it’s weaker than a typical espresso shot, but even then it’d be more flavor-packed than a drip coffee.
But if we’re talking caffeine-wise, both beverages are about the same strength. According to Mayo Clinic, an 8-ounce cup of regular drip coffee contains approximately 96 milligrams of caffeine, whereas a single shot of espresso has approximately 64 milligrams of coffee. Most coffee shops use two shots of espresso to make an Americano, making the total caffeine content around 128 milligrams.
Which is Cheaper?
An 8-ounce Americano will cost you more than an 8-ounce cup of freshly brewed drip coffee at any cafe. This makes sense because a double shot of espresso usually costs more than an 8-ounce cup of drip coffee.
There you go – everything you need to know about the Americano vs drip coffee predicament. Hopefully, you can now make a better-informed choice the next time you’re ordering a beverage at a coffee shop.