What’s the Difference Between a Cafe Americano and a Regular Coffee?


Are you a coffee snob like I am? Many people simply cannot live without it. If they do not take it, they go through their day feeling as though there is something missing. Personally, I don’t think I’ve reached that level, but I do pride myself on being able to tell the difference between good coffee and bad coffee.

If you’ve spent any time at espresso bars or places like Starbucks, you probably know that there is regular coffee and café Americano. But what’s the difference between them? Many casual coffee drinkers think that they’re the same thing, but they aren’t.

Regular coffee is made from roasted beans or seeds of the coffee plant. It is brewed using various methods that include French press immersion, dripping water through grains, percolation, or simply adding grains directly to a pot of water and then boiling.

Café Americano on the other hand is derived from espresso, which is much more finely ground than regular coffee. It is made by adding hot water to the espresso until it becomes the same strength as regular drip coffee. It is reported to have originated from Second World War when American GIs that were stationed in Europe would add hot water to espresso in order to get the approximate amount of coffee that they were used to.

Café Americano caught on at coffee houses over time, especially in the United States. People usually order it when they wish to have a conventional brew-coffee sized drink from an espresso bar and they prefer to have the espresso enhanced flavor of café Americano. In recent years, its popularity has spread far beyond America. I’ve enjoyed great cafe Americanos from Germany to Thailand.

Regular coffee is brewed at a considerably lower temperature compared to the espresso from which café Americano is derived. The regular coffee is also brewed for a longer time using more water as well as a coarser grind. The end result is a brew that is less bitter, thinner-bodied and lighter in color compared to the espresso.

It is considered more sophisticated to order an Americano compared to the regular coffee, and as a result the former is priced higher compared to the latter. Regular coffee is considered to be the plain old stuff that can be ordered by anyone, and as a result there is not much hype about it.

You will notice a slight difference in the flavor of these types of coffee. Café Americano tastes a bit better. The difference is brought about with the style of preparation. When I go to a coffee shop, I would much rather have an Americano, freshly brewed from the best espresso machine, over a cup of coffee which could have been sitting in a pot for hours.

The nice thing about café Americano is its variability in flavor. The espresso cups usually come from various sources across the world and different brewers usually have their own specific formulas of making it. If you were to try the different types of café Americano flavors that are available, it would take you a very long time to finish all of them.

But you should not confuse the variability in flavor of café Americano with variability in quality. At its best, the Americano can be life-changing, especially if you use a top of the line espresso machine to make it such as the DeLonghi coffee maker. But if you get a bold espresso and take just a few sips of it, you might end up having a bitter taste in your mouth in just few minutes.

Café Americano generally has less caffeine content compared to a sized cup of regular coffee. For instance, an 8 Oz café Americano at Starbucks contains 75 milligrams of caffeine while regular brewed coffee contains 185 milligrams. If you’re just looking for something to wake you up and don’t care much about the taste, regular drip coffee is probably better. But if you really want to appreciate what you’re drinking, I highly suggest opting for the cafe Americano.