Espresso vs Americano: Which One Tastes Better?

By Evelina •  Updated: 07/02/21 •  7 min read

The Best Answer:

It all depends on what kind of coffee intensity you prefer. Espresso coffees are traditionally made with espresso medium roast and Americano coffees are traditionally made with dark roasted beans. Espresso is a strong, concentrated coffee flavor in contrast to the weaker flavor of an americano. Espresso may be more bitter than an Americano depending on the blend of coffee beans that was used to make it. Keep in mind that the darker the roast is, the smokier the coffee can be, as the heat dissolves the better oils that’s why Americano is a bit lighter for sure.

Espresso coffee is one of the most popular types of coffee in the world, and it is also the most commonly consumed in Italy. This coffee is made by brewing finely ground coffee through the water under pressure that comes from boiling water.

The pressure that is used during the process of making an espresso coffee helps to make it stronger than an americano coffee (which uses hot water). But keep in mind that’s when it comes to flavor, not caffeine content. 

Americano coffee can be made using either dark roasted or espresso roast (coffee beans). These are going to be quite bitter because they are a little more intense than a typical cup of joe.

In this article, we will be focusing on the main differences between espresso and americano coffee including the taste, brewing process, and more. We will also discuss which of these is considered to be better so that you can make a more informed decision about which one you prefer.

Espresso Coffee

Espresso Coffee Taste

Espresso coffee is much stronger than Americano coffee. This is because americano is basically a shot of espresso diluted by water and therefore tastes weaker.  The aroma and taste of espresso drinks are a little more powerful than americano drinks. Because of this, espresso drinkers tend to like strong flavors in their coffee. These include chocolate, caramel, berries and other rich flavors. 

Espresso Brew Time

Espresso coffee is brewed for a short period of time. They may take 20 to 35 seconds to brew, yet the two extremes might taste entirely different. Espresso coffees are roasted to make them stronger and more delicious.

Espresso Grind Size

Espresso uses a very fine grind to achieve the desired results. The smaller the grind, the more intense the taste and aroma of an espresso drink can be.

Espresso Coffee Price

An espresso coffee typically costs between $2 and $4. This is a little less than an americano coffee does.

Americano Coffee

Americano Coffee Taste

Americano coffee is less intense than an espresso. As such, it has a milder taste than an espresso. Americano drinkers generally prefer a lighter-flavored cup of coffee, often with flavors such as citrus, chocolate and fruit.

Americano Brewing Time

Americano coffee for anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds. This makes them quite similar to espresso drinks in terms of brewing time. The only additional step needed is the addition of hot water.

Americano Coffee Grind Size

Americano coffee uses the same grind size as an espresso. This is because an americano essentially is an espresso with hot water added to it.

Americano Coffee Price

An americano coffee costs between $4 and $7 to make. This is much more expensive than an espresso drink is, the reason behind that being that it takes longer time and more tools to make. 

Americano vs. Espresso: Which one is stronger?

Many people confuse the term “strong” and actually explaining which one of the two drinks is stronger is not as straightforward. First, you need to ask yourself, what do you mean by “which one is stronger?”

Do you mean which has a more intense and sharp flavour or which one has more caffeine? Let’s explain both!

First of all, to make it clear once and for all, you cannot make an Americano without an espresso. Americano is an espresso-based drink, it’s basically a shot of espresso with hot water added into it. That also answers the caffeine question.

They have the same amount of caffeine since the addition of hot water does not dilute the caffeine by the slightest. 

Regarding flavour, since hot water is added in the Americano, this immediately dilutes is and therefore the Americano tastes weaker than an espresso. Makes sense, right?

Americano vs. Espresso vs. Long Black

This is another comparison that confuses many coffee drinkers as the differences between these three drinks are in fact rather small. So let’s break each drink down to help you understand:

Espresso: a single or a double shot of coffee made using a professional espresso machine with at least 9 bars of pressure. It has a sharp flavour and it’s only 30ml or 60ml depending if it’s a single or a double shot.

Americano: a single or a double shot of coffee made using a professional espresso machine with at least 9 bars of pressure, topped with hot water of about 90 degrees Celsius. It has a weaker flavour than the espresso.

Long black: hot water topped with a single or a double shot of coffee made using a professional espresso machine with at least 9 bars of pressure. Basically a reverse americano. The reversed process ensures the espresso crema doesn’t break.

Over- and Under-Extraction Rules Explained

As mentioned above, espresso coffee is brewed for a short period of time. They may take 20 to 35 seconds to brew, yet the two extremes might taste entirely different. But what does that mean and why is it the case? Does it also mean it can affect the americano drink since you need an espresso shot to make it? Well, yes!

Basically, to brew an espresso you need a recipe that tells you a couple of things:

– How much coffee you are using
– How much water you are using
– How long you need to brew it for

If you get any of these variables wrong then you will either end up with an over-extracted espresso that tastes bitter and ashy or an under-extracted espresso that tastes sour and tangy.

That’s why all professional baristas work with recipes and actually the latest state-of-the-art coffee machines that you can program to brew espresso using a specific brewing time.

Espresso vs Americano Calories

Espresso drinks are generally much more calorie dense than an americano. According to a study published in the January 2016 edition of “Food Chemistry” by scientists at the University of Parma in Italy, espresso contains 3.8 grams of carbohydrates for every 100 grams of drink.

How does Grinding Affect an Espresso/Americano Drink?

The grind of a coffee bean affects the way that it brews. If one uses a fine grind, then the resulting drink has a stronger flavor. A coarse grind makes for a more mild tasting drink.

How strong is an Americano?

An americano can be very strong, depending on the amount of water that is used to brew it. Many people prefer different ratios! More water means weaker flavour, less water means stronger flavour. An americano will not be as strong as an espresso drink, but it can come close.

Last Thoughts

In the end, it is always worth trying both of these drinks. A coffee drinker who switches between the two may find that they like one better than the other. This could be because they prefer a stronger or more acidic flavor to suit their particular taste buds.

If you like an Americano, you may also be able to make your own at home. This will cost you less than ordering one from a coffee shop and it will be much more flexible.

Evelina

Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.