This article will explain how to get that delicious Americano coffee you love right in your own kitchen.
I’ve worked as a barista in a coffee shop for nearly a decade and been home brewing even longer than that. I reckon I’ve made over 10,000 Americanos in my time (total guess, by the way).
I’ll explain the two main options, depending on how much time and/or money you’re willing to invest. In less than five minutes time, I guarantee you’ll know how to brew a killer Americano at home.
How To Make Americanos At Home
The process of making an Americano coffee involves producing an intense shot of espresso from an espresso machine then diluting it with water. The finished result is the closest thing to “black coffee” you can get with espresso.
So the choice you have to make is whether to go all out on an espresso machine set up or pick up a single-serve coffee maker that can make something similar to an Americano.
Espresso machines are expensive and a time sink. The minimum spend to get a functional home espresso machine is around $300 for the machine itself with another $200 on a decent coffee grinder.
On top of that, learning how to pull quality espresso from your machine is a time-consuming (if fun!) hobby. It’s a massive topic and outside the scope of this article, I’m afraid. If you wanna go down that rabbit hole then good luck, I’d start by googling Gaggia espresso machines and go from there.
On the other hand, if you want something quick and easy that’ll produce near perfect Americano-style coffee, then you’re in the right place.
The following options can be used to make black coffee that is close enough to an Americano that most people won’t be able to taste the difference. Each one is simple to learn and cheap as chips.
Let’s get to it!
This cheap and cheerful little dude originated in Italy and was invented as an alternative to the more expensive espresso machine.
It was designed to be a home coffee maker and is known as a “moka pot” or its more descriptive name the “stovetop espresso coffee maker”.
The device consists of three chambers. The bottom chamber is where you add the water, the middle chamber you add ground coffee, put it all together and pop it on the stove. The heat from the stovetop makes the water rise upwards through the coffee and then comes out as coffee into the top chamber.
The moka pot results in a thick “coffee concentrate” which is kind of halfway between normal brewed coffee and espresso.
It’s perfect for making an Americano style coffee as you can just add some hot water to taste, just like you would for a real Americano.
The model I’ve chosen is the Bialetti which is actually the original moka pot invented way back in the 1930s. The iconic design has many imitators but the Bialetti company is still number one. You’ll see this brand up and down the kitchens of Southern Europe.
The Bialetti is made of aluminum, so take care to keep it clean. Particularly if you notice any small white deposits which should be scrubbed off with a little vinegar.
Also, it’s traditional to make your first brew a “lungo” which is the Italian way of saying you throw away the first coffee you make with a new Moka Pot. This cleans the device and makes sure the taste is at its best.
The Aeropress burst onto the coffee scene a decade ago and has since gone from strength to strength.
It was the brainchild of serial inventor Alan Adler. A man previously known for designing and selling world record-setting frisbees! He was unhappy with the state of home coffee makers on the market and hence created the Aeropress.
Using this device is unlike any other way to brew coffee. You pour your water in over the coffee then push it down through the coffee and into the cup below using pressure, almost like an espresso machine.
The Aeropress has attracted huge fanfare in elite coffee circles for its high customizability. Check out the “inverted method” to see what kind of tricks Aeropress users have been coming up with.
You might even be interested to know of the existence of the World Aeropress Championships where top baristas go head-to-head in their recipes for brewing Aeropress coffee!
The standard method produces a smaller amount of strong coffee, again similar to how the Americano is made. Just top this up with hot water and you’ve got a ready-made “Americano” waiting for you at a fraction of the cost and effort.
3. Kalita Wave Pour Over
The hottest thing in coffee right now has to be Pour Over.
I can’t count the number of 3rd wave coffee houses within a stone’s throw of me offering their own take on Pour Over coffee.
It’s a great option for those who like Americanos as it produces a solid cup of brewed coffee that is very similar.
My choice for best Pour Over is the Kalita Wave. Aside from looking beautiful, this thing is fantastic for beginners having a simple brew method and waved filters and flat bottomed design. This slows down the flow rate which offers a better extraction, making it more forgiving and ultimately resulting in a better cup of coffee.
The Kalita uses proprietary filters as you can see in the photos. This does mean replacing the filters is a little more awkward than picking some up at the grocery store, it typically means you have to order in advance from Amazon.
On the other hand, these specially designed paper filters are thicker than normal and offer added benefits to the extraction of your coffee.
Put simply, don’t use Kalita filters and don’t get Kalita coffee.
You can buy this coffee maker in Stainless Steel, Glass or Ceramic options. I own the Stainless Steel one which I like because it won’t break and I’m clumsy. You can see photos of mine below.
The material is purely an aesthetic choice, it won’t affect the taste of your coffee. Some materials are better at heat retention but personally I think the difference is negligible. If you want your coffee hot then use hot water.
You have two size options, the 155 which is small size and the 185 which is large. I recommend getting the 185 as you can still make smaller coffees with it, but it gives you the choice to make larger coffees or enough for two or three people.
History Of The Americano
A lot of people are first attracted to Americanos because it’s the closest thing to a normal brewed coffee.
When espresso coffee became popular out here in the states all these new Italian names were confusing. No wonder, right?
In Italy, there are (or were) two main types of coffee that could be served from an espresso machine. Espresso, the small, intense shot of super strong coffee was the standard. You get it served in a tiny cup in espresso bars, drink it quickly and get on with your day.
Cappuccino was a breakfast drink, with frothy milk added as a calorie boost during the morning hours. It’s traditionally NEVER drunk after midday.
The Americano’s name probably comes from American tastes, which prefer a coffee that is larger and less strong than an espresso but also with only a little or no milk, unlike the Cappuccino. One apocryphal story goes that it was named after the American GI’s who would top up their espresso with hot water when over in Italy during World War II.
Should I Add Milk To My Americano?
Diehard espresso nuts may claim that coffee with milk should be served as a Cappuccino or a Latte. This is the traditional viewpoint but it ignores the fact that Cappuccino’s and Latte’s have distinctive tastes, both with large amounts of milk than someone might add to an Americano.
There is no right or wrong to adding milk to Americano in my opinion. Do what you like.
Sometimes you just want a splash of milk or cream to take the edge of the bitterness. In the end, you do you.
How To Make My Americano Taste GREAT
So you’ve picked up your brand new coffee maker safe in the knowledge that you’re moments aways from brewing up some home Americanos. The natural next question is to ask how to make them taste amazing?
If you’re new to home brewing, there are two roads to go down that will elevate your coffee drinking to new levels.
Follow these and you’ll be able to compete with the coffee served in your favorite coffee shops (seriously)
Buy freshly roasted coffee beans.
Your coffee will only taste as good as the ingredients you make it with, buy the cheap crap from the bottom shelf of the grocery store and you’ll pay for it with miserable tasting coffee.
Lucky for us, high-quality coffee is reasonably priced. What you want to look for is “freshly roasted” coffee, that is, coffee that has finished roasting within the last week. Any longer and it starts to go stale fast.
Invest in a coffee grinder.
Now you’re buying bags of top tier coffee beans you might think about the next step of getting a grinder.
Most people either buy preground (goes stale fast) or use a cheap blade grinder (poor extraction.)
A decent coffee grinder is the thing stopping you from making coffee as good as coffee shops, and is probably the reason why the whole country is hooked on shelling out $5 every morning on their pre-work caffeine hit.
Once you’ve got these two locked down there are other, minor, improvements to look into. Making sure your brew method is on point, learning how to adjust the brew based on how it tastes. That kinda thing.
Click this link for my super comprehensive guide on all those things.