What is Americano Coffee?

All Coffee Types Explained!

An Americano coffee is simply a shot of espresso, topped up with hot water. Pretty simple right? Well, it gets a little bit more complicated...

The order in which the espresso shot and water are added makes a difference! The espresso shot must be added first, followed by the hot water on top. Adding the water on top of the shot mixes everything up and results in an Americano coffee. 

Doing it the other way around, adding the espresso shot on top of the hot water is often referred to as a Long Black! For this style, the order of addition is important so as not to disrupt the crema on top of the espresso shot.

We've barely even scratched the surface. Have a look at these explanations for all of the types of coffee drinks that you may come across! You might be surprised by all of the subtle little differences between common drinks!

Types of Coffee

There are countless different types of coffee drinks that are prepared with subtle little differences. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but people can be VERY particular about their coffee, so little differences matter! Subtle changes to the preparation process results in different drinks, and mixing these up is blasphemous to coffee fanatics and baristas.

Americano Coffee Meme

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find the details regarding all of the espresso based drinks that you've heard about, and maybe even some new ones!

Next time you find yourself at a coffee shop or cafe, you can whip out your new expertise for all to see... or hear.

What is Espresso?

It all starts with Espresso. An espresso shot is the initial building block used to make the rest of these drinks.

An espresso shot is created by forcing pressurized, near boiling water through very tightly packed and finely ground beans. The high pressure extracts the oils from the coffee beans into the shot and also enables a quicker brewing process.

Typically, 30mL of water is used to make a shot of espresso. Espresso shots are known for being quick, strong and having a nice crema on top.

Crema: The light brown, frothy layer that often sits on the top of an espresso. The crema consists of a subset of lighter oils that have been extracted from the coffee beans during the brewing process.

Okay so the rest of these involve slight modifications and additions to this, let’s dig in!

Espresso Coffee

An espresso shot with that sweet crema on top!

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What is Short Black Coffee?

Short black coffee is really just another name for espresso. Black refers to the color of the shot produced when no milk or cream is added to it, while short refers to there being no increase in volume due to an addition of water.

What is Ristresso?

A Ristresso shot is very much like an espresso shot and is made in the same way. The difference is that half as much water is used. Slightly finer coffee grinds may also be used. By extracting with only 15mL of water, the shot produced is a more concentrated version of the typical espresso shot.

Some people think that the first 15mL of water extracts the best components into the shot, and that the next 15mL only makes it worse! Different strokes for different folks I suppose. I wouldn’t turn down either!

What is Americano Coffee?

As we mentioned above, Americano coffee is the simple addition of hot water ON TOP of a shot of espresso. Adding the water on top mixes the espresso shot and dissipates the upper layer and crema. The resulting drink is less strong and more balanced.

Americano Coffee Black

Note the lack of crema. It's been dissipated!

What is Long Black Coffee?

The long black classification is a bit vague sometimes. Long refers to the increased volume of the drink due to the addition of water.

If you order a long black coffee, you may be served hot water with a 30mL espresso shot on top. 

You may also be served a double shot of espresso added on top of hot water. A double shot of espresso is sometimes referred to as Doppio. This is what we typically think of as the definition of a long black coffee, but in reality, it varies. The addition of the espresso on top of the water avoids the dissipation of the crema.

You may ALSO be served an Americano, without regard to the order of addition.

It usually depends on convention of the geographical region OR just the the size of the mug or glass being used. You can always ask for a double shot if you want to make sure you get enough of that sweet, sweet caffeine.

What is an Iced Americano?

Okay, there are no tricks with this one. An iced Americano is... drumroll please... an Americano, with ice!

An Iced Americano coffee is prepared by simply by pouring a regular Americano over ice.

Did you know?

You may be surprised to hear that iced Americano is actually quite different than cold brew coffee. The only thing that they really share is the cold temperature at which they are consumed!

Cold brew coffee is made via an immersion method, leading to a very different final product. If you’re interested, we chat all about cold brew coffee here!

More On Espresso & Black Coffee

So far, each type of coffee that we’ve looked at has been espresso based, and served black. If you’re looking to prepare drinks like these at home, check out our espresso and black coffee articles for more info and coffee bean recommendations!

When preparing these drinks, it's often worthwhile to find a local coffee roaster and purchase freshly roasted beans!

Milk Based Coffee Drinks

You may be under the impression that adding milk to a coffee is a straightforward process. Don’t be so sure. Adding milk to drip coffee might be easy enough, but the milk used in these espresso based drinks is steamed and frothed in very calculated manners. There’s plenty of room for error and confusion!

What is a Macchiato?

A Macchiato is comprised of the espresso base with some milk froth added on top. Be careful, milk froth is not the same as steamed milk. When milk is steamed, a froth is produced on top. A Macchiato uses only this froth portion!

Macchiato Steamed Milk

There are easier ways to produce milk froth...

What is Flat White Coffee?

A Flat White is made up of an espresso shot and some steamed milk added on top. This time, the top layer of milk froth created by the steaming process is excluded!

What is a Cappuccino?

A Cappuccino takes the espresso base and adds the steamed milk, froth and all! The steamed milk is added on top of the espresso and then the froth sits on top! Can’t decide between a Macchiato and a Flat White? Go for the Cappuccino and get the best of both worlds!

What is a Latte?

A Latte is similar to a cappuccino, but typically contains a larger proportion of milk. The order of addition is the same here, espresso, and then steamed milk with the froth sitting on top.

Latte Coffee Art

Latte art is pretty nifty isn't it?

What is a (Café) Mocha Coffee ?

We’re getting further and further away from actual coffee with these fancy treats. Café Mocha coffee is made up of an espresso shot, chocolate syrup, steamed milk and then whipped cream. Either in that order or with the chocolate syrup drizzled on top. Aesthetics and all, you know?

You may hear this referred to as a Café Mocha or just Mocha.

Did you know?

The use of the word Mocha in the context of coffee originates from Yemeni Mocha coffee. It has since become known more as this chocolate coffee drink in a commercial context.

If you're curious about real Mocha coffee, check out our Yemeni coffee article!

What is Frappé Coffee?

This one is a bit of an outlier, as it is historically NOT prepared with espresso like the rest of the drinks we've discussed. Frappe coffee is originally a Greek drink comprised of instant coffee, water and sugar. These ingredients are shaken up and served over ice.

You may find Frappé coffee offered at the same place you’ll find these other drinks, so we’ve included it here anyway!

What is Irish Coffee?

Again, we’re getting pretty far away from pure coffee drinks here… last one! A popular one at that. Irish coffee is traditionally made with coffee, sugar, heavy cream and of course, Irish whiskey!

Let’s be real, the coffee isn’t the focal point of this drink, so any type of coffee, be it espresso or not can be used. Please drink responsibly!

Irish Coffee

Anything Else?

Did we forget anything that you’re curious about?

What’s your favorite type of coffee?

Leave a comment below!

Have a coffee question? We may have the answer. Ask away!

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