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What Is An American Coffee?

What is an American coffee explained and learn how easy it is to make a tasty American brew at home.

American Coffee History

American coffee, historically, was first introduced to the American people in 1607. Captain John Smith, the founder of the Colony of Virginia brought a sample of coffee back from his travels to Turkey and introduced it to some of his counterparts.

The colonists were too used to drinking tea, ale and cider to appreciate coffee qualities at that time.

Coffee did slowly start making it’s way into American society by the mid-1700’s, but was considered a drink for the wealthy.

Then a dramatic incident changed the way coffee was viewed in America.

Tea was the most popular drunk beverage, but the British had been taxing products, including tea. On December 16, 1773 some merchants and tradesman protested this taxation by throwing 342 chests of tea off docked ships into the sea.

This tea would be valued at nearly one million dollars today.

This protest made history and is today known as the Boston Tea Party.

After that tea was considered unpatriotic to drink – and coffee popularity exploded.

What Is Americano Coffee?

Americano coffee was born during the Second World War. Italian baristas tried to mimic the flavor and strength of filter coffee in order to satisfy the tastes of the American soldiers.

This is when the term “Americano” was coined.

The soldiers were stationed in Italy and did not like the intense and somewhat bitter flavor of the Italian coffee. This is because drip coffee, common in the United States, generally extracts less flavor than the traditional Italian brewing techniques.

So what is an Americano coffee?

The American style coffee was created by adding additional hot water to a shot of espresso. Today a traditional Americano coffee is made with 2 shots of espresso in most cafes and coffee shops.

What Is An American Coffee?

Traditional American coffees are sweeter and contain less caffeine than standard coffee. It also tends to be a larger serving.

American-style coffee is made using the drip method. This type of brew allows hot water to drip through coarse coffee grounds to extract the flavor and caffeine. The coarser grounds make a much milder drink than a finely ground espresso-based coffee.

Therefore, an Americano and an American are different styles of coffee with different preparation techniques.

An Americano uses an espresso base whereas an American uses drip methods through mild roast coarse coffee grounds.

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How To Make American Coffee?

Due to American coffee being less concentrated than other traditional coffees, the ratio of ground coffee to water is slightly different.

Below is a guideline for measuring out a good tasting brew. Remember to use a lighter roast!

American coffee ingredients:

  1.  4 tablespoons of medium roast ground coffee
  2.  1 liter of water
  3.  Sugar

Equipment To Make An American Several Ways

There are several tried and true methods on how to make American coffee.

American Coffee Recipe For French Press

Using a french press is one of the simplest ways to make an American as you can easily adjust the water to coffee ratio.

This method is called coffee steeping. It allows the water to filter through coffee grounds releasing the aromatic flavor.

  • Boil 1 liter of water.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of coarsely ground coffee to the bottom of the french press.
  • Start by blooming the coffee. Pour half a cup of hot water over the grounds. Stir the slurry gently and allow it to rest for about 30 seconds.
  • Pour in the remaining water and replace the lid of the french press.
  • Allow the coffee to brew for four to five minutes.
  • Gently but firmly, push down the filter.
  • Serve coffee immediately and sweeten it to taste.

American Coffee Recipe In A Moka Pot

An American coffee can also be prepared in the Moka pot on the stovetop.

  • First, add a cup of hot water to the lower chamber of the moka pot. Then add 1 tablespoon of finely ground coffee to the filter basket
  • Place the moka pot on the stovetop over a gentle flame and allow the coffee to bubble through to the upper chamber. Ideally, it will be a quick brew, but we want to aim for a gentle bubbling through the coffee, rather than a vigorous one.
  • While the pot is on the stove, put water into a kettle and bring the water to boil. You can either use a stovetop kettle or an electric one.
  • Once the moka pot has stopped bubbling, and the coffee is ready, pour it into a large cup or mug. Top up the mug with freshly boiled hot water.
  • Sweeten to taste and enjoy hot.

How To Make An American Coffee In An Aeropress

Using an aeropress is also a popular method to make your own americano at home. The aeropress design allows for quick and flavorful coffee.

  • Firstly, boil a kettle of water.
  • Thoroughly rinse your aeropress with hot water. This will allow it to maintain the temperature while brewing the coffee.
  • Use one slightly heaped scoop of medium ground coffee. Measuring coffee by volume is practical, but not ideal. If you have a digital kitchen scale at home then that is the ticket to consistent coffee! The perfect ratio for the aeropress americano is 20g of medium ground coffee to a cup (240g) of water.
  • Bring your water to a boil.
  • Insert and wet your filter using hot water. Put the press together and add the coffee.
  • Bloom the coffee by adding approximately two tablespoons of freshly boiled water. Allow to sit for 30 seconds or so.
  • Add the remaining water and wait for another minute. Do not fill the aeropress chamber all the way to the top. This will cause an overflow once the filter and the lid are in place.
  • Stir the ground and push the plunger in. This process should take between 15-45 seconds.
  • Serve, and add hot water and sweetener to taste.

How To Prepare American Coffee In A Cooking Pot

You can also prepare an American coffee using more traditional methods. In a pot.

This is sometimes coined as the cowboy method.

By simply adding the water, the coffee, and boiling it over low heat for a few minutes, it will be ready to filter, serve, and drink.

American Coffee In An Automatic Drip Coffee Machine

You can also make an americano in your everyday drip coffee machine.

What Are The Best Grounds To Use?

The best grounds to use will depend on your preferred brewing method – or what you have available.

Whole coffee beans can easily be ground at home to your specifications.

The perfect American coffee is less-intense than most other coffees.

Therefore, a coarser grind is useful.

The filtration process will be quicker and the resulting coffee will be less bitter than if using finely ground coffee beans.

What Is Crema And Is It Important?

The term “crema” is used in several ways when we’re talking about coffee, and particularly, the espresso style brew.

Crema is the title given to the luscious, golden, foamy layer of microscopic bubbles that form on top of a cup of recently made espresso. It is formed due to the emulsification of air, water, and natural oils.

This crema is important to coffee lovers and baristas for a number of reasons.

First of all, the presence of the crema means that the coffee was “perfectly” extracted. This takes into consideration the temperature, and the time taken to extract the coffee.

A layer of crema means that we are drinking a high-quality coffee that was made by an expert!

Taste-wise, crema is also important. It adds a creaminess to the coffee due to the soluble nature of the oils of the coffee bean that are released during grinding.

The mouthfeel of the espresso changes dramatically.

The color of the crema is also noteworthy.

Ideally, the crema should be a dark hazel color with lighter streaks that form what the Italians call “tigratto”. There should not be any white patches, and the crema should cover the surface of the coffee uniformly, without showing the dark liquid below.

A café crema also refers to a “longer” espresso that is popular in Switzerland and in the northern regions of Italy. It is similar to an American in that it is less intense than traditional espresso, and is served as a larger drink.

A café crema, however, is not diluted like an American, rather the brewing process is different.

To make a café crema, an espresso is pulled using more water. A more coarsely ground coffee than one used for espresso is also a difference.

 The brewing time, however, is the same.

Although created in a similar fashion, the aromas and flavors of a café crema and the American coffee are markedly different.

How Many Calories In Black Coffee?

Ground coffee is, surprisingly, quite rich in essential oils, enzymes, and natural oils. These provide us with the rich, aromatic flavors of the coffee.

A large cup of american coffee, unsweetened, has a total of 2 calories!

Adding sugar and cream or milk (or other add-ins and flavorings) will add to that amount.

However, they also increase the nutritional and energetic value of the coffee.

Caffeine helps increase our metabolic rate while slowing down the absorption of sugars. This keeps blood sugar levels more stabilized and prevents a sugar high (and subsequent crash) after eating.

This means that coffee is a wonderful way to start the day. Kickstart your morning metabolism and boost your energy level.

Is American Coffee Available Everywhere?

Not all coffee shops and cafes have American coffee on their menus. In many countries, it is simply not a beverage that they traditionally drink.

Many international coffee chains will offer an “americano”. In some cases, the best (and simplest) option is to ask for an espresso in a large cup, with a small jug of hot water on the side.

Here, it is interesting to note that the order is important.

In Europe, when they start with an espresso in the cup and add hot water – that’s an american.

When they start with the hot water in the cup first and add the espresso to the water – that is what is known as a long coffee” or “café largo” in Spanish, “caffé lungo” in Italian, and similarly café allongé” in French.

In Brazil, their traditional “cafezinho” uses a drip method. It is much stronger and more concentrated than American drip coffee.

It is also exceptionally sweet. You can always ask for some water to add to the coffee. As Brazilians usually drink their cafezinho in minuscule cups, it might be hard to find a larger mug though.

Requesting “filter coffee”, or just “black coffee”, will often have good results. A number of countries have their own traditional filter techniques which produce a similar result.

Elsewhere, seeing an “american” on the coffee shop menu, may not mean what you expect it to. It may not be related to coffee at all!

In the Spanish city of Almería, ask for an “americano” at a cafe and you’ll be served with a surprisingly sweet, hot milk drink with kola nut liqueur. This ingredient lends a delicate pink hue to the mixture.


So, next time you’re getting ready to order your American coffee and they do not have an “american” on the menu, make sure that your barista holds the milk and sugar.

And remember some of the alternative ways to recreate your favorite cup of joe!

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