What is an American coffee explained and learn how easy it is to make a tasty American brew at home.
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.
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.
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.
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!
There are several tried and true methods on how to make American coffee.
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.
An American coffee can also be prepared in the Moka pot on the stovetop.
Using an aeropress is also a popular method to make your own americano at home. The aeropress design allows for quick and flavorful coffee.
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.
You can also make an americano in your everyday drip coffee machine.
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.
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.
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.
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!
In 1607, the founder of the Colony of Virginia, Captain John Smith, shared his discovery of coffee with the Jamestown settlers after coming across it when he traveled to Turkey. This was the first introduction of coffee in America.
American coffee can become bitter if it has been allowed to steep or brew too long. Over-extraction makes the coffee taste bitter with a harsh flavor.
An average double espresso shot has approximately 80 mg of caffeine whereas an average 12oz cup of coffee contains approximately 120mg of caffeine. Therefore a normal cup of drip-brewed coffee has more caffeine than an espresso.
Regular coffee has been filtered through normal coffee grounds via a French press, paper filters, or an Aeropress. Americano uses espresso beans through which hot water has been forced at high pressure extracting more of the coffee flavor. The espresso shot is then diluted with water.
A lot of Americans like to drink their coffee black. This is because it is generally a weak coffee brew. American coffee is served black but personal preference allows you to add milk, cream, or sugar to your liking.