Americano and drip coffee are similar-looking beverages, but they are prepared totally differently.
If you’re wondering what exactly sets them apart, you’re in the right place.
Keep on reading this article, where I’ll go into a detailed comparison between Americano and drip coffee. In a few minutes, you’ll know the similarities and differences between these drinks, and easily be able to chat up even your friendly neighborhood barista through your newfound knowledge.
What is an Americano?
The Americano dates back to World War II when US soldiers stationed in Italy wanted to drink a milder coffee than the strong Italian espresso. Someone had an epiphany and diluted an espresso shot with hot water to create a drink that sort of resembled their drip coffee from home.
The Americano was born:
It is created starting with the standard espresso, which uses a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:2 to 1:3 with a traditional dose of 7g of ground coffee (or a larger 9g for third-wave coffee). This one part of espresso is combined with two parts hot water, which results in an Americano serving of 3 oz (90 ml).
The drink contains 60 to 80mg of caffeine and 2 calories for every shot of espresso used, and is served in either a glass or ceramic coffee mug capable of accommodating 120 to 150 ml (4 to 5 oz) of liquid. My Americano glass resembles my favorite glass demitasse here, but is larger in capacity.
And how does it taste? The Americano strikes a balance between the robust espresso and the subdued potency of black coffee. It still retains the complex flavors of the espresso, but in a mellower way. As for its texture, it is smoother than the espresso, and has a medium-bodied consistency.
Here’s a quick look at how to make an Americano:
- Prepare your espresso shot as usual.
- Pull your espresso into a mug.
- Pour the hot water over your espresso.
For a more in-depth guide, check out my detailed post on how to make an Americano.
Now onto drip coffee.
What is Drip Coffee?
The origins of drip coffee, also known as filtered coffee and pour-over, can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century. This is a straightforward method where hot water is poured over ground coffee beans, filtered, and the final coffee drink is collected in a container or cup underneath.
For a 6 oz (180 ml) cup of drip coffee, approximately 11g of grounded coffee is needed, since the coffee-to-water ratio you will use is 1:16 to 1:17 ( also referred to as the Golden Ratio).
It’s served in a mug that can carry 240-300 ml (8-10 oz), with each serving consisting of 50-90 mg of caffeine and 2 calories. But those two calories are just too little, I just consider it zero and call it a day.
Concerning taste, drip coffee has a straightforward and clean flavor which allows the nuances of the coffee beans to shine. Coffee tastings (cuppings) are carried out using pour-over coffee as well, not espresso. The texture is light and watery, making it an ideal pick if you enjoy consuming more coffee over longer periods of time.
Remember, you want to be picky on your coffee beans especially if you’re whipping up an Americano. To help you, check out my list of the best coffee beans in 2023.
Drip coffee is also easy to make. Just follow these steps:
- Grind your coffee to medium coarse.
- Add water to the machine’s reservoir.
- Place your filter and add the coffee grounds.
- Hit the “brew” button and wait for your drink to drip.
To learn more, here’s a detailed guide on how to use a drip coffee maker.
Americano vs Drip Coffee: Comparing the Two Drinks
Here’s an overview of the differences and similarities between Americano and drip coffee:
|Taste and Texture||Mellow, nuanced, medium-bodied, smooth, and fluid||Milder, clean, light, and watery|
|Coffee-to-Water Ratio||1:2-1:3 for the espresso||1:16-1:17 (Golden Ratio)|
|Ingredient Ratio||1 part espresso to 2 parts water||Just coffee|
|Typical Serving Size||3 oz (90 ml)||6 oz (180 ml)|
|Caffeine Content||60-80 mg per 1 oz shot of espresso||50-90 mg per 6 oz cup|
|Calories||2 calories per shot||2 calories per 6 oz cup|
|Bean Roast||Light to medium||Light to medium|
Now let’s look at the detailed comparison between these two drinks:
- Ground Coffee Weight & Ratios: Since Americano uses espresso, it requires 7g of coffee grounds for traditional espresso and 9g for third-wave coffee. One part of espresso is then combined with 2 parts water.
Drip coffee uses more coffee grounds. A small mug needs about 11g of ground coffee, with a 1:16 to 1:17 coffee-to-water ratio. Most third wave baristas will use more like 16-18g of beans for a larger cup though.
- Taste: Drip coffee is smooth, clean, and straightforward, which showcases citrus, chocolate, or even floral notes based on your beans. Meanwhile, Americano has the mellowed-down boldness of an espresso, but it is still not as light as a pour-over.
- Volume, Calories, & Caffeine: Americano comes in 3 oz (90 ml) servings, combining 1 oz espresso and 2 oz water. With each shot of espresso, you get 60 to 80 mg of caffeine and 2 calories.
Drip coffee is served in larger 6 oz (180 ml) servings, with each serving having 2 calories and 50 to 90 mg of caffeine.
- Bean Roast: Both the Americano and drip coffee benefit best from light to medium roasts. I find that with these roasts, Americano gets to retain the vibrant acidity and complex flavors while drip coffee maintains its bright and nuanced flavors with its intricate citrus or floral notes.
- Serving Suggestions: If you want a drink that’s just a little bit mellower than espresso, Americano is your best choice. Meanwhile, drip coffee is great for breakfast and it’s also pretty versatile, as you can see in its seasonal variations. During the fall season, I enjoy sipping on cinnamon coffee 🙂
What it all boils down to is that Americano and drip coffee are both great choices if you’re not a big fan of potent coffee, but don’t want to compromise by adding milk to your drink.
Looking at drip coffee and Americano, I prefer the latter. I really enjoy that I can still recognize the complexity of the espresso while the water keeps everything in balance. It’s just perfect for my mid-afternoon pick-me-up, especially on a slow, rainy day.
But that’s just me. What about you? Which one do you lean towards? Share your pick in the comment section below.