The delightful I Love Coffee blog discovered that Japan’s auto-coffee machines in restaurants distinctly label an Americano as “weak coffee.”
Most Europeans dislike our coffee for being weak as it is, but even the Japanese think that an Americano, a coffee drink, is synonymous for weak coffee? Is that true? Should we accept it as true?
The theory is that the Americano was birthed from American GIs stationed in Italy during World War II. They found the espresso loved by the Italians to be too bitter for their tastes, so they diluted it with hot water to make it taste more like the American coffee they were used to. To this day, an Americano drink is hot water added to espresso and can be purchased at any coffee house or made at home if you have an espresso machine or the lovely Nescafé Alegria A510.
(Note that an Americano is hot water added to espresso, not the other way around. Espresso added to hot water is called a Long Black.)
But let’s get back to whether an Americano is simply “weak coffee.”
An Americano is 1 parts espresso, 3 parts hot water. Espresso is stronger than regular coffee in both caffeine and flavor. By adding the hot water to the espresso, it thins out the bitter taste of the espresso all while keeping the strong flavor in tact. Since one cup of an Americano will have less espresso than one cup of coffee, it also has less caffeine.
In comparison to traditional drip coffee, which is what is often used in Japan and Europe for coffee coffee (not espresso coffee), an Americano has 50 mg less caffeine per 8 oz drink. Drip coffee is less bitter than an Americano (since it doesn’t use the espresso method for brewing), but it’s also thinner bodied than an Americano for that same reason.
So is an Americano considered “weak coffee” because it has less caffeine? That’s possible. However, the I Love Coffee blog has a different theory, and as the author is from Japan, she is probably right. She thinks that the Japanese make an Americano with drip coffee, which would most definitely taste weak on all counts: flavor, caffeine, and body.
If you’re making your Americano drinks at home with drip coffee or your regular coffee maker, please stop. You are making weak coffee and little else.