Americano vs Long Black Coffee – Do You Know The Difference?

Published: // Updated: August 24, 2023
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Are you confused about the difference between americano vs long black coffee drinks? This article is for you!

Not only do we explain the difference between long black and americano coffees, we also explain how to make a long black, how to make americano coffee and answer all your hot black coffee questions.

So let’s get into it and breakdown all the long black vs americano differences you need to know to order or make these classic espresso based coffee drinks.

Graphic of americano and long black ingredients in cups with text.

Americano vs long black coffee

The americano and the long black coffee are exemplary of how a beverage’s construction affects its taste.

The two types of coffee drinks are made from the same components – espresso and hot water, yet how they’re assembled significantly affects their appearance and taste.

The drinks originated in different regions (Italy/Spain and Australia/New Zealand, respectively), and baristas in each region developed their preferred way of combining the two components.

The preferences result in two notable differences.

1. Espresso to hot water ratio

The first major difference is that the proportion of espresso to hot water is different in the two espresso based coffee drinks.

Americanos usually have a 1:3 ratio, so a 60 ml (2 oz) double shot is combined with at least 180 ml (6 oz) of water.

Long blacks usually have a 1:1 up to 1:2 ratio or espresso to hot water. So a 60 ml (2-ounce) double shot is combined with 60 ml (2 ounces) or up to 120 ml (4 oz) of water.

Note that in each case, the ratio can and is commonly adjusted to suit personal preference.

The result: The long black has a more concentrated espresso taste when compared to the americano coffee.

2. The order of ingredients is reversed

The second way the drinks differ is the way espresso and water is combined is opposite.

  • An americano starts with espresso and then pours hot water over the top.
  • A long black starts with hot water and pours espresso on top.

An americano’s large amount of boiling water poured directly on top of the espresso shot will rapidly stir up the espresso, destroying the layer of crema and creating a uniform mixture.

Whereas a long black’s espresso will slowly infuse throughout the slightly cooler water

The result: The long black retains a layer of crema on top.

Difference between long black and americano summary table

Below is a summary outlining the main differences between a long black and americano coffee drink discussed above.

It should be noted these are common measurements, but the actual ratio and volume can be adjusted for drink size and personal taste.

AmericanoLong Black
1st stepEspressoHot water
2nd stepHot waterEspresso
Espresso shotsDoubleDouble
Water volume180 ml (6 oz)60 -120 ml (2-4 oz)
Flavor profileMedium, uniformStrong, slightly layered
Long black vs americano coffee

Read on for a more in depth explanation of the main points of difference between americano and long black coffee drinks.

What’s an americano coffee?

An americano coffee is a made up of a double shot of espresso topped with hot water to create a diluted black coffee.

Like much of coffee’s history, the americano’s origins consist more of legends and lore than definitive facts. 

What is definitively known is that:

  • The term “caffe americano” is Italian (“American coffee”) and
  • the word “americano” is Spanish (“American”).

The term originated from one or both of those countries, and almost certainly the drink did too.

The americano origin and history

The most common and plausible theory is that the americano was created in one of these countries during either of the World Wars.

Most people suppose World War II, but there’s a little evidence that the drink might have existed before then.

In either case, the beverage was likely created by U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe.

They would add hot water to espresso – which is the normal way coffee’s served in Europe – to approximate the version of black coffee that the soldiers were used to drinking at home.

The term “americano” has evolved since the drink was first created. In Italy today, an americano can be espresso and hot water, or normal filter coffee.

The case for the drink originating during World War I rather than World War II stems from two short stories written by Somerset Maugham.

In two short stories published during 1928 and 1929, Somerset has a soldier protagonist drink an “americano.”

What this beverage was is unknown, however, and the soldier mentions that it’s “by no means a bad substitute for a cocktail” – possibly meaning the beverage is different from the modern americano.

How to make americano coffee

You will need the following americano coffee ingredients to make this americano recipe:

If you don’t own an espresso machine, other suitable alternatives include a Nespresso pod coffee machine or a moka pot.

Both produce an espresso like shot of coffee required to make an americano coffee drink.

How to make an americano coffee steps:

  1. Heat water to boiling in a kettle or by using the hot water outlet on your machine.
  2. Pull a double shot of espresso into your cup.
  3. Add 180 ml (6 ounces) of hot water to your cup over the top of your espresso shots.

You can further customise your café americano with chocolate to make a mocha americano or even add dairy for an americano with milk or an americano macchiato.

americano hot black coffee drink in cafe.

Expert tips to make americano at home

  • Use soft, filtered water that won’t interfere with the espresso’s flavor.
  • Heat the water to a boil, but let it cool slightly as you pull the espresso shot. This will help preserve some of the espresso’s finer notes when you add the hot water.
  • Warm the mug with some of the hot water before pulling your espresso. Dump the extra hot water before making the beverage.
  • Add hot water as soon as your espresso shot is poured, in order to prevent oxygen from changing the flavor of the espresso too much.

Is Americano the same as black coffee?

The americano coffee is an imitation of black coffee, most likely created when soldiers wanted something like what they were used to drinking while stationed in espresso-dominant Europe.

The beverage is made by diluting stronger espresso with hot water until it’s approximately the strength of regular black coffee (coffee made with a drip coffee maker).

Despite being a similar strength when comparing an americano vs black coffee, an americano has a slightly different mouthfeel thanks to the espresso shots and frequently highlights different flavours than black coffee does.

This largely is a result of the different brewing process that’s used to make espresso, which adds pressure as a brewing variable.

What is a long black coffee?

The long black is an espresso watered down with hot water to make a longer, less intense coffee drink.

Coffee culture in Australia took root after WW2 when waves of Italian immigrants arrived in Australia, bringing with them their love of espresso coffee.

By the 1970s and 1980s, an espresso coffee culture was well entrenched in Australia and it has seen the evolution of unique Australian coffee drinks including the long black, flat white and the magic.

Like the americano, the long black coffee had its roots in Italy, and was likely offered as an alternative to an espresso shot for Australian coffee drinkers not used to drinking straight espresso.

In fact often if you order an Americano in Australia today, you will most likely be served a long black.

Glass of long black coffee on table.

How to make long black coffee

You will need the following ingredients to make a long black coffee recipe:

If you don’t own an espresso machine, other suitable alternatives include a coffee pod machine or a moka pot.

Both produce an espresso like shot of coffee required to make long black coffee drinks.

How to make a long black coffee steps:

  1. Boil water in your kettle or use the hot water outlet on your espresso machine.
  2. Pour 60 – 120 ml (2-4 ounces) of hot water into a glass or cup.
  3. Pull a double shot of espresso directly into the cup over the top of the hot water.

Expert tips for making a long black at home

  1. Use soft, filtered water that won’t interfere with the espresso’s flavour.
  2. Warm the mug before making your long black, and dump the extra water.
  3. Heat the water to a boil, and it’ll cool a little in the mug while you pull the espresso shot. This will help prevent the boiling water from destroying the espresso’s finer notes.
  4. Pull the espresso directly into you mug to maximise the crema in your cup.

Long black vs americano taste comparison

The two differences between a long black and an americano – the ratio and how the components are added – result in a pair of taste considerations.

  1. Long blacks are stronger than americanos. Since long blacks use an espresso-to-water ratio of 1:1, they have much less water than americanos (which use a 1:3 ratio.)
  2. Long blacks have a slightly layered and more complex flavour profile, whereas americanos have a uniform taste throughout the beverage.

Preserving the crema in a long black creates a sweeter and thicker layer on top, which gives way to the diluted body of the espresso shot.

Whereas the entire espresso shot, including the crema, is mixed together in an americano.

Americano long black difference FAQs

What is the difference between long black coffee and short black coffee?

A short black coffee is the same as a standard espresso shot. A long black is the espresso poured over an equal amount of hot water.

Does an americano have milk?

The default on an americano is to make the beverage black. But like all coffee drinks, you can make an americano with milk if you prefer. This is the same as with filter coffee.

What is an iced americano coffee?

The iced americano is an americano that’s made with cold water and ice, rather than hot water.

When making an iced americano, room-temperature or cold water is added to espresso, and then ice is added to further chill.

The same amount of water can be used if the iced americano will be drunk quickly, or a little less water can be used if ice will further dilute the beverage as it sits. 

Is long black or americano stronger?

Both a long black and americano contain the same amount of caffeine, but a long black may taste stronger as it has a lower ratio of water to espresso ratio than an americano.

Americano coffee in mug. Pouring water from gooseneck kettle into a glassy cup of espresso coffee.

Ready to make americanos and long blacks at home

Both the americano and long black are good ways to enjoy espresso if you’re not up for a straight shot of espresso.

Experiment with each, and see which one you prefer to make at home.

Discover more interesting coffee facts in our brew guides or browse all our coffee recipes.

More coffee guides

If you enjoyed this comparison of americano vs long black coffee, here are more helpful coffee drink guides:

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Glass of hot black coffee with text americano or long black coffee.
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Rachel Rodda

Founder of Coffeewise, Rachel is a passionate coffee drinker, Specialty Coffee Association member and former barista who loves to research and share practical tips on brewing great coffee at home. Read more about me here.

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