Long black vs americano: It’s all about the water

By Shabbir
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There are many drinks that you can make from a single espresso shot, and in some cases, the drinks can be quite similar! Two drinks that are very similar but have one key difference are the long black and the Americano. So what is the difference between a long black vs Americano?

long black vs americano coffee cup

The main difference between long black vs Americano

It’s all about the water! Long blacks and Americanos may seem quite the same to an observer: they’re both espressos diluted with water.

The key difference is that in an Americano, you are adding hot water into an espresso, and in a long black, you pour espresso into hot water.

What does that do? Adding the espresso on top of the water preserves the crema, which adds an extra layer of flavor and complexity to the long black.

How to make a long black

To make a long black, you have to start with espresso and mix it with water in a 1:4 ratio. Since espresso is 1.5 ounces, you’re going to add it to 6 ounces of hot water.

What you’ll need

  • Coffee beans
  • A coffee grinder
  • An espresso machine
  • A hot water kettle
  • A mug

How to do it

  1. Pull an espresso shot using your favorite grounds and your favorite espresso machine. Remember to grind the beans just before brewing. You’re looking for a fine, almost powdery grind.
  2. For one shot, you’ll need 12-15 grams of coffee
  3. You can decide between using either a single or a double shot: it’s up to you to choose the strength.
  4. Prepare 6 ounces of hot water. Boil the water and let it cool for about 1 minute in your mug to get it to a drinkable temperature
  5. Pour your espresso shot(s) into the hot water. You’ll notice that the coffee mixes into the water and the crema remains floating on top
  6. Enjoy!

Where did the long black come from?

In case you’re living in North America or Europe and are unfamiliar with long blacks, don’t worry! The long black is actually a lot more popular in Australia and New Zealand.

It was originally made with two shots of ristretto, which is even stronger than espresso. However, two ristretto shots is often enough to make most people run out of a coffee shop screaming, so cafes made the long black a bit more customer friendly by substituting two ristretto shots with a single espresso shot.

How to make an Americano

Like the long black, the Americano starts with a shot of espresso.

What you’ll need

  • Coffee beans(12-15 grams)
  • A coffee grinder
  • An espresso machine
  • A hot water kettle
  • A mug

How to do it

  1. The same way we made the long black, we’ll start with a typical espresso shot. Measure out 12-15 grams of your favorite coffee beans, grind them, and pull a shot with your espresso machine. Pull the shot into a bigger mug if it can fit in your machine.
  2. In case your machine doesn’t have enough clearance for a large mug, pull the shot into a small cup and then pour it into a large mug.
  3. Heat up 6 ounces of water. Let it come to a boil and then let it cool for about 1 to 2 minutes to get it to a drinkable temperature
  4. Pour the water into the espresso shot
  5. Enjoy!

Where did the Americano come from?

What is an Americano coffee, you ask? Interestingly, the Americano traces its roots back to World War II. American troops stationed in Italy didn’t like the extra strong taste of espresso, so the Italians added a bit of hot water to it.

That made the drink taste more like the black coffee Americans were used to at home.

Ever since then, the Americano has gained in popularity and is a staple everywhere.

Americano vs long black: is one better than the other?

To conclude this short comparison, is there an objective answer to whether Americano is better or long black is better?

The simple answer is no! Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to coffee, so it’s not fair to say one coffee is better than the other.

A more nuanced answer would be that Americano tastes closer to a typical black coffee, and long black tastes closer to an espresso.

You need to decide what your taste buds prefer and stick with that. But it never hurts to experiment and try something new!

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between an American and a black coffee?

An Americano is an espresso shot that has been diluted with hot water. A black coffee is simply regular dripped coffee that you’ll find at most restaurants and diners.

What is stronger, Americano or black coffee?

Though both are quite similar, black coffees are actually slightly stronger than Americanos. That’s because black coffee is 100% extracted from ground coffee, whereas Americanos are diluted espressos. Additionally, regular black coffee will have more caffeine than Americano unless you use two shots.

Is Lungo a long black?

Lungo means long in Italian, but it’s not the same as long black. A lungo shot is an espresso shot which has been pulled with more water, usually double the regular amount. Long black is much more in volume than a lungo.

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.