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Americano vs Long Black: What’s the difference?

An Americano or Long Black coffee.

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to what you like, but with a whole world of coffee flavors to explore, why not try something new next time you visit your local coffee shop?

If you’re a fan of robust coffee to jumpstart your day, the long black might be more suitable since it maintains the bitter crema on its surface.

In this article, we explain the difference between Americano and long black coffees.

What is an Americano?

The full name of an Americano is a caffè Americano, and it originated during World War II in Italy.

The idea behind the Americano was to make an Italian espresso-based drink that was more similar to normal black coffee.

The Americano achieves this by diluting an espresso shot with hot water.

What is a Long Black Coffee?

A long black is similar to an Americano, in that it comprises an espresso coffee shot and hot water.

However, with a long black, the water is added first.

It might not sound like much, but when you add the water really can make a difference!

To make a long black, your local coffee shop will use either ground coffee or grind fresh coffee beans. Next, they will pull the shot of espresso while heating the water to 195°F.

The hot water is poured into the cup with the espresso shot added second.

The Difference Between Americano and Long Black Coffee

The only difference between an Americano and a long black coffee is the order in which the espresso and water are combined.

Americanos are made by pouring hot water over one or more espresso shots. 

In contrast, a long black is made by pouring an espresso shot over hot water.

A long black is usually made with two espresso shots or “double ristretto”.

Americanos can also be made with more than one shot, depending on the drinker’s taste.

The main visual difference between the two will be the brown crema layer on the long black.

Because espresso is a critical component of both coffees, an espresso machine is essential in order to make both Americanos and long blacks. 


The main difference in taste between an Americano and a long black comes from the crema.

In an Americano, the bitter crema is largely “dissolved” into the body of the coffee.

However, with a long black, where the espresso is added last, this bitter layer stays on the coffee’s surface.

The espresso’s dilution, the coffee beans’ quality, and the coffee bean’s roast levels will also make a difference to how the coffee tastes.


There are no set guidelines as to the caffeine content for an Americano or long black.

Typically, a long black is more likely to be made with two espresso shots and the Americano with one, but that is not a strict rule.

The size of the coffee will also determine how many shots are used, but this can change between coffee shops.

The coffee beans used will also determine the caffeine level, with Arabica beans containing less caffeine than Robusta beans, for example.

Long Black vs. Americano

Now that you know more about the difference between Americano and long black, it should be easier for you to decide which coffee to go for.

It will always be a personal preference which coffee you prefer and how strong you like it, so exploring options will help you narrow this down.

If you are a lover of strong coffee to get you going, the long black may be better suited as it retains the bitter crema on its surface.

Final Thoughts

The long black and American are similar espresso coffee drinks.

The only difference is when the water is added to the espresso.

In an Americano, the water is added to the cup after the espresso shot.

In a long black, the water is added to the cup first, and the espresso poured in second.

The big difference this makes is that the long black retains more crema on its surface.

FAQs – Americano vs Long Black

Can you add anything to an Americano?

An Americano is traditionally a black coffee. However, you can add milk, cream, sugar, or sweeteners to your taste. Some coffee drinkers use honey as a healthier alternative to sugar.

Can you add anything to a long black?

Like the Americano, the long black is made using an espresso shot and hot water, resulting in a black coffee. You will be able to add whatever you like to suit your tastes.

Can you make an Americano or long black stronger?

The strength of your Americano or long black will be determined by the beans used, the number of espresso shots used, and how diluted they are.

Reducing the amount of hot water and adding an additional espresso shot to the coffee will make it stronger.

Can you make a long black or Americano with ristretto?

Ristretto is a more concentrated espresso shot. Because it is more concentrated, a ristretto shot delivers the same caffeine hit in a smaller volume of liquid. Ristretto shots can be used to make an Americano or long black.

Can you make Americanos and long blacks at home?

You can make Americanos and long blacks at home, as long as you have an espresso machine.

Investing in an espresso machine can be expensive, but it could be worth it for the pleasure of making a wide range of espresso drinks in the comfort of your own home.

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