Americano vs Long Black: Understanding the Difference

It is very likely that you have heard of an americano before, as it is up there with drinks such as latte or cappuccino when it comes to popularity. On the other hand, a long black would be considered to be a lesser-known drink even though it’s quite similar to an americano.

Sharing a lot of similarities, both of these espresso-based drinks are great for those who enjoy black coffee.

What Is the Difference Between an Americano and a Long Black?

The difference between an americano and a long black is that they are prepared by using a different ordering of ingredients. While an americano is made by pouring espresso and then hot water, the espresso shot comes after the hot water in the case of long black.

You may now be wondering how this difference changes anything at all considering that both drinks contain the same amount of identical ingredients, and the answer is very simple. 

Since the espresso is poured last in a long black, the crema of the espresso stays intact, whereas, in the case of americano, the layer of crema mixes into the drink with the addition of hot water. Because of this, a long black packs more of a punch at the start due to the flavor of crema being quite intense. On the other hand, an americano provides a more balanced and consistent experience due to its homogenous nature.

Americano

Americano is an espresso drink that hails from the United States, (as you can tell by the name) known for its simplicity and strength.

Consisting of only espresso and hot water, the strength of an americano is similar to brewed coffee, making it a very popular choice for those who enjoy black coffee. While it’s a very light drink due to its contents, the flavor profile of an americano could be way too strong for some people, considering that the bitter flavor of espresso is prevalent.

That being said, you can always modify the flavor of your drink by adding flavor syrups if the original americano experience proves to be too bitter for your taste, just like you could with any other espresso drink.

How to Make an Americano

  1. Start by pulling a shot or a double shot of espresso with your espresso machine, depending on your preference.
  2. If you wish, you can add a flavored syrup. Else, skip this step.
  3. Pour hot water into the cup. Generally, coffee to water ratio between 1:1 and 1:2 is used to prepare an americano, but feel free to add as much or as little water depending on how strong you want your americano to be.

Long Black

A long black is an espresso drink that originated in Australia and New Zealand, also known for its strong taste and ease of preparation.

Just like an americano, a cup of long black coffee also consists of hot water and espresso in terms of ingredients. As opposed to most espresso drinks which start by pouring espresso into the cup, the process of preparing a long black starts by pouring hot water instead of espresso, leaving the crema of the espresso intact as it is the last ingredient in the cup.

The flavor profile of a long black is strong due to its contents, and especially intense for the first few sips due to the crema.

How to Make a Long Black

  1. Start by pouring hot water into the cup. Since the coffee to water ratio is up to preference, feel free to add any amount of water you feel comfortable with.
  2. Gently pour a shot or a double shot of espresso into the cup.

You’ll notice that the crema of the espresso stays intact despite being mixed with water, meaning that you have successfully prepared a long black.

Choosing Between an Americano and a Long Black

Like we mentioned, a long black is extremely similar to an americano, which means that someone who enjoys an americano will almost surely enjoy a long black, and vice versa. Since both of these drinks are considered to be black coffee, lovers of brewed coffee will also most likely be pleased with either of these drinks.

That being said, due to crema being more present in a long black, the taste of a long black at first try may be too strong even for those who drink americano or brewed coffee regularly, providing an experience that is closer to drinking a shot of espresso.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the best coffee to water ratio for an americano?

While a ratio between 1:1 and 1:2 is standard, it comes down to preference at the end of the day. 

Changing the amount of water is an easy way to adjust the strength of your drink to your preference, so there isn’t actually a ratio that is “best”.

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

The difference between a long black and a short black is the presence of water.

While a short black is just an espresso shot, a long black is prepared by adding an espresso shot on top of hot water.

How can I order a long black?

If the coffee shop you’ve been to doesn’t have long black on the menu, you can simply tell them to fill your cup with water first, and follow up with an espresso shot (or two) after.

Since a long black is prepared in two simple steps, it should be possible to order it in any coffee shop.

Conclusion

Even though they come from two different continents, these two drinks unite black coffee lovers with their strong aroma.

While an americano is prepared with a style (espresso first) most of us are more familiar with due to being similar to many other espresso drinks, a long black definitely has an interesting take which you should experience if you haven’t already.