Though many Italians would have you believe that espresso is the only way to drink coffee, cafes today prepare coffee in several different styles. Though some serve the classics, the variations can become quite creative and diverse in others.
In this article, we’ll cover two popular ways that coffee is served in establishments across the world: americano vs latte. We’ll cover both coffees in great detail, going over how they taste, their ingredients, the various ways one can prepare them, and much more.
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How to Make Americanos and Lattes
All coffee uses espresso as the base for other ingredients that are added on top of it. To prepare an espresso, you’ll need some freshly roasted and ground coffee beans mixed with some granulated sugar, milk/water. Be wary of using brown sugar, since that will cause the coffee to cool faster. In cafes, steam is passed through the ground coffee to extract all the flavors hidden within the beans. The Italians drink this beverage plain while standing up in a traditional cafe, where ordering a coffee will get you an espresso by default. But the following sections detail how americano vs latte differs from the norm.
Check out all the drinks you can make from espresso in “Every Espresso Drink Explained (Espresso Chart)“.
To make an americano, you only need to add some warm water to an espresso shot. There are many stories regarding the origin of this practice. Some say that American veterans from World War II stationed in Italy did not find the harsh bitterness of espresso appealing, and added water to dilute it. Other accounts claim that Italian cafes naturally came up with this concoction for American tourists. Mixing water with coffee is a good way of preserving some of the subtle flavors inherent in the beans that went into making the coffee, though purists look down upon even the smallest additions.
You can also prepare the Americano with cold water if the weather is too hot. Just add it in the same proportion as hot water, along with some ice depending on how cold you want your coffee.
Lattes are a little more complex to prepare. They, like a cappuccino, have three main ingredients: espresso, milk, and foamed milk. The difference between a latte and the cappuccino stems from the ratio of these three elements. Lattes generally contain one part espresso shot, six parts milk, and one part foamed milk at the top. Lattes have exploded in popularity over the last few years due to the multiplicity of additions one can make to their latte. The macchiato, another popular type of coffee, is simply a latte mixed with chocolate. But one can truly add any flavor that comes to mind. Many international coffee house chains regularly release special versions of lattes with unique flavors for a short period, while serving a broad set of regular flavors round the year.
Like the Americano, you can also prepare a latte to be cold. Starbucks has a great recipe that we’ll recount briefly. Pour some espresso over ice and ensure that at least one-fourth of the glass is empty. Then, mix some condensed milk and sweetener/sugar in a jar and shake vigorously. Finally, add the milk to the espresso and enjoy!
See how lattes match up against Flat White kind of coffee in another segment from our ongoing series COFFEE INSIGHT. Check out “Coffee Insight: Latte VS Flat White” for more.
What Americanos and Lattes Taste Like
Americanos are perfect for those who want to taste the complexities of the coffee beans used to make a cup o’ joe. This beverage retains the dark color of espresso, but with a more watery consistency due to the dilution. Generally, Americanos contain one part espresso and two parts hot water, but this combination can be tweaked according to personal preference. Americanos are strong and bitter, so the ratio of water can make a significant difference in the intensity of the coffee.
The great advantage of drinking Americanos is that they take very little time to prepare. Latte’s, with all their customizations, can take slightly longer. This coffee is much creamier than the Americano. Italians traditionally frown upon consuming milky beverages in the morning. However, lattes are popular at all times of the day in the rest of the world and will give you the same caffeine buzz as an espresso. You can also let your imagination run wild when it comes to flavors. Vanilla, cinnamon, peppermint, chocolate, and hazelnut are all popular choices.
Americanos and lattes have their unique strengths. One is much stronger and intense, while the other is creamier and more flavorful. The latte is far more customizable than the former, but Americanos were always intended to be simply a watered-down espresso. Lattes, on the other hand, have quickly taken over the global coffee industry as the beverage of choice for the youngest generations. Creative marketing campaigns that advertise ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ flavors only add to this hype. Regardless, both are relatively simple to prepare and make for delightful treats when consumed both hot and cold.
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