Debunking the myths: American coffee’s original recipe

“Italians don’t like plastic cups. They wouldn’t even consider the possibility of drinking a coffee while walking or driving”

This was the response of the chairman of a famous American coffee shop chain when asked in 2015 why he hadn’t opened in Italy. Almost three years later, some things are starting to change.

American coffee has nowadays become a popular daily habit for many people, making its breakthrough thanks to overseas TV series – recounting the lives of the doctors, detectives and career women darting through the streets of Manhattan or investigating behind the scenes with the ubiquitous steaming cup of coffee in their hands – or the now popular trip to coffee-loving New York.

That’s right. And now that “Caffè Americano” is becoming increasingly trendy, we will answer some curious questions about its preparation. We often hear about american coffee, americano, filter coffee. Are they the same thing? How do you make an Americano coffee? What are ingredients and dosage? Let’s clarify things.

American coffee… made in Italy?

American coffee we use to drink in the vast majority of our bars is nothing but an espresso coffee diluted with boiling water. This is not a real american coffee but its “italian adaptation”. Curious, isn’t it?

During the Second World War, US soldiers serving in Italy couldn’t tolerate our espresso. It was too concentrated, too strong, they said. They started to dilute it in hot water. This “recipe” became a sort of fashion, passing from regiment to regiment across the whole Peninsula. Many bars today prepare american coffee in the same way in order to satisfy the customer. Despite gaining in popularity, especially by young people, the coffee shops that serve real american long coffee are still clearly in the minority.

How to make filtered coffee

Real American coffee is, essentially, filtered coffee. In the States there are different filtered coffee types – classic filtered coffee, brewed coffee, ground coffee, pour over coffee. Essentially, it is prepared in two ways: through a filter, with a special machine that drips boiling water over the ground coffee, or through infusion, by immersing the coffee in hot water and filtering later.

Grinding the beans is almost as essential as the quality of the raw material. If too big, the coffee made in this way will taste too weak, if excessively fine, it will be too bitter.

American coffee recipe, do it yourself!

Filtered American coffee is quick and easy to prepare at home. All that is needed is an filtered coffee machine (also known as american coffee machine), which you can find in some supermarkets or online for just a few dozen Euros, and good coffee, possibly coarsely ground. The container is filled with water, coffee placed on the filter, machine turned on…and job done!

Alternatively, you can buy single-portion sachets and prepare american coffee just like tea. In the warmer months it can be drunk iced, using cold rather than hot water.

Do you want an American coffee with a stronger aroma, or simply a richer flavour? Just change the doses and experiment, perhaps with a sprinkling of cocoa, sugar or cinnamon. In the States, coffees flavoured with vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut are becoming really popular. New Yorkers are crazy for americano coffee with milk and cream.

Filter coffee vs espresso: faraway, so close

In Italy coffee is a ritual. An occasion to take a break and recharge. A moment of pure enjoyment. For Americans, though, it is “simply” a drink. To drink on the street, while walking, on the subway, or on the way to the office. A sort of takeaway drink which is consumed in typical cardboard cups, sometimes with a lid and a straw. In short, there is a difference which is more cultural than gastronomic.

People wrongly tend to think that American coffee is “weaker” and contains less caffeine than espresso. In the same amount, it is true, because it is more diluted and less concentrated. But, it is consumed in much higher doses and, in the end, the caffeine intake is almost identical.

If you wondered how to make americano coffee, you understood that it is quite easy. Filtered coffee is the most consumed coffee in the world: in Italy lots of people enjoy it, others still consider it dirty water. Many of the latter, however, have only tried the “diluted” version patented by the Marines. It can’t be denied, there is a considerable difference. Which side are you on?

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