Often times when you walk into a coffee shop, you hear the names Americano or Cappuccino and probably you wonder what they are. They are simply variations of coffee.
So, what exactly is Americano vs Cappuccino and what makes them different?
What is an Americano?
Americano is also referred to as Café Americano to mean American coffee. Americano is a Spanish name. The name is believed to have been coined back during the World War 2 when the American soldiers in Italy would dilute their espresso with hot water to a taste that they are used to. They found the espresso too bitter and too concentrated for their liking.
Preparing Americano is pretty simple
It is prepared by adding 30-40ml of hot water to either a single shot or a double shot of espresso. However, you can add more water if you so wish. The strength of Americano will vary depending on the water to espresso dilution ratio as well as the number of espresso shots used.
The hot water can be from the espresso machine or be boiled separately in a water heater and added to the espresso shot. Some espresso machines use the steam wand to dispense water while some come with a separate spout for hot water. For commercial purpose though, it is better to have a separate source of hot water so as not to tamper with the brewing temperature.
There has been an endless debate among coffee geeks on whether you should add water to the espresso or add espresso to the water. Well, the difference between the two is the crema. When you add hot water to the espresso the crema becomes dissolves whereas adding espresso to the water retains the crema.
What Then is a crema?
Carefully processed coffee beans will be full of oils. These oils get forced out of the beans when brewing espresso. What then comes out first is a creamy substance that is light brown followed by the dark coffee. The creamy substance then rises to the top to form what we call the crema. This crema is a sign of a perfectly brewed espresso.
What is a Cappuccino?
Just like Americano, Cappuccino is a variation of espresso. It is made by adding steamed milk and foam to a double shot of espresso.
You can make a great cup of cappuccino right from your kitchen. All you need is an espresso machine, milk, water, coffee, and some good practice. Your first attempt may not be something closer to a cappuccino but as you keep at it, you get closer to a real cappuccino.
Cappuccino is mostly about 150ml-180ml of beverage, with 25ml being espresso and 85ml being milk. The foam is what adds to the additional volume. But in coffee shops, it is packed in a 360ml cup.
How to make a cappuccino
- Add cold milk, straight from the refrigerator, to a steaming pitcher. Make it a third full.
- Release steam for about 5 seconds from the steam wand to get rid of any water residue.
- Dip the tip of the steaming wand into the milk. Start the jet and as the milk foam rises and milk volume increases, lower the pitcher. Ensure to keep the tip always submerged and do not stir. Continue with the steaming till the milk gets to 65 degrees and the volume is doubled.
- Compress the foam by taping the base of the pitcher firmly on the countertop.
- Finally, prepare your espresso directly into your cappuccino cup and pour the foamed milk into it in a circular motion. And there goes your cappuccino!
The most important thing to note when prepare ring cappuccino is ensuring that you get the right texture and temperature.
You can add flavorings to your cappuccino such as cinnamon, chocolate and any other depending on your preference. You can also opt to decorate your cappuccino with different designs if you are artistic otherwise leave that to the baristas. Though it doesn’t hurt to try.
So what is the difference between Americano and Cappuccino?
Basically, the difference between the two is the fact that with Americano, hot water is added to the espresso while with Cappuccino, steamed milk is added to the espresso. Of course, that determines the taste and flavor that the two will have. Otherwise, they are both made from espresso as the base.