Americano coffee served in two glass cups

Americano vs Cappuccino: Know The Exact Difference

Henry Muller

There might have been times when you have sat to order a coffee and ultimately got confused about which to choose from Americano and Cappuccino. You are not alone, even I faced the same until I found my favorite coffee beverage.

There are different popular coffee drinks but the Americano and Cappuccino ranks top on the list with their delightful flavor.

Both are espresso-based beverages but what sets them apart are their distinct characteristics.

Today I will share with you the complete details of these two coffee champions, including how to craft them at home and their differences so that you can make an informed decision and choose your flavorful cup. So, whether you're an experienced barista or a homebrewer desiring to expand your caffeine knowledge, stay with us till the end.

Americano: Overview

What is Americano?

An Americano is a coffee beverage renowned for its simplicity and bold flavor. The heart of this coffee is its single or double shot of espresso, prepared by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. Espresso is marked for its concentrated, robust taste and the layer of crema it produces.

However, what makes the Americano more flavorful is its next step. To make this beverage, the espresso shot is diluted with some hot water. This addition of water transforms the intense espresso into a milder, yet still rich coffee.

The result is the drip coffee that retains the distinct, flavorful characteristics of espresso. It's preferred by coffee enthusiasts who appreciate the espresso's intensity but crave a larger, less overpowering coffee experience.

How to make an Americano?

Step 1: Prepare your espresso

Start by brewing a single or double shot of espresso. You can use an espresso machine to do so. If you don't have an espresso machine, prepare a strong cup of coffee using any method of your choice. Here the quality of the beans and the grind size play a vital role in the flavor.

Step 2: Heat the water

While your espresso gets ready, heat the desired amount of water. You can use a kettle or microwave it until it's warm enough but make sure it's not boiling.

Step 3: Mix espresso and hot water

Take a coffee mug or cup, and pour the freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee. Now slowly add the hot water to the espresso, and adjust the ratio of water to espresso to your taste.  You can customize your Americano to be stronger or milder based on your preferences. The general coffee-to-water ratio for Americano is 1:3 or 1:4.

Step 4: Stir and serve

Give it a fine stir to ensure the water and espresso are well combined. Pour and enjoy it as a coffee dose after a tiring day at work or as an afternoon drink on weekends. You can sweeten it with sugar, cream, or milk if you desire a sweeter taste profile.

Cappuccino: Overview

What is Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a beloved espresso-based coffee beverage known for its balanced combination of espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of milk foam. The term "cappuccino" has a very fascinating origin.

It is believed to be inspired by the brown robes worn by Capuchin monks, which the color of the coffee is said to resemble. This comforting drink is marked for its balanced taste profile and luxurious, creamy texture.

To craft a delectable cappuccino, a shot of espresso is ideally mixed with an equal amount of steamed milk. What makes it unique is the final touch: a cap of velvety milk foam making it more pleasing. The cappuccino is often adored for its foam artistry, adding an element of visual delight to its already enticing flavor.

Cappuccino creates a coffee experience that's both rich and satisfying.

How to make a Cappuccino?

Step 1: Make your espresso

Begin by brewing 1-2  espresso shots using your espresso machine. If you don't have an espresso machine, brew a strong cup of coffee. You can use any method based on your preference. But make sure that the espresso you brew is fresh and rich in flavor.

Step 2: Steam your milk

Pour some milk of your choice. You can use a milk steamer or frother to do so. Start steaming it until it becomes hot and frothy.

Step 3: Combine espresso and milk

Till the time the milk is steaming, make sure your espresso is ready. Pour the freshly brewed espresso shot into a large mug or coffee cup. Now carefully add some frothed milk into the coffee cup with the espresso. You can adjust the milk and foam to match the taste you prefer.

Step 4: Add some sweetener (optional)

If you like your Cappuccino to have a sweet taste profile, add some sugar as per your preference and stir well for the ingredients to combine.

Want to make cappuccino without much effort, get this instant cappuccino sachet.

Americano vs Cappuccino: Quick comparison

The main difference between an Americano and a cappuccino is that Cappuccinos contain equal parts of espresso shot, steamed milk, and milk foam whereas an Americano contains only espresso and hot water and contains no milk.

Also, Americanos are more similar to drip coffee in strength and flavor, while cappuccinos are creamier and have a stronger espresso flavor.

1) Base

The base of an Americano is simply espresso and hot water. It produces a coffee experience somewhat similar to drip coffee, all while preserving the bold and robust flavor of espresso.

On the other hand, a Cappuccino consists of an espresso shot as its core component. To this fine shot, steamed milk and creamy milk foam are added, creating a rich and luxurious foundation.

2) Preparation

To prepare an Americano you have to dilute an espresso shot with hot water, it is an ideal choice for those who appreciate the bold flavor profile. On the other hand, crafting a Cappuccino is a true art. It includes blending an espresso shot by skillfully steaming milk at the right temperature and crafting a velvety milk foam on top.

3) Texture

An Americano offers a smooth and lighter texture, similar to regular coffee. While a Cappuccino is cherished for its creamy and velvety feel. The steamed milk and milk foam add a touch of luxury, making it a delightful choice for those who enjoy a more intricate coffee experience.

4) Milk

Typically, an Americano has no milk, but you can add milk or cream if you want. On the other hand, a Cappuccino contains steamed milk as its core component. It creates a flavorful experience by maintaining a balance between the espresso and milk foam on top.

5) Size

When it comes to size, Americanos are comparatively larger in volume, often resembling a regular cup of coffee, which makes them appropriate for those who prefer a larger cup whereas  Cappuccinos, on the other hand, are more concentrated and come in smaller cups. You can think of it as a bolder coffee experience in a compact size.

6) Flavor profile

Talking about flavor profiles, Americano delivers a bold coffee flavor with the rich essence of espresso while Cappuccinos offer a balanced blend of espresso and creamy milk, creating a more complex and well-rounded flavor profile, ideal for coffee lovers craving a multifaceted coffee experience.

7) Caffeine Content

In terms of caffeine, Americanos provide a versatile range. The caffeine content in an Americano can vary depending on the ratio of coffee to water used.

On average, when you blend a single espresso shot with 2 ounces of water, it will have roughly 68 mg of caffeine. Interestingly, a Cappuccino, prepared with one espresso shot and 2 ounces of milk, maintains a similar caffeine level.

This is even though Cappuccinos are known for their balanced coffee experience, with the added creaminess from steamed milk and milk foam. So, if you appreciate a harmonious coffee experience with a hint of creaminess, the Cappuccino might be your ideal choice.

8) Customization

Both Americano and Cappuccino can be customized. You can experiment with various ingredients, be it sweeteners, syrups, spices, or even the addition of milk.

This remarkable versatility allows you to create your perfect cup of coffee, tailored precisely to your unique taste preferences. Whether you seek a touch of sweetness, a burst of flavor, or a personal twist, both these coffee classics can be adapted.

9) Serving Style

The serving styles for both Americano and Cappuccino are different. Americanos are traditionally served in larger coffee cups, somewhat similar to regular coffee servings while Cappuccinos are served in smaller cups. This smaller presentation adds to the charm of the Cappuccino, making your overall coffee experience more delightful.

Cappuccino or Americano: Which is better?

Both Cappuccino and Americano are the most loved coffee beverages. The choice between these two coffee champions depends on your taste and the type of coffee experience you desire.

If you are someone who appreciates a bold and robust coffee with a simple preparation process, the Americano is an excellent choice while if you savor a more complicated and indulgent coffee with a balanced flavor profile, the Cappuccino might be the best fit for you.

Wrapping up

I hope now you have gained a better understanding of what makes each of these classic coffee beverages unique. With the knowledge of their base, preparation, texture, milk, size, flavor profile, caffeine content, customization, and serving style, now you can make the right choice based on your coffee preferences.

Now experiment with different ingredients, and brew these beverages on your own. Also, share your experience in the comments below.


Henry Muller

Team TAB
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I am a barista by profession hailing from NC. My journey began in my late teens when I started working as a barista in a local coffee shop. My passion for coffee quickly became evident as I immersed myself in the art of espresso extraction, latte art ...