Long Black vs Americano: 5 Major Differences

If we need to name two coffee orders that are most commonly confused, it’s Long Black and Americano. Both coffees are made with hot water and espresso, but the difference between Long Black vs Americano lies in the making.

If you made this mistake, it’s not your fault – they look almost identical and taste kinda similar. Hey, most baristas confuse both drinks too so there’s definitely no judgement here.

Topics Explored

  1. What is a Long Black coffee?
  2. What is an Americano?
  3. 5 Key Differences
  4. How Do You Make A Long Black?
  5. How Do You Make An Americano?
  6. FAQ

What is a Long Black Coffee?

Long Black is an espresso-based coffee drink produced to cater to Americans and is most popular in Australia, and New Zealand. It’s a replica of the Americano, containing the same ingredients – espresso and hot water.

However, the mixing is different – the espresso shot is poured over the hot water, leaving the crema on top.

Long Black
Long Black

Long Black was first introduced in Australia and New Zealand, long after the Americano. It suits the flavors of those longing for a less potent coffee than the espresso but still more robust than the Americano.

What is an Americano?

The Americano is an espresso shot diluted with hot water. After the espresso shot is pulled, hot water is added on top, and the crema disappears. As a result, the kick is lighter, and at first sight, it resembles drip or filter coffee.

Although it draws its roots from Italy, it’s most popular in North America.

The Caffe Americano, later shortened to just Americano, was created for those who were overwhelmed by the strength of the espresso. To introduce something similar to the American filter coffee, baristas pulled a shot of espresso and diluted it in a cappuccino cup filled with hot water.

Americano
Americano

Long Black vs Americano: The Difference

Even baristas might not distinguish the differences between Long Black vs Americano. If you want to make sure you’re getting the correct drink the next time, we’ll explain the differences in depth. This way, you can even make them yourself!

Long Black Americano
1/2 water
1/2 espresso
2/3 water
1/3 espresso
Method:
Water in cup, topped with espresso shot(s)
Method:
Espresso shot(s) in cup, topped with water
Stronger espresso flavor Strong espresso flavor
Full crema Some crema
0 calories per serving 0 calories per serving
Originated from:
Australia & New Zealand
Originated from:
USA

Composition

Both drinks have the same ingredients – espresso and hot water. The Long Black is equal parts espresso and water. The Americano is more diluted with ⅓ espresso and ⅔ hot water, or even ¼ espresso and ¾ hot water.

Most cafes make both drinks with 2 espresso shots, but you can ask for a single shot.

Taste

The Long Black coffee caters to those who want their espresso just a tad less potent. However, due to the equal parts of espresso and water, most of the intensity is still here.

On the other hand, the Americano can have a strong to mild espresso flavor since it’s larger part water.

Appearance

The Long Black is slightly darker in color, with a significant amount of crema on top and smaller in volume.

The Americano is lighter, with thinner crema on top due to the method of pouring. In addition, the Americano comes at a larger volume since there’s more water added to the espresso.

Long Black & Americano Crema
Thicket crema on the Long Black (left) vs the Americano (right)

Brewing Method

The original recipes for Long Black and Americano ask for double shots of espresso. For the Long Black, the espresso is transferred in a cup prefilled with hot water.

For the Americano, hot water is poured in the same cup over the espresso. The order of pouring and volume of water used makes all the difference.

Calories

If you want a lighter espresso drink but don’t like adding milk due to the calories, these two drinks are the right choice. Both Long Black and Americano are almost zero calories(1). They’re ideal for people on a particular meal plan like intermittent fasting or a low-calorie diet.


How Do You Make A Long Black?

Making the ideal cup of Long Black might look simple, but some details can make all the difference. It’s not just your choice of coffee beans that determines the taste of your drink. Follow our instructions to create the perfect Long Black.

Recipe Long Black

Long Black Coffee (Fail-Safe Recipe)

Yield: 1 serving (4 - 6 oz)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Just because it sounds different doesn't mean it's hard to make. Follow our fail-safe Long Black coffee recipe and you'll be enjoying a new spin on an old favorite in no time.

Ingredients

  • 2 shots of espresso
  • Hot water

Instructions

    1. Start boiling water in your kettle. For Long Blacks and Americanos, avoid using water from the espresso machine's water tap as it gets too hot. A temperature of 165°F to 185°F is ideal*.Water Temperature
    2. Extract a double shot (about 2 oz) from your espresso machine. Make sure not to over-extract it, or else it becomes more astringent. You'll be tasting the espresso only - no milk or cream, so use good beans and pull good shots.Two Shots Espresso
    3. Using the boiled water from Step 1, fill your cup with the roughly 2 oz of hot water. Basically, we want to end up with a 1:1 ratio of hot water and espresso. Pour Water into Cup
    4. Next, pour your two shots of espresso GENTLY over the water in an attempt to preserve some crema.Long Black Pour
    5. Sit back and enjoy the perfect cup of Long Black! It shouldn't be too hot and with a good amount of crema on top. The right Long Black allows for the espresso flavor to shine and for you to linger with your cup a little longer.Long Black

Notes

*Hot water from your espresso machine can run over 200°F, leaving the coffee too hot to consume or worse, incinerating the delicate flavors of your espresso.


How Do You Make An Americano?

How to Make an Americano

The Americano can quickly become your favorite way of drinking espresso if you learn to prepare it the right way.

  • First, brew your espresso – the amount of shots depends on you, but the standard measure is two shots.
  • Then, over the espresso, pour ⅔ of hot but not boiling water. So, if you’re using two shots, add about 4 oz of water.

Since the Americano is ⅓ coffee and ⅔ water, expect a milder flavor.


Summary: Long Black vs Americano

Long Black vs Americano

Even avid coffee drinkers find it hard to spot the differences between Long black vs Americano. The Long Black is just a tad thinned espresso with its crema still visible and the espresso flavor still dominating. The Americano is milder, with just a third of it being coffee.

But, the best feature – both drinks are near-zero calories and easy to prepare.


Long Black & Americano FAQs

What is a Long Black coffee called in America?

The Long Black is often confused with the Americano because coffee shops tend to prepare them with the same method. Most baristas don’t want to ruin the crema, and although they use different water to coffee ratios, they pour the espresso shot on top in both drinks. If you’re unsure if your order is correct, politely specify the instructions to your barista.

Can you make a Long Black or Americano coffee without an espresso machine?

You don’t need an espresso machine to make a Long Black coffee. If you own any pressurized espresso maker such as Aeropress or a Moka pot, feel free to brew your coffee with them. As long as your brewing pot can make a good shot of espresso, the rest of the process remains the same.

Is an Americano just a black coffee?

Americano is not simply black coffee, even though they can look similar at first glance. You can make black coffee with instant coffee, a coffee maker, or even a cold brew. Americano, on the other hand, can only be made with an espresso.


Verified Sources

Wondering where your info comes from? We totally understand. Hey Joe only obtains our information from reputable sources. Contents from this article are sourced from the following publications:

  1. Harvard School of Public Health: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/coffee/
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