Americano vs Long Black

Home coffee activity #4

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Activity #4 : Compare Long Black to Americano

During the current Coronavirus stay-at-home periods, we are suggesting “coffee” things you can do. Stay tuned for more suggestions!

For this activity, we look at simple way to switch up your black coffee – introducing the “Long Black”.

The Americano

Very few coffee drinkers will be unaware of the americano. It is available in (probably) every coffee outlet. The americano is a simple drink – a shot of espresso topped up with hot water.
Nowadays this is often served with milk (cold or hot) and seems to be replacing the “standard white coffee”.

However, in it’s native form, it is simply an espresso shot (or a double shot if you’re in luck) topped up with hot water. The coffee is often “burnt” because some outlets use boiling water which can slightly taint the flavour of the coffee.

The Long Black

The long black uses the same ingredients as the americano – espresso and hot water. So – what’s the difference? It is quite simple: Instead of adding hot water to espresso (as per the americano), the operation is reversed when making a long black. i.e. you pour an espresso onto hot water.

They would appear to be the same. But they aren’t. When you pour hot water oven an espresso you disrupt/destroy the crema (the delicious oily foam on the top). When you pour espresso onto a hot water, you can preserve the crema.

Extra care is needed
So as to not destroy the crema, extra care is needed when crafting a Long Back. Pour carefully. Any DON’T use boiling water for the base (use hot water). Personally, when making a Long Black I present the cup with the water up to the espresso nozzle to prevent splashing of the crema. You can brew the espresso and pour it onto a separate 1/2 cup of water.

Try this at home

If you already have an espresso machine, you have everything you need to switch up from americano to long black. Just a) reverse the brew method and b) be careful how you add the water.

Activity: make both brews and compare

long black
americano (left) and long black (right)
As you can see from the comparison photo, you goal is to maintain the crema. Make both drinks and compare. You might find the long black a more flavoursome and satisfying drink.

If you don’t have an espresso machine

Some sort of espresso machine is usually required for this. You may be able to try this experiment at home with a pod or a bean-to cup machine. But I think an espresso machine will give you the most control. And they aren’t usually expensive.

Check out these machines from Amazon. See what you like, but sake sure you get the optional “double size” grind holder in case you want to use the higher grind volume (which I would).

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