Long Black vs. Americano: What’s the Difference?

Samanta Fryer
Samanta Fryer
Samanta Fryer is our senior editor and content writer, at CoffeeVibe. Apart from writing and reading, she’s fond of the coffee brewing process and enjoys tasting new coffe read more
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Ryan Hendricks
Ryan Hendricks
Ryan Hendricks is our tester, who puts products through their paces. He used to be a barista and is now a full-time coffee enthusiast. He’s always testing out new gadgets, read more
Last updated: August 08, 2023
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Anyone fond of black coffee has tried both the long black and Americano as they are common espresso specialty drinks. Most people refer to them as black coffee and, in some cases, watered down espresso. The drinks have similar tastes and smells, and they offer vibrant flavor, but they have one distinct difference.

You must be clear on the difference whether you are looking to brew your own Americano or Long black at home, or you just want to be more knowledgeable as a new coffee shop patron. The difference mainly lies in what you pour first. An Americano is made by pouring espresso into a cup first then adding water, while a long black is made by pouring hot water into a cup first then adding espresso. In this article, we provide detailed information that settles the Long black vs. Americano debate.

Long Black Coffee

Long black coffee is an espresso-based beverage popular in New Zealand and Australia. It is believed that it was originally made by Italians as Australians are mainly tea drinkers. American tourists find the drink appealing to their coffee preferences, and some of them pass it off as the Americano.

Long Black vs. Americano: What’s the Difference? 1

How It’s Made

The long black is made by pouring hot water first into a cup then adding 2 shots of espresso on top to create 2 separate layers with the frothy espresso crema on top. If prepared in the opposite order, it is not considered a long black. The drink can also be made with a ristretto.

Taste and Flavor

The long black has a very bold taste, though not as bold as that of a full espresso shot. Coffee novices tend to confuse long black with long espresso. A long espresso is made with more hot water than a regular espresso. It has a slight sweetness and intensity with a very bitter taste. Many people who hate the strong bite of an espresso but love its flavor prefer the long black taste and flavor.


The Americano is one of the most popular espresso-based drinks. Essentially, it is just espresso diluted in water. It was originally made by American soldiers in Italy during World War II. Café Americano means ‘American coffee’ in Italian. The Italian espresso was too strong and didn’t appeal to the Americans. Therefore, they decided to water it down to replicate their coffee back home.

Long Black vs. Americano: What’s the Difference? 3

How It’s Made

Like the long black, the order in which espresso and water are poured is crucial in making an Americano. To make an Americano, the espresso is poured into the cup first, then water on top. The result is 2 layers with a small amount of cream swirling in between them. Ristretto can also be used to make Americano.

Taste and Flavor

The correct description of Americano’s flavor profile is a middle-ground between drip-brewed coffee and espresso. Its sweet notes and body are similar to that of an espresso drink. The natural bitterness of an espresso is diluted with water, though. In fact, most people often compare Americanos to regular coffee brewed very strongly without the natural sweetness of an espresso. Its strength depends on the amount of water and the number of espresso shots used.

Difference between Long Black and Americano

Long black and Americano have similar components; espresso and water. It can be hard to tell them apart. Here are some of the factors that set them apart;

How they are made

Americano is made by pouring hot water over one or more shots of espresso, while the long black is made by pouring one or more shots of espresso over hot water. Most baristas use and recommend 2 shots of espresso or double ristretto for long black coffee. You have to be extra keen not to destroy the coffee crema layer.

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The amount of hot water and the number of espresso shots used varies from place to place. However, baristas virtually everywhere prefer to use more hot water in an Americano than a long black cup. Adding more water to the coffee dilutes it.

The key component in both ingredients is the espresso. There are multiple ways of making an espresso shot. You can use a stove-top espresso maker, an espresso machine, or a modern espresso machine. The taste and flavor of espresso are affected by the quality of the coffee beans or coffee grounds.

The Zulay Classic Stovetop Espresso Maker is one of the most popular stove-top espresso makers in the market. It is a top preference for coffee lovers who like a quick and easy Italian traditional espresso.

You can also get the popular Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine if you are into specialty coffee. It is uniquely built with top-notch features that make getting the perfect cup of coffee a breeze.

The taste

Long black coffee has a slightly sweeter taste and stronger flavor than Americano. It also retains coffee crema floating on top of the cup, which people really enjoy. The taste of both coffees is mainly affected by the espresso to water ratio and the quality of coffee beans or coffee grounds used.

Long Black vs. Americano: What’s the Difference? 7

Caffeine content

Most coffee drinkers are never sure about the caffeine content in either of the coffees. The difference in caffeine content between a long black and Americano is based on the number of espresso shots used. Therefore, it varies across different brands. Some coffee shops sell the 6 to 8 ounces cup of Americano made with just one shot of espresso and a similar cup size of long black made with 2 shots. Other coffee shops treat the 2 drinks equally by using the same number of espresso shots.

The type of coffee beans used also affects the caffeine content in either of the coffees. Though at the end of the day, they are both black coffees and are usually brewed with the same coffee beans.

Long Black vs Lungo vs Americano

Lungo means ‘long’ in Italian. It is a long espresso, extracted for a longer time than a normal espresso. You can spend up to 45 minutes or a full minute extracting a Lungo. Lungo is often confused with long black because they both have the beautiful crema on top.

Lungo differs from Americano and Long black in many ways. It is usually watery and bitter. This is because its extraction takes too long and pulls out the not-so-tasty compounds that are bitter. If you are looking to have delicious coffee, you’d be better off ordering a long black than a Lungo or Americano. Luckily, most specialty cafes calibrate their espresso to taste delicious.

Long Black vs. Black Coffee vs. Americano

Long black and Americano are basically black coffees, but they are different from the regular house black coffee. The difference lies in the method of brewing and the type of coffee grounds used.

House black coffee is usually brewed in a drip coffee machine, while Americano and Long black are made with espresso shots. These espresso shots are specially made with espresso beans. Regular black coffee is made with regular coffee beans. Espresso beans are roasted longer and given a finer grind compared to traditional coffee beans.

The tastes and caffeine content of an Americano, long black, and black coffee also vary. According to the latest research, a cup of regular black coffee has more caffeine than an Americano and a long black. Remember, long black and Americano have similar components; it’s just the brewing method that sets them apart.

Final Thoughts

Americano and Long black are so ubiquitous; it is almost impossible to walk into a coffee shop and miss them on the menu. However, most people tend to confuse the two because they are not far apart in terms of tastes. Only coffee connoisseurs and expert baristas are usually able to tell them apart. We have provided very detailed information to settle the long black vs. Americano debate.

The difference between the 2 espresso-based drinks is their methods of preparation. They both require 2 key components, espresso, and hot water but the order in which they are mixed varies. A long black is made by pouring 2 shots of espresso over hot water, while Americano is made by adding hot water to espresso shots in a cup.

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