Hands up all those who have heard American coffee being defined (or have indeed themselves defined it) as “dirty water” at least once in your life? Of course, here in Italy, we are used to espresso, a strong, creamy coffee that has nothing to do with its American counterpart, which is decisively lighter and more aromatic.
But this misconception is also due to how we view American coffee. The original kind, known as “filter coffee”, is in fact coffee obtained by way of percolation, that is, by filtering water through a piece of paper containing a blend of ground coffee.
Instead, in Italy, “caffè americano” is none other than a long shot of espresso diluted with hot water. So why do we insist on calling this “caffè americano”, if it has nothing to do with true American coffee? It would appear that the name became popular during the war: the American soldiers couldn’t stand the strong, bold taste of espresso, and so they would often dilute it with hot water.
So how is an American coffee made?
Let’s start from the blend. The grinds needed to make an American coffee must be quite coarse (more so than those used for moka). This is because the water has to filter through at just the right speed, picking up all the aromas without burning the coffee.
Then you need the right coffee-maker with a recipient on the bottom for catching the water and a part on the top where the filter and blend go. We advise against electric ones because the continuous heat risks giving the coffee a burnt taste.
Now, let’s get to the more technical part. Usually a heaped tablespoon of coffee blend (about 7 to 8 g) is needed for every two cups of coffee (each of 100-150 ml), but obviously this can vary based on individual tastes.
Next, the filter is placed in position, the blend is added and then the hot water is poured in, (not boiling but between 92 and 96 degrees), preferably not from the hot tap.
The last tip we want to give you is about the quality of the coffee to use. Even if it can vary, we recommend using a 100% Arabica blend, as it is more aromatic and has a slightly more delicate flavour.
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