Check out any coffee menu - whether in a specialist coffee shop or a festival cart - and you'll probably see an Americano!
It's a simple coffee that's often easier to find than a straightforward filter mug of the strong stuff.
But, if you're unsure which coffee is your bag or want to know how to replicate your favourite coffee at home, it helps to understand the skills that go into a perfect Americano.
Every coffee fan knows there's a whole lot of nuance between brews, and no two coffees are exactly the same - so let's get into the details, so you're up to speed!
The History of the Americano
It all started (so we're led to believe!) back in World War II when the Americans in Europe found the bitter, almost startlingly powerful taste of the Italian espresso too much.
Now, we love a decent espresso, and it's the foundation that almost every coffee is built on, but yep it's not for everyone.
While we didn't have anything like conventional American drip coffee over here, these soldiers were innovative about getting their caffeine fix.
They meddled with the espresso to create the closest match.
There's no certainty that's a detailed account of the truth, but we say it's pretty believable!
How to Make an Americano
So, what did our US friends do to make the espresso more palatable?
It's no big secret - they just added water.
Honestly, it's no more complex than that, although the order and ratios in which you mix these two basic ingredients make a world of difference.
You want around one to two shots of espresso (we're looking for around a 50/50 or 30/70 blend) with two or three parts water.
If you have sensitive taste buds and prefer a latte or cappuccino, it's still the same starting point, but with milk or cream added, but let's stick with the Americano for now.
The standout point to remember is that an Americano does not have any milk - if you want some, you'll have to add it separately after you've collected your fresh coffee.
Hoxton Coffee Home Americano Recipe
Here's a cheat sheet for one tasty cup of American coffee - it takes around five minutes in total, so there's no reason you can't whip it up in your very own kitchen.
- Grab your cup, around 17 grams of Hoxton House Blend, and your hot water.
- Grind the beans, and brew about two shots of ground espresso (in whatever receptacle you have to hand!).
- Tip in your brewed espresso, and pour your hot water into the cup.
Done and done.
Why House Blend? The best espresso beans tend to be 100% Arabica, and a medium roast is a universally tasty coffee - but you can use the darker roast of East End Blend if you're so inclined.
However, we do like a good debate, and just like scones, jam and clotted cream - or vice versa - coffee connoisseurs like to bicker about whether the water or the espresso goes in first.
We asked our Hoxton Roasters to weigh in on the debate, and they went for espresso followed by water, but the reality is it's all up to you and your personal taste.
The only difference the order makes is the crema, the thin, silky foam that sits on top of your espresso shot.
A coffee crema mixes with the Americano if you add water second, rather than pausing on the top. It gives a slightly milder flavour - hence, Americano and a somewhat less bitter coffee than the roaring punch of an Italian original.
What's So Special About an Americano?
One of the things we love about Americanos is that they aren't particularly 'special', nor are they trying to be.
The Americano is an honest, uncomplicated and unpretentious coffee that gives you a caffeine burst when you need it, without stacks of sugar, foam or anything difficult to prepare.
That makes it an excellent coffee to brew at home, whether you've got a specialist espresso machine or rely on your good old manual grinder to get the best from your Hoxton beans.