What Is The Difference Between Americano And Cappuccino?

Americano and cappuccino. We can always hear our fellow coffee aficionados order these two popular beverages from coffee shops. But what’s the difference between them?

Both americano and cappuccino are espresso-based drinks. What makes americano different is that its rich taste is stronger as it doesn’t contain milk or foamed and steamed milk. Cappuccino, on the other hand, is creamier than americano due to steamed and foamed milk content. Both of them can be served hot or cold.

So, whether you’re a coffee shop-goer or a homemade coffee lover, this is the high time to learn more about your favorite beverages.


Caffe americano, or simply americano, is made by diluting shots of espresso to the hot water, which is somehow giving the same strength to the classic brewed coffee. The taste or flavor though is different. Its origin is unclear, but according to a popular legend, the name americano is derived from American soldiers in Italy during World War II who became accustomed to diluted espresso in hot water.

The typical americano contains a shot or two of espresso in 300 to 455 ml of hot water. The water added to it can either be from the same espresso machine or from a separate kettle or heater. More often, when one orders a brewed coffee from a shop, an americano is being served as they’re both somehow similar with a slightly different flavor.

However, in some coffee shops like Starbucks, espresso shots for americano can be up to 4 shots depending on the size. The coffee giant’s venti size has 4 shots while the short size only has one shot of espresso.

There are two different ways to prepare an americano, which also creates a different appearance in each cup served.

  1. A shot of espresso first then dilute it with hot water, which will look like a regular black coffee.
  2. Hot water is poured first then a shot of espresso, which will keep the crema on top.

While an americano is known for being made with plain espresso and hot water, the coffee beans used to brew an espresso can create aromatic oils that come out as light brown from an espresso machine. This is the espresso’s natural crema effect that doesn’t affect its taste or quality.

Variations Of Americano

When different coffee variations became a thing, thanks to the baristas around the world, americano also has its own versions. An iced americano became popular as well as lungo, red-eye, and caffe crema versions with the same shot of espresso but prepared in a different manner.

  • Iced Americano. This is the cold version of the traditional americano that’s served with hot water.
  • Lungo. Shots of espresso are extracted longer to give it more volume but also give a more bitter taste. It’s shorter than a classic americano or a long black. It’s prepared with more water, which is all brewed.
  • Caffè Crema. The espresso extraction takes longer than lungo, and literally a longer drink than a lungo but also with water that’s all brewed.
  • Red-Eye. Instead of hot water, red-eye is made with drip coffee with one or two shots of espresso.


A cappuccino is one of the most popular espresso-based drinks around the world that adds to the billions of cups of coffee consumed in a day. Unlike americano, cappuccino is prepared with steamed and foamed milk called microfoam using a steam wand to create a creamy, smooth texture. It’s made with equal levels of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk.

Its origin is traced back to the 16th and 17th centuries when the nuns and monks of the Capuchin order wore robes in a reddish-brown color similar to Francis of Assisi’s vestments. The color appeared to be the same as the beverage when it was prepared with milk resulting in a lighter dark brown color of the Capuchin friars’ habit.

In Italy, cappuccinos are widely consumed that quickly spread throughout Europe, Asia, and America. The rise of popularity of this coffee beverage has also pushed a lot of baristas to be more creative with this drink. Others would add cream, sometimes whipped cream instead of milk as well as adding non-dairy milk. Some would add cinnamon or chocolate powder as a flavoring.

Variations Of Cappuccino

Just like americano, cappuccino also has different variations that are pretty popular now. As we have tackled in this article, cappuccino is also prepared with latte art where baristas pour microfoam into the cup that results in a design or pattern. Some simply draw a design using a tool such as a coffee stirrer.

There are three cappuccino variations:

  • Iced Cappuccino. This is usually a frozen coffee drink, which is a thick black syrup that’s blended with either milk, cream, or chocolate milk upon serving.
  • Cappuccino Freddo. This is the cold version of the traditional cappuccino that’s served hot.
  • Freddo Cappuccino. An aphrogala, a chilled milk-based foam is used to prepare this drink that is placed atop the beverage.

Which Has More Caffeine – Americano Or Cappuccino?

While both americano and cappuccino are espresso-based, their caffeine levels differ depending on how many shots of espresso you want to have for your cuppa. This means that each 8 oz of americano and cappuccino with a single shot of espresso contains around 75 to 80 mg of caffeine. This can be doubled if you wish to have two to four shots per serving.

Both americano and cappuccino have almost the same caffeine levels because they are all espresso-based. What differs is their taste. Typically, americano has a richer and stronger taste. Cappuccino tastes creamier than americano because of steamed milk and frothed milk. But both of them almost have the same caffeine levels.

How To Make Americano At Home

As a coffee aficionado, home-brewed coffee is one of the best things in life. And investing in good coffee equipment is also worth it, especially when you’re not into coffee shops.

First thing first, look for quality espresso machines that you can buy. Amazon is the best option. You can have this cute black Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine for as low as $150.

  • Get your mug ready.
  • Pull a shot of espresso into another glass. You can have more shots if you’re brave enough.
  • Pour hot water into your mug. It depends on how or where you’re getting the hot water.
  • Pour the espresso into your mug with hot water or vice versa depending on your preference.
  • And you’re done. Enjoy your americano!

How To Make A Home-Brewed Cappuccino

As soon as you have your own espresso machine, and a French press, which is optional, brewing your own coffee at home is easy and quick as long as you have the right ingredients for your favorite cup of joe.

In making a cappuccino at home, you will need steamed milk, foamed or frothed milk, and of course, your espresso roast coffee.

  • Froth your milk using the steam wand of the espresso machine until it becomes foamy, or until it gets to at least 150°F by lowering down the steaming wand. You can also use a whisk, a French press, or a handheld milk frother to make foamed milk.
  • Pull one or two shots of espresso into your mug.
  • Pour the milk over your mug with the shots of espresso.
  • Gently swirl or wiggle the milk container to ensure that the foam goes with it when you pour it over the mug.
  • And it’s done. Enjoy your cup of cappuccino!

How Healthy Are Americano And Cappuccino?

Typically, a cup of Americano, which is about 8 oz per serving contains no sugar and only 15 calories. So if you’re worried about your waistline, this is the best coffee that you can get.

On the other hand, an 8 oz of cappuccino contains 80 calories due to its cream or milk content. Depending on your preferences, a cappuccino and an americano provide great health benefits but with different calories that you may have to consider.

But as long as you don’t consider caffeine overdose, your favorite cup of joe should be healthy enough to keep you active throughout the day. According to the FDA, a healthy adult can have up to 400 mg caffeine intake per day, which is equivalent to four or five cups a day. This should suffice a cup of cappuccino in the morning and a cup of Americano in the afternoon.

The Bottom Line

Both americano and cappuccino are espresso-based drinks. A shot of espresso or two can make you a cup of any of these coffee beverages, but the major difference is the absence of milk in americano while a cappuccino gets about 1/3 of frothed milk and another 1/3 of steamed milk in each serving.

These two coffee drinks are healthy, of course, when consumed in moderation.