Americano vs. Latte: What’s The Difference?

By Robert Parsons August 20, 2021

When you ask a barista about their most sought after drinks on the menu, it is inevitable that an americano and a latte are mentioned. For those who might not be well versed on the ins and outs of these two drinks, it can be confusing learning the key differences of the two, or even knowing what the two actually are to start with. 

Learning the differences between an americano and a latte is less about the subtleties than most drinks. They are actually quite different when you look into their ingredients. If you don’t feel in the loop, luckily, we have everything you need to know ready to share with you today. We are going to explain each drink in detail and list the biggest takeaways of a latte vs americano.

What is an Americano? 

An americano is considered one of the drinks specifically for true coffee drinkers. The largest reason this stigma is paired with it is that it is made up of only espresso and water, so it is safe to say that as far as flavor goes, it is definitely in the stronger category. The espresso and water are even in amount, so 3 oz of espresso to 3 oz of water should do the trick. 

The water does help dilute the espresso a tad, however, which is what makes an americano different from a typical espresso shot. This drink typically comes hot but can be made cold with ice as well. This classic drink is simple and to the point. It’s also a great option if you are not a fan of milk and want a small step down from a straight shot of espresso. 

It also is low on calories which might be helpful if you’re looking for a health-conscious option. 

What is a Latte

A latte is quite the opposite. This drink is known for being jam-packed with calories, sugar, and milk. The classic latte, however, is made up of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam sitting on the top. This comes in the form of latte art many times which is not only beautiful to look at but quite tasty. 

It can be served cold, but there is not a warm foam on top for a cold latte. There are also loads of flavored syrups that you can add to a latte to give it a kick of another flavor such as vanilla, caramel, or mocha. Whichever you decide, there are loads of opportunities for flavor and masking the espresso that is hidden in this drink. 

This is a great option for those who are not the black coffee types of people. The ratio of milk to espresso is almost two to one with four-sixths steamed milk, one-sixth espresso, and one-sixth foam. 

Pros and Cons

Though the drinks are both well known and quite popular, they could not be more different in terms of flavor and qualities. The only true common denominator that they do have is the espresso. However, to give a clear picture, here are their main highlights to help grasp which option fits your taste buds. 


Espresso and Water

With even parts espresso and water, this drink is perfect for those looking to get straight to the art of their drink with espresso. The bold flavors of the espresso stand at the forefront of this drink, so make sure you are ready for intense flavor. Some would call an americano the bitter option. 


To make an americano, you only need espresso and water, so it is easy to make at home if you have an espresso maker of some form. It’s also not jammed packed with ingredients that can take away from the espresso and add loads of calories in the process. 

No Milk

If you aren’t a fan of milk and the creamy texture that comes along with it, this might be a perfect solution. Since the espresso is paired with water, it is thinner in consistency and watered down from a typical espresso shot. This could be a major pro or con depending on your preference. 


Heavy on Milk

Lattes have milk at the base of their drink with a sprinkle of espresso. You cannot have a latte without milk. While there are milk substitutes such as almond, oat, or even coconut milk, the creamy texture and foam that comes from milk is vital to creating the perfect latte. 

Sugar Options

If you consider yourself the sugar queen or king, try adding some syrups into your latte. There are too many options to count. This does turn your coffee beverage into a dessert-like treat, but the outcome is mighty tasty. Milk and sugar are the peanut butter and jelly as a latte is to a sandwich. 

Foam aka Latte Art

A bit favorite of most when it comes to a latte is the latte art that sits on top. This can be simple or extremely elaborate. Some coffee shops specialize in their latte art talents alone adding colors and all kinds of fun additions. It is made up of milk foam the sits on top of the latte that is a fun change in texture and taste.