Café Americano

A month or so ago I posted on a video my son Dan was making for his class at school. At the time he was in the throes of his lighting class so he had our entire kitchen filled with lights and all kinds of other lighting-related equipment. We did the shoot in one take with a few extra close ups of the espresso shooting out. He had already taken a course in the large format digital camera at the time of the shoot, so he could operate the camera fine, but he hadn’t yet taken his class on editing. He is now almost finished with the editing class so he is finally able to cobble and splice all the stuff together. Which he did and uploaded to YouTube. The results are below. Looks like the only problem is that I should have taken a performing class. (link in case you want to rate it)

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10 thoughts on “Café Americano

  1. Hi Dr. Eades,

    Great video, I think your son did a wonderful job. It looks as good as your LC CookwoRx productions.

    One question about making a Cafe Americano, do you have to use Espresso coffee beans? By that I mean the name of the roasted coffee is “Espresso” as opposed to say “Breakfast Blend”. Or can you use any roasted beans, as long as they are ground for espresso?

    Thanks,
    Cathy

    Hi Cathy–

    You can use any bean as long as it’s ground for espresso.  We usually use an Italian roast.

    My son will be thrilled.  It’s his first review, and it’s a good one.  Thanks.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  2. I think you did a fine job on the video. But, I couldn’t disagree more on issues of coffee. Most coffee houses make espresso from dark roasted coffee, and in my opinion, nothing ruins coffee beans like dark roasting. That shiny oil on dark roasted beans starts going rancid immediately, and I don’t care as much for the stronger, harsher flavors that dark roasting brings out. In fact, I believe that the big coffee chains use dark roasting to mask the use of cheaper, lower grade beans. But, even with high quality, light or medium roasted beans, I just don’t think an espresso machine makes as good a cup of coffee as a French press or drip.

    Hi Alex–

    For my money the espresso has it hands down irrespective of roast.  But the French press comes in second.  That’s how we used to drink it until we started with the Americanos.  The thing I like about the Americano is that it has less caffeine, especially less caffeine than French pressed coffee, and I can drink more of it without having the over-coffeed feeling that I would get after just a couple of cups of French pressed.

    If you haven’t tried it, maybe you should give Illy medium roast espresso a whirl.  It’s my favorite.  MD prefers Starbucks, which I think tastes kind of burned. 

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  3. I think the video is wonderful! The content was very good- not a second wasted on unnecessary chit-chat. The music was pleasant, not overpowering or competitive. The lighting is good.

    I’ve been reading about your Americanos for a long time… I really need to try one!

    Hi Karen–

    Let me know when you do try one.  I’m curious to see how you like it.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  4. Hi Mike,

    Yes, it’s been a while! My new job as a Microbiology Faculty keeps me really busy, especially because I set out to reorganize our facilities to bring the teaching labs into more modern times.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the video. Maybe because I worked as a barista (or an apprentice, rather) at a friend’s coffee shop (http://www.coffeehound.net) where I was able to experience some of the most wonderful coffee beans I’ve ever had. Coming from a coffee-producing country and having been married to a person who’s family was in the coffee business, I’m bound to ‘know my coffees’. My friend thought that I would be his most overqualified barista but I’m glad he gave me the chance to learn more at his establishment.

    I did quite a few ‘Americanos’, exactly as you described (the espresso on top of the hot water). I did say sometimes that people were getting less caffeine in an espresso drink than with drip coffee and it didn’t matter how much I would stress that out, their ‘feeling’ was that if it tastes stronger, then it must have more caffeine. I found that the same happened with their perception of ‘roasting’. Some would ask for a ‘dark’ roast and would immediately match it with a French roast. The truth is, at lest with our coffees, that even what we would say ‘dark’ roast, wasn’t really a long-roasting process. True, the beans look a bit oilier and there is also the risk of rancidity. Then again, once opened, we didn’t keep our coffee beans for too long, whether they were consumed or not; not even the dripped coffee was kept in the urns for more than 2 hr max, if it wasn’t consumed before. Roasting, in my opinion, can bring up the body of coffee or can ‘kill’ it. For sure; some coffees do better with longer roasting time without killing the body and some just lose their body even with medium-length roasting times. I don’t think there is a magic number and roasters know their stuff (and their beans!).

    I love both, espresso and French pressed coffee. To me they’re both so different. One of my favorite beans (from Ethiopia), a surprisingly floral aroma and fruity taste for an African coffee, was a absolute delight French pressed but not as good dripped (though it was still good enough!). The espresso made from those beans was, let’s just say, different; not a surprise really, but I did prefer the espresso beans, which was really a blend of South American, Indonesian and African coffees, more on the darker roast than medium. The aftertaste had a sweetness to it, which made a nice match with the crema (which delivered some caramel and cocoa notes), which I remember so well When you talked about that in the video.

    I don’t work there anymore but I did learned a few tricks for ‘steaming’ and some latteart. It paid off… Billie now has a favorite drink that we called ‘Mexican Mocha’ at the coffee shop, made with two shots of espresso mixed with steamed milk containing a special mix of Mexican chocolate spiced with cinnamon and vanilla… and sometimes, even a hint of cayenne pepper!

    We’re moving to a new place now… and I started looking for a good (and affordable) espresso machine… Thanks again for the video!!! Now I really want and Americano…

    Hi Gabe–

    After reading your descriptions of all the coffees, I had to go make myself an Americano.

    Thanks for all the info.  You’ve inspired me.  I’m going to start mixing beans and trying some different combos to see if I can find something that I like better than the blend I usually use.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  5. That was great!! Loved the music too…what was it?

    I’m a fan of strong coffee, but hate dark roast coffee. And I agree with you on Starbucks…even the medium roast tastes burnt to me. We have a great coffee shop near work. I think I’ll be going there next week and see if I can get a cup…I know they serve expresso, so they should be able to make this.

    In my opinion, the best coffee is made with a vacuum pot. You boil the water and then put a top on it, kinda like a second pot, that has the grounds in it. There’s a rubber gasket between the 2 parts and the seal forces the water up into the upper pot. Take the pot off the heat and as it cools the coffee goes back down into the bottom pot. There’s usually a very fine filter (ours was cloth) to keep the grounds from going back into the bottom pot. You have to use a very finely ground coffee and it’s always wonderful.
    http://www.amazon.com/Yama-Cup-Vac-Pot-Vacuum-Siphon/dp/B000NBK22W/ref=sr_1_6/102-9840214-7914521?ie=UTF8&s=kitchen&qid=1180754563&sr=1-6

    I imagine it would be fairly high in caffeine, but it’s excellent coffee!!

    Hi Cindy–

    I would imagine that it would be incredibly high in caffeine, which would be too much for me.  I drink a number of cups of Americano per day, and if I drank a higher-caffeine coffee, I would get that over-coffeed feeling that I hate.

    The music behind the video is a Chopin piece.  I can’t identify the specific one–my son laid it in over the video, so I’ll have to ask him to find out the specific selection.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  6. You’re on the money with the americano. It’s hard to beat in terms of taste and price. Most Americans feel that once you step into a coffee shop you need to pay $4 for a decent coffee… insane. The Americano leaves little room for error for the high school barrista, all jacked up off caffeine, to mess up.

    Cheap and easy the way coffee should roll…

    Precisely!  It’s hard to screw up an Americano.  About the worst they can do is put the espresso in first, which most of them do anyway.  As long as the water is hot, you’ve got a winner, even with a dolt at the wheel.

    And the cost isn’t much different than a regular cup of coffee. 

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  7. I viewed your Cafe Americano video two times and thought it was excellent. Kudos to your son since I thought the lighting and look of it was terrific. I left a comment on YouTube (my very first comment in that arena) and was upset to learn that I couldn’t fix a typo I made.
    🙂

    I would dearly love to know the name and model of your machine.

    My husband I love to watch your cable show when your episodes are aired. And, off topic, I still marvel over your artistic drawings and check in to look at them from time to time.

    Thanks.

    GMontyG

    Hi GMontyG–

    Thanks for the nice complement on the drawings.  I may be inspired to get back to the ol’ drawing board. 

    The espresso maker we use and the one I used in the video is called a Barrista Athena.  They were sold by Starbucks a couple of years ago, but I haven’t seen them lately.  We love ours.  The machine is totally reliable.  We have two at our two houses and haven’t had any problems with either of them.  When Starbucks was selling them a few years back the machines retailed for $399, but we bought ours at two different times at two different Starbucks when they were on sale for $299.  You can probably find one on Ebay.

    Good luck.  And thanks for the YouTube comment.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  8. Very professional looking video. Your son has reason to be proud.

    I agree with you that americanos are delicious and that Starbucks tastes burnt. Having been a long time espresso drink drinker from the NW I’ve learned to never drink Starbucks except from a Starbucks store as their equipment and training seem to somehow compensate for that burnt taste. Thanksgiving and Pete’s coffees are worse. I’ve also learned if you want to know what a espresso shop’s coffee is really like an americano will tell you. Flavoring, milk, cream and chocolate can hide a world of coffee making sins.

    You did over look one point in your presentation. The one thing crucial to making a good cup of coffee, in any device, is to make sure the equipment is thoroughly clean. You can use the freshest, best tasting beans in the world, roasted to perfection, the purest water, the perfect pressure for that crema but if there is a buildup of rancid coffee oils its all for naught. I’ve had many excellent coffees ruined by sloppy baristas who don’t clean their machines.

    My favorite coffee beans are Ethiopian Mocha Harrar blended with Sumatra (aka Mocha java)and roasted to a medium to medium-dark Italian style roast. (To my mind Italian style roasts are much less oily than French roasts.) This blend is smooth, full bodied, full flavored and not to acidic.

    Hi Terry–

    You are absolutely correct.  I wish I had mentioned the necessity of a clean machine.  We clean ours all the time.

    I’ll pass along the kind words about the video to my son.  Thanks.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  9. My husband and I just returned from a great trip to Italy, where he discovered Cafe Americano and loved it! We have both been trying to figure out how to make it so I went to my favorite place (Google) and found your video. Thanks so much, this is terrific and not only served to help you son with his school project, but helped us to find out how to make this terrific drink.

    Hi Crystal–

    Glad you enjoyed the video.

    Cheers–

    MRE