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An Americano is a coffee drink that is said to have originated in Italy during World War II. American soldiers stationed there found espresso too strong, so they added hot water to make it milder.
An Americano is made by adding a shot or two of espresso to hot water, resulting in a coffee that is less intense than a straight espresso shot but still has a bold flavor. The ratio of espresso to water can vary depending on personal preference, but a typical Americano is made with one or two shots of espresso and six to eight ounces of hot water.
For an iced Americano, cold water is used instead of hot, and it is usually served with ice.
It can be served black or with a splash of milk or cream. Some people even add flavor syrups or spices like cinnamon to their Americano for a little variation.
It starts with brewing espresso
To make a delicious iced Americano, you will need a way to make espresso. Espresso is made with pressurized water being forced through coffee grounds, creating coffee that is bold and has a layer of foamy crema. Here are a couple ways to brew espresso:
If you have an espresso machine, generally speaking you add water to the machine, fine ground coffee to the portafilter and follow the directions for operating your machine.
If you have a Nespresso machine, making iced Americano will be quick and easy. Grab a capsule and follow the directions for your machine.
Not quite espresso alternatives
If you don’t have an espresso machine or Nespresso, technically you won’t be making an iced Americano, but I won’t tell. The following brewing methods can be used to make a strong shot of coffee, but will lack the crema.
A Moka pot is a stovetop coffee maker that produces a strong, rich coffee. Fill the bottom chamber with water and the top chamber with coffee grounds. Place the Moka pot on the stove and wait for the coffee to brew.
A French press is a simple coffee maker that produces a rich, full-bodied coffee. To use, add coffee grounds to the pitcher and pour hot water over them. Let the coffee steep for a few minutes, then press the plunger down to separate the coffee from the grounds.
An Aeropress is another option for making a bold coffee brew that is not quite a true espresso. To use an Aeropress, add coffee grounds and hot water to the chamber and stir. After a few minutes, press the coffee through the filter and into a glass.
If you have a Keurig machine, brew a cup of strong coffee using a dark roast K-cup.
How to Make an Iced Americano: Step by Step
Any great coffee drink starts with great coffee. So the first step is using a good quality coffee to make your espresso shots with.
Choosing the Right Espresso
Any roast – dark, medium, or light/blonde – works well for an iced Americano as long as you brew it as espresso (see FAQ below for the difference between espresso and coffee).
- Light Roast: This roast preserves the unique flavors of the beans but may result in a slightly sour espresso.
- Medium Roast: It strikes a balance between the natural flavors of the bean and the flavors developed in the roasting process. Perfect for those who prefer a balanced taste.
- Dark Roast: This is traditionally used for espresso. The beans have a shiny, oily surface and the flavor is often described as bold and rich.
When buying coffee for espresso, look for beans labeled “Espresso Roast” or “Italian Roast”. These beans are specifically roasted to be used in espressos.
Espresso is made with a fine grind of coffee, so your best option is to buy whole beans and grind it yourself.
Ratio of espresso to water
How much water you use will depend on how strong you want your drink to be. A good rule of thumb is to use three times as much water (by volume) than espresso. If that is too bold, some people dilute their espresso by a up to 5 parts water to 1 part espresso.
As an example, if you are using 2 shots (about 60 ml) then you would use about 180 ml of cold water. This would yield roughly 8 oz. of Americano.
Mixing the Ingredients
To make an iced Americano, you really just need to mix the espresso with cold water. Start with a glass of cold water (about 6 oz. to start) and then add 2 shots of espresso. Stir to combine, and then add ice.
For best results, let the espresso cool a bit before making your americano. This will prevent the ice from melting too much and over-diluting your drink.
We can always dilute more, but unless you have extra espresso, we can’t add back the flavor.
An iced Americano is best served cold. One way to cool your drink even more is to pour it into a Hyperchiller after combining the espresso and water. Wait a minute or two, then pour it out over a glass of ice.
Add a slice of lemon or orange to the glass for a refreshing twist (optional).
Sweeteners and Cream Options
If you prefer your iced americano sweet, you can add sugar, honey, or any other sweetener.
You can also add cream or milk to the iced americano to make it creamier. Almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk are great non-dairy options.
How to Make an Iced Americano
2 shots freshly brewed espresso (cooled slightly)
180-250 ml cold water
- Prepare espresso shots according to your machine’s directions. Let cool for a few minutes so that it is not piping hot.
- Add 180 ml (about 6 oz.) cold water to a glass.
- Add espresso to water and stir.
- Add any sweeteners or creamers, if using.
- Add ice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make an Americano with instant espresso?
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have access to any brewing equipment, instant espresso can be used to make a quick and easy iced Americano. Simply dissolve instant espresso in hot water to make your shot and then proceed with the recipe.
What is the difference between espresso and coffee?
Espresso is a specific method of preparing coffee that originated in Italy. It involves forcing hot, pressurized water through very finely ground coffee beans. This results in a concentrated drink, typically served in “shots” that are 1-2 ounces each. Espresso is known for its thicker consistency, rich taste, and layer of crema on top (a foam with a creamy consistency).
On the other hand, coffee can be made with various brewing methods (including espresso), but also drip coffee, French press, pour-over, and others. The most common method, drip coffee, involves pouring hot water over medium-to-coarse grounds and letting it steep before filtering. The result is generally lighter in flavor and larger in volume than espresso.
Key differences between espresso and coffee:
- Preparation method: Espresso uses high pressure to force water through finely ground coffee, while other coffee brewing methods use gravity or immersion.
- Serving size: Espresso is served in small amounts (1-2 ounces), while a typical serving of coffee is 6-8 ounces.
- Flavor and intensity: Due to the concentrated nature of espresso, it is typically stronger and richer in flavor than regular coffee.
- Grind size: Espresso requires a very fine grind, while other methods of brewing coffee use a medium grind.
- Crema: Espresso often has a layer of crema on top, which is not usually found in other types of coffee.
How many calories in an iced Americano?
Any black coffee drink usually only has a couple of calories. If you add sweeteners or creamers, this will increase the calorie count. So, the answer is it depends on what you add to it. Around here, we like it black so calories are negligible.
How much caffeine in an iced Americano?
Caffeine content depends on several factors. The average 1 ounce shot of espresso has about 63 mg of caffeine. If you make your Americano with a double shot, it will have about 126 mg of caffeine.
Several factors can influence the exact amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee:
- Type of coffee beans: Robusta beans generally contain more caffeine than Arabica.
- Roasting process: Lighter roasts tend to have slightly more caffeine than darker roasts, although the difference is minimal.
- Brewing method: Espresso has more caffeine per volume than drip coffee, but because the servings are smaller, it has less total caffeine.
- Grind size: Finer grinds expose more surface area of the coffee to water, which can extract more caffeine.
- Water temperature: Hotter water can extract more caffeine, but if the water is too hot, it can over-extract and make the coffee taste bitter.
- Brewing time: The longer the brewing time, the more caffeine is extracted.