Ever wish sipping on your cafe latte could last as long as a giant mug of regular coffee? Next time, try ordering a cafe americano, an espresso-based beverage with as much volume as drip coffee. By mixing espresso with water instead of milk, an americano stretches out your espresso experience.
Size aside, an americano appeals to many coffee aficionados, as the addition of water dilutes the strong taste of straight espresso without masking its bold flavor with milk. But you don't have to wait until next time you're at a coffee shop to try an americano. You can be your own barista and whip one up at home.
This article answers all your questions about how to make cafe americano. Whether you're craving an americano or just out of the milk to make your usual latte, we'll tell you everything you need to know about how to make an americano and options for customizing your cup.
What Is an Americano?
An americano is an espresso-based beverage rumored to have been invented by American soldiers stationed in Europe during World War II. To make regular Italian espresso taste more like American coffee, the U.S. troops reportedly poured their espresso into a large cup and filled it to the brim with hot water. This method also helped the espresso last longer, which naturally stretched out the soldiers' rations.
An americano is just like any other espresso-based drink but instead of being made with steamed milk, the espresso in an americano gets mixed with water. By substituting hot water for the milk component of a traditional cafe latte, an americano creates a bolder espresso-based drink. The water added to an americano dilutes the espresso, resulting in the volume of a drip coffee with the taste of an espresso drink for those who prefer to get their caffeine fix from a more concentrated source.
An americano is most commonly made with a double shot of espresso, but it can also be brewed with a single or triple shot depending on taste preference or size of caffeine boost needed. A classic cafe americano is simply a couple of espresso shots poured over hot water, but you can also add cream, milk, or sugar if you want to dilute the bold espresso taste of your americano. An iced americano is another variation of the drink that's especially popular during the hot summer months.
As you may have guessed from its name, an americano is most popular in North America. Because this espresso-based drink has yet to catch on overseas, don't be surprised if you get some strange looks or end up with a completely different drink when ordering an americano abroad. But if you're staying somewhere that isn't a part of the cafe americano craze yet, rest assured you can still easily enjoy that strong espresso flavor by brewing your own americano at home.
How Do You Make an Americano at Home?
An americano is one of the easiest espresso-based drinks to make at home. Even though it consists of only two main ingredients — espresso and water — an americano offers lots of room for personalization and ratio tweaking. Feel free to experiment with using different proportions in the recipe and adding various bonus ingredients to customize your cafe americano.
Whether you have an espresso maker or a Nespresso machine, you can whip up an americano in no time. If you opt for a simplified version of brewing an espresso shot like using Nespresso compatible pods, you can skip the steps pertaining to measuring and grinding your own coffee beans. Otherwise, you'll need a few extra items to make your homemade americano venture a success.
Here are the equipment and ingredients you'll need to make your own cafe americano:
- An espresso machine, or a few shots of pre-made espresso from your Nespresso machine or local coffee shop
- Hot water
- A coffee cup
- Your favorite coffee mug
- Fresh whole coffee beans or freshly ground coffee
- A coffee grinder, if you plan on using whole coffee beans
- A kitchen scale for measuring out your coffee beans
- A tamper to pack your coffee grounds
Once you've gathered your supplies, follow these ten simple steps to americano bliss:
- Turn on your espresso machine: Make sure you turn on your espresso machine before beginning the americano-making process or else you could be waiting for a while for your espresso machine to heat, especially if it started out completely cold.
- Measure out your coffee beans: Use your kitchen scale to measure out the exact amount of coffee beans needed to make a single, double or triple shot of espresso, depending on your taste preferences and the size of your espresso machine's portafilter.
- Finely grind your coffee beans: Place your precisely-measured coffee beans into the grinder and grind them on the lowest setting possible. Be patient and take the time to grind the beans very finely, until they reach an almost powdery consistency. Double-check the coffee's weight on the scale after grinding, then set it aside.
- Prepare your containers: Rinse the wand attachment on your espresso machine. Then use the wand to heat up both the empty coffee cup you will use for brewing your espresso and the mug that will hold your hot water.
- Tamp your coffee grounds: Once your espresso machine is warmed up, take out the portafilter, which should be completely clean and dry before you use it. Pour the freshly ground coffee into the portafilter and use your tamper to pack it tightly. Be gentle when tamping the coffee grounds — apply even pressure and don't push too hard on one side or the other, which would result in an imperfect espresso shot.
- Make your espresso: Whether you decided to brew a single, double or triple espresso shot, it will be pulled in the same amount of time with the double and triple shots ending up stronger. Pull your espresso shot according to your machine's settings, using your warm coffee cup to catch the espresso.
- Heat up your water: Decide how much water you want to add to your espresso depending on how you like your americano, the strength of your espresso shot, and the size of your mug. Traditionally, the amount of water used in an americano is double the amount of espresso used, so heat up 2 ounces of water for every ounce of espresso you plan to use.
- Combine your espresso and water: Make sure to add your espresso to the hot water, never the other way around. Adding the water to the espresso runs the risk of scalding the espresso if your water is too hot. But adding the espresso to the water both saves the crema — a creamy foam on top of espresso — and allows the water to evenly temper the espresso, creating a smoother mixture overall.
- Add your mix-ins: A standard americano is strictly espresso and water with no flavorings or toppings. But if you want to jazz up the traditional beverage a bit, feel free to sprinkle in some cinnamon, squeeze some honey into it, pour in some milk and sugar, add a squirt of vanilla, or even spoon in a dollop of whipped cream — the options are limited only by your imagination. Play around with customizing your homemade americano to create a new signature drink.
- Enjoy: You just successfully made your first americano at home! Celebrate with a sip of caffeinated goodness and get ready for a great morning.
How Do You Make an Iced Americano?
The procedure for making an iced americano is extremely similar to brewing a regular americano. Unlike cold brew coffee, you won't need any extra fancy equipment to make your americano chilled. As long as you have espresso and some ice, you have everything you need to make your own iced americano.
Gather these ingredients to make an iced americano at home:
- A double espresso shot, or a triple shot if you want a bolder taste
- Ice cubes
- A tall glass
Here's how to make an iced americano in three easy steps:
- Prepare your glass: Fill your tall glass with the ice cubes.
- Make your espresso: Either follow the steps of pulling your espresso from the previous recipe or use an espresso pod to brew your desired amount of espresso.
- Combine ingredients: Add your espresso to your tall glass of ice and fill the rest of the glass with cold water. Mix to your desired consistency and enjoy!
Our Favorite Americano Coffee Recipe
You've seen the basic americano recipes, so now it's time to reveal our favorite americano recipe. After multiple attempts at crafting the perfect americano, we decided that following this recipe yields the best results. We love this recipe because it's simple, straightforward, and easy to remember.
Once you've mastered the art of grinding your coffee beans and pulling your espresso, you won't need a recipe to guide you step by step anymore. In that case, you can follow this stripped-down version of an americano recipe to save you time and energy. This is also a great recipe to use if you already have espresso easily available from a Nespresso machine, another homemade espresso brewing method, or the coffee shop down the street.
Regardless of how you like to acquire your espresso, use the following recipe if you want an award-worthy americano to start your day.
These are the ingredients you'll need:
- One shot of espresso, or a double shot if you prefer a stronger brew
- Boiling water
- Steamed milk
- One cube of raw sugar
- A coffee cup or mug
Here's how you make an americano:
- Brew espresso: Make your shot of espresso and pour it into your cup or mug.
- Boil water: Bring water to a boil, then add it to the cup of espresso until the coffee reaches the top of the brim.
- Mix in extras: Keep the steamed milk and sugar cube on the side to stir into your americano according to taste.
Now that you've cured your caffeine craving with a perfectly homemade americano, it's time to quench your curiosity. Although you know how to make an amazing americano, you might still have some lingering questions about this espresso-based drink.
Check out these five FAQs and answers to resolve all your americano questions:
1. How Is an Americano Different from Regular Coffee?
The main difference between an americano and regular drip coffee is espresso. Essentially, making an americano means adding water to espresso until it's around the same strength as a cup of coffee but the two drinks have distinct tastes because of their differing brewing methods. An americano's use of espresso makes it typically taste fuller and richer than regular coffee.
2. How Do You Make Espresso without a Machine?
If you don't have a fancy espresso machine, you can still make espresso for your americano. Whether you want to use a French press, AeroPress or Moka pot to make your machine-less espresso, there's a method for you. These techniques are much more effective than using espresso powder, which will leave you with a watered-down version of the drink. Check out this guide for brewing your own espresso to become a pro homemade espresso maker.
3. Does Americano Have More Caffeine Than Coffee?
The amount of caffeine in your americano will vary depending on how many shots of espresso you choose to include, but a traditional americano brew contains less caffeine than a comparably sized cup of regular coffee. For example, an average 8-ounce americano contains 75 milligrams of caffeine while an 8-ounce drip coffee has 185 milligrams of caffeine.
4. What Is a White Americano?
A white americano coffee drink is similar to a regular americano but tops the mug with milk to make a lighter cup of coffee. Other americano variations include a lungo, which uses twice as much water as an americano, and a long black coffee, which is prepared by brewing espresso directly into a cup of hot water to give the drink a foamy cream on its surface and slightly more flavor.
5. What Is the Correct Americano Ratio?
Typically, a standard cafe americano follows a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 ratio of water to espresso. This means that for every ounce of espresso you put in your americano, you should add 2 or 3 ounces of water. But because everyone's tastes are different, this ratio can be adjusted to suit your personal preferences — just be sure to use enough water to partially dissipate the foam on top of the espresso.
Shop Real Good Coffee Co Nespresso Compatible Pods for Your Americano
If you're ready to embark on your own homemade americano adventure, stock up on some Nespresso compatible pods from Real Good Coffee Company. Our convenient pods make brewing americanos a breeze, even on busy mornings. Fitting perfectly into Nespresso makers, our pods deliver strong, real good flavor from a 100% recyclable container — so they're real good for the planet, too.
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