An americano coffee recipe is as simple as it gets in the world of espresso drinks. No frills, filters, or frothing here.
If you’re comfortable with espresso, you’ve come to the right place. As long as you can pull a decent shot, making this popular coffee drink at home is well within reach.
What is an Americano?
An Americano combines hot water and espresso. That’s it!
This drink goes back to World War II, when US soldiers stationed in Italy added hot water to their espresso shots. Italian coffee, or espresso on its own was too strong for the American soldiers palates used to variations of drip coffee. Hence, American coffee, or the Americano.
No specific amount of hot water makes an Americano “right,” but a consistent cafe standard is 8-10 ounces of hot water, with a double shot of espresso added on top.
One variation (and my personal favorite) is the Italiano, which is a double espresso added to just 6 ounces of hot water. It’s a smidge stronger than an Americano, but not as heavy as straight espresso.
An Americano tastes similar to black coffee or drip. If you like to order larger coffees, like a 16-ounce, I recommend adding an additional espresso to your Americano. Too much hot water and the flavor of the espresso won’t come through.
Adding cream or milk to an Americano is common, but not necessary.
Iced Americanos are super popular on hot summer days. The iced americano recipe is the same, the main difference is to use cold water and ice and add the shot on top.
Why You’ll Love It
If you love the aroma, texture, and flavor of espresso, you’ll love the Americano. I always opt for an Americano when I don’t feel enticed by the drip coffee served at a cafe. And switching up your caffeine intake mid-day can be nice if you’ve already had drip coffee.
Here are a few reasons why Americanos just work:
- The thicker, creamy mouthfeel of the espresso mellows out when diluted with hot water, but it’s not erased. So you can enjoy the best parts of espresso for a longer period of time.
- With the shots of espresso diluted, it’s possible to detect more distinct flavors of the espresso that may have been too tricky to discern in its concentrated form.
- It’s less of an immediate caffeine high than your standard cup of drip or espresso.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Hot water
And that’s it!
The cool thing about the Americano is you can use any coffee you like to brew your espresso. There is no “right” kind of coffee beans for an Americano.
My personal go-to for espresso is always a medium roast coffee. I like the heavier body of medium roasts and the potential for deeper flavors like chocolate or molasses.
Coffee origin is also a subjective matter. If you’re new to espresso, I would look for an “espresso blend” crafted by your favorite coffee roaster. Or, if you don’t have a favorite roaster, look for flavor notes that stand out to you.
If your grinder has an espresso-specific setting, start there. You want a fine grind but don’t want it to be so fine (Turkish coffee) that your espresso is muddy or under-extracted and sour.
Espresso takes time to master and perfect, so be ready to experiment and adjust grind, dose, and timing as needed.
Milk and cream are subjective choices, and I always recommend neither since they will dull the flavor of the coffee. Whatever you prefer in a drip coffee will translate well to an Americano.
- Espresso machine (if you don’t have one, here are some of my favorites!)
- Digital scale (check out some digital scales here!)
- Coffee grinder
- Kettle (only if your espresso machine doesn’t have a hot water spout)
Measuring your coffee grounds by weight with a digital scale will help keep your shots consistent and help you adjust the dose as needed.
Coffee grinders that can handle espresso are essential. Blade grinders won’t make the coffee grounds consistent enough for an espresso machine. Manual or electric burr grinders are your best bet.
If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can make something in the wheelhouse of espresso with an Aeropress, moka pot or french press and then add 3-4 ounces of hot water.
- In an 8-10 ounce latte cup or coffee mug, swirl a couple of tablespoons of hot water for about 10 seconds, and dump the remaining water.
- Grind your espresso.
- Pull your shot of espresso to your desired specs.
- Pour the espresso into the mug.
- Fill your mug with 6-8 ounces of hot water, 194-201 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tips and Tricks
- Heating your mug before you prep the drink will keep the drink hot for longer.
- If you want to maintain the beautiful crema of the espresso, pour the espresso into the hot water and not vice versa.
- Submerge your shot glass in the hot water as you pour the espresso into the cup so the espresso crema floats on the hot water. It looks nice and doesn’t let all the espresso sink directly to the bottom of the cup.
- The whole process should only take 2-3 minutes to make a perfect americano.
If you’re a coffee lover who wants to switch up your classic morning drip, an Americano is a great way to enjoy a simple drink that has a nice strong flavor.
Like drip coffee, Americanos are a great option because you can easily drink it on the go without sacrificing flavor or texture.
If you prefer a stronger drink or normally drink espresso on its own, try the Italiano. It’s 6 ounces of hot water instead of 8. If you think a regular Americano tastes too watery but you don’t love the full strength of espresso – the Italiano is a perfect in-between.
Some people add cream or almond milk or oat milk to their Americanos. If you’re not in the mood for espresso, check out our super simple iced cold brew with oat milk recipe!. Cinnamon is also an option if the taste of black coffee is too strong. If it’s too hot, feel free to drop in some ice cubes to cool it down!
Americano Coffee Recipe
- Espresso Machine
- Digital Scale
- Coffee grinder
- Kettle (only if your espresso machine doesn't have a hot water spout)
- Pull your espresso shot.
- Add your espresso shot to the mug.
- Top your cup off with 6-8 ounces of 194-201 degrees F water.
- If you prefer your espresso to be more prominent, try an Italiano and use 3-4 ounces of hot water instead of 6-8.
- If you want to keep the crema of the espresso, switch the order and pour the espresso into the hot water.
Americanos were invented to reduce the intensity of straight espresso and mimic the flavor and mouthfeel of regular hot coffee.
A classic Americano is a combination of espresso and hot water. Regular coffee uses the drip brew method, which is less concentrated than espresso. You don’t have to add hot water to drip coffee, it’s ready to drink when it’s finished brewing.
Usually no. Though an Americano uses espresso, a cup of regular black coffee usually contains more caffeine content because of the coffee-to-water ratio and the typical portions served.
A true Americano is a combination of espresso and hot water. The texture and flavor of espresso are unique to the brewing process. So it cannot be easily replicated by other brew methods like drip or pour-over.
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