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How To Make an Americano: The Ultimate Guide

how to make an americano: cup of coffee in the mountains

If you’ve been to a coffee shop like Starbucks, you’ve probably seen an americano listed as a drink option. It’s a staple coffee menu item and it’s a great way for new coffee drinkers to try out an espresso-based beverage. Wondering what an americano is and how to make one? We’ve got you covered. Here, you’ll find tips for how to make an americano and an easy-to-follow americano coffee recipe you can use at home.

What is An Americano?

two cups of coffee one black and one with milk

Before you can dive into how to make an americano, it’s useful to know what makes the drink unique. An americano is also known as a caffe americano. It’s also called American coffee and sometimes a long black. It’s a type of drink where hot water is added to an espresso shot. The black coffee drink reportedly gets its name from American soldiers in Italy during World War II. As the story goes, American soldiers would add water to their coffee in order to extend their rations.

In general, an americano has one or two shots of espresso. The amount of water varies, but baristas typically add anywhere from 30 to 450 ml of water to the espresso grinds. As a rule of thumb, americanos contain 1 part espresso and two parts water. The beverage closely resembles drip coffee but has a stronger, bolder flavor thanks to the strong espresso beans. The caffeine content depends on how many shots of espresso you use and brewing methods, but it is typically around one strong cup of coffee.

Americano coffees only have water and espresso. They never contain any milk — that would make the espresso drink more like a latte or a cappuccino. Some coffee drinkers add sweeteners or flavorings, but it’s generally consumed as-is.

How To Make an Americano

how to make an americano: coffee maker brewing espresso

Making an Americano is quick and easy. The total time takes just a few minutes and you don’t need a ton of equipment. To make this drink at home, you’ll need high-quality espresso grounds and an espresso machine or an AeroPress. Make sure to choose espresso beans that are fresh for the best flavor. You can choose a light roast if you like one, strong tasting note, or opt for a dark roast — which is known for nuanced and altered tasting profiles. Not sure which type of roast you prefer? Check out our quick guide to light and dark roast coffees.

In terms of equipment, you’ll need either an espresso machine, espresso maker, or an AeroPress. Since this drink doesn’t contain any steamed milk, you won’t need a frothing wand. You just need a tool that can pull water through the espresso grinds for a simple americano recipe.

Here’s how to make an americano:

  1. Choose how much espresso coffee you want (typically 1 to 2 shots)
  2. Grind whole beans into espresso grinds using a coffee grinder (skip this step if you’re using ground coffee instead of beans)
  3. Add espresso coffee grounds to the espresso machine, maker, or AeroPress and make the espresso. Be sure to use a cup large enough to hold the espresso and water
  4. Boil water on the stovetop, in the microwave, or an electric kettle. Remember to use a 2:1 ratio of water to espresso. A single serving of espresso is typically 1 ounce so add 2 ounces of hot water if you’re doing one shot of espresso. If you’re doing a double shot of espresso, you should add 4 ounces of water. 
  5. Pour the hot water into the cup with the brewed espresso. Enjoy a great americano!

Want an iced americano? Brew a large batch of cafe americano and freeze it into ice cubes. When you brew your next hot americano, add the ice cubes to cool it down without diluting it. Alternatively, you can pull the espresso and add it to half a cup of ice. The ice will melt, taking the place of the hot water. If you want to dilute it more, you can add a little cold water.

Tips for Making a Delicious Americano

The key to making an incredible Americano is using high-quality ingredients. Don’t skimp on the coffee beans. Look for espresso grinds or whole beans made from arabica coffee. In the coffee world, Arabica beans are the highest quality of the four different types of coffee beans. They offer bold, robust flavor profiles with a light and airy body. The beans have a mildly sweet flavor and low acidity. Good coffee will also create a better crema, the delicious brown cream found on the top of an espresso shot. 

Quality isn’t just a consideration when it comes to coffee beans. You also need to use good-quality water. Use filtered water for the best flavor. Unfiltered tap water contains minerals and chemicals like chlorine that can change the way the water — and the coffee you brew — tastes. Distilled water doesn’t develop flavors well so skip that to make the perfect americano.

You don’t need a fancy coffee machine to make an americano. While an espresso machine is used to make a traditional americano, you can also use other coffee tools like a French press or a Moka pot. You can use a regular coffee maker or a fancy Nespresso machine. Basically, you just need a coffee tool that can make espresso by drawing water through the grinds.

Brew Coffee Your Way

how to make an americano: friends enjoying cups of coffee

Now that you know how to make an Italian americano, you can enjoy this beverage hot or cold. Best of all, brewing an americano is simple and easy, even if you don’t brew coffee regularly. The key to a good americano is using filtered water and arabica espresso beans. Don’t forget to use a 2:1 ratio of water to espresso grinds for the best flavor.

Looking for other ways to brew the perfect cup of coffee every time? Check out our coffee blog. The posts focus on avid coffee lovers as well as beginners who are just learning about coffee. You’ll find country-specific guides to where and how coffee is made. Plus, there are informational posts on different types of coffee like nitro cold brew. We also offer guides on the best coffee brewing tools and techniques so you can brew the perfect cup no matter your tastes.