How To Make An Americano
Standing in a crowded café in Rome, I ordered an Americano. The room fell silent and everyone turned to stare.
The Barista smiled and poured me a double shot.
I mimicked adding hot water to it but he didn’t seem to know what I meant. While it seems that this drink is very popular in North America and other parts of the world, it hasn’t quite caught on in Italy yet.
Perhaps I started a trend. I certainly caused a stir in that coffee bar!
I often drink Americanos at home - and it took a bit for me to get it right.
So, what is a café Americano?
It is made by adding hot water to an espresso shot. The water dilutes the espresso a bit, giving you the volume of a drip, but with an espresso taste.
Read on to learn how to make the perfect tasting Americano yourself!
What is a café Americano? It is made by adding hot water to an espresso shot. The water dilutes the espresso a bit, giving you the volume of a drip, but with an espresso taste. Read on to learn how to make the perfect tasting Americano yourself!
- 14-18 grams espresso coffee beans
- hot or almost boiling water
- espresso machine
Measure out your beans for a double shot. Grind them really fine.
Tamp the beans, then put the portafilter into its spot on the machine.
Make the espresso.
Heat up the water to 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour the espresso into the hot water, mix 1 part espresso to 2 parts water.
How to Make an Americano
Making an Americano might seem like you’re just pouring hot water into an espresso, but there is more to a Café Americano recipe than that – much more, for some coffee lovers.
And the difference between a Café Americano vs. regular coffee will become clear.
Hint: the Café Americano has more steps to the recipe and you use espresso beans.
For your Café Americano recipe, you will need:
- Espresso Machine – We’re assuming you have this. If you don’t, we’re not judging - maybe you are dreaming of when you will. There are some super-handy reviews here, if you’re in the market.
- Espresso Coffee Beans – You can make an Americano from non-espresso beans, but it’s not really an Americano and it won’t taste the same.
- Scale – We don’t like to be wasteful with our beans!
- Grinder – Grinding the beans just before making the coffee is important for quality of the pour.
- Hot Or Almost Boiling Water – Hot, hot, hot – you will add hot or almost boiling water with the espresso to make your Americano.
- Tamper – You’re making an espresso first, so you need to tamp.
Making this style of coffee well is an art.
In fact, some have taken it to a whole other level.
There is a Canadian company with coffee bars in Toronto and Vancouver that is VERY serious about its Americanos – they even have their own espresso machines just for making them! Read more about it here.
Step # 1: Get the Good Beans
Coffee beans are a personal thing.
To make a good Americano, you need good espresso beans.
While making an Americano actually dilutes the espresso shot, the process seems to amplify any flaws in the coffee, so get a bean that you know you like.
Step # 2: Measure
Measure out your beans. Most people don’t make an Americano with a single shot.
It is recommended that you measure for a double (14-18 grams). If you are a fan of the Americano, a single shot isn’t enough.
Step # 3: Fine Grind the Beans
This step depends on your beans, your espresso machine and its quirks, as well as your personal preference for how fine you grind.
Overall, the advice is to grind the beans quite fine for Americanos.
When you first begin to grind fine, you may worry that they are coming out too fine, but it’s okay! Really.
If you make an Americano with a less-fine grind, it just doesn’t work. Not fine enough of a grind and it’s an #AmericanoFail.
The recommendation: go really fine.
Your grinder is a key tool for making great espresso, which is the first step to a great americano.
Do you have the right grinder - which should be a burr grinder? If you aren’t sure, check out the best ones here.
Step # 4: Tamp It Good
Tamping is an important part of the process. Some machines these days tamp automatically for you. Others don’t.
It’s okay if your espresso machine doesn’t tamp the beans automatically.
(Poor us, huh? Life can be hard when you’re a coffee snob!)
Whether it’s automatic or you’re going to do it the old-school way, now is the time to tamp.
Step 5: Put the Portafilter Into the Machine
I figure if you want to make an Americano, you already know to do this.
However, you know what happens when you assume… right?
So, once you have tamped, please put the portafilter into its spot on the machine.
Step 6: Make the Espresso
Every machine is different – so whatever you need to do here to make that magical brew of rich black gold, do that.
There’s really nothing like the aroma of a fresh double shot of espresso being made, is there?
It’s like happiness aromatherapy.
If you find yourself craving an Americano and there is no espresso maker, you can still do it.
Check out how to make an espresso without a machine here.
Step 7: Get Into Hot Water
When making an Americano, there is some discussion about how hot the water should be.
And it is personal to your preference.
Too hot and it takes too long to cool down and that affects the taste. Too cold and it brings the quality of the espresso down a bit as well.
Overall, about 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit works well.
You can use your kettle to get the water to that temperature or add the water out of your steam boiler tap.
Step 8: Pour The Espresso Into The Water
The ratio of water to espresso is one of those things you will want to tweak to suit your personal taste. Typically, you mix 1 part espresso to 2 parts water.
It is recommended you pour the espresso into the water, rather than the other way around.
The espresso seems to blend better with the water this way.
Experience shows that pouring the water into the espresso disrupts the taste. Make it a slow pour into the hot water in your cup.
It feels wrong to rush the process - and in this case, slow is better. Check out this great video on how to do this here.
Step 9: Enjoy!
Typically, an Americano is served black, but the world is not typical and neither are coffee fans.
If cream and sugar is your thing, fill your boots. Once you have poured the espresso into the water, sit back and enjoy.
If you want an iced Americano, the process is just a tiny bit different. Instead of hot water, add some cold water (You can use about 1.5 to 1 water to espresso – this is to account for the ice).
Next, you pour your espresso into the cold water and add ice.
Iced Americano for those dog days of summer. Check out a video on how to do this here.
You may be wondering what the difference is between iced Americano vs. iced coffee – and there is a difference.
An iced Americano is typically made as an Americano and is drunk without milk or sugar.
An iced coffee can be almost anything you want it to be – from putting the most basic coffee that you made in the a.m. into the refrigerator and having it over ice later that day, to some wildly imaginative concoctions that are simply delicious.
Check out these great recipes here.
Lighter Texture, More Volume
I find that when you bring up Americanos, it can create an interesting discussion.
A few of my friends (and the people in the coffee bar in Rome) don’t understand adding water to an espresso shot.
They just don’t get it.
For me, there are days when I want a bit of a lighter texture and more volume – and an Americano hits the spot.
And just in case you are heading to Rome anytime soon, you might find this article on how to order a coffee there useful.
Just remember though, if you order an Americano, you might have to teach the barista how to make it!
Let us know what you think about this step-by-step guide to making an Americano in the comments.
And if you have any Americano curious friends, please share!