Americano: Overview, Steps to Make It, and How to Order It at Starbucks

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The americano is a simple drink made of espresso and hot water. See how to properly make it at home and how to order it at Starbucks.

Americano coffee in 2 glass mugs.

What is an Americano?

  • Americano is a caffeinated drink made with espresso and hot water. It’s basically espresso diluted in water so it’s similar to brewed coffee made in a coffee machine. 
  • There is no set amount of water needed to call it an americano — if you add water to an espresso, it’s an americano. An americano can be made with a single or a double shot of espresso.
  • Americanos are believed to have become popular during World War II when American soldiers were in Europe and wanted a drink that mimicked brewed coffee.
  • Some cultures have different terms for similar drinks, like a long black, which is an Australian drink closely related to an americano.

Americanos are a way to enjoy espresso without the intensity of a straight shot. If you’d like to read about other espresso-based drinks, find out more about lattes, cappuccinos, cortados, flat whites, and macchiatos.

Differences Between Americano and Regular Black Coffee 

Espresso/Coffee
Americano is made with espresso and black brewed coffee is made in a coffee/drip machine. Americanos have a noticeably heavier body and richer flavor. If you’re unsure of the strength of your americano, ask you barista how many shots of espresso are included in the drink. 

Milk
Milk can be added to americanos and black coffee.

Drink size
Americanos are generally ordered in the same sizes as you would order regular black coffee: between 12 and 20 ounces.

Crema
Some americanos might have a crema on top from the espresso. Because espresso is extracted using pressure, a layer of crema might form at the top, which you won’t see in brewed coffee. 

Americanos at Starbucks

At Starbucks, americanos come in four sizes: short (off-the-menu size), tall, grande, and venti.

Each size drink comes with a different number of shots. The short size has one, the tall has two, the grande has three, and the venti four. You can customize your americano to have more or fewer shots depending on your preferences. 

What You’ll Need to Make an Americano

  • Espresso machine
    Americanos are made using an espresso machine but you can use any type of machine that extracts coffee using pressure like a Nespresso or Keurig.
  • Coffee grinder
    Only needed if your machine doesn’t come with a grinder.
  • Whole coffee beans
    Get any coffee labeled as “espresso” or your favorite coffee beans.
  • Filtered water
    This drink is mostly water so you want to use the best quality water you can.
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How to Make an Americano at Home

Here’s a quick overview of the steps to make this drink. For full ingredients and instructions, scroll down to the recipe.

  1. Pour hot water into a mug.
    Leave room for the espresso.
  2. Pull 1-2 shots of espresso.
    Grind coffee and use an espresso machine (or Nespresso or Keurig) to extract espresso. You can pull the shot directly into the mug or into a small cup and pour on top of the hot water.

BARISTA’S TIP: You want to fill the cup or mug with hot water first, then add the espresso so that the crema (espresso froth) can sit on top.

Notes & Tips

  • Any coffee shop with an espresso machine can make an americano—some places might not have it on the menu, but if you order it, most baristas will know how to make it.
  • Americanos are popular drinks in the United States but they’re not as common abroad, so you might need to explain exactly what you want if you’re ordering outside of the U.S.
  • There is no standard with the number of shots in an americano but most coffee shops will make it with two shots.
  • An americano can also refer to a cocktail made with Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda. It’d be rare to get these two confused, but if you’re ordering coffee for brunch you might need to clarify which drink you mean. 

Questions You May Have

How much caffeine is in an americano?

An americano with a double shot of espresso has about 60 mg of caffeine, which is roughly the same amount of caffeine as a 6 ounce cup of coffee (about 71 mg).

What is a double or triple americano? 

The number in front of the americano refers to the number of espresso shots in the drink. A double americano will have two shots, a triple will have three, and so on. A coffee shop that’s not Starbucks will usually make an americano with double shots of espresso.

Does an americano have milk? 

When you order an americano, it will not come with milk. You can add milk afterwards, like you would to brewed coffee or you can ask for steamed milk. The drink will still be an americano. 

Can you make an americano without an espresso machine? 

Yes! You can make espresso with an aeropress and then add hot water.

Can you make an americano with a Keurig? 

Yup, there are k-cups specifically labelled as americanos. If you have a Keurig designed to make espresso-based drinks, you can make americanos.

Can you make an americano with a Nespresso? 

Definitely. Nespresso machines are designed to produce common espresso-based drinks and americanos are simple and easy to make on these machines. 

How can I make an iced americano?

To make the drink iced, just add espresso to a cup with ice and cold water. The cold water will instantly chill the hot espresso.

Americano coffee in a glass mug.

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How to Make an Americano

Author: Jee Choe
The americano is a simple drink made of espresso and hot water.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 mins
Total Time 2 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving

INGREDIENTS
 

  • 2 shots espresso
  • 10 ounces hot water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pour hot water into a mug.
    Leave room for the espresso.
  • Pull 1-2 shots of espresso.
    Grind coffee and use an espresso machine (or Nespresso or Keurig) to extract espresso. You can pull the shot directly into the mug or into a small cup and pour on top of the hot water so that the crema (espresso froth) can be sitting on top of the drink.

NUTRITION

Calories: 5 | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 69mg
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