How to Make an Americano

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

Americano coffee in a glass mug.

What is an Americano?

Americano is a caffeinated drink made with espresso and hot water. It’s espresso diluted in water so it’s similar to brewed coffee made in a coffee machine. 

Americanos are a way to enjoy espresso without the intensity of a straight shot.

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.

The proper way to make an Americano is with hot water in the mug, then pouring espresso shots on top.

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.

RELATED: Latte: What It is, Recipe, and How to Order It at Starbucks

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

Starbucks doesn’t follow the traditional method in making an Americano. Instead of topping the hot water with espresso, they make the espresso in the cup, then add hot water.

Making an Americano in this non-traditional way means there is very little crema at the top of the cup.

At Starbucks, Americanos come in four sizes: short, 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. 

RELATED: Every Starbucks Drink Ranked by Caffeine Content

Ingredient Notes

Americano coffee ingredients.
  • Espresso
    It’s not an Americano unless it’s made with espresso. Make espresso using a Nespresso or espresso machine.
  • Water
    The only other ingredient to make an Americano is water, so try to use filtered water if possible.
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Step-by-Step Instructions

Two steps to making an Americano coffee.

For full ingredients and instructions, scroll down to the recipe.

  1. Pour hot water into a mug.
    Leave room for the espresso.
  2. Pull 3 shots of espresso.
    Grind coffee and use an espresso machine or Nespresso to extract espresso.

BARISTA’S TIP: Always put hot water into the mug first, then the espresso so that the crema (espresso froth) can sit on top.

Nespresso Machine Notes

A Nespresso machine is the easiest way to make Americanos and lattes at home.

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1 shot of espresso = 1 Nespresso espresso capsule

This Americano recipe makes a 16 ounce (Starbucks grande size) drink using 3 espresso shots. This means you’ll need 3 Nespresso capsules.

You can also use 1 Vertuo double espresso capsule or 3 ristretto capsules.

Make sure the Nespresso capsules are espresso capsules, not the coffee/mug capsules that makes a full cup of coffee.

Recommended Nespresso capsule for an Americano:

Altissio
A dark roast espresso capsule that’s full-bodied and creamy.

Pouring espresso into a mug with hot water.

Expert Tips

  • Milk and/or sugar can be added to an Americano.
  • Any coffee shop with an espresso machine can make an Americano even if you don’t see it on the menu since it’s a drink that’s made with just espresso and hot water.
  • 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. 

RELATED: Most Popular Coffee Drinks and How They’re Different

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 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 glass mugs.

Related

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How to Make an Americano

Author: Jee Choe
An Americano is a simple drink made with espresso and hot water.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Total Time 2 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving (16 ounces)

INGREDIENTS
 

  • 3 shots of espresso (or 3 Nespresso espresso capsules)
  • 1 ½ cups hot water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pour hot water into a mug.
    Leave room for the espresso.
  • Pull 3 shots of espresso.
    Grind coffee and use an espresso machine or Nespresso to extract espresso.
  • Add espresso to the hot water.

NOTES

  • It’s not an Americano unless it’s made with espresso. Make espresso using a Nespresso or espresso machine.
  • This Americano recipe makes a 16 ounce (Starbucks grande size) drink using 3 espresso shots. This means you’ll need 3 Nespresso capsules.
  • The only other ingredient to make an Americano is water, so try to use filtered water if possible.
  • Milk and/or sugar can be added to an Americano.
  • Always put hot water into the mug first, then the espresso so that the crema (espresso froth) can sit on top.
  • Recommended Nespresso capsule: Altissio

NUTRITION

Calories: 12 | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 36mg | Potassium: 153mg | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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