How to Make an Americano

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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.

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What is an Americano?

Americano (or Caffe Americano) is a caffeinated drink made with espresso and hot water. Espresso is 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.

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.

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.

RELATED: Iced Americano

Differences Between Americano and Regular Black Coffee 

Espresso/Coffee
Americano is made with espresso while 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
Because espresso is extracted using pressure, there will be a layer of crema on top of the drink, 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. This means there is little crema at the top of the cup.

At Starbucks, Americanos come in four sizes and each size drink comes with a different number of shots. The short size has one shot of espresso, the tall has two, the grande has three, and the venti has four.

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.

For full ingredients and detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Pouring hot water in a mug.

Step 1: Pour hot water into a mug. Leave room for the espresso.

Pouring espresso in a cup.

Step 2: Add espresso.

Nespresso Notes

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

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.

Expert Tips

  • 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 to make it the traditional and correct way.
  • There is no set amount of water or number of espresso shots needed to call it an Americano. When you add water to espresso, it’s an Americano so feel free to customize it however you like.
  • If you don’t have espresso, you can use instant coffee. Combine 1 ½ tablespoons of instant coffee and ⅓ cup hot water to replace the 3 shots of espresso in the recipe. Just a note that since espresso isn’t in the drink, it’s not technically an Americano.

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. 

How can I make an iced Americano?

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

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5 from 2 votes

How to Make an Americano

By: Jee Choe
Tips and steps to make an Americano, a simple drink made with espresso and hot water.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 serving (16 ounces)

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Pour hot water into a mug.
    Leave room for the espresso.
    1 ½ cups hot water
  • Add espresso to the hot water.
    3 capsules Nespresso espresso

Notes

  • This Americano recipe makes a 16 ounce (Starbucks grande size) drink using 3 espresso shots. This means you’ll need 3 Nespresso capsules.
  • 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.
  • If you don’t have espresso, you can use instant coffee. Combine 1 ½ tablespoons of instant coffee and ⅓ cup hot water to replace the 3 shots of espresso in the recipe. Just a note that since espresso isn’t in the drink, it’s not technically an Americano.

Nutrition

Calories: 12Carbohydrates: 2gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 36mgPotassium: 153mgVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 0.2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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