Black coffee drinkers of the world may feel they are somewhat under-served by the number of options available when it comes to iced coffee drinks. If you’re not a fan of milk, cream, or flavored syrups in a cold coffee then the menu shrinks substantially. Sometimes the only option left is an “iced. But what is an iced americano?
An iced americano is a single or double shot of espresso that is mixed with chilled water and ice. The result is a rich, bitter black coffee that is refreshingly chilled. It can also be made using just espresso and ice as the melting ice works to dilute the espresso.
There is a lot of room for tinkering with an iced americano. So we’ll delve into exactly what this easy ice coffee drink is and how to nail it at home for all our too-hot black coffee fans.
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It has to be made with espresso to be called an iced americano. If any other type of coffee maker is used and the coffee is chilled, the result would simply be called “iced coffee”. If lots of milk is added, it would be an “iced latte”. And if the coffee is brewed without heating the water it is called “cold brew coffee”.
Regular Americano coffee is made by simply pouring hot water over one or two shots of espresso. But, for a more refreshing coffee drink, you simply swap the hot water for chilled water or ice and you’re done.
Whether you choose to dilute your iced americano with water first or pour the espresso straight onto ice depends on how strong you like your coffee.
An iced americano will never be made with milk, although you may choose to add it afterward. As it can be quite a bitter coffee drink, some coffee shops will choose to sweeten the coffee first. Doing so will smooth out the bitter edge of the espresso that is more pronounced when cold.
Not sure if the Americano is right for you or if you’d prefer straight espresso shots? Check out our full comparison guide to help you pick:
- Coffee beans or ground coffee for 2 espresso shots (18-40g depending on your machine)
- Ice, coffee ice cubes, or whiskey rocks
- Chilled water
- Grind your coffee beans. There’s no specific type of coffee beans you should use, so opt for your favorites. Just remember that not all coffee is created equal so some will be better beans for espresso than others. You need enough for a double shot which will be 18-40g depending on your espresso machine.
- Brew a double espresso into a small cup or glass. If you want to take the edge off the espresso’s bitterness, add sugar/sweetener at this stage to taste.
- Put 4oz of chilled water into a separate glass (the one you will drink from).
- Pour your espresso into the chilled water. With the iced coffee version, it’s fine to add these the other way around but with a hot Americano, the espresso should always be added first.
- Top up with ice or whiskey rocks (we do it in this order to minimize the ice melting).
The biggest tip we can give when making this or any other iced coffee drinks is to use some whiskey stones. (They are also great for chilling whiskey, wine, cordial, or whatever at home). Melting ice will slowly dilute your cold, delicious coffee drink, something we’d all like to avoid. Reusable ice cubes like whiskey rocks are great for chilling your drinks without ruining the flavor.
If you don’t have any at home, you could also make some coffee ice cubes. Brew up some black coffee, pour it into your ice cube tray, and pop it in the freezer for later. Then when you make your refreshing coffee beverage, you get to enjoy more coffee as it starts to melt.
Iced Americano uses espresso that is brewed hot and then chilled with ice to drink.
Cold brew, on the other hand, uses coffee that has been brewed by steeping coarse coffee grounds in cold water for 12-24 hours.
The different coffee brewing methods also pull out very different flavor profiles. Iced americano tends to have a bitter edge from the espresso and big, punchy flavors. Whereas, cold brew has a more mild coffee flavor, tasting sweeter and more mellow due to the long extraction at cool temperatures.
Obviously, cold brew takes a greater investment of time but you can make an iced americano on a whim. That’s unless you can splurge for the Jura Z10 which will make both at the touch of a button.
This could be an espresso-based americano, drip coffee, pour over, or basically anything else that isn’t cold brew. However, iced americano is a very specific drink made with espresso, chilled water, and ice.
Generally, you’ll see “iced coffee” used to refer to batch-brewed drip coffee that is served over ice. You can then add your favorite coffee accompaniments such as milk, cream, syrups, or whatever else you like. In specialty coffee shops this can be an incredibly flavorful drink, showing off the distinct style of single-origin beans.
Iced americano will often be made with crushed ice and no water. The hot espresso melts the ice when poured in, acting to dilute and chill the coffee simultaneously. Sadly, this can lead to very variable quality as it’s a nightmare to try and get the correct coffee-to-water ratio. If you find somewhere that does one you like, it may be best to stick to it.
Or just make it at home with whiskey rocks so you can control the amount of water (no, we will not stop banging on about whiskey rocks!)
Iced americano, made with 2 shots of espresso, will have around 126mg of caffeine (63mg per shot). The average drip coffee contains around 95mg of caffeine.
This obviously depends on your chosen coffee beans, how strong the drip coffee is, and whether it’s even drip coffee or some other brewing method. If you’re making this at home, you’ll know how strong to make your coffee. Bigger coffee chains have the caffeine content available online if not in-store. If in doubt, you can ask your friendly Barista as they will probably know.
It is always served black with milk and sweetener as optional extras.
When making iced americano at home we recommend buying whiskey rocks to prevent the melting ice from ruining the taste.
Hopefully, you will no longer be left wondering ‘what is an iced americano’, just ‘how do I enjoy more of this deliciously refreshing coffee drink’?
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