How to Make an Americano the Barista Way
One of the simplest yet most satisfying drinks is an Americano. Even complete beginners should have no difficulty recreating it.
In this article, I’ll walk you through each step to create the classic drink from scratch. I’ll even share with you some of the tips I’ve picked up from my years of brewing.
So grab your favorite mug, and let’s dive into this simple Americano recipe.
What is an Americano?
An Americano is simply an espresso drink made from a shot of espresso and hot water. It’s ideal for coffee enthusiasts who love the intense flavor associated with espressos but prefer a milder and less bitter taste than straight shots. It’s also a great alternative to drip coffee.
The origins of the Americano date back to World War II when American soldiers stationed in Italy took inspiration from the Italians and made their own version of filter coffee by adding hot water to espressos to dilute them. It became known as “Americano,” which is very popular among straightforward coffee drinkers who don’t care for milk or froth.
What’s amazing about this recipe is that you can enjoy an espresso-based beverage without investing much time in learning advanced barista skills. All you need are good-quality coffee beans, an espresso machine, and a hot water dispenser or kettle – and voila. You’ve already made your very first Americano right in your own kitchen.
The best part yet is that prep time only takes minutes from start to finish making it perfect for those mornings when you’re rushing to get things done.
I didn’t realize my love for Americanos until I was in my 30s. Cramped with deadlines, sometimes I wanted to sip on good quality coffee without all the fuss, but I didn’t want to just drink an espresso. For someone like me who wasn’t fond of overly strong drinks like black drip coffee, the Americano from Starbucks hit the sweet spot between bold and smooth while giving me the caffeine fix I need to power through the week.
It was only after getting my barista degree that I realized that high-quality coffee beans elevate the Americano to specialty coffee status.
So whether you’re looking to try something new or want another way to enjoy your favorite roast of coffee differently, learning how to make an Americano will set you up to try and customize other espresso-based rinks over time.
Equipment and Ingredients for an Americano Recipe
- Espresso machine – is essential for making the espresso shot. Opt for a model with a steam boiler to heat the water you need for the Americano as well, so you don’t need to boil water separately.
- A latte cup or cappuccino cup for serving – will depend on how many espresso shots or the pouring order you’re using.
- 16 g of ground coffee beans- makes for two shots since a single shot is not very common because of its lack of strength. The roast is optional, but I prefer light roast beans (click for my favorites) or medium roast. When it comes to grinding size, it should always be fine.
- Hot filtered water – is the go-to choice for any coffee drink to retain the original flavors of the beans.
What is the dilution ratio for an americano?
The espresso-to-water ratio for an Americano is traditionally 1 part espresso to 2 parts water (1:2 ratio). However, you can modify this to your liking. For example, I use a 1:3 ratio when I want more of a drip coffee feel.
Step-by-step Guide to Making an Americano at Home
Here is how to make an Americano, the simplest of all espresso-based beverages.
1. Fill your mug with hot water
You can either use water boiled in an electric kettle or use water boiled in your espresso machine’s heat exchange boiler.
How hot should your water be? Too hot or too cold temperatures adversely affect the taste. Aim for a temperature of 185°F.
As I mentioned, when it comes to coffee ratio, the standard for an Americano is 2 parts water : 1 part espresso. If it’s too bitter for your taste, you can raise it to 3:1 or even 4:1. I wouldn’t dilute any further than that
2. Prepare your espresso
- Put 16.5 g of finely ground coffee into the portafilter and tamp it down hard.
- Place the portafilter into the espresso machine.
- Get your espresso cup ready, and let your machine do its magic.
3. Mix the 2 liquids. But which goes first?
Whether you pour the shot onto the hot water or the other way around will not modify its final taste.
It has an effect on the appearance of the drink, though.
Pouring espresso over water retains the crema on top, some barista call this a Long Black.
Personally, I’m in favor of the method above. In my experience, pouring hot water into the shot breaks apart the espresso and ruins the overall appearance.
What kind of cup should Americano be served in?
This one has many answers, depending on whether you’re using a single shot or would like to preserve what’s on top.
If you are using a single shot, you can serve Americanos in an espresso cup, which is also known as a demitasse cup, so the crema does not spread out or fade quickly.
But like many others, I prefer a latte cup for mine since I’m always using two shots.
Also, keep in mind that if you add espresso before the water, I recommend using a cappuccino cup. It’s similar to the espresso cup, but this type is much narrower at the base and wider at the rim. Its shape allows the espresso shot to remain more concentrated at the narrow base, so even with the crema mixed in, you still get a strong cup.
Helpful Tips for Brewing an Americano
Get ready to brew the perfect Americano coffee at home with these expert tips:
- Bonus Iced Americano recipe: If you prefer making an iced Americano at home for hot summer days, switch up a few details. Use cold water at a 1.5:1 water-to-espresso ratio to compensate for the ice cubes you’ll add later.
- Grind your own coffee – Freshly ground coffee will always taste superior, and consistent grind size ensures optimal extraction for every cup.
- Taste test as you go – The beauty of Americano lies in its simplicity since you can freely customize your cup depending on how strong you want it. Just pay attention to the recommended ratios.
- Get two spoons – Crema may look beautiful but it can be too bitter for some. You don’t want to mix it in and offset the taste more. Instead, use two spoons to scoop off the crema once it settles.
- Distilled water: After brewing your coffee, instead of diluting it with regular tap water, use distilled water. This will help maintain the optimal balance of flavors in your Americano because it doesn’t add any new minerals that could throw off its flavor.
If you haven’t tried making one yet or always order an Americano from your local cafe, you’re missing out on a bold flavor profile that’s so easy to make, even for complete newbies in the home barista game.
Hopefully, with my detailed guide and expert tips, you’re now well-acquainted with everything you need to know to brew a great Americano. Have some more questions or got some tips to share? Leave us a comment.