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Iced Americano VS Iced Coffee: What’s The Difference?

Just because the weather is hot doesn’t mean coffee lovers will stop drinking freshly brewed coffee. 

Feeling the heat? Maybe it’s time to sip on some iced coffee or an iced americano.

But temperature isn’t the only thing you care about when drinking coffee. So I’ll talk you through the key differences when comparing iced americano VS iced coffee.

Iced Americano compared to Iced Coffee

What Is an Iced Americano? 

If you’re not familiar with espresso-based coffee drinks, an americano coffee is espresso that is then added to hot water. (Generally two parts water to one part espresso.) The only difference between iced americano vs a hot americano is serving temperature.

An iced americano is an americano coffee on ice.

So to sum it up, an iced americano uses three ingredients: espresso, water, and ice.

What Is Iced coffee? 

Iced coffee is hot brewed coffee with ice. Unlike an iced americano, an iced coffee doesn’t involve any espresso or other coffee concentrate.

Sometimes you’ll hear iced coffee referred to as ice coffee (without the “d”). Both coffee terms mean the same thing.

Related Read: Cold Brew VS Iced Coffee Drinks

Iced Americano VS Iced Coffee

Understanding the key differences between iced americano vs iced coffee will help you figure out which drink you prefer.

The brew method is the first difference between an iced coffee and iced americano. Iced americano uses two espresso shots plus cold water and ice. 

Iced coffee uses hot brewed coffee poured over a cup of ice. You can use anything from a french press, pour over, or old-school drip coffee maker to make iced coffees.

An iced americano tends to be easier to make than an iced coffee. But that convenience requires access to espresso machines.

When it comes to flavor, the difference is understated but still apparent. An iced americano relies on robust espresso flavors. 

coffee with milk and ice

An iced coffee’s flavor changes slightly based on its brew method, but will generally be more complex.

Not sure where to start? 

Ask yourself a simple question. When you’re drinking hot coffee, do you prefer an americano or a cup of pour over, drip, or french press coffee? 

If you prefer the flavor of hot espresso, you’ll probably enjoy an iced americano.

Remember, iced coffee and iced americano are not the same as cold brew drinks. Both iced americanos and iced coffees are brewed using hot water. Cold brew, as the name suggests, is brewed using cold water.

Is Iced Americano Stronger Than Iced Coffee? 

When comparing the strength of an iced americano vs iced coffee, there are two things we’re typically talking about: flavor and caffeine content.

First, let’s talk about the caffeine content difference. 

Brewing technique will make the biggest impact on caffeine content. A true iced americano is always made with an espresso machine, so its caffeine content will stay the same. 

A single shot of espresso will contain about 68 mg of caffeine. Since most coffee shops pull double shots of espresso, that puts caffeine content at 136 mg of caffeine per iced americano. 

But there are many ways of brewing coffee for iced coffee. And different brew methods will extract different amounts of caffeine. For example, French press and AeroPress will extract higher levels of caffeine. Chemex and drip coffee makers will extract lower amounts of caffeine.

Diluting the coffee with more ice or water will not alter the drink’s caffeine content.

Now the fun stuff: flavor.

americano ice

Here’s the thing. The flavor difference between iced americano vs iced coffee is not as noticeable as with their hot counterparts. Still, there is a slight distinction.

Iced americanos have a bolder coffee taste with a smooth mouthfeel. Some people might describe this boldness as a stronger flavor.

Iced coffee is a bit more aromatic, resulting in more complex flavors. Iced coffees also tend to have a thinner mouthfeel.

Of the two, it is easier to adjust the strength of iced americanos. To make adjustments, you simply change how much water you add to the espresso shot.

Again, be careful not to confuse iced americanos and iced coffees with cold brew coffee. They are not the same thing. When comparing cold brew vs iced coffee or an iced americano, cold brewed coffee will indeed have a different flavor.

How to Make an Iced Americano 

To make an iced americano, first gather the following items:

  • Espresso machine or similar (AeroPress, Moka pot)
  • Coffee beans
  • Coffee grinder
  • 50 ml of chilled water
  • Ice cubes
  • A nice glass to serve

If you don’t have access to an espresso machine, you can approximate the process using an AeroPress or a Moka pot (also known as a stovetop espresso maker). 

Although neither coffee brewing technique produces true espresso shots, they’ll do the job if you’re not a coffee snob. (No judgment if you are. Nothing beats true espresso crema.)

Make Your Iced Americano

Once you’ve gathered your materials, you can start making your iced americano coffee.

  1. Dose and grind your beans as you would for a hot americano.
  2. Pull two shots of espresso.
  3. Add ice to the serving glass. The exact amount depends on personal preference.
  4. Add 50 ml of cold water to the glass.
  5. Pour the espresso into the glass. Stir to combine.

There you have it, an iced americano.

If you’re worried about your beverage getting watered down, play around with the order in which you fill your glass with ice, water, and espresso shots.

Some people get persnickety about assembling an americano in a particular order. The exact assembly order doesn’t matter quite so much when making an iced americano. 

I tend to add my espresso to a cup of cold water, stir, and then add the ice. That way, my iced americano stays icy for longer.

Want a weaker americano? No problem. Pull a single shot of espresso rather than two shots.

Otherwise, that’s all there is to making an iced americano. Add milk and sugar to taste. Stir. Sip. And enjoy.

iced coffee

How to Make Iced Coffee at Home

I’m willing to bet that the majority of home coffee brewers don’t have access to an espresso maker. But not to worry. You can still make a delicious cold coffee drink without espresso shots. Here’s how.

Gather the necessary materials for making iced coffee:

  • Brew device
  • Coffee beans 
  • Coffee grinder
  • Water to brew*
  • Ice cubes
  • A serving glass

You can brew the coffee using any device you’d use to make a cup of hot coffee: french press, drip coffee maker, Chemex, V60. Basically, you can use any method that gives you a ready-to-drink cup of brewed coffee rather than espresso shots.

*Whether you use hot water or cold water will depend on your brewing method. A drip coffee maker will heat the water for you. But a pour over method will require hot water to extract the coffee grounds.

  1. Dose and grind your beans as you would for hot brewing. (If necessary, you can also use ground coffee.) 
  2. Make the coffee as you would if you were brewing a hot cup of coffee.
  3. Place ice cubes in the serving glass.
  4. Pour the freshly brewed coffee into the ice-filled glass.

Bam. That’s it. You’ve made iced coffee.

Want to prevent ice from melting in your coffee? Let your hot coffee cool before pouring it over ice. Just be aware that this step can reduce the flavor complexities of your iced coffee. 

As the coffee cools gradually, a chemical reaction occurs that makes your coffee more acidic. An immediate temperature change limits this chemical reaction. 

These differences in coffee flavors will be most noticeable when using lower-quality coffee. But it will help prevent your coffee from watering down before you even take the first sip.

Some coffee shops will make a double strength batch when brewing for iced coffee. Whether or not you prepare your coffee this way is a matter of personal preference.

Change It Up 

If you take your hot coffee black, you’ll probably make your cold coffee drinks without milk or sugar. But if the taste of unaltered coffee is too strong for you, you can add sugar and milk to your iced versions as well.

Sugar and other granulated sweeteners won’t dissolve well in cold liquids. Instead, use a liquid to sweeten or flavor your cold coffee drinks.

(Purists will tell you the only way to drink americanos, iced or hot, is black. But ignore the naysayers. Adjust the coffee to your personal preference.)

The most common method of sweetening an iced coffee or iced americano is to use simple syrup. Your local coffee shop will probably have a dispenser of it next to the other coffee fixings. 

This sticky mixture combines equal parts sugar and water. With just a quick stir, the simple syrup will dissolve easily in your cold drink.

Want even more flavor in your coffee? Here are a few other sweeteners you can add to your iced coffee or iced americano:

  • Coffee syrups
  • Honey
  • Agave
  • Cinnamon
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Caramel sauce

If you want to reduce the acridity of your iced coffee or iced americano even more, add milk. Try using sweetened condensed milk for an extra sweet taste.

You can also try making ice cubes infused with flavors rather than pure water. Then, as the ice cubes melt, they’ll release flavor into the coffee rather than water down your drink.

Some people are out here putting black pepper in their iced coffees. (More on that trend another time. But the idea is that the pepper reduces bitterness in the coffee.) So don’t be afraid to experiment the next time you make an iced coffee or iced americano. 

Chances are, you’ll find several delicious coffee recipes.

coffee with ice and milk

Wrapping Up 

The battle of iced americano vs iced coffee comes down to a few key differences. An iced americano combines one or two shots of espresso with cold water and ice. An iced coffee is essentially an iced version of hot brewed coffee.

There’s no winner or loser in the iced americano vs iced coffee debate. It’s all about personal preference and access to various coffee brewing methods. 

An iced americano will require espresso (or a close approximation) and Iced coffee can be made using any other brewing method.

Whichever drink you put on ice, remember to add milk, syrups, or other flavorings to jazz up your java drink.

Perfecting coffee recipes can take time. But with a little trial and error, you’ll soon be sipping a delicious iced americano or iced coffee.