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Americano vs Iced Coffee – What’s The Difference?

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: August 18th, 2023

Is there anything more refreshing and energizing than an iced coffee drink on a hot, sunny day? We certainly don’t think so!

If you’re a black coffee lover, however, you’ve got a couple of options when it comes to cold coffee. For instance, you’ve got to choose between an iced Americano and an iced coffee.

The main difference between the iced Americano and Iced Coffee is an Iced Americano uses two shots of espresso while an iced coffee uses brewed coffee before ice is added to cool the drinks. But there is more to the popular drinks than just that.

So, how do you know the difference and which one to order? Well, we’ve put together a rundown of the iced Americano vs iced coffee so that you can pick your new favorite summertime drink.

Let’s get to it!

An Introduction to Iced Coffee

iced coffee

Let’s start off by talking about iced coffee. Iced coffee is exactly what it sounds like: coffee mixed with ice!

What’s cool about iced coffee is that you can actually use any brewing method you like to make the coffee. So, if you’re a fan of Moka pot coffee? Go for it!

Or, if you prefer French Press, you can make your coffee that way and then ice it!

Just note that the brewing method you choose will ultimately define the flavor of the iced coffee. We’d recommend picking a method that you enjoy hot, as it usually turns out pretty well.

Another thing to be aware of when it comes to iced coffee is that iced coffee is different from cold brew coffee.

Cold-brew coffee is made by brewing coffee using room temperature water and allowing the grounds to soak for up to 16 hours to extract the flavor. Iced coffee, on the other hand, is made using hot water which is then cooled down.

You can actually prepare iced coffee in just a few minutes!

How to Make Iced Coffee at Home

While you can get some pretty great iced coffee drinks at your local Starbucks, it’s actually a beverage that’s super easy to prepare at home.

Here’s how:

  1. Start by brewing up a pot of coffee the way you normally would, regardless of whether it’s with instant coffee, a drip maker, or something else.
  2. Find a tall glass and fill it up with ice.
  3. Once the coffee has finished brewing, pour the coffee over the ice.
  4. The ice will melt due to the heat of the coffee, so you may have to add additional ice to top up the glass.

There you go! You’ve got a tall, cold cup of iced coffee.

Tips for Stepping Up Your Iced Coffee Game

You can absolutely drink your iced coffee black. However, you can also try mixing things up a little by adding a couple of extra ingredients.

For one thing, you can add your favorite sweetener. Try throwing in a bit of honey or maple syrup! Just avoid sugar, since the crystals don’t dissolve easily in cold water.

Another great addition to your iced coffee is a splash of milk, dairy or non-dairy, or even cream. One personal favorite is to add a bit of condensed milk – yum!

Worried about watery iced coffee? One pro tip for making iced coffee that tastes even better is to make coffee ice cubes or syrup ice cubes to add to your drink.

Meet the Iced Americano

iced americano

Now that we’re clear on what iced coffee is, let’s move on to talk about the iced Americano. An Americano is a type of coffee made by combining a shot of espresso with hot water.

Americanos are said to have got their name during World War II when American soldiers couldn’t tolerate Italian espresso. To make it a bit more drinkable, they added extra water to dilute the strength of the coffee.

As you might imagine, an iced American is simply a shot of espresso combined with ice and cold water.

Although the standard preparation method for an iced American is to pour your espresso shot over ice and add water and more ice, you can also make it with hot water.

Then, allow the coffee to cool down and add more ice.

How to Make an Iced Americano

So, you want to try an iced American for yourself? Well, the good news is these drinks are super easy to prepare.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Prepare two shots of espresso using a Moka pot or an espresso machine.
  2. Fill a tall glass to the top with ice.
  3. Pour the espresso shots over the ice and immediately add cold water to the cup to fill the glass.
  4. Add more ice if needed.

There you have it! An easy iced Americano recipe.

Tips for Taking Your Iced Americano to the Next Level

An iced Americano is a perfect beverage for customization. Why? Because it’s so simple!

One classic twist on an iced Americano is to add a bit of syrup. Caramel syrup is a popular choice since it not only adds sweetness to the drink but adds a bit of flavor, too.

Another fun way to spice up your iced American is to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. As the ice cream melts, it adds a creamy, sweet flavor to your drink.

A few other fun recommendations include:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Dairy or non-dairy milk
  • Honey
  • Sugar

Play around with a few different options and find what you love!

Similarities Between Iced Coffee and Iced Americanos

Let’s take a minute to look at the iced americano and iced coffee side by side. After all, even though they’re different drinks, they still share quite a few similarities.

For one thing, both are coffee-based beverages that are prepared using hot water. Unlike cold brews, both these beverages are ready in just a few minutes.

Another similarity between the two drinks is that they’re both highly customizable. You can add sweeteners, syrups, cream, and flavors to the drinks.

Both iced coffee and iced americanos are made in a tall glass, too. This is mostly so that you can fill it with enough ice to cool down the drink.

Differences Between Iced Americanos and Iced Coffee

Despite all those similarities, there are still a couple of key differences between iced americanos and iced coffee.

Here are the major differences and what makes each one unique.

The Caffeine Content

In general, iced coffee has more caffeine than iced coffee. That’s because it’s made with brewed coffee, which contains more caffeine than a shot of espresso.

However, if you use a double shot of espresso to make an iced Americano, it’ll actually wind up having more caffeine than an iced coffee. That’s because two shots of espresso have more caffeine than a cup of coffee.

Still, it’s important to remember that the size of the drink will affect the caffeine content. As a result, the caffeine content can vary a bit

Preparation Method

Another important difference between the iced americano and an iced coffee is how they’re prepared.

Iced coffee is made with brewed coffee, whereas the iced Americano is prepared using a shot (or more) of espresso.

As a result, the iced Americano tends to have a slightly more bitter flavor.

Iced Americano vs Iced Coffee: Which Will You Choose?

which will you choose

When it comes to choosing between an iced Americano and an iced coffee there’s really no right or wrong choice.

Both are delicious cold drinks that are super refreshing on a hot day.

Just remember that if you want something stronger, an iced American might be for you. Or, if you prefer lighter coffee, a traditional iced coffee is probably the way to go. Either way, we’re confident you’ll love the final result.

Have some other cold coffee recommendations? Let us know below in the comments!

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About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a blogger for over 5 years, before that enjoying a number of jobs to fund her passion for travel. She's taught English as a foreign language, a part-time Barista, a waitress, and a tour guide.

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