Cold Brew Vs Americano: The Difference And How To Make Them

Cold brew and americano are two pretty standard black coffee drinks that most of us caffiends are familiar with.

However, despite the fact that both are brewed coffee drinks, there’s actually not a whole lot else that’s the same!

To help you figure out which one is for you, I’ve put together a complete lowdown on what to know about cold brew vs americano. 

Let’s take a look!

What is a Cold Brew?

pouring cold brew coffee

Cold brew is a method of preparing coffee using cold or room temperature water. 

Now, while that might sound radical, it’s not a new concept. Cold brew has been around for hundreds of years, dating back to 1600s Japan!

To make cold brew, baristas steep coffee grounds in cold, filtered water for between 12 and 24 hours. The ideal time period, however, is said to be 16 to 18 hours. 

Cold brew is said to be less acidic and bitter, and more intense than hot brewed coffee or regular iced coffee. That’s because the grounds aren’t exposed to high temperatures so they don’t extract the deeper oils from the coffee bean.

As a result, they’re darker and smoother.

After steeping the cold brew, baristas typically water it down with cold water. This helps break up some of the intensity of the coffee. 

What is an Americano?

hot americano coffee

Americano is a simple coffee drink made of one or two shots of espresso and about eight ounces of water to reduce the strong flavor of the espresso.

According to coffee legend, the americano was invented during World War II. 

The story has it that American soldiers stationed in Italy found Italian espresso too strong for them, compared to a regular coffee. To make it more palatable and similar to the drip coffee they’re used to, they watered down the espresso coffee with hot water. 

Despite the fact that the drink has been around for a while, it hasn’t changed at all. 

Americano coffee has become a popular twist on espresso for those who don’t like drinks that are so strong.

Cold Brew vs Americano: What is the Difference?

Now that you’ve got a grasp of what a cold brew is and what an americano is, let’s talk about what makes them different. 

There are four major factors that set these drinks apart:

  1. the ingredients,
  2. the brewing method,
  3. the taste,
  4. and the grind size. 

Here’s a bit more detail. 

Ingredients

fresh ground coffee

The ingredients needed to make an americano and a cold brew are a little bit different. 

To make a cold brew, all you need is one cup of coarsely ground coffee beans and five cups of cold water. If you want to make a larger batch of cold brews, you can increase the amount of beans and water. 

However, the ratio should always be 1:5 coffee beans to water

In contrast, to make an americano you’ll need finely ground espresso beans. You’ll then brew them into a 30 ml shot of espresso. 

To finish off the coffee, top it with 120 ml of hot water. 

Grind Size

The grind size is a bit different, too. 

For cold brew, you need a coarse grind. This allows for easy filtration and lets you pull the most possible flavor out of the beans. 

The reason for this is that coarsely ground coffee absorbs the water more easily. And, it allows water to flow more easily, helping prevent the coffee from becoming too bitter. 

On the other hand, for an americano, you need a very fine grind. 

That’s because you’re going to be making an espresso shot as the base of the coffee. To make an espresso, you use fine coffee ground since you apply water under high pressure through the grain. 

This helps draw out a lot of flavor in a short amount of time.

Brewing Method

barista brewing coffee

There are a couple of different ways that you can make cold brew coffee.

The most basic way is to simply add ground coffee to a filter bag and soak it in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. 

However, you can also brew it by adding ground coffee and cold water to a French press or using a drip method called a Kyoto system

To brew an americano, on the other hand, all you need is an espresso machine and a way to heat water.

That’s it!

Taste

Cold brew is characterized by having an intense, strong flavor and a robust body. It often has floral or fruity notes, depending on the coffee beans used. 

It’s also super smooth. 

In contrast, the americano is a light and mild coffee. It’s clean and subtle and has a pretty balanced flavor. 

Unlike cold brew, the americano tends to have bitter and acidic flavors in the background. That’s because the coffee is brewed from hot water.

FAQ

Do you still have a couple of questions about the differences between cold brew and americano? 

I hear you.

Here’s a quick FAQ to help clear up any lingering doubts. 

Is Americano Stronger Than Cold Brew?

No, the americano is actually smoother than cold brew. Cold brew is made with two to three times more coffee beans than an americano. And, it’s steeped for longer, giving it a generally stronger flavor. 

Is There More Caffeine in an Americano or Cold Brew?

This actually depends.

A cold brew has more caffeine content than an americano brewed with a single shot of espresso. However, an americano brewed with two shots of espresso has a bit more caffeine than a cold brew. 

Is Cold Brew Better Than Hot Coffee?

Each type of coffee has its perks and downsides, and really depends on personal preference. Cold brew is smoother, stronger, and richer than hot coffee. However, hot coffee tends to be a bit more balanced. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to cold brew vs americano, there’re quite a few differences to be aware of. 

Americanos are made using espresso, whereas cold brew isn’t. On top of that, cold brew is made with cold or room temperature water and an americano uses hot water. 

Still, despite the fact that these are two pretty different drinks, they’re both worth trying out!

If you like both of these beverages, maybe you should try something in between the two: an iced americano. 

Check out our guide and see what you think!

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Jessica Ruth Lee Fleming
Jessica is a seasoned caffeine-addict who spent 3 years behind the bar. Her early coffee days took her from the commercial Starbucks scene in urban DC all the way to helping launch a craft coffee shop in California. Today she prefers sharing her years of coffee capers through media, although you’ll find she does it with a trusty cup of coffee by her side.