Although there are only three ingredients in an iced americano — espresso, ice, and water — making an iced americano isn’t quite as simple as it might seem. Pulling the perfect shots of espresso is the key to a great-tasting iced americano.
To make an iced americano, use one extra shot of espresso for each size: a single has two shots, a double has three shots, and a triple has four shots.
Beginning an Iced Americano
Begin by filling the cup with ice to the brim. If you want to sweeten the iced americano, be sure to pour the sweetener on the ice, then pour the shots of espresso over the ice to melt the sugar/sugar substitute.
Next, pull shots of espresso. As soon as you pull each shot, add it to the cup of ice to save the shot from losing its flavor. Below you’ll find the steps to pulling the perfect shot of espresso.
Pulling the perfect shot of espresso isn’t as easy as the baristas at the local coffee shop make it look. Many factors determine how a shot will pull: the temperature and humidity level, how fresh the coffee beans are, the fineness or coarseness of the grind, how hard or soft the tamping is, and the seal made with the espresso machine.
The fresher the espresso beans are, the more flavor they’ll have and the better they’ll yield to great espresso shots. Always grind the beans just before pulling a shot if possible: this will lead to the best crema.
Preparing to Pull a Shot
Heat the portafilter handle before pulling the first shot by pulling a blank shot (a shot without the espresso). Next, grind the espresso beans and dose espresso into the portafilter, slightly overfilling it.
Loosen the grounds by hitting the portafilter from the side a few times. After the grounds settle into the portafilter, add more grounds if necessary to fill the basket. Once the basket is filled, hit the portafilter on each side a couple more times to settle the grounds again.
On a level surface rest the bottom of the portafilter and tamp lightly down on the grounds. Tap the sides of the basket once more to loosen any stuck grounds, and tamp again, this time harder with a quarter of a turn clockwise to seal the espresso grinds.
Now the espresso should be tightly compacted and level. Remove any stray espresso from the rim of the portafilter by rubbing a finger around the rim to ensure a watertight seal forms against the machine.
Pulling a Shot of Espresso
Now it’s time to pull a shot of espresso (or two shots, depending on the machine). Lock the portafilter into the machine, ensuring a tight seal to prevent water from leaking out of the highly pressured machine.
Press the button on the machine designated for pulling the shot(s), and either wait or time the shot if the machine does not have a built-in timer. The perfect shot is between 18 and 23 seconds. The mark of a great shot is a golden-colored froth that separates on top of the shot — the crema.
Pulling a shot any longer or shorter will result in flavorless shots (too short) or highly bitter shots (too long). The shorter side of the acceptable shot range will result in a sweeter, less intense shot.
Modifying Shot Length
If a shot pulls too quickly, use finer grinds and/or tamp harder. If a shot pulls too long, use coarser grinds and/or tamp lighter. Remember that many things affect the machine’s pressure including temperature, humidity, and usage, so pulling shots can vary from day to day or hour to hour.
Pulling shots is as much a science as it is an art. Making espresso can be frustrating at first, but through practice and experimentation of different techniques, you too can pull great shots of espresso for an iced americano.
After pulling the desired number of shots for the americano and pouring each into the cup of ice, add cold water to the cup, give the iced americano a quick stir, add any desired creamer to taste, and enjoy.