Cold Brew VS Americano (Key Differences)

Photo of a cold brew and an americano coffee side by side. Cold Brew VS Americano

If you are like me, you love iced coffee. There is nothing like a great cold brew or Americano coffee for a delightful mid-day pick-me-up.

Although cold brew and Americano coffees are similar, some key differences exist. Let’s explore the key differences between cold brew vs Americano coffee.

Key Differences Between Cold Brew and Americano

Considering both cold brew and Americano are similar on the surface, some differences separate the two. These are some key differences between a cold brewed coffee and Americano coffee.

  • The Coffee ingredients
  • The Taste differences
  • The coffee acidity
  • The caffeine content
  • The caffeine calories

Coffee Ingredients

The two coffees look similar but are different in many ways. The ingredients are one of the primary considerations for preparing either cold brew or Americano coffee.

These are the differences between cold brew and Americano coffee ingredients.

Cold Brew Ingredients

Cold-brewed coffee requires steeping your preferred coffee beans in cold water for up to 15 hours. The slow brewing process creates a unique flavor that is full-flavored with subtle hints of nuts, chocolate, and red fruit.

The cold brew flavor created in the slow brewing process is due to the slower extraction of coffee bean oils, sugar, and acid. As a result, the cold brew process creates a unique, subtle flavor, unlike espresso or hot-brewed coffee.

Americano Ingredients

The cold Americano brewing introduces ice and cold water into the brewing process. First, a couple of espresso shots in a glass, then cold water is added with ice cubes to complete the Americano. Americano chilled coffee has a sharper taste than that brewed coffee. The Americano typically is a rich cup of coffee with a sweet caramel finish.

Taste Differences

The different brewing processes of the two coffees also produce different, unique tastes. The primary taste of each type of chilled coffee is:

Cold Brew Taste

A smooth yet intense taste is found in cold brewed coffee as it extracts more flavor from the beans than the Americano process. The cold water brewing process creates a coffee with a robust body that hints of fruity or floral notes. The main factor ultimately deciding the finish of the coffee is the type of beans used in the brewing process. Since chilled coffee ideally requires 16-18 hours to brew, it creates a smoother, less acidic coffee preferred by many consumers.

Americano Taste

The Americano brewing process with hot water versus cold brew using cold water creates a smoother coffee flavor with a more acidic taste.

This result is because Americano uses espresso and hot water to extract the flavor quickly. This process results in the finished coffee having a sharp, acidic taste with a more subtle, smoother, and bitter finish. But it is also a bit thicker and more creamy than cold brewed coffee.

Espresso can allude to practically any coffee bean. However, expresso refers more to the process of finely ground coffee that is hot brewed.

Iced Coffee Acidity

The acidity varies from the brewing processes with one clear winner.

Of the two iced coffees, Americano is more acidic than cold-brewed coffee. The acidity is partly because the beans are exposed to the higher temperature of hot water and extract the deep oils of the coffee bean. This process leads to a more acidic drink than the cold water brewing process of cold brew coffee.

What Is Stronger Cold Brew or Americano?

The more robust chilled coffee is a cold brew for several reasons:

  • Longer steeping period
  • The brewing process uses more beans.
  • Cold brewing is much longer, ideally 16-18 hours.
  • The cold brew caffeine level is higher than an Americano brewed with one shot of expresso.

What Is Cold Brew Caffeine Content?

A cup of cold brew coffee typically contains, on average, 200 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce serving. But the caffeine content can vary depending on the brand of cold brew coffee. For example, Starbucks, on average, contains 205 mg of caffeine, while Dunkin Donuts has 260 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce serving.

In addition, different factors come into play affecting how much caffeine is in cold brewed coffee:

  • Coffee beans amount – Predictably, using more coffee beans with less water can increase caffeine strength.
  • Type of coffee beans used – Studies have found coffee bean types for cold brew coffee, especially medium roast beans, produce more caffeine.
  • Time spent brewing – Longer time spent steeping the beans produces more caffeine with cold brewed coffee.

What Is Americano Caffeine Content?

Sometimes I like a quick pick-me-up, and a cup of Americano coffee is perfect for an energy shot. It should be because a 12 oz (354 ml) cup delivers 154 mg of caffeine, a relatively high shot of caffeine for the cup size.

Some of the reasons Americano has such a high content of caffeine are:

  • Packed finely ground beans – Finely ground coffee beans used in brewing expresso.
  • Brewing process with hot water and espresso – Americano is made with a shot or two of espresso that has high caffeine content.
  • Darker roast beans – Americano coffee made with espresso, which is usually dark roast beans, typically with higher caffeine content.

How Many Calories in Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee comprises coffee beans steeping in cold water for 12-24 hours. This process requires more coffee beans than other brewing processes. But the good news is the only other ingredient is cold water, which has no calories.

So, when you enjoy that comforting cup of cold-brewed coffee, you can relax knowing that the cup of coffee is only around 15 calories per 8 oz (236 ml) serving. But, be aware any additives like cream or sugar can add to the caloric content.

How Many Calories in Americano Coffee?

Americano coffee is naturally low in calories since it is hot water brewed with espresso coffee. This brewing process creates a cup of coffee with only around 8.9 calories per 16 oz (473 ml) serving.

However, like any other coffee, carbohydrate additives like milk, cream, or sugar adds to the caloric content.

Is Cold Brew or Americano More Popular?

The winner is the cold brew coffee. It is more popular for several reasons, including:

  • Smoother taste – Slow water infusion in the brewing process creates a more gentle coffee.
  • Less acidic and bitter taste – Lengthy brewing process in cold water extracts fewer oils from coffee beans, resulting in a less acidic and bitter taste.
  • Stronger coffee – Using more coffee beans in the cold brewing process produces a more robust coffee.

What Coffee Is Easiest to Make at Home?

Cold brew wins again, as making cold brew is a relatively straightforward process. The process is simply adding cold water to ground coffee beans, then allowing them to steep for 12 hours.

This process is much easier than making an expresso, which may require an espresso maker, and draining through ice and cold water to create the Americano coffee. Either iced coffee is excellent or becomes a matter of preference for your favorite brewing process. But the good news is, you can keep both ways!

Hopefully, you found this article helpful in deciding what iced coffee to drink, and if so, feel free to share it with your friends. Enjoy!

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Robert Knowlton is an expert barista with more than 15 years of experience. Robert's main goal is to make sure everyone can enjoy the perfect cup of coffee regardless of their skill level.