Iced Americano vs. Dirty Chai; What Are The Differences?

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If you are a caffeine enthusiast who enjoys a delectably strong cup of coffee first thing in the morning but aren’t sure whether you prefer an iced americano vs. dirty chai, then this article is the right in-depth guide for you.

There are a lot of common misconceptions about the different kinds of coffee. For example, a lot of people assume that iced Americano and dirty chai are the same things, but that’s not really the case.

There are important differences between these two drinks that should be pointed out.

It’s critical to understand which type of coffee is most suited to your tastes. 

Here are the distinctions between an iced Americano and a dirty chai, so you can make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways:

Iced Americano vs. Dirty Chai

  • Iced Americano is simply the iced version of the popular drink Americano. It is made by diluting one to two shots of espresso with cold water and adding ice to it. Dirty chai, on the other hand, contains one to two shots of espresso, steamed milk, and spiced black tea or masala chai.
  • Dirty chai was invented recently and by accident. In the 1990s, a barista in England was making a regular cup of masala tea when they mistakenly poured a shot of espresso into the drink. The American customer loved it and kept ordering it everywhere he traveled.
  • The Iced Americano is made with just 3 ingredients consisting of ice, espresso, and water.
  • Iced americanos are watered-down shots of espresso. Dirty chai, on the other hand, is creamy and milky, with a mild coffee flavor and a spicy aroma.

So as you can see, both iced Americano and dirty chai are espresso-based beverages with four key differences: steamed milk, spiced black tea, cold water, and ice.

Let’s turn to maths in a way that actually makes it incredibly simple.

Iced Americano = Espresso + cold water + ice.

Dirty Chai = Espresso + steamed milk + spiced black tea.

What’s the difference between Iced Americano & Dirty Chai?

The difference between these popular coffee drinks comes down to steamed milk, cold water & masala chai. 

While both start with rich shots of espresso, with an Iced Americano your barista adds cold water to the espresso, then ice. 

For a dirty chai, the barista adds steamed milk and traditional Indian masala chai.

Here is a table that can shed some more light on the differences between an iced Americano and a dirty chai.

 Iced AmericanoDirty Chai
IngredientsEspresso, cold tap water & ice.Eapresso, masala chai, steamed milk
TasteMild taste & flavor of coffee.Strong flavors from spiced tea and espresso.
Caffeine136mg from 2 shots of espresso.160mg in 8oz serving
CaloriesLow-calorie beverage.240 calories
Which is stronger?Milder than dirty chai.Stronger
Iced Americano vs. Dirty Chai

What is Dirty Chai?

A dirty chai latte is a caffeinated drink made with traditional masala chai (spiced Indian tea) and a shot of espresso. When served with a splash of steamed milk, it’s the best way to wake up in the morning.

It’s a delicious drink that combines masala chai and espresso and adds a magical twist to them. 

This unique drink starts with spiced tea. Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg are simmered in milk to make a full cup of masala chai. Also, expresso has a roasted, earthy taste, stimulating caffeine, and a smooth creamy texture.

Masala chai spices can include many different ingredients based on the cook, just like curry powder.

If making your won spice blend seems too complicated, you can use Blue Lotus Masala Spiced Chai Powder (Amazon link) to make your masala chai in seconds. All you have to do is just add hot water.

How did Dirty chai become so popular?

Dirty chai was invented recently and by accident. In the 1990s, a barista in England was making a regular cup of masala tea when they mistakenly poured a shot of espresso into the drink.

The American customer loved it and kept ordering it everywhere he traveled.

Then Starbucks jumped at the chance to spread the unique taste of dirty chai. Due to the small amount of coffee in the spiced espresso, dirty chai became popular with both coffee and tea drinkers.

The dirty chai can be served hot or cold. Hot versions include hot steamed milk and cold versions include ice. 

Cold dirty chai can come in the form of an iced latte or a blended latte. Sweeteners may be added to both hot and cold dirty chai lattes.

Nowadays, people worldwide have created many variations of dirty chai that include green tea chai, Ying-Yang, a coffee-tea mix, and faux dirty chai.

What is an Iced Americano?

The Iced Americano is a refreshing, bold, and bitter coffee drink. With just 3 ingredients consisting of ice, espresso, and water, an Iced Americano is one of the easiest and simplest espresso drinks to make.

It’s basically the iced version of an Americano, which is made with just espresso and hot water.

You can make an Americano with one or two shots of espresso and different amounts of water.

A true Americano does not include milk like a latte or cappuccino. 

An Iced Americano is an Americano with ice: espresso, cold water (optional), and ice. You can tone it down with cold water, or you can just let the ice dilute it.

The drink must be made with espresso to be called an Iced Americano. If it’s made with any other kind of coffee, it’s no longer an Iced Americano. 

Espresso should be made in an espresso machine or a Nespresso. A few other options to make espresso coffee at home are using a Moka pot or an AeroPress .

Adding espresso shots to cold water and then ice is the traditional way to make an Iced Americano. 

However, Starbucks does it the other way around by putting cold water into espresso shots.

Overall, it will taste the same as a regular Iced Americano, but the drink will have less crema on top.

Although you can add any milk or sweetener you wish, the drink comes without any unless you specify.

Iced Americano vs. Dirty Chai; Flavor Profile

If you’re a fan of bolder flavors and usually drink your coffee black, you’re going to love the Iced Americano.

Iced americanos are watered-down shots of espresso and therefore have a more mild coffee flavor.

Iced Americano has the flavor of espresso that has been somewhat diluted, but is very cold since ice cubes are added.

An iced Americano has all the crisp acids and low bitter notes you’d expect in coffee. It’s mildly sweet, and it’s refreshing.

Dirty chai, on the other hand, is creamy and milky, with a mild coffee flavor and a spicy aroma. If you want your coffee to be stronger, you can add an extra shot of espresso. 

Most of the time, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and black pepper are used to make dirty chai.

So it gives a warm-spiced sensation of blended exotic spices along with the taste and aroma of espresso and a creamy mouthfeel thanks to the added steamed milk.

The flavor profile of dirty chai is more complex. It stands out from the crowd because of its complex blend of spices that lingers on the palate for a long time.

Caffeine in Iced Americano vs. Dirty Chai

The amount of caffeine in an Iced Americano depends on the number of espresso shots used to make it. Each shot of espresso contains 68mg of caffeine, so an iced Americano made with two shots of espresso typically has 136mg of caffeine.

Dirty chai too packs a lot of caffeine from the black tea and a shot or two of espresso. 

Dirty chai latte contains about 160 milligrams of caffeine content for a 12-ounce serving.

Calorie Content

Iced Americano is a very low-calorie beverage. It just has espresso and water which amounts to a total of 1 calorie. 

Calories begin to add up when you start adding sugar, sweet syrups, milk, cream, and other toppings to your coffee.

The calories in dirty chai come to around 240. As a result, it is one of the few coffee shop beverages with fewer than 300 calories.

How To Make Dirty Chai

To make dirty chai, you’ll need espresso, steamed milk, and spiced black tea.

  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil.
  • In a cup, add the Masala chai tea and then pour hot water into it and give it a good stir.
  • Pull 2 shots of espresso using an espresso machine.
  • Pour espresso into the masala chai.
  • Now, add steamed milk to your coffee.

That’s it! Your dirty chai is ready to er served.

How To Make Iced Americano

To make an iced Americano at home, you’ll need 2 espresso shots, 2 oz (60 ml) of cold tap water, and ice cubes.

  • Pour the shots of espresso into a glass.
  • Add enough ice cubes to the espressos to cool them down completely. 
  • After the coffee is cooled thoroughly, pour in the cold water.

Your iced Americano is ready!

Iced Americano vs. Dirty Chai, which one should you have?

As with everything in the culinary world, the beverage that you should choose is your personal preference. 

If the weather is warm and you need to cool yourself and get a shot of caffeine then order an iced Americano.

Iced Americano is strong, and you taste all the coffee notes. But because of the added water, you’ll enjoy it for a longer period of time.

If you’re in the mood to experience some warm spicy sensation on your palette then go for a dirty chai.

It’s all about what flavor you’re looking for in your coffee. If you love to drink coffee without any add-ins, you’re going to love an iced Americano.

If you enjoy a more complex coffee that has flavors from spice blends and has a powerful coffee taste, dirty chai is perfect for you.

Written by:
Amit Gupta
Amit Gupta

Hi, my name is Amit Gupta, and I am the owner and contributor at Cafeish. My obsession with coffee started when I received my first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, my love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets I own – has grown considerably.

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