Iced coffees and iced lattes are two popular options when it comes to choosing a refreshing cold coffee. Here's the breakdown of an iced latte vs iced coffee including how they differ and how they're the same.
Coffee lovers (like myself) all over the world reach for iced coffees and iced lattes in the morning. They are perfect beverages to help cool down and refresh on a hot day. Although they may appear similar, there are a few key differences that set them apart.
Iced coffee is popular for its bold and rich taste, while iced lattes tend to be sweeter. Get creative with the flavors and variations of an iced latte like our iced cinnamon dolce latte or iced caramel latte.
Iced Coffee vs Iced Latte: What's Different?
The ingredients and preparation are two of the major differences between an iced latte vs iced coffee. Both result in a different taste, texture, and caffeine content.
- Type of coffee: the biggest difference between iced latte vs iced coffee is the type of coffee you need. A latte requires a shot of espresso while iced coffee is mostly brewed coffee.
- Brewing method: an iced coffee is a bit easier to make at home because all you need is a standard coffee maker while a latte requires a machine to make espresso and some sort of frother to mix the milk.
- Caffeine content: The amount of caffeine in each drink will depend on the size and strength. In general, iced coffees don't contain as much caffeine as iced lattes because espresso is more concentrated than regular coffee. An eight-ounce cup of coffee contains 91mg of caffeine while a shot of espresso contains 64 mg of caffeine. Most medium coffees (a grande at Starbucks) contain a double shot of espresso, which is 128 mg of caffeine.
- Ingredients: Iced coffee is made by brewing coffee and then chilling it, while an iced latte is made with espresso and cold milk. Additionally, an iced latte often contains a sweetener such as simple syrup or flavored syrup. The amount of milk (milk ratios) is often different because lattes are made with espresso and more milk while iced coffee often features mostly coffee with a splash of milk or cream.
- Flavor: Iced coffee tends to have a stronger and more robust flavor than an iced latte because it's made by brewing coffee with hot water, which extracts more of the coffee's natural oils and flavors. Iced lattes, on the other hand, have a more mellow flavor profile because the espresso is diluted by the milk.
What Iced Lattes and Iced Coffees Have in Common
- Make both with a variety of coffee beans, including regular, decaf, or flavored.
- Customize both drinks with additional flavors such as syrups or sweeteners.
- Serve both over ice, which helps to chill the drink and make it more refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.
- Make both easily with an alternative milk options such as almond, soy, or oat milk, to cater to dietary preferences or allergies.
- They are both popular coffee drinks that are widely available at coffee shops and cafes around the world.
How to Make an Iced Latte
An iced latte is a cold coffee drink that consists of espresso and chilled milk served over ice. The drink is made by pulling a shot or shots of espresso and pouring it into a glass filled with ice. Then, chilled milk is added to the glass and stirred. Some variations of iced lattes may also include syrups, flavorings, or toppings such as whipped cream.
- Brew one shot of espresso using an espresso machine. Pour the espresso or coffee into a glass filled with ice cubes.
- Pour cold milk into a frothing pitcher or a jar with a tight lid. Froth the milk using a frother or by shaking the jar vigorously until it becomes frothy and bubbly then pour the frothed milk over the espresso or coffee and stir gently.
- Add sweetener to taste, if desired.
What is Espresso?
Espresso coffee is a concentrated coffee beverage. Force hot water through finely-ground coffee beans under high pressure to get a shot of espresso. Its strong and rich flavor characterizes it, and it has its origins in Italy.
To make espresso, tightly pack a small amount of finely ground coffee into a metal portafilter and locked into an espresso machine. Next, force hot water through the coffee at high pressure to extract the coffee oils, flavors, and aromas. This process results in a small amount of highly concentrated coffee with a layer of crema on top.
How to Make Iced Coffee
A mixture of brewed coffee and ice, with optional milk and/or sweetener, creates a basic iced coffee. Do not confuse iced coffee with cold brew coffee, in which you steep coffee grounds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. Here's a great post about how to make cold-brew coffee if you want to try it.
- Brew a pot of strong coffee using your personal preference (drip, pour-over, French press, instant coffee, etc.).
- Allow the coffee to cool to room temperature, then pour it into a pitcher or carafe.
- Fill a glass with ice cubes then pour your desired amount of coffee over the ice cubes. Add sweetener to taste, if desired, then stir in whole milk, oat milk, almond milk, or other type of milk. You can also use cream if desired. Enjoy your homemade iced coffee immediately.
A medium iced latte is stronger than an iced coffee. Eight ounces of strong coffee has just under 100 mg of caffeine while a medium iced coffee with 2 shots of espresso has around 120 mg of caffeine.
Iced lattes tend to be higher in calories and sugar than iced coffee because of extra milk and added sweeteners. An iced latte typically ranges from 100 to 300 calories, depending on the size and ingredients, while a simple iced coffee typically contains 2 to 5 calories (without milk or sweeteners).
An iced latte is a combination of espresso, frothed milk, and usually some sort of sweetener, while iced coffee is regular brewed coffee served over ice with the option of milk or cream.
An iced latte is generally more expensive than iced coffee at your favorite coffee shop due to the additional ingredients and labor required to make it.
Our Favorite Iced Coffee and Latte Products
Get your barista on at home and make your favorite iced coffee recipes using some of our go-to equipment. This section contains affiliate links.
- Espresso maker on the cheap. Or a full blown espresso machine and milk frother combo for a fancier setup.
- A large mason jar with a lid to store your cold coffee.
- The cutest little nugget ice molds for next-level iced coffee. Or you guessed it, a full-blown nugget ice maker for a fancy setup (again).
- Iced coffee tumblers with glass straws.
- Handheld milk frother or a larger milk frother for hot or cold foam.
Iced Latte Recipes
This iced cinnamon dolce latte is a year-round favorite that tastes like cinnamon toast crunch cereal. And in the fall our go-to is an iced pumpkin spice latte. Craving a little chocolate? Mocha coconut iced coffee is rich and creamy. Or you can make your own homemade oat milk to go in your regular iced coffee.
Looking for a cold brew recipe? Our pumpkin cream cold brew is a viral recipe everyone loves.