Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee: What’s The Difference?

Mike C
Written By Mike C

I've been writing about coffee and espresso machines for 3 years. My goal is to provide you with helpful content that you can trust based on my own personal experiences, information from manufacturers, and tips and tricks I've gathered from other coffee and espresso machine users.

I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee: What’s The Difference?

Drinking coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures, and iced lattes and iced coffees are both energizing and refreshing drinks for a coffee lover. But while they might seem superficially similar, the two drinks are incredibly distinct. Aside from using different ingredients, they also have slightly different flavors.

This article explains everything you need to know about iced lattes and iced coffees, including the key differences between the two. Let’s start deciding what you should order the next time you visit your local coffee shop!

What Are Iced Lattes?

Iced lattes are the chilled counterpart to hot lattes and are made in highly similar ways. Two parts espresso are combined with three parts cold milk to produce a rich and decadent drink. Flavored syrup, whipped cream, or even ice cream is sometimes added to sweeten the drink.

This iced drink normally uses shaken or frothed milk, but plain milk is sometimes used. Steamed milk is avoided to prevent the ice from melting. The drink is poured over a serving of ice.

What Are Iced Coffees?

Iced coffees are refreshing and icy coffee drinks made with regular brewed coffee, optional milk or creamer, and plenty of ice. Since they use regular cold coffee, iced coffees tend to have a milder flavor profile.

Some iced coffees are made without milk, while others are flavored and sweetened with a bit of milk and creamer. While iced lattes typically include as little as 40% espresso, this coffee drink is almost entirely cold coffee. Just like iced lattes, iced coffees are served over a generous portion of ice.

Key Differences Between Iced Lattes and Iced Coffees

Differences Between Iced Lattes and Iced Coffees

The Coffee Used

One difference that distinguishes iced coffees and iced lattes are what coffee is used to make the drinks. Specifically, iced coffees use regular coffee or cold brew coffee, while iced lattes use espresso. As a result, iced lattes often have a bolder flavor.

The Portion Of Milk Used

While iced lattes are made with around three parts milk for every two parts espresso, there’s no rule regarding how much milk is used for iced coffee. Many iced coffees are served without any milk or creamer at all.

The Frothiness

When milk is added to iced coffee, it’s generally used in its basic form. In contrast, iced lattes sometimes use lightly frothed milk. Many prepare their iced lattes with handheld milk frothers to make foamed milk or shaken milk to make a lighter drink.

Caloric Content

While the amount of milk added to iced coffees and lattes vary by preference, it’s safe to say that iced coffee generally has fewer calories than iced lattes. This is because iced coffees use significantly less milk for proper preparation, while iced lattes use a lot of milk.

Important Similarities Between Iced Lattes and Iced Coffees

Similarities Between Iced Lattes and Iced Coffees

Poured Over Ice

Iced lattes and iced coffees are prepared by pouring the coffee over ice. This makes a lighter and cooler drink and makes the coffee perfectly refreshing for a hot day. If making an iced coffee or latte at home, you may want to consider buying a HyperChiller to avoid watered down drinks. It will rapidly chill the espresso or coffee in two minutes so that the ice will not melt as quickly.

Sweetened With Toppings

It’s not uncommon to encounter hot coffee with whipped cream and syrup, but adding these sweet toppings is a signature aspect of iced coffees and lattes.

Conventionally Prepared With Milk

While iced cold brew coffee is a delicious treat, it’s safe to say that most iced coffees and lattes are enjoyed with milk. Whether you use dairy, oat milk or soy milk, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy your iced drinks.

Best With Light Roasts

There’s no wrong way to enjoy your iced coffee or latte, but light roast coffee is typically considered the best option for making both drinks. This coffee delivers a mild and smooth flavor while packing a hefty dose of caffeine.

Are Iced Coffees Or Iced Lattes Stronger?

Considering that iced lattes require the use of an espresso machine while iced coffees use coffee that can be brewed with a coffee maker, it’s easy to assume that iced lattes must be significantly stronger. While iced lattes tend to have a bolder coffee flavor than the cold coffee alternative, neither drink is stronger than the other in terms of taste.

This might be surprising, considering how different the drinks are. But that’s precisely what makes them equal. Since iced coffees are made with mild, regularly brewed coffee, they only need a splash of milk for the perfect balance. And while iced lattes are made with at least one super-bold espresso shot, the large portion of milk used to prepare the drink gives the flavor a much milder profile.

It is important to note that iced lattes are creamier than iced coffees. Both drinks are known to be slightly watery due to the generous portion of ice used, but the brewed coffee used for iced coffees also contains much more water than the espresso used for iced lattes. Since they’re made with strong coffee and lots of milk, iced lattes are typically a much richer and creamier drink.

Now, which coffee drink has a higher caffeine content varies depending on how the drink is prepared. Generally, an iced latte has less caffeine than an equivalent iced coffee. If you want to reduce your caffeine intake further, you can ask for only one shot of espresso in your latte or opt for decaf coffee grounds to make your iced coffee.

Which Is Better: Iced Latte vs. Iced Coffee

We’ve all been in a position of struggling to decide what to order. When you find yourself in such an indecisive position, it’s easy to want to simplify the process and determine which coffee drink is better. Ultimately, both drinks are excellent in their own way.

If you want a drink that will be light and refreshing and wake you up, then iced coffee is probably the best option for you. If you want a drink that will layer rich flavors and sweet milk with an icy finish, you’ll thank yourself for ordering an iced latte. But considering that both drinks are incredibly delicious, the best approach is often to switch what drink you try each time you order.

Enjoy Refreshing Iced Coffees and Lattes

While both iced lattes and iced coffees have some significant differences, they are both delicious go-to’s for when you’re craving a refreshing summer drink. Plus, with the right tools, you can prepare these caffeinated treats right at home.

Leave a Comment