Iced Latte Vs Iced Coffee: Is There Any Difference?

The perfect summer beverage? Either iced latte or iced coffee. 

No, I’m not repeating myself. Those are, in fact, two different drinks. But don’t worry, people often mix those two up.

But let’s not do that anymore. In this article, we’ll go over the similarities and differences between these two drinks.

Here’s the iced latte vs iced coffee showdown.

What is an Iced Latte?

iced latte coffee

An iced latte is the chilled version of the most popular coffee beverage in the States.

As you probably know, a latte is a drink made by adding steamed milk to a shot of espresso. An iced latte is, as the name suggests, a variation of this popular beverage that has added ice. 

While the classic latte was invented in Europe centuries ago, the iced version is believed to originate from the States.

It comes from warmer parts of the country where the days are too warm for a hot coffee drink.

Iced Latte Recipe

ingredients for iced latte coffee

Ready to cool down on a steamy summer day? 

Let’s make an iced latte coffee.

Now, you might think that making this drink is as easy as adding ice cubes to your freshly made cup of latte. 

Think again.

The thing is, ice cubes will melt as soon as you add them to your hot latte and cause the steamed milk to separate. What you’ll end up with is a caramel-colored warm mess of a beverage.

But don’t worry, that’s an easy fix. The key to a tasty cup of iced latte lies in using cold milk instead. 

That also means you don’t need an espresso machine with a steam wand if you want to make foamed milk. You can just use a hand frother to make cold milk foam

If you don’t have any frothing tools at home, don’t worry! You can pour milk into a jar or bottle, seal it properly and shake it well until it’s foamy enough. 

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 cup ice
  • 4 oz espresso 
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Syrup of your choice (optional)

And here’s how to make an iced latte at home:

  1. Fill a tall glass with ice cubes. Make sure the glass is large enough to fit both ice and the drink. 
  2. Add syrup of your choice over the ice. It’s optional, but I like to combine it with some tasty flavors such as vanilla syrup.
  3. Pull an espresso shot, then let it rest for a bit before you pour it into the glass.
  4. Make a cold foam by using any of the tools mentioned above. 
  5. Pour frothed milk into the glass and…start drinking coffee!

That’s pretty much it! It won’t take you more than a few minutes to make this refreshing coffee drink.

What is an Iced Coffee?

iced coffee

Iced coffee is basically your regular cup of coffee, but with ice.

Whether you make your regular coffee with a drip machine, French press, or a Moka pot, it doesn’t matter. Even a cold brew poured over ice can be called iced coffee!

Iced coffee is worldwide known thanks to coffee chains like Starbucks that feature it in their standard drink menus.

However, this beverage first became popular in the States about 100 years ago. That’s thanks to a marketing campaign by the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee. 

Remember those vintage coffee ads? Well, there was a whole page in the Saturday Evening Post dedicated to promoting this refreshing drink.

In fact, they said June 25th to July 1st to be a National Iced Coffee Week. You can surely sign me up for that!

But its origins actually lie in Africa. According to scarce sources, iced coffee was first made in French Algeria in 1840.

It was a legion of French soldiers that invented a drink with coffee syrup, cold water, and sugar.

The original iced coffee was named Mazagran, which is the city the soldiers were stationed in. 

Upon their return to Paris, the soldiers suggested local cafes serve this drink in tall glasses. And that’s how iced coffee became a staple on drink menus. 

Iced Coffee Recipe

a person making iced coffee

The beauty of iced coffee lies in its versatility. Aside from ice, you can also add sugar, syrup, or anything else you want to make your drink even better. 

My personal favorite is milk. Just a splash can make such a huge difference in both taste and texture.

A 2% whole milk works best for the iced coffee, but any will do. Even non-dairy alternatives. But keep in mind that skim milk will give you somewhat watery results.

What I love about iced coffee is that you can make larger batches of it! Since it’s served cold, you can keep it in the fridge, which will make it last longer. Sign me up!

The key to a perfect iced coffee is to make it using cold coffee.

If you add ice cubes to a freshly brewed cup, it will melt right away, and the final results won’t be that tasty.

So, if you want to enjoy an iced coffee in the morning, it’s best to brew it in the evening. 

Now, to make it, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1 cup ice
  • Sweetener per taste (optional)
  • Milk (optional)

And here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make coffee using your preferred coffee maker. Let it chill in the fridge. Alternatively, you can pour it into a freezer-safe container and put it in the freezer for no more than 40 minutes.
  2. Fill a tall glass with ice.
  3. Take the coffee out of the fridge/freezer. 
  4. Add milk, sugar, or syrup to it, and mix well until combined. (optional)
  5. Pour coffee into the glass. Stir well.

There you have it. A quick and simple way to make an Iced Coffee. You can even top it with some ice cream if you want a really delicious treat!

Iced Latte Vs Iced Coffee: What is the Difference?

Now that we talked about these drinks individually, let’s see what their main differences are.

Ingredients

The one ingredient these two beverages have in common is ice.

While they’re both coffee drinks, an iced latte is made exclusively using espresso coffee. Iced coffee, on the other hand, can be made with any type of coffee.

Iced latte also contains milk, and a pretty large amount of it, as well. About ⅔ of the drink is made of milk.

Iced coffee may or may not contain milk. And not just dairy, but non-dairy types as well such as oat milk. You can also add any other ingredient, whether it’s sugar, syrup, or even whipped cream. 

Now, you might be wondering – isn’t iced coffee made with espresso and milk essentially an iced latte?

Well, you could say so. It really depends on the ratio of milk to coffee you’re adding. But let’s not be coffee purists. You’re the one making the drink, you get to call it however you want.

Brewing

Brewing is what makes these two beverages different.

An iced latte is made with espresso, so you’ll need whole coffee beans or ground coffee, milk, and an espresso maker, whether automatic or manual. 

As for iced coffee, you can use pretty much any brewing method you have at hand. Even the regular brewed coffee will do the trick.

Whether it’s a drip machine, Moka pot, French press, or siphon, they all make a suitable drink for an iced coffee. In fact, you can even use a cold brew coffee.

Taste

woman tasting coffee

Iced coffee can be bitter and a bit acidic, depending on the brewing method. Of course, the strength and flavor also depend on the type of beans and the level of roast you’re using.

Then, depending on the additional ingredients you might add, such as flavored coffee syrups, your drink might be sweet and mellow.

Iced latte is made using espresso coffee beans – usually the dark roasted Arabica. This coffee bean has a bold flavor but a low amount of acidity, which makes it great for pairing with milk.

The light, milky flavor makes iced latte a coffee you can easily “chug down” – not that you should. But it’s a great drink for anyone whose stomach can’t tolerate high acidity.

Serving

If you order a latte in your local coffee shop, you’ll get your drink in a tall see-through glass.

This allows you to see the layers of milk and coffee poured over ice, blending in the middle. There’s also usually a layer of foam layered on top of the drink.

In the case of iced coffee, serving depends on the ingredients used. In most cafes, if you order an iced coffee with milk, you’ll get a nice layer of foam at the top.

FAQ

Still have questions about these two iced drinks? No problem. You should be able to find the answers you need in this section.

Does Iced Coffee or Iced Latte Have More Caffeine?

How strong coffee is and what’s the caffeine content depends on the type of coffee you’re using for making iced coffee.

For instance, an 8-ounce cup of drip coffee contains between 65 and 120 milligrams of caffeine. 

A shot of espresso contains approximately 63, and a cup of instant coffee usually contains roughly 30 to 90 milligrams. 

As for an iced latte, a tall, 12-ounce cup has about 75 milligrams of caffeine.

Which Has More Calories, Iced Latte or Iced Coffee?

Coffee itself has practically no calories. This means that all other ingredients you add to it are responsible for the number of calories it has. 

Mainly, that’s mostly thanks to milk. That’s why a 12-ounce cup of iced latte has about 100 calories.

To Sum Things Up

There you have it. A comprehensive iced latte vs iced coffee rundown that should help you decide which coffee to choose to refresh your day.

The main difference between iced coffee and iced latte lies in the brewing method.

While an iced latte can only be made with espresso, you can use any kind of coffee to make an iced coffee, even a simple brewed coffee.

Of course, nothing’s to stop you from adding a personal touch to your iced drink. Whether it’s sweetener, milk, or creamer, even a splash can make the difference.

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Viktoria Marks
Viktoria is a writer and a journalist who can't imagine sitting by her computer without a large cup of java in her hand. She loves sampling coffee from all over the world as much as writing about it.