Iced Macchiato Vs Iced Latte: Which Iced Coffee Is For You?

Unless you’re a coffee expert, you might not know that there’s a difference between an iced latte and an iced macchiato. 

These cold drinks often taste very similar, so it’s easy to get them confused. 

Do you want to learn a bit more so you can order the best one on the menu?

Keep reading for all the dirty details in an iced macchiato vs iced latte rundown!

Iced Macchiato: The Basics

iced macchiato

An iced macchiato is a cool caffeinated drink in which cold whole milk is poured over ice and topped with a double cup of espresso. 

In general, the iced macchiato has lower milk to coffee ratio. 

As a result, it’s fairly strong and has relatively high caffeine content. 

Although the traditional macchiato was invented in Italy back in the 1980s, that’s not when it really became famous. 

Caffe macchiato became famous thanks to Starbucks’ launch of an iced macchiato in 1996. 

Starbucks created a twist on the traditional macchiato by adding more milk, caramel syrup, and ice. 

Starbucks also adds the espresso shots on top of the milk in a macchiato, instead of adding the milk to the espresso. This makes it more of an upside-down latte than anything else.

As a result, iced macchiato coffee recipes have changed quite a bit over the years. Now, they often feature vanilla or caramel syrup to help add to the flavor.

Today, if you walk into any given coffee shop, your macchiato could vary greatly from that of a shop down the road!

Iced Macchiato Recipe

a person preparing iced macchiato coffee

If you want to make an iced macchiato of your own, you’re in luck. These drinks are pretty simple to make. 

To make the drink, you’ll need: 

  • 2 shots of espresso
  • Milk of your choice
  • Vanilla syrup
  • Caramel sauce (optional)
  • Ice cubes

With all those things in hand, you’re ready to get to work! Here’s how to make a delicious iced macchiato: 

  1. Pour the vanilla syrup and ice cubes into a glass.
  2. Pour fresh milk over the ice cubes.
  3. Slowly add the espresso shots to the glass.
  4. Mix the milk and espresso well.
  5. Finish off your macchiato with a caramel drizzle if you want an iced caramel macchiato.

If you want a sweeter coffee drink, you can add whipped cream on top. 

Or, if sweets really aren’t your thing, you can leave the caramel sauce out of the recipe!

Iced Latte: The Basics

iced latte

An iced latte is an espresso-based beverage made out of milk, ice, and, well, espresso. 

If you’re already familiar with a traditional caffe latte, then you won’t be surprised to learn that an iced latte is just a cold version of this drink!

Even though iced coffee is said to have been invented in Greece, the iced latte gets its origins in the United States. 

The drink is much creamier and less acidic than an iced coffee, which is maybe the reason why it’s become so popular in the US. 

Iced lattes are traditionally served plain, but you can add syrups and whipped cream to them if you want to take things to the next level. 

Iced Latte Recipe

ingredients for iced latte

Okay, enough with the history lesson. Let’s talk about how you can make your own iced latte. 

To make one at home, you’ll just need a couple of ingredients: 

  • Ice cubes
  • A single dose of espresso coffee (1 ounce)
  • 180 ml milk
  • Sugar or simple syrup to your liking

With the ingredients in hand, you’re ready to get started! 

  1. First, fill half a glass with ice cubes. 
  2. Next, pour a shot of espresso and pour it over the ice cubes. 
  3. Now, top with cold milk and sweeten the latte the way you like.
  4. If you want, you can also add extra ice. 

If you want to get creative, there’s actually an alternative recipe you can follow. Here’s how this one works: 

  1. Pull your shots of espresso and add them to a shaker with ice cubes. 
  2. Now, shake the espresso and the ice cubes. 
  3. Fill a glass halfway with ice cubes
  4. Add milk until the glass is three-quarters full.
  5. Strain the chilled espresso into the glass and serve.

If you have a cocktail shaker, the second method is a great way to get an even colder and more flavorful drink!

Iced Macchiato vs Iced Latte: The Difference

Alright, so you’ve got the idea of what an iced macchiato and what an iced latte is. 

But what really sets these drinks apart?

After all, aren’t they both just milk, ice, and espresso?

Well, it’s not quite that simple. Let’s take a look at a few things that make these drinks different.

Ingredients

For one thing, let’s start by looking at the ingredients. 

Iced macchiatos are made with whole milk, espresso, ice, and usually some sort of syrup. In most US coffee shops, the iced macchiato comes with caramel syrup and occasionally whipped cream.

On the other hand, the iced latte is made of simply milk, espresso, and ice. 

Although you can add syrups to your iced latte, they don’t usually come included. You might have to pay a little extra to get a flavor or syrup shot added. 

Method of Brewing

ingredients for iced latte

Both iced lattes and iced macchiatos use a similar brewing method.

However, there is one difference. With an iced macchiato, you’ll add one additional shot of espresso. 

What’s really different about the brewing method with these two drinks is how strong they are.

This is thanks to the milk to coffee ratio. Whereas an iced latte has only one shot, an iced macchiato typically has two shots. 

Plus, since the macchiato is smaller and contains less milk, it tends to have a much more potent flavor. 

Taste

As you can probably imagine, the iced latte and the iced macchiato taste pretty different. 

The iced macchiato has a much stronger coffee flavor. If you’re a fan of caffeine kicks and energy bursts, this is probably the beverage for you.

At the same time, if you order an iced macchiato, it’s also usually sweetened. That can make it a much easier beverage to drink!

An iced latte, on the other hand, tends to be much milder. It also tends to have a much smoother and creamier taste.

Of course, adding syrups, non-dairy milk, extra shots, and other additives will alter the flavor of either one. 

But, in general, the macchiato is sweeter and stronger, while the latte is smoother and creamier.

Serving

served ingredients for iced latte coffee

The way an iced macchiato and an iced latte are served varies slightly, but only slightly. 

To make an iced macchiato, baristas will typically add the espresso shot last. 

On the other hand, many baristas add the espresso shot to the cup first when they make an iced latte. 

You’ll also notice that iced macchiatos are generally served in a much more flamboyant way. 

They have caramel sauce dripping down the sides of the cup and drizzled on top of the ice, which can make them look pretty cool.

Lattes, on the other hand, just look like an extra-milky iced coffee. 

FAQ

Still got some lingering questions about the difference between an iced macchiato vs iced latte? 

I hear you. 

Check out this quick FAQ with all the information you need to pick between the two. 

Is a Macchiato Stronger Than a Latte?

In general, yes. Since traditional iced macchiatos are smaller and have less milk diluting them, they tend to be stronger. 

However, if you’re ordering an iced Starbucks macchiato, you’re actually getting the same strength drink as an iced latte. 

What’s the Difference Between an Iced Macchiato and an Iced Coffee?

Traditional iced macchiatos are stronger and smaller than an iced coffee. On top of that, iced macchiatos are made with milk and espresso, whereas iced coffee is made with brewed coffee.  

Are Macchiatos Always Iced?

No, there is also a hot espresso macchiato. In fact, hot macchiatos are actually more common than iced macchiatos. They’re also more traditional. 

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. A quick breakdown of an iced macchiato vs iced latte. 

While both are tasty, espresso-based beverages, they’re definitely not one and the same. 

Just remember that it’s important to know the modern spins on an iced macchiato. Otherwise, you may be in for a surprise when it’s not a traditional macchiato that shows up in your cup!

If you try an iced latte and an iced macchiato and neither is for you, don’t worry. 

There are plenty of other types of cold coffee out there! Check out this guide to cold brew to see what I’m talking about. 

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Jessica Ruth Lee Fleming
Jessica is a seasoned caffeine-addict who spent 3 years behind the bar. Her early coffee days took her from the commercial Starbucks scene in urban DC all the way to helping launch a craft coffee shop in California. Today she prefers sharing her years of coffee capers through media, although you’ll find she does it with a trusty cup of coffee by her side.