Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee

Drinking hot coffee can be a bit overwhelming when it’s warm outside, which is why we turn towards iced coffee drinks when the heat is too much to handle. It’s definitely a nice change of pace when we can put the hot coffee away for a few months in favor of iced coffee drinks.

While there are plenty of iced coffee drinks to choose from, iced latte and iced coffee are certainly the most popular options. These drinks check all the boxes on a hot summer day, giving you your caffeine boost and keeping you refreshed without getting too heavy.

Even though these two drinks sound like they are the same, there are a few differences that could influence your choice when it comes to deciding between an iced coffee, and an iced latte.

What Is the Difference Between an Iced Latte and an Iced Coffee?

While iced coffee is simply hot coffee that is poured over ice, an iced latte is prepared with espresso and a large amount of cold milk, which is then poured over ice. You can also add milk to iced coffee if you wish to, but it’s completely optional.

Just like a regular latte, an iced latte is also an espresso drink, meaning that you can’t use a different kind of brewing method. On the other hand, iced coffee can be made with any type of coffee, even instant coffee if you wish.

To summarize, these two drinks are separated by their milk content and the brewing method used to prepare the coffee.

Iced Latte

An iced latte is the iced form of the drink we all love and enjoy. Just like a regular latte, an iced latte is also one of the most known espresso-based drinks due to its great flavor, light content, and simplicity.

Prepared with espresso, ice, and cold milk, an iced latte is a great choice for those who cannot have their coffee without milk. An iced latte contains more than 3 parts of milk for every part of espresso, meaning that the drink is mostly made up of milk rather than coffee. 

While the high content of milk does a great job of reducing the acidity of the drink and provides a nice and creamy mouthfeel, just like a regular latte, the taste of espresso is prevalent in a traditional iced latte.

Even though flavored syrups aren’t a part of the original recipe, they are widely used in iced lattes to bring sweetness to the drink. We feel like some sweetness is a great addition to most iced coffee drinks as it really adds the feeling of summer into the cup. If you haven’t tried flavored syrups with your iced latte yet, we highly recommend adding vanilla syrup the next time you go for it.

If you don’t have access to flavored syrups at the moment, you can also use sugar to sweeten a glass of iced latte.

How to Make Iced Latte

  1. Fill your glass with ice. Tall glasses usually work better, but any glass is completely fine.
  2. Pull a shot (or double shot) of espresso into your glass.
  3. If you’re looking to add some sweetness to your drink, now is the time! Add the flavored syrup of your preference, or some sugar.
  4. Pour the desired amount of milk into a jar, close the lid, and shake it until it becomes frothy. You can skip this step if you prefer not to have frothed milk.
  5. Pour the milk into your glass.

Iced Coffee

If you’re looking to have some cold coffee in its simplest form, iced coffee is what you need. It is most likely the first thing that comes to mind when you think of coffee that is cold, as it’s one of the simplest coffee drinks to make. With how easy it is to make some iced coffee, it is one of the greatest ways to get caffeinated when the heat is on.

All you need to prepare iced coffee is coffee and ice. While brewed coffee is often preferred, you can make iced coffee with almost every single type of coffee. If you wish, you can also add milk or cream to add some texture to your drink.

For the most part, iced coffee is known for retaining the bitter taste of brewed coffee. While milk or cream can act as a way to reduce bitterness, the majority of the drink is still made up of coffee, meaning that the flavor profile of coffee is in the center stage. You’ll notice that the acidity level of the drink is no different than regular brewed coffee since it’s brewed hot, and then chilled with ice.

When it comes to brewing coffee for the purpose of making iced coffee, it’s a good idea to brew stronger than usual. Since your cup will be filled with ice, your coffee will start being diluted as the ice melts, causing your coffee to slowly lose its flavor. By using a bigger ratio of coffee to water, you will be able to compensate for the water which comes from the melted ice.

Another cool trick you can use to improve your iced coffee is using coffee ice cubes. By freezing some of your brewed coffee for the next time you’re planning to have iced coffee, you can use these ice cubes instead of regular ice cubes. Since these ice cubes will turn into coffee instead of water when they melt, they won’t dilute your drink, allowing you to enjoy your iced coffee without having to worry about drinking it quickly to prevent the ice from melting and making your coffee watery.

Flavor syrups and sugar can be used to sweeten your drink if you wish to, so feel free to add some if you’re not a big fan of bitter coffee.

How to Make Iced Coffee

  1. Brew coffee with the method you prefer. Letting the coffee cool down a bit before continuing is a good idea, as coffee that is freshly brewed can instantly melt the ice.
  2. Fill a glass with ice.
  3. If you wish to add some flavored syrup, add it now. Sugar also works, so feel free to add some sugar if you don’t have flavored syrup.
  4. Pour the coffee into the glass. If you wish to add milk or cream, you can do so.

Choosing Between an Iced Latte and an Iced Coffee

Now that we have more information about both iced latte and iced coffee, it’s time to over the things which separate the two and make it easier to decide between these tasty beverages.

Brewing Method

Since iced latte is made with espresso, and iced coffee can be made with a multitude of brewing methods, you can make a decision depending on the brewing method you like best. 

Note that you should ideally have an espresso machine in order to pull an espresso shot for your iced latte, while iced coffee can even be prepared with instant coffee.

Milk Content

Iced latte contains a large (75%~) amount of milk, while iced coffee doesn’t contain any.

While it’s possible to add milk to your iced coffee, the amount of milk would still be nowhere close to how much milk an iced latte contains.

For this reason, an iced latte will be a better choice for those who like milk in their coffee, those who prefer a creamier texture, and those who prefer a coffee experience that is less bitter, and less acidic.

On the other hand, iced coffee is brewed coffee in its purest form, which is highly bitter and acidic. If you drink brewed coffee regularly, iced coffee will most likely satisfy you. On the other hand, if you don’t really enjoy regular brewed coffee and find it way too overwhelming, you won’t really enjoy iced coffee either.

Preparation Time

It takes a very short amount of time to prepare an iced latte as all you need is a shot of espresso which is brewed extremely quickly, and since the drink consists mostly of cold milk, there is no need to wait for the espresso to cool down.

On the other hand, brewed coffee usually takes longer to brew, and you will most likely need to let it cool down to room temperature before you prepare your iced coffee as hot coffee will instantly melt the ice in your cup and dilute your coffee.

If you are in a rush, an iced latte is your best bet for an ice-cold glass of coffee.

Alternative Ways of Making Frothed Milk for Iced Latte

Earlier, we mentioned a milk frothing technique where milk is poured into a sealed jar, and shaken until it’s frothed. While this is the most straightforward technique in terms of tools needed, there are plenty of other techniques that take a lesser amount of work if you have the required tools.

Whisk

By pouring your milk into a bowl and whisking it, you will be able to froth your milk. The trick is to whisk the milk back and forth very quickly rather than using a circular motion.

French Press

Could you have guessed that you can actually froth milk with a french press? Most likely not!

Start by filling your french press with milk, but don’t fill it all the way as milk will gain volume as it becomes frothy. By pumping up and down quickly for a few seconds, you will be able to easily froth your milk.

Make sure that you hold the lid tight, as it’s very easy to spill the milk if you aren’t careful.

Mixer

The frothing process becomes even easier if you own a mixer, as all you need to do is to run your mixer and whisk the milk until it becomes frothy. The medium setting usually works best, but feel free to increase the speed if you feel like your milk isn’t getting frothy enough.

Blender

Just like a mixer, a blender can also be used to froth milk. Just like frothing with a mixer, the medium setting will most likely be enough to get the job done.

Frothing Wand

Since the sole purpose of a frothing wand is to froth milk, this method will most likely yield the best-frothed milk possible. Simply submerge your frothing wand into the milk, and run it until you feel like your milk is frothed enough.

Cold Brew: The Best Way of Making Cold Coffee

Unlike other types of iced coffee which are made by brewing hot coffee first and chilling with ice afterward, cold brew coffee is brewed cold as you can tell by the name. Brewing cold comes with a multitude of advantages, which is why it’s gaining a lot of popularity in the specialty coffee world lately.

Acidity and Bitterness

Compared to coffee that is brewed hot, cold brew contains a lot less acidity and bitterness.

As you know, there is an ideal temperature for brewing coffee, (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit), and going below or above these values causes coffee to be under or over-extracted. 

The logic here is that if the water isn’t warm enough, it will only be able to dissolve the acidic components of the coffee, and if it’s too hot, the bitter components which are extracted last will make their way to your cup of coffee. Balance in the extraction of components is achieved by using the ideal temperature, creating the best brew possible.

In the case of cold brew, the temperature of the water is only enough to extract the flavorful compounds of the coffee, leaving the acids and the bitter components behind. As a result, cold brew usually contains 60 to 70 percent less acidity and bitterness than hot coffee.

Flavor

If you never tried cold brew before, you would be surprised by how different it tastes when compared to hot coffee.

Since the acidic and bitter parts of the coffee aren’t extracted as we mentioned, the coffee ends up a lot more flavorful than usual. If you are someone who can’t drink hot coffee without adding some milk, cream, or sweetener because of the high amount of acidity and bitterness, you will be pleasantly surprised with cold brew.

A lot of people who don’t necessarily enjoy black coffee start loving it after trying cold brew, so make sure you give cold brew coffee a try if you haven’t yet.

Versatility

Another cool thing about cold brew is how versatile it is.

Since coffee you end up with at the end of the cold brewing process is very concentrated, you can combine it with anything you want and turn your cold brew into the drink you love most.

You can mix the concentrate with hot water for hot coffee, cold water (and ice) for iced coffee, or even cold milk (and ice) to prepare an iced latte with your cold brew. 

It’s even possible to combine it with some sparkling water and syrup to create a coffee soda. The possibilities are endless, so feel free to experiment and find out what you like best.

Preparation and Storage

Preparation is the only downside of cold brew and is probably the reason that cold brew hasn’t taken over the world yet. While the process is rather simple, it takes a very long time for the cold brew to be ready.

Technically speaking, all you have to do is to coarsely grind your coffee beans, add them into a container, and fill the container with water. Refrigerate it and let it steep for 12 to 18 hours, and it’s ready to go. As you may have noticed, it takes up to 18(!) hours for the cold brew to be ready, whereas hot coffee is ready in mere minutes.

Fortunately, it’s possible to store cold brew in the fridge for roughly two weeks. You can simply pour the excess into a separate container, and keep it in the fridge. Even though the flavor will eventually degrade, it could be a good idea for those who don’t have the time to prepare smaller batches of cold brew every day.

The important part here is to refrigerate the concentrate without diluting it further with water. Storing cold brew that is already diluted will shorten its shelf life down to a few days.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is iced coffee the same as cold brew?

No. Cold brewing is a completely different process where hot water isn’t used at all, whereas iced coffee is plain hot coffee poured over ice.

We have gone over how cold brew is prepared in an earlier section, so make sure to check it out if you’re curious.

Does iced latte have more caffeine than iced coffee?

Even though espresso contains more caffeine per ounce, the amount of espresso is very low compared to the amount of coffee in iced coffee in terms of volume. 

For this reason, iced coffee will most likely have more caffeine than iced latte considering that a standard size of glass is used.

To put it into perspective, a standard shot of espresso (1 oz.) contains 63[1] mg of caffeine, while a standard cup of drip coffee (8 oz.) contains 96[2] mg.

Of course, modifications can be made by using a double shot in your iced latte which would increase the caffeine content, or by adding some milk to your iced coffee in order to lower the amount of coffee, which would reduce the caffeine content.

Is it possible to make an iced latte without an espresso machine?

While using an espresso machine will yield the best results, it’s possible to replace the espresso with brewed coffee, especially coffee made with a french press or AeroPress. 

Even though it technically wouldn’t really be an iced latte without actual espresso, you should still be able to obtain a flavor that isn’t too far off.

Is an iced latte heavier than iced coffee?

Since iced latte contains a large amount of milk, it also comes with more calories than iced coffee, whereas iced coffee contains almost no calories since it’s made up entirely of coffee and water.

Conclusion

Depending on what you enjoy, both iced coffee and iced latte are tasty drinks to have on a hot summer day.

Truth be told, we are bigger fans of an iced latte as it feels more like a summer drink with its creamy texture and added sweetness.

Have a great day and enjoy your coffee!

References

  1. USDA Nutrient Data for Espresso
  2. USDA Nutrient Data for Brewed Coffee