Though they seem similar and have almost the same name, there are quite a few differences between iced lattes and iced coffee. In this article, you can discover the significant differences between five components to find out which suits your preference — even if you’re a coffee lover, you might not know all of these!
What Is an Iced Coffee?
Whether a Starbucks lover or a local coffee shop goer, you’re probably familiar with iced coffee. But if not, it’s essentially hot coffee but iced. Iced coffee is typically prepared the same way as hot coffee — pour boiling water over ground coffee beans, let it brew, and serve over ice in a glass.
Usually, baristas serve iced coffee in a taller glass like a highball.
Even though it is one of the most basic coffee orders you can get, iced coffee is a refreshing drink, especially on a hot summer day.
Depending on your preference, there are various ways to brew coffee for your iced coffee.
Some people use the French press method to immerse their ground coffee in hot water and separate it from the coffee mixture by pressing down the filter. Other people prefer drip or instant coffee to create their iced drinks. Regardless, the method you choose to make your iced coffee depends on what tools and personal preferences you may have as a coffee drinker.
To take the flavor one step further, you can even order a cold brew coffee from your favorite coffee shop, one of the many cold coffee drinks you can get.
But take note: iced coffee is different from a cold brew.
Cold brew seems the same, but you make it a little differently. While iced coffee is prepared hot and served over ice, cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Cold brew typically tastes stronger than iced coffee.
What Is an Iced Latte?
Now that you know what iced coffee is, it’s time to dive into what an iced latte is. While these two variations have some similarities, their main difference comes from how you make them.
To make an iced latte, baristas use espresso machines to make espresso shots, the foundation of this type of coffee. On top of the espresso, they add regular milk to make the beverage less intense and more creamy. Usually, a latte has one shot unless otherwise requested.
A traditional hot latte has steamed hot milk, so an iced latte is just the cold version.
Although whole milk is the ideal option to create a super creamy iced beverage, you can switch to other dairy or non-dairy products that fit your taste and lifestyle. You can try another type of milk like oat, skim, or almond milk. These can add various notes to your beverage to make the experience more enjoyable.
What’s the Difference?
Understanding the basics of an iced coffee vs. an iced latte is only the beginning. If you want a more profound knowledge of their differences, you should dive deeper into their specific components. Below are five of the fundamental features where their distinctions lie.
Many people tend to think that iced coffee and iced lattes taste similar. But when you take a closer look, they can be quite different and unique in their ways. When you buy iced coffee from your favorite chain, like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, you may notice that the coffee flavor is quite strong. You may even catch a slight hint of bitterness in your taste buds.
That’s because one will brew iced coffee at high temperatures, which extracts more coffee solubles to make the body of the coffee taste fuller, stronger, and more bitter. Because of this, people tend to add flavored syrup or sweeteners to make iced coffee more palatable.
If you want to lessen the flavor of your iced coffee, add water or ice cubes to dilute the taste. In doing so, you can create a pseudo iced americano — just using regular brewed coffee instead of the usual espresso.
The flavor of an iced latte is usually much milder and smoother than iced coffee. If you prefer to enjoy the creaminess with an even more pungent taste of coffee, you can add a double shot of espresso into the mix. Adding milk makes iced lattes more creamy while retaining a strong coffee flavor from the expresso.
2. Caffeine Content
Another essential factor to consider is the caffeine content in both beverages. Many believe that since the flavor is more robust in iced coffee drinks, they contain more caffeine than iced lattes. That is only sometimes the case.
The amount of caffeine in each beverage depends on how much coffee each has. For example, an ounce of brewed coffee has about 14 mg of caffeine; an ounce of espresso has about 63 mg.
On the surface, you might think iced lattes have more caffeine because of the shot(s) of espresso, but remember that you have to consider the amount of coffee in each drink.
A medium iced coffee has around 12 ounces of brewed coffee, while an iced latte has about two ounces of espresso coffee. When you compute it, iced coffee can have up to 168 milligrams of caffeine, and an iced latte can have around 126 milligrams of caffeine. These numbers can change depending on how much coffee is in your drink. However, since there is
usually more coffee in iced coffees, they generally contain more caffeine.
3. Brewing Method
You can make iced coffee with any brewed coffee. Whether through a drip machine, French press, coffee maker, or Moka pot, you can use any method to brew your base coffee. During this phase, take note that the coffee will start hot. That is necessary to release the most flavor from the grounds.
Once the coffee settles and begins to cool to room temperature, you can pour ice over your drink and make yourself a cup of iced coffee.
Making an iced latte, on the other hand, is more straightforward. All you need is an espresso machine to make an espresso shot and mix it with cold milk and ice. Using any coffee would make the drink something other than a latte.
4. Calorie Content
Knowing how many calories each drink contains is vital if you’re watching your weight and calorie intake.
One of the significant differences between each drink is the milk content. One of the main ingredients of an iced latte is milk, so they have more calories than a cup of plain coffee.
If you like the taste of an iced latte but don’t want the extra calories, a simple solution you can try is to swap out the milk. Instead of regular or whole milk, try something healthier, like low-fat or non-dairy substitutes.
Besides milk, another ingredient that can contribute to calorie intake is sugar, coffee syrup, or simple syrup. Sweeteners and other extra flavorings can add to the number of calories in your drink. As much as possible, try to keep the ingredients of your drink simple.
If a sweetener is an essential ingredient, you can find healthier alternatives like Stevia and honey.
5. Ratio of Milk to Coffee
Finally, the last main difference between iced coffee and iced lattes is their milk-to-coffee ratio. Iced lattes naturally have a much higher proportion than their counterpart, but you still have the option.
Add a splash of milk or foam to create a creamier consistency for your iced coffee.
Add ice cream or cold foam to your drink if you want to take your regular latte game to the next level. That is the perfect addition to refresh and cool off on a hot day. You can even create latte art on your cold foam to make your drink all the more enjoyable.
You can also play around with the ratio of your milk, espresso, and milk foam to create an iced cappuccino. There are so many iced latte recipes you can try to make different drinks!
Final Thoughts On Iced Latte Vs. Iced Coffee
Iced coffee is a classic summer drink that can be customized in endless ways. On the other hand, Iced lattes are a bit more complex and often contain espresso.
-Iced coffee is just coffee with ice cubes added. It can be made with any coffee beans and flavored in any way you like. Iced lattes, on the other hand, always contain espresso. In addition to espresso, they usually have milk and flavorings such as vanilla or caramel.
-If you want a caffeine fix but don’t want something too sweet, go for an iced coffee. If you want something richer and creamier, go for an iced latte.
-An iced latte will typically cost more than an iced coffee because it contains espresso shots. However, the price difference isn’t always significant, depending on where you buy them from.
Iced coffee and iced lattes are both popular drinks, but there are some key differences between the two. We’ve looked at the nutritional information for each drink to see how they compare, and we’ve also explored how to make each drink. This way, you can decide which is your favorite.