Iced Latte Vs Iced Coffee: 4 Differences You Need To Know

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Are you confused about the difference between iced latte vs iced coffee drinks? Well this article is for you!

Not only do we explain the difference between iced coffee and iced latte coffees, we also share how to make an iced latte, how to make the best iced coffee and answer all your cold coffee questions.

So let’s get into it and breakdown all the iced coffee vs iced latte differences you need to know.

Black iced coffee iced latte and ice coffee with cream in various glasses on white background.

Iced latte vs iced coffee

Aside from both being served cold, the iced latte and iced coffee coffee drinks are different in almost every other aspect.

In short, an iced latte is espresso-based and made with mostly milk. Iced coffee is brewed coffee that’s served over ice, and may or may not have milk added to it.

The two beverages use different types of coffee and have different coffee-to-milk ratios. They’re also less and more likely to be enriched with flavored syrups or toppings. 

Read on for a more in depth explanation of the main points of difference between iced latte and iced coffee drinks.

Coffee drinkType of coffeeMilk added
Iced latteEspressoYes
Iced coffeeBrewed coffeeOptional
Cold brewCold brewOptional
Iced americanoEspressoNo
Cold coffee drinks comparison

What is an iced latte?

The iced latte is a popular espresso based coffee drink combining espresso with cold milk and ice.

A double shot of espresso is pulled from an espresso machine, and the amount of milk can range from around 175ml to 250 ml (occasionally more).

This makes the beverage quite large when it’s poured over ice.

Espresso coffee with milk in silver jug for making iced latte drink.

How to make an iced latte

You will need the following ingredients for a basic iced latte recipe:

  • Espresso (double shot)
  • Milk (175-250 ml, full cream or light)
  • Ice cubes

Follow these steps for making an iced latte:

  1. Pull a double espresso using an espresso machine.
  2. Place the espresso in your glass or cup.
  3. Pour cold milk over the top so it mixes evenly.
  4. Add ice cubes to the glass.
  5. Sip and enjoy!

For more detail, see our iced vanilla latte recipe here.

Barista tips for the best iced latte

  • Avoid pouring the espresso directly onto ice or vice-versa. Coming into immediate contact with ice will alter the flavor of espresso.
  • For a fun visual effect, pour the espresso into the glass last, using enough milk so that its surface is just above the ice. This creates a visual effect as the espresso flows down, and it’s akin to an iced macchiato. Stir for an even flavor or leave layered.
  • Iced lattes can be made with ristretto shots, as hot lattes or magic coffees often are.
  • If you prefer a sweeter latte, use liquid sweeteners or syrups, as granulated sugar will not dissolve in an iced latte.

A diy iced latte can’t really be made ahead of time, for oxidation will quickly degrade the espresso’s quality — even when the espresso is mixed with milk.

What is an iced coffee?

An iced coffee is brewed coffee poured over ice. The coffee can be brewed in many different ways, including with a filter coffee machine, coffee plunger, stove top coffee maker, a pour over coffee maker and even with instant coffee.

The coffee is often brewed double-strength, so it’s not too watered down as much when ice is added.

It can be made using hot coffee or coffee that has been brewed and chilled in the fridge.

Milk, flavour or sugar may be added, just as it is with hot coffee.

Black iced coffee in a clear, steamed glass on a brown background.

Is iced coffee the same as cold brew?

Importantly, iced coffee is not the same as cold brew coffee.

Whereas iced coffee is made using hot brewed coffee, cold brew is coffee that’s actually brewed at room temperature over a long period of time in a cold brew coffee maker.

Cold brew concentrate can be mixed with cold or hot water or served straight over ice.

Compared to cold brew, iced coffee has less caffeine and more nuanced flavours. Cold brew is known for having a strong and smooth taste.

How to make an iced coffee

You will need the following ingredients to make an iced coffee at home:

  • Brewed coffee (200-250 ml)
  • Ice cubes
  • Milk and sugar (optional)

Follow these steps for making iced coffee with hot coffee:

  1. Brew double-strength coffee via your preferred brew method.
  2. Fill your glass with ice cubes and pour the coffee over the ice.
  3. The initial pour of hot coffee will dissolve some of the ice, so top up the glass with more ice.
  4. Add milk, flavour and liquid sugar as desired.
  5. Sip, and enjoy!

Alternatively, you can make regular-strength coffee and cool it in the refrigerator.

Keep the coffee in a sealed container or jar, and just add a little ice when you’re ready to drink it.

This is a good option if you prefer iced coffee regularly and want to make it ahead.

Barista tips for the best iced coffee

  • Experiment with different coffees to see how they taste. Tanzania, Guatemala and Africa are a few good regions to try first.
  • Use simple syrup rather than regular sugar, so the sweetener dissolves. You can also make a simple syrup with any artificial or sugar-alternative sweetener.
  • Premade coffee will taste very good for 2-3 days, and it will be decent for about a week.
  • Try freezing some left over coffee in ice cube trays and add coffee ice cubes to your ice coffee for a stronger, less diluted iced coffee.
Tall glass of ice coffee with milk.

What is the difference between iced latte and iced coffee?

Having gone over how to make an iced latte and an iced coffee, the differences should become apparent.

There are four main points of difference between iced coffee and iced latte coffee drinks.

1. Type of coffee used

An iced latte is made with espresso shots, while an iced coffee is made with brewed coffee or instant coffee.

Interesting fact: A cold coffee drink made with espresso, ice and cold water is called an iced americano.

2. Type of milk used

An iced cafe latte is normally made with full cream or reduced fat milk.

An iced coffee is made black, and can be enjoyed black or have a small amount of dairy or alternative milk added.

In addition to regular milk, other dairy options for an iced coffee include:

  • Sweetened condensed milk (like a Vietnamese iced coffee)
  • Cold foam
  • Thickened (heavy) cream or whipped cream
  • Creamer.

Iced lattes can be made with other plant based milks too, but generally they are not made with sweet milks or cream.

Pouring cold milk into ice latte.

3. Ratio of milk to coffee

An iced latte has proportionally more milk than an iced coffee as it is made with about 60 ml of espresso (or 40 ml if ristretto ) and 175-250 ml of milk.

The result is that an iced latte has a more diluted coffee flavour, despite being made with espresso.

On the other hand, an iced coffee is made with brewed coffee, and only a small amount of milk is added if desired.

4. Toppings

Neither a standard iced latte or a standard iced coffee recipe is made with flavourings or toppings.

However extra ingredients tend to be added to iced coffee recipes, particularly in Australia.

Popular additions to an iced coffee include whipped cream, cold foam, ice cream and flavoured syrups.

tall glass of homemade iced coffee with whipped cream.

Similarities between iced coffee and iced latte

Now we have covered the difference between an iced coffee and an iced latte, let’s cover their notable similarities.

Most of all, they’re both cold coffee beverages that many people love.

To be more specific, they’re similar in the following ways:

  • Both are chilled over ice.
  • Neither drinks are sweetened by default, but extras can be added.
  • Both types of coffee drink are caffeinated, and can be made decaffeinated.

If ordering at a cafe, you can almost always get a decaf iced latte but you might have a hard time finding a decaf iced coffee.

Although decaf iced coffee can be made, there’s usually not much demand for it.

If you need to stick with decaf, go for a decaf iced latte or decaf iced americano instead, for these can be made with decaf espresso which should be easily pulled. 

Iced coffee vs iced latte FAQ

Is an iced latte stronger than an iced coffee?

An iced latte actually has a weaker coffee flavour than an iced coffee. The espresso in a latte is diluted by the milk, which is also thicker than water.

An iced coffee with no added milk or just a little milk will taste stronger than an iced latte.

Of course, both will be weak if you don’t drink them quickly and the ice melts and dilutes the coffee.

Does an iced latte have more caffeine than iced coffee?

Although espresso has more caffeine per ounce, people tend to drink higher quantities of brewed coffee.

Roughly speaking a double shot of espresso has approximately the same amount of caffeine as a cup of brewed coffee.

Note however that caffeine content varies a lot depending on varietal, roast level, brew strength and other factors.

The mathematics become more complex when discussing iced drinks, though.

An iced latte is usually made with a double-shot of espresso, yielding the caffeine equivalent of a cup of coffee.

Whereas an iced coffee is made with double-strength coffee, which is then diluted to regular strength.

A double-strength brew that’s diluted to twice the quantity will have about half as much caffeine as two regular brews of equal volume as the caffeine amount in a double strength brew is not double that in a single strength brew.

So the caffeine in a cup of iced coffee is about half that of a hot coffee.

Thus, an iced latte typically will have more caffeine than an iced coffee. The difference between an iced latte and an iced coffee will be approximately twofold.

french vanilla latte iced

Is an iced latte healthier than iced coffee?

The health merits of coffee drinks are difficult to generalise, for caffeine, calories and milk sugars have different impacts on each person.

Broadly speaking, a black iced coffee is likely slightly healthier than an iced latte.

An iced coffee should have less caffeine, fewer calories (if black) and no lactose sugars.

The equation can be reversed if significant milk and/or sugar is added to the iced coffee only – as some people add quite a bit.

Do you need to froth milk for an iced latte?

No, you don’t need to froth milk for an iced latte. It’s made with straight, cold milk.

The thin layer of foam that tops a hot latte isn’t present on an iced one.

Is iced coffee just cold coffee?

Yes, iced coffee is simply coffee over ice. It can made using hot brewed coffee, or coffee that has been chilled in the refrigerator.

Can you make iced coffee with instant coffee?

Yes, you can make iced coffee with instant coffee.

Simply add 1-2 tablespoons of instant coffee granules to your glass, pour 3 tablespoons of hot water over the granules and stir to combine.

Then fill your glass with cold water, ice cubes and milk if desired.

Ready to make iced lattes and iced coffees?

There’s a reason why iced lattes and iced coffees are so popular.

Try one of each now that you know their similarities and differences, and see which you prefer. You may find that your choice depends on the day!

Discover more interesting coffee facts in our brew guides or browse all our coffee recipes.

More coffee guides

If you loved this comparison of iced coffee – iced latte, here are some more great cold coffee articles:

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iced latte and iced coffee with text overlay do you know the difference between iced coffee and iced latte.
About Rachel Rodda

Founder of Coffeewise, Rachel is a passionate coffee drinker, Specialty Coffee Association member and former barista who loves to research and share practical tips on brewing great coffee at home.

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