You may have previously thought that lattes are a hot drink. Recently there has been a surge in people asking for iced lattes. So which is it? Are lattes hot or cold drinks? It has been a common occurrence where customers are left confused after being asked by their barista if they want their drink hot or cold. So if this has happened to you, you are not alone!
This is a guide to help you understand the difference between the two and other ways in which you can enjoy your hot or cold coffee, depending on what syrups and flavors you like!
Table of Contents
- What Actually is a Latte?
- Iced Latte Vs. Iced Coffee
- Why Do Cold Lattes Usually Cost More?
- Other Latte Types
- The Health Benefits of Making Hot Vs. Cold Lattes
- How Does Temperature Impact Espresso?
- Why Do Some Coffees Taste More Bitter Than Others?
- Hot or Cold: The Coffee is Still Good!
What Actually is a Latte?
Firstly, Im going to run through what actually makes a latte, a latte.
Originally, a latte was a hot drink. This is because it was a breakfast drink, served at approximately 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius). It is made using a standard double shot of espresso and steamed milk. This should have a thin layer of micro-foam on top.
The espresso is usually brewed to a temperature of 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit (90-96 degrees Celsius). And the milk is usually steamed to a temperature of 140-165 degrees Fahrenheit (60-73 degrees Celsius).
A traditional latte will have the foam rise to the top. Skilled baristas can use to make quirky and creative latte art.
Other than foam, it is also possible to customize your latte by adding in your favorite syrups, such as vanilla, caramel, or chocolate. You can also personalize your order by using your favorite milk, such as oat, soya, almond, or coconut.
The great thing about lattes is the fact that they are super smooth. You can get a nice smooth layer on top. When they have been brewed properly, they have a silky smooth texture.
It is important not to go overboard with the foam, or it can sometimes overwhelm the flavor of the drink. This goes for both hot and cold lattes.
Now lets get into the difference between an iced coffee and an iced latte!
Iced Latte Vs. Iced Coffee
While all Iced lattes are iced coffees, not all iced coffees are iced lattes.
To make an iced latte you need a shot of coffee and cold milk to make up the body of the coffee. You can add some ice cubes to keep it chilled, as the hot coffee shot is going to raise the temperature of the drink.
An iced coffee, on the other hand, will have the main body of the coffee consisting of iced water, adding only a dash of milk, if any.
If you are someone who enjoys a strongly brewed coffee, then I would recommend exploring other types of coffee. Both hot and cold, lattes are a mild type of coffee. But if you prefer the taste of a strong coffee, then maybe a flat white would be more up your street.
Iced Lattes at Home
Iced lattes are super easy to make and can even be made using instant coffee. Compared to this, if you were to make an iced coffee such as an iced americano, it may not taste as good as using instant coffee. It is difficult to dissolve instant coffee in water alone compared to milk, and may leave you with a grainy, gritty texture to your coffee.
If you are making an iced coffee with instant coffee at home, to make it properly you’ll need to mix the instant coffee with some boiling water first to get the flavor out of the coffee before adding to the cold milk.
Why Do Cold Lattes Usually Cost More?
If you usually buy your lattes out from local coffee shops or Starbucks, you may think that both a hot and cold latte would cost the same price, Sadly, you’d be mistaken.
Cold lattes are often more expensive than hot coffee. There are actually a few different reasons for this. It is mainly caused by the price of the materials that are needed in order to make a cold latte. This causes the drive-up in the price of iced lattes.
Hot coffees are usually served in the normal single-use paper cup. Cold lattes are typically served in a plastic cup as opposed to a paper one. The cost of this along with the straw does add up. It can end up drawing the price of your coffee up with it.
The coffee also needs to be heated up in order to get the flavor out, and then the ice is added (which is another expense to produce) and therefore brings the price up.
Coffee producers are now also beginning to produce coffee in a way that it is brewed cold from the beginning. In this way, the coffee beans are coarsely ground up, and are left to sit in a container at room temperature water and left overnight. The coffee is then filtered out which produces a brew which can be used to make iced lattes.
While this method can be faster and easier, there is a risk that the brew is actually diluted. So if you are using this method to brew your iced latte, you need to make sure to pour out a concentration which is strong enough for your tastebuds. This can also be counteracted by adding syrups or sugar (or Starbucks sauce or syrup) to your coffee so that the flavor is to your taste.
Other Latte Types
Are Pumpkin Spiced Lattes A Hot or Cold Drink?
The pumpkin spiced latte took the world by storm and has now become an Autumn favorite. Due to the time of year that it is sold, you would think that a hot pumpkin spiced latte would be the obvious choice.
More recently iced pumpkin spiced lattes have become much more popular. If you try one, you’ll understand why. It truly is just as good as its hot counterpart. Both the hot and cold pumpkin spiced latte is produced using espresso, milk and combined with a mix of flavors of pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.
It is a super tasty way to either warm you up or cool you down. Depending on which one you go for. It also comes topped with whipped cream and is sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice for an extra sweet boost!
The pumpkin spiced latte truly is a super versatile drink. Not only does it come as an iced latte, but you can also get it to come in a frappuccino form. The Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino Blended Creme from Starbucks actually doesn’t come with caffeine. This is a great option for if you are trying to keep your caffeine intake low.
Just like the other PSL options which you can get, the Pumpkin Spice Frappucino Blended Creme is also topped with some sweet whipped cream and the pumpkin pie spice.
Are Matcha Lattes Better Hot or Cold?
Matcha is a Japanese tea that can also be enjoyed both hot and cold. It is down to personal preference whether you want to drink it hot or cold. There are different tasting notes when you drink it hot or cold,
Matcha actually tastes smoother and can be more refreshing when served as a cold beverage.
Saying that hot matcha tastes much sweeter, nuttier, and creamier. For some people the taste is actually more bitter. If you think that it is too bitter for you, you can always sweeten the taste with some sugar.
Sometimes the taste of your matcha has a fishy taste to it. If this occurs, you may be using low-quality matcha or could have been damaged by humidity or heat.
The Health Benefits of Making Hot Vs. Cold Lattes
There are also different health benefits to drinking your latte in different ways. If you like to drink your latte hot, studies have shown that this will have more antioxidants in it than if you were to drink it cold.
Iced lattes are also less likely to result in digestive problems, heartburn, or, yes, accidentally burning your mouth on that first gulp of coffee that has been brewed too hot!
On the other hand, cold lattes tend to have less caffeine. This may not sound like a good thing. If you drink lots of coffee, this will be better for you in the long run. Having less caffeine during the day how helps you sleep better at night and lower your blood pressure.
This can be really good if you are a big coffee drinker and like to enjoy multiple coffees in one day. This is because you can have a few coffees without getting too jittery from drinking too much caffeine.
As I’ve previously mentioned, cold lattes are less likely to result in digestive problems or heartburn. Coffee itself is known to increase gut motility. It causes the contraction of the muscles which cause the movement of food bolus’ through the gastrointestinal tract.
For those with a weaker digestive system, this could cause loose stools or diarrhea, which can contribute to bad dehydration.
How Does Temperature Impact Espresso?
Espresso (not expresso!) is a strong, short coffee that all the liquid within the coffee has been filtered through crushed coffee beans under high temperature and pressure. The temperature of the water affects the resulting flavor of the taste of the coffee.
Essentially, the hotter the water is the more flavor will be extracted from the coffee beans. That being said, if the water is too hot, it will burn the coffee and result in a burnt-tasting coffee with a bitter flavor palette.
On the other hand, if the water is too cold, it wont extract any flavor from the coffee at all. The optimum temperature for extracting flavor from the crushed coffee beans is roughly around 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius).
Why Do Some Coffees Taste More Bitter Than Others?
Hot lattes can tend to taste a bit more bitter than cold coffees. This happens because the longer heat is applied to coffee, the more that the bitter undertone of coffee is extracted from the brew. It also depends on where the coffee beans were grown as the different climates have an effect on the taste of the coffee.
By contrast, iced lattes have less of a bitter taste. Hot lattes also have a higher concentration of acids within the coffee as well. There are certain health benefits mentioned in this post.
Latte milk is usually steamed fairly hot, and has a thin layer of microfoam. But this can also be consumed as a cold drink! and iced lattes are made using approximately 1-2 ounces of espresso, and 8-14 ounces of cold milk (unsteamed), with added ice.
Traditionally, Starbucks lattes are hot and their cold drinks are called frappuccinos, which usually have a flavored syrup added and whipped cream on top. Nowadays, Starbucks lattes can be made both hot and cold.
McDonald’s lattes are usually only made hot. Some areas have now started selling iced coffees, so just check out your local McDonald’s to be sure.
A traditional cappuccino is produced using an equal distribution of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. Lattes on the other hand, have more steamed milk , with a very thin layer of foamed milk.
Cappuccinos are distinctly layered. The coffee goes at the bottom and the foam at the top will look white. In a latte, the espresso and steamed milk are mixed together.
Hot or Cold: The Coffee is Still Good!
Lattes are a drink that can be enjoyed both hot or cold. The coffee will almost always need to be heated so that the coffee flavor is properly extracted from the bean. This is unless you are producing a cold brew nitro coffee.
You can also check out the difference between an iced latte and an iced coffee in a separate blog post I have previously written!