Coffee lovers and occasional drinkers alike have all been confused by the same question at some point – is an iced coffee and an iced latte the same thing? What’s the difference between a coffee and a latte anyways? Are iced coffees any stronger than lattes, or is the opposite true?
We’ve all been victim to that rush of anxiety that hits when the café line shortens and you’re swimming in these questions. Avoid that next time by reading up on it now!
Here at Cook’s Dream, it’s not only our goal to find out, but also to compare! You’ll be able to find all the differences between iced coffee and iced lattes – from how many calories they have to their caffeine and nutritional content.
So… Let’s get started with the basics!
Table of Contents
- Everything You Need To Know About Iced Beverages
- Upgrade Me! What Can I Add To My Iced Drink?
- Information For Dairy-Free Drinkers
- Comparing Coffees: Strength Differences And Nutrition
- So… Which Is Better – Iced Latte Or Iced Coffee?
Everything You Need To Know About Iced Beverages
What Are Lattes And Coffees Made Of?
How To Make An Iced Latte
Generally, you can expect to have around two-thirds of steamed milk inside a latte. The rest is simply a mixture of milk foam and espresso.
To make an iced latte, pour a shot of espresso into a glass, then fill it with ice. After this, pour some cooled milk over the ice, and top off the drink with milk foam to finish.
How To Make An Iced Coffee
You can make an iced coffee by using cooled brewed coffee, cold milk, and some ice.
Pour your coffee into an iced glass, then add just a dash of cold milk. The ratio of coffee to milk is up to you!
Espresso Shots – What Exactly Are They?
Espresso refers to a type of coffee that is very finely ground to create a concentrated brew. The preparation of this drink involves placing compact ‘shots’ into a machine, with one shot being roughly equivalent to a cup of coffee. The shot is then pierced and mixed with boiling water to dilute
The appeal of using espresso is that it allows you to bypass the process of brewing coffee – i.e, grinding coffee beans and filtering them yourself. In addition to that, it creates a much stronger drink while using less base product.
This not only makes espressos a huge time-saver but also more affordable in the long run. This is why companies tend to favor the espresso in place of a traditionally brewed cup of coffee and have so many drinks that use espresso as the caffeinated base.
Are All Lattes Cold?
Most espresso drinks – including lattes – tend to be served somewhere between 149.9 and 164.84 Fahrenheit (65.5 – 73.8 °C). In this sense, coffees and lattes are the same – they can be served hot or cold.
The only difference between a regular latte and an iced latte is the temperatures that they are served at. This temperature difference is achieved by filling the cup with ice and using cold milk where possible, doing the same to coffee to make it ‘iced’.
What’s The Difference Between a Coffee And A Latte?
What makes an iced coffee any different from an iced latte?
If you’re anything like me, you may have thought that it had to do with the milk content or the strength of the caffeine – or maybe even that ‘coffee’ was being used as an umbrella term!
The short answer is that a latte is essentially just a creamier version of coffee.
The long answer? Well, there are a couple of differences to get through, but the one major difference is that ‘coffee’ refers to a beverage made using brewed coffee and a small amount of milk. This differs from lattes, in that the main ingredient is steamed milk.
Why Do Lattes Taste Better Than Coffee: Caffeine, Cream And Conjecture!
The first thing I’d like to point out is that this opinion is highly subjective as it depends on your palette!
…. Though I think many would agree that the popularity of this opinion is because iced lattes have a large portion of milk in comparison to iced coffees. Combined with the diluting effects of ice, as well as a lower percentage overall of coffee, it’s easy to see how some of the bitterness of a brew could get lost in this drink. More so than in a traditional iced coffee, at least.
After all, it’s easier to dilute one shot of espresso with a whole lot of steamed milk than it is to dilute almost an entire cup of coffee with just a dash of milk and ice. If your tastebuds happen to be less attuned to the bitterness of plain(ish) coffee, a latte might taste much better to you.
To take it even further, throwing some drizzles and toppings in there would make it more like a sundae than a coffee! And although some of you coffee hounds out there might hate to admit it, a lot more people take to ice cream than they do to coffee.
All of this makes lattes a great option for people who find coffee to be a little bit too bitter! Lattes let you skip out on that bitter coffee taste while still saving on caffeine.
Upgrade Me! What Can I Add To My Iced Drink?
Sweeteners and Flavorings
- Syrups, Sauces, and Drizzles!
- The obvious option, I know. Regardless, it’s undoubtedly one that’s earned its place! There’s a reason why syrups and sauces are a coffeehouse staple. Whether you prefer things homemade or name-brand, you can be sure to find all the best flavorings online and at local stores! Just make sure to learn the difference between sauces and syrups so you know what you’re buying.
- Maple Syrup
- “Maple syrup? But isn’t that just for pancakes?” No, it’s also for maple taffy! In all seriousness, a little bit of maple syrup is a great sweetener that makes for a wonderful alternative to straight-up sugar. It’s also an excellent option for anyone who finds honey a touch too sweet.
- Speaking of… Honey can be an incredible sugar alternative with all sorts of benefits. Sweet n’ soothing, there’s the added perk of easing your sore throat in the colder months. Swap out the regular honey for a few drops of propolis or manuka when you’re feeling particularly ill.
- Creamer is a common, yet underrated option. In the case of iced lattes, this might not be so necessary – unless, of course, you’re using a dairy alternative milk! If you’ve found lactose-free milk to be a little bit thinner than you’d like, there are plenty of creamers out there (yes, dairy-free too) that work marvelously to thicken up a brew!
- Alternative Milk
- If you haven’t before, consider using a milk alternative! There are all sorts of alternative milk than can add new nutty flavors to your iced coffee. A lot of them are full of vitamins too so if you’re a regular coffee drinker, you could always switch it up now and again to reap some of those benefits with your drinks. On top of everything, some milk alternatives have a reduced environmental impact! Just be careful and research your milk and brand of choice as some are exploitative. In other words, be sure to look out for that fair trade symbol folks!
- Infused Coffee
- Torn between coffee and tea? You don’t have to be! Using an infused coffee can be a great way to experiment with your drinks. Try lavender for some floral notes, or cinnamon for a little of that winter-time warmth!
- Simple Syrup
- Simple syrup: it lives up to its name! Easy to make at home and well worth it, some recommend putting your drink in a shaker and playing bartender for the day! To shake it up even further, spike your simple syrup drink of choice with some smooth Irish cream.
- Sugar Or Sweeteners
- Once again, another classic! Sugar and sweeteners have made it this long for their ease of access and simplicity. Some might call it boring, but it’s easy for folks on the go – or those showing up late to class with a cup of coffee in hand!
- Iced… COFFEE?
- This last spot is reserved for only the truest of coffee fiends. This bizarre suggestion is a rather simple – dare I even say, smart – way to avoid a watery coffee. All you need to do is make some coffee and freeze it in an ice cube tray! Whether or not you opt to include milk in the ice is your choice and depends on how strong you want your brew. Milk or not, rest assured that your beverage is an iced coffee through and through.
Information For Dairy-Free Drinkers
Can You Use Dairy Alternatives In Iced Drinks?
Dairy alternatives are great for many reasons – not only are they incredibly useful for people with dietary restrictions, but they also have other benefits such as lasting longer than regular milk. In some cases, they even have a reduced environmental impact!
However, these boons do not come without some (small) sacrifices. For this reason, I’ll be listing some alternative milk choices below and explaining their pros, cons, and the best ways they can be used in your iced latte or coffee. I’ll also be sure to mention their availability and how easy they are to access!
What’s the Best Lactose-Free Milk For An Iced Drink?
Something important to note is that the suggestions I have put here were chosen the ability to foam in mind. I wanted to bring this up because iced lattes are not always made with steamed milk, so it may not matter to some. Whether or not you choose to skip this step depends on your taste, as well as which milk you’d like to try!
- Oat Milk
- Oat milk has recently become one of the most popular milk alternatives on the market. It’s especially common at cafés as it is creamy and takes well to foaming – well enough in fact, that it can even be used to create latte art! This is the best alternative milk for your iced latte as it mixes well with both espresso and coffee, and withstands steaming well. To add to that, it’s also widely available! This dairy-free deliciousness is available at Starbucks, grocery stores, and is more likely to be found at local cafés.
- Soy Milk
- Another prevalent contender is soy milk. Soy milk is made with beans from the soybean plant. It’s also hailed for its creaminess and smooth consistency, though it is prone to separating from coffee in certain circumstances and does not foam quite as well as oat milk. Despite this, it has a naturally high protein content making it suitable for steaming. There is also a lessened risk of curdling. You can find soy milk at Starbucks and most other places, including grocery stores for home use.
- Hazelnut Milk
- Hazelnut milk is an unconventional, yet downright delectable, choice. It’s incredibly creamy and rich, and pairs exceptionally well with chocolate. The only downside is that it is not always available at cafés, so should mostly be reserved for your homemade drinks. There’s also not much information on how well hazelnut milk takes to steaming. Regardless, I think it deserves such a high place on the list because it goes so well with an iced coffee/latte.
- Hemp Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Coconut milk isn’t just reserved for the beachfront! This sweet, nutty milk is available at Starbucks and grocery stores alike and makes for a refreshing summertime drink. Unfortunately, coconut milk is low in protein so it doesn’t produce the best foam. In spite of this, steaming is not to be disregarded altogether! Coconut milk thickens up well when steamed, just make sure not to exceed 149°F (65°C) or it will get too thick and start to gum up.
- Almond Milk
- While having an excellent nutty flavor, regular almond milk can sometimes have a bitter aftertaste to it. The best way to avoid this is by purchasing sweetened almond milk. This milk is another close contestant to oat milk, being the second most popular milk alternative in recent years. It has the additional benefit of being foam-able, though it, unfortunately, has a higher chance of separating from your drink than oat milk. Nonetheless, this is unlikely to be a huge problem if you’re using it in an iced latte as iced drinks tend to be more on the watery side anyway.
- Cashew Milk
- While cashew milk is a moderately popular milk, it can produce a soapy texture when steamed. This makes it less desirable in terms of foaming, although you can still certainly enjoy it in some iced coffee! Its nutty, dense, and creamy consistency makes it a great choice to complement your coffee.
What Is Barista Milk?
Barista’s milk is just milk that has had more fat and protein added to its formula. This is done to all kinds of milk so that they don’t water down or curdle in coffee. For this reason, they tend to be creamier than usual and withstand steaming much better than regular kinds of milk. They are very popular within the dairy-free world as lactose-free milk often needs a helping hand.
Comparing Coffees: Strength Differences And Nutrition
Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee – Caffeine: Which Is Stronger?
While there may be a difference between the caffeine concentration in iced lattes and iced coffees, this difference is mostly negligible. Coffees tend to be marginally stronger than lattes, but it depends on the brewer.
This is because making coffee is not an exact science – it can be hard to pinpoint exactly how much caffeine a drink has, purely because of the number of variables. The amount of milk and ice you add to your coffee is going to change things, as well as the amount of coffee you choose to use in the first place! Iced lattes are a little more predictable as the ‘dose’ of coffee is measured out in shots. Regardless, caffeine concentration is very dependent on taste.
However, if you’re asking whether one tastes stronger than the other…
Iced coffee wins! At least in most cases. Again, this is because there’s less milk in an iced coffee, so that coffee taste is a little more obvious.
Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee: Calories
Because lattes have more milk in them by default, they contain more calories than iced coffee. I’ve made a table with some further information so that you can compare them and figure out which is right for you!
So… Which Is Better – Iced Latte Or Iced Coffee?
It depends on what you’re looking for! The drink that suits you best may depend on something as important as your allergies, or as small as what’s easiest to order at Starbucks! All in all, iced coffees are the healthier choice and may be slightly stronger, while iced lattes are more convenient and might be better tasting to you. Whatever you choose to prioritize, I hope that this article helped you narrow it down. And as always, tell me in the comments which you prefer!