Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee

As coffee lovers, we crave the caffeine rush early in the morning and a jolt of energy in the middle of the day. When summer months roll around, we switch to the refreshing iced variety for our daily dose of caffeine. If you are unsure which iced drink to order, let’s discuss the difference between iced latte vs iced coffee, so you can decide which is the perfect drink for you.

Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee General Overview

Both iced latte and iced coffee taste incredible. However, they have some major differences that make their flavor and consistency completely distinguished from each other. Which drink would satisfy your taste buds depends on your personal preferences. Therefore, the following overview will help you make an informed decision next time you find yourself at a café.   

A glass of iced coffee

Iced Latte

Iced latte is a popular espresso drink that is very straightforward to make. Its key components are a strong espresso shot, milk, and your choice of sweetener or sugar. The ingredients along with ice cubes are mixed together to create the perfect caffeine concoction.

There are different ways of making an iced latte while using the same ingredients. The most delicious lattes are made with steamed and frothed milk. This creates a layer of creamy foam on the top that elevates the overall coffee experience.

Moreover, some people prefer adding the milk to a glass filled with ice cubes before adding the espresso shot. Others cool the espresso shot first with ice cubes before adding cold milk. Some sweeten the espresso shot with sugar or add a sweetened creamer after adding the milk, while others do not add any sweetener at all. It all depends on how chilled and sweet you like your drink.

You can even add different flavors to your latte for a multi-dimensional taste. Vanilla, mocha, and caramel are some of the popular variations of the traditional iced latte, but there are also hazelnut, cinnamon, and the more festive pumpkin spice.

Ice Coffee

Iced coffee is a simple drink that is exactly what the name says. It is a regular brewed coffee served over lots of ice (Not to be confused with a cold brew made using coarse coffee grounds steeped in cold water for a long time). There are no fixed rules or recipes to make an iced coffee; it all depends on what you like!

The only thing to ensure a good cup of iced coffee is that you brew the coffee perfectly. Since iced coffee has very few add-ons, the final taste depends directly on how well the coffee is brewed.  Pour the coffee over ice. If you prefer a strong coffee hit throughout, make a stronger brew, so your iced coffee is not diluted over time as the ice melts.

Tip: An ingenious way to double up on the flavor is to freeze brewed coffee into ice cubes and use them for your next cup of iced coffee.

Finally, some people prefer their iced coffee with a splash of milk or cream and sugar to counterbalance the bitterness. There are other ingredients you can substitute sugar to sweeten the coffee. Others drink it as it is to get the maximum refreshing coffee taste.

Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee

Let’s explore the similarities and differences between an iced latte and iced coffee:

Similarities

When it comes to comparing the two drinks, there are only a few obvious similarities:

  • Iced latte and iced coffee are coffee-based drinks that provide your system with ample amounts of caffeine to boost your energy levels. However, the amount of caffeine in a regular cup of each icy drink differs significantly.
  • Both iced latte and iced coffee use large amounts of cubes to create a chilled beverage. While the exact amount of ice used depends on every individual and coffee shop, usually the ice takes up around one-half to three-quarters of the volume of the cup.
  • It takes a few ingredients to make both iced latte and iced coffee. These include a type of coffee, water, sweetener, and milk (occasionally used in the case of ice coffee). Simply changing the quantities and the technique used to brew the coffee results in two completely different drinks.
An iced latte

Differences

Iced lattes and iced coffees are two caffeine beverages with very distinctive tastes. Below we will discuss the various factors that distinguished the two from each other:

Milk

You cannot make iced lattes without milk since it gives the beverage its trademark creamy texture. The ratio between the two main ingredients is usually one-third espresso to two-thirds milk.

In stark contrast, you can drink your iced coffee without any milk, especially if you prefer the strong coffee taste. Milk is used sparingly, around two tablespoons in 8 ounces of coffee, to dilute the flavor and reduce the bitterness.

Type of Coffee

Iced latte is made with a shot of espresso that is brewed under a pressurized process in an espresso machine to give it a higher and stronger concentration. If you prefer an intense coffee flavor in your latte, you can also add two shots of espresso to your regular cup of latte.

On the other hand, iced coffee is made with granulated coffee grinds. The ground coffee beans are brewed to make a strong cup of coffee, which is cooled and poured over ice. You can use a coffee maker, French press, or pour-over method to brew coffee. For an authentic taste, use quality coffee beans, as they are the defining element for a delicious iced coffee.

Caffeine Level

An espresso shot (1 ounce) has about 63 milligrams of caffeine. Despite having more caffeine per ounce, an iced latte has less caffeine in a regular cup than iced coffee.

The reason is simple; iced lattes use only 1 ounce of espresso while iced coffee has around 10 to 12 ounces of coffee. Each ounce of brewed coffee has approximately 12 to 16 milligrams of coffee (depending on the brewing technique). This makes the overall caffeine content of iced coffee much higher than an iced latte. Therefore, if you are looking to lower your caffeine intake, go for an iced latte.

Calories

Coffee itself has almost no calories. The calories in your coffee beverage come from the additional ingredients you add, such as milk and sugar.

A cold iced coffee

Therefore, an iced latte has more calories than iced coffee. The amount of calories in your iced latte depends on the fat content of your milk. For example, a cup (8 ounces) of whole milk has 149 calories, 2% milk has 122 calories, and nonfat milk has 90 calories.

Contrarily, iced coffee has no calories if you do not add in any milk. Even with 1 ounce of milk, iced coffee has a far less calorie count than an iced latte. So, if you want to reduce your calorie consumption, go for iced coffee.

Flavor

As evident from the information we have discussed so far, iced coffee has a far more pronounced, strong coffee taste. On the other hand, an iced latte has a more balanced, mellow, and creamy taste because of the high milk to espresso ratio.

Therefore, if you like your coffee towards the bitter end of the flavor spectrum, go for iced coffee, and if you want a more indulgent drink, an iced latte should be your pick.

How to Make an Iced Latte

To make an indulging and creamy cup of iced latte, you will need:

  •    Espresso shot(s)
  •    Sweetener
  •    Milk
  •    Ice

First, make a fresh shot of good-quality espresso. Mix sugar in your hot espresso (skip this step if you do not want sugar in your latte). Pour the espresso into a tall glass filled with ice cubes. Add chilled milk until the glass is filled to the top.

If you want frothy milk, you can use the frothing attachment of your espresso machine. You can also use a sealed jar to shake your milk and create creamy foam on top. Add the frothed milk to your glass, and you are ready to enjoy your iced latte.

How to Make an Iced Coffee

To make a refreshing cup of iced coffee, you will need:

  • Strong coffee
  • Ice
  • Milk
  • Sweetener (optional)

Brew a cup of strong, black coffee using premium-quality coffee grounds. Allow the coffee to cool down completely before pouring over ice to prevent it from watering down. Add a couple of tablespoons of milk and sugar if you want. Drink your iced coffee right away before the ice melts.

Should You Drink an Iced Latte or Iced Coffee?

Each type of coffee has its unique characteristics, such as flavor, calorie count, amount of caffeine. This allows you to understand better which icy beverage is more tempting for you. Here is what you should consider when you want to order any of these cold coffee beverages.

When Should You Order an Iced Latte?

If you have recently started drinking coffee and would like to try a chilled variation of your favorite hot latte, try an iced latte. Due to its high milk content, it is creamier with a smooth texture that is very addicting. Moreover, iced lattes have a perfect balance between the bitterness from the espresso and sweetness from the sweetener, so you do not feel the intenseness of pure coffee.

Unfortunately, an iced latte has a lot more calories than iced coffee.  Especially the flavored iced lattes, which have sweetened syrups added to enhance the taste. These further increase the overall calorie count of the drink. However, you can enjoy a low-calorie iced latte by opting for 2% or nonfat milk and omitting any sweeteners.

When Should You Order an Iced Coffee?

Iced coffee is for avid coffee-lovers. If you prefer a strong-tasting coffee and can bear the acid and bitterness, you should order an iced coffee. Apart from the flavor, the bare minimum calories of the iced coffee also make it a go-to drink for people who are more health-conscious.

A tall glass of iced latte

After all, only a handful of beverages give you the caffeine kick without the added calories. However, the major drawback of drinking too much iced coffee is the amount of caffeine in a single cup, which is more than the caffeine content of an iced latte. Thus, you will need to moderate your caffeine intake when drinking iced coffee.

Final Verdict

Enjoy sipping on a chilled glass of iced coffee on hot summer days if you can tolerate the bitterness and the acidity. However, you can indulge in the occasional iced lattes to experience a different texture and taste, but equally refreshing as iced coffee.

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