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Iced Coffee Or Iced Latte: 2 Epic Drinks, 1 Superior Choice

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We love a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It’s roasty, steamy, and sweaty in the warmer months.

And we’re just not ok with sweating within the first 20 minutes of any day. But, lucky for our fellow heat-intolerant friends, there are a few fantastic cold coffee options out there for us.

But is an iced coffee or iced latte better? What’s the difference?

Much like their hot counterparts, the main difference between an iced coffee and an iced latte is that iced coffee is made with coffee (um, duh), and an iced latte is made with espresso.

So, what’s the best iced coffee for you? Let’s take a closer look at the nuances of each, how to make them, and other key differences to the bottom of the iced coffee or iced latte debate.

Iced Coffee Or Iced Latte?

What’s Iced Coffee?

Iced coffee is exactly what it sounds like. It’s coffee brewed hot and then poured over ice. Voila!

Iced coffee is straightforward to prepare, which is why it’s so popular. It’s delicious on its own or served with your milk of choice and a little sweetener.

The flavor of Iced coffee is less robust than, say, cold brew, and it’s also higher in acidity

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But wait, what is Cold Brew?

What makes cold brew coffee different from regular iced coffee is the brewing process.

As the name suggests, cold brew coffee is brewed with cold or room temperature water, which is one significant difference between iced coffee and cold brew.

Another big difference is the brewing time.

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Cold brew is steeped slowly (12+ hours slow), allowing all of the fruity, bright notes to be extracted from the coffee grounds without bitterness.

So, the term “cold brew” refers to the brewing method, not the serving temperature. Cold brew coffee is also smoother and less acidic than traditional iced coffee.

While cold brew is technically a type of iced coffee, we won’t be directly comparing a latte vs cold brew here. We’ll stick to traditional iced coffee for the purpose of this iced latte vs iced coffee comparison.

So, what’s the difference between iced coffee and a latte?

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What Is An Iced Latte?

Can a latte be cold? Absolutely!

Is a cold latte better than a hot latte? We think so. In fact, we prefer them that way. But what is an iced latte exactly?

Iced lattes are made with espresso vs. coffee. The word “latte” in Italian means milk, which is what lattes are known for. 

At some point, Americans casually dropped the “cafe” from “cafe latte,” which, in America, works just fine. Order a “latte” in Italy, and you’ll be handed a large glass of milk.

Lattes are creamy and delicious, with a bit of rich foam on top. They have the highest milk ratio of any espresso drink, so a latte will have a mild espresso flavor.

So, what is an iced latte? Aren’t iced lattes just hot lattes poured over ice?

Not exactly. But it is easier to make an iced latte vs. hot latte, as there is no milk steaming required. Let’s take a closer look at how to make an iced coffee vs a latte.

Brewing Methods: Difference Between Iced Coffee And Latte

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Iced Coffee

Iced coffee can be ready in minutes, making it easy to make at home.

Simply brew your coffee using your preferred method (drip, pour-over, french press, etc.) and pour it over ice. Done. But remember iced coffee is obviously susceptible to dilution from the ice, so keep that in mind when preparing it.

You’ll want to brew a stronger batch of coffee to offset the dilution. We like about 1 ½ – 2 times our typical coffee-to-water ratio in most cases.

Another trick to avoid a watered-down mess is to pour your hot coffee into a container and let it cool on the counter or refrigerate for no longer than 30 minutes before pouring it over ice.

The trade-off here is that the nuances of the coffee will fade the longer it sits in the fridge, so chill it only briefly before enjoying it over ice.

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Iced Latte

So, is there a difference between an iced coffee with milk and an iced latte?

Yes, they are prepared using different types of coffee. While an iced coffee is made with coffee (drip, french press, etc.), an iced latte is made with espresso.

And a bit more effort is required to prepare an iced latte vs iced coffee, but barely.

Simply brew your espresso (using an espresso machine or Moka Pot) and set it aside. Fill a tall glass with ice and add your preferred milk to about ¾ full. Pour your espresso over the top and give it a stir. 

Add sweetener as you like.

Iced Coffee vs Iced Latte Caffeine

Is an iced latte stronger than iced coffee? Does a latte or iced coffee have more caffeine? In short, iced coffee has more caffeine.

One big difference between iced coffee and iced lattes is the caffeine content.

Even when brewed with the same beans, espresso and regular coffee do not have the same amount of caffeine. 

Espresso has a much higher caffeine content per ounce than coffee. According to the Mayo Clinic, espresso has 64 mg of caffeine per ounce. An 8-ounce cup of coffee, by comparison, has 96 mg of caffeine.

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Do iced lattes have caffeine? Of course, they do. Do lattes have more caffeine than coffee? No. Despite espresso being more potent than coffee, iced lattes have significantly less caffeine than iced coffee. This has to do with the coffee-to-milk ratio in an iced coffee or iced latte.

Iced lattes are ¾ milk, typically prepared with two shots of espresso. On the other hand, Iced coffee is primarily coffee with a splash of milk or cream (or not).

How much caffeine is in a Dunkin iced latte?

To put this into perspective, let’s look at an iced coffee vs iced latte from Dunkin as an example.

A medium (24 oz) iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts has a whopping 297 mg of caffeine. The same-sized iced latte from Dunkin Donuts has 166 mg of caffeine.

If you have caffeine sensitivity and are deciding between an iced coffee or iced latte, the iced latte may be the better choice.

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Flavor Profiles: Iced Coffee versus Iced Latte

What is the difference between an iced latte and an iced coffee flavor?

Iced lattes are known for being incredibly smooth and milky. They have a robust espresso flavor that’s perfectly balanced by the milk for a refreshing iced beverage that goes down oh-so-easy. 

On the other hand, the flavor is less pronounced in an iced coffee vs iced latte; this is partly due to the hot extraction process and the dilution of the coffee from the ice.

Iced coffee is a bit more bland overall and lacks the richness of the espresso flavor.

Final Thoughts: Iced Coffee vs Iced Latte

Whether you prefer an iced coffee or an iced latte, I think we can all agree that both are superbly refreshing on a hot summer day.

If you’re trying to determine which is better, a latte or iced coffee, there is no correct answer.

It comes down to personal preference here. If you ask us, neither of these two options is actually the best iced coffee out there. We’ll take a cold brew over an iced coffee or iced latte any day.

Simply put, cold brew is the best iced coffee you can drink. (in our opinion)


FAQs: Iced Latte vs Coffee

What is healthier iced coffee or iced latte?

The nutritional content of each beverage will vary depending on what’s added to it. One major difference between iced coffee and latte is the milk content.

Because of the high milk content, an unsweetened, unaltered iced latte will automatically have more calories than an iced coffee. That said, any added sweeteners and syrups will significantly impact the overall healthiness of either beverage, so sweeten with caution if you’re watching your calorie or sugar intake.

What is the strongest iced coffee?

When comparing an iced coffee vs iced latte, we’ve learned that iced coffee is stronger when it comes to caffeine content. But is cold brew stronger than a latte?

Yes. Cold brew has the highest caffeine content of any iced coffee due to the brewing process. Cold brew is a highly concentrated beverage that is naturally high in caffeine. Cold brew is meant to be diluted with water or milk before consumption.

What is the best iced coffee at Starbucks?

Again, this may be a matter of personal preference. But, to help you on your journey, we’ve rounded up our favorite iced coffee orders at Starbucks. Spoiler alert: our top choice is not what you’d expect! Whether you prefer an iced latte vs iced coffee, Starbucks has what you need to cool off on a hot day.

What is the best Dunkin Donuts iced coffee?

Yep, we’ve got you covered on this too. We have a few top picks that we like to think are the best iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts, but it’ll come down to your preference in the end. Check out our favorite iced coffee orders at Dunkin.

Is a latte hot or cold?

Can lattes be cold? Hopefully, we’ve already answered this question for you, but if there is still confusion, you can enjoy a latte cold or hot. You may order a hot or cold latte at any of your favorite coffee shops.

The only person who can answer the question “Is a latte hot or cold,” is you because the choice is yours.

We prefer a hot latte during the year’s cooler months and typically opt for an iced latte during the summer. But if you’re someone who believes iced coffee is a year-round affair, or you live in San Diego like us, an iced latte is a treat for any day.


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters