Iced latte vs iced coffee

Photo of an iced latte on the left and an iced coffee on the right. Iced latte vs iced coffee

Having a hard time choosing between an iced latte vs iced coffee because you aren’t sure what their differences are? Consider this your go-to guide!

While they are both delicious, there are some notable differences between an iced latte and an iced coffee. An iced latte is ¼ espresso and ¾ milk. It’s served over ice and sometimes topped with whipped cream. An iced coffee is 9/10 coffee and 1/10 milk. It’s also served over ice and sometimes sweetened with syrups. These drinks have different caffeine levels and brewing instructions, so keep reading below for all you need to know.

What is an iced latte?

As you can guess, it’s a traditional latte served over ice. It is a single or double shot of espresso blended with steamed milk and topped with milk foam. It’s served over ice and often well blended so that it has a creamy texture and taste.

What is an iced coffee?

This will be different depending on whether you order it at a coffee shop or at home, but I’ll talk about both later on when it comes to the ingredients and brewing instructions. For now, it’s 90% freshly brewed coffee, then cooled to room temperature. A dollop of milk or creamer is added in, and then it is poured over the ice and served. 

Iced latte vs iced coffee key differences

Now that the basics are out of the way let’s take a closer look at how an iced latte and iced coffee differentiate in all key areas! Since they are often confused with each other when ordering a summer treat, this is a great focus detail.


Both an iced coffee and an iced latte came from Algeria in the 1840s. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “they didn’t have a latte back then!” You’re right. But, they served a syrup and coffee-focused drink that eventually evolved into iced coffee and, almost at the same time, an iced latte.

The idea to ice both of these drinks entered the marketplace around the same time, and both are attributed to their Algerian roots!


The ingredients of these two drinks differ, as your read about above. I’ll start with the iced latte because the iced coffee can be made two ways, depending on where it’s done!

An iced coffee contains one or two shots of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam for the very top.

An iced coffee, made at home, has room-temperature coffee and a dollop of milk or creamer. However, iced coffee made in a shop typically has some sort of syrup added to it. This is why homemade iced coffees are so different in taste from cafe iced coffee!

Neither is incorrect; it’s just a different kind of brewing process (which I’ll talk about next) that you should be aware of before ordering.

Brewing process 

To make an iced latte, you must first brew the espresso. Then steam and froth the milk. Pour the espresso into the glass, add the ice, and pour in the steamed milk. The frothed milk can either be added directly or mixed in with the ice if you mix it. Mixing an iced latte isn’t required since lattes are typically served layered and not mixed. It just depends on your preference!

If you make an iced coffee, you’ll start by brewing your fresh coffee and letting it cool to room temperature. Pour it over the ice, add a small amount of milk or creamer, and mix well. 

When it comes to the brewing process of an iced coffee in a cafe, you’ll find that they often start by adding in a pump of syrup. It could be vanilla or even called “coffee syrup” and is used exclusively for iced coffee. Then the room temperature coffee and milk or cream are added in, too.

TIP: You’ll notice the difference in these types of iced coffees purely by the drink’s sweetness! Don’t like the syrup? You can request a hold on the syrup in many places as long as you are specific about it.


Both iced lattes and iced coffees have the same sizes since they rely on a tall tumbler full of ice to serve it! Of course, you can make your own size choices if you make it at home. The large the size, the more caffeine it’ll have! But more on that later.


If you’ve had regular lattes and regular coffees before, you’ll most likely find it similar. An iced latte is bitter from the espresso but also very milky. Adding the whipped cream on top will often enhance the foamed milk, too, and give you a rich textured drink.

An iced coffee tastes like, essentially, watery coffee. A dollop of milk or cream is a great choice to help thicken it.


If you don’t want the watered-down taste of coffee, try freezing ice cube trays of coffee instead for a concentrated coffee flavor. Just watch the caffeine level!

What is stronger: an iced latte or an iced coffee?

As far as taste is concerned, you’ll find that iced coffee has a stronger coffee taste since it’s practically all coffee in the glass. This is the case even with traditional ice cubes. An iced latte will have a distinct milky flavor since the milk ratio is much higher.

Surprisingly, the caffeine content in an iced coffee is lower than in an iced latte. While the espresso is often seen as a great energy jolt, an iced coffee still has a much higher caffeine content because there is much more coffee in the drink than the latte.

If you’re nervous about your caffeine content, be very careful about ordering iced coffees at different cafes. Since they often add in syrups, which do often contain additional caffeine, Houston Methodist explains that you can easily be taking in over 200 mg of caffeine per drink! The daily recommended maximum is 400 mg.

Calories in an iced latte vs. an iced coffee

For those counting calories, you’ll find that an iced coffee’s 19 calories are a great option compared to an iced latte’s 110 calories! You can reduce the calorie count by using plant-based milk or low-calorie creamers. Are you worried about your frothed milk? I’ve written about how to froth creamer so that you don’t have to lose that rich texture.

Which is better: an iced latte or an iced coffee?

As you can imagine, many coffee and latte drinkers are divided on which drinks are better. I recommend that you stick with what you love most. If you’re a diehard latte fan, you’ll love a good iced latte. If you like classic coffee, you’ll enjoy iced coffee more. 

Regarding a general consensus, most prefer iced coffee for a rich, potent coffee flavor. And an iced coffee is preferred for those who love playing around with whipped cream, flavor shots, and more.

An iced latte is very different from an iced coffee. An iced latte is made with ¼ espresso and ¾ milk (split between steamed and frothed milk). An iced coffee is 9/10 coffee and 1/10 milk. Both are served over a tall glass of ice and usually mixed well (though this isn’t required). An iced coffee has a higher caffeine content, and an iced latte has a higher calorie count. Both drinks are popular year-round!

If you know someone who enjoys everything cold, share this article to give them two new delicious drinks to try!

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Robert Knowlton is an expert barista with more than 15 years of experience. Robert's main goal is to make sure everyone can enjoy the perfect cup of coffee regardless of their skill level.