Last updated on December 1st, 2023

What Is An Iced Latte Coffee? Learn The Details & How To Brew It

Especially during summer months, an iced latte is one of the most popular cold coffee drinks. But exactly what is an iced latte? In short, it is the cold version of the usual latte coffee, where you chill espresso over ice and add cold milk instead of steaming. However, the diluting from melting usually means you have to adjust the ratios a bit. Also, since you are not steaming the milk, most iced latte recipes skip the foam stage and just stick with the creamy texture of cold milk (check out the iced cappuccino if you still want cold foam.)

what is an iced caffe latte

Since these various espresso drink definitions can be so confusing, I wanted to explore the iced caffe latte ingredients, origins, caffeine content, and variations. I’ll also give plenty of tips and recipes for how to make an iced latte at home!

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What Is An Iced Latte?

An iced latte is a variation of the traditional hot latte but served cold with milk and ice. It starts with a base of espresso, the concentrated form of coffee extracted from finely ground coffee beans. You brew the espresso hot like usual. But pouring it over ice instantly cools it down while preserving the flavor. Cold milk still adds sweetness, balance, and a creamy texture. But the texture is smoother since you usually do not foam the milk for an iced latte.

This is the same drink as a “caffe latte” or “café latte,” which is the Italian way of saying “coffee with milk.” It harkens back to the Italian origins of espresso and the many drinks for which it serves as the base.

Is an Iced Latte an Iced Coffee?

Since espresso is a type of coffee and is the base of an iced latte, you should consider an iced latte a form of coffee. This iced coffee drink uses espresso because of how robust the flavor is and how it holds up to the sweetness of the milk.

But regular brewed coffee is not the same as espresso. You can expect the coffee flavor in an iced latte to be more direct and intense. However, sometimes the term iced coffee is used as an umbrella term for all cold coffee drinks. As a specific drink, though, iced coffee uses a chilled version of normal drip coffee as the base.

You can read more about the comparison between iced coffees and iced lattes for the full details.

Ingredients: What Is in an Iced Latte?

what is an iced latte and what does it taste like? What is in an iced latte? This picture answers those questions.

The primary ingredients of an iced latte are espresso coffee, cold milk, and ice cubes. Since this drink uses cold milk, other milk types like almond or oat milk are popular.

A dark espresso-roast coffee bean tends to work best to balance the sweetness of the milk, even more so if you use a sweetener. While a traditional latte uses steamed milk, iced lattes usually skip the foam and use unaltered cold milk.

Iced Latte vs Hot Latte

The primary contrast between an iced latte and a hot latte, as the name implies, is the temperature. A regular latte blends steamed milk with hot espresso to make a creamy texture. The aerated milk and rich espresso can almost have the mouthfeel of ice cream, especially if you add sweet syrup.

But the primary energy of an iced latte is refreshing and cool. You still get an intense coffee flavor and sweetness from the milk to balance each other without a steaming cup. It is common to add an extra espresso shot for iced lattes to prevent dilution. The texture is also thinner and tastes like iced coffee with cream. On a hot summer day, an iced latte can be incredibly refreshing!

What Does an Iced Latte Taste Like?

Are iced lattes sweet? Yes, because they use so much milk, an iced latte usually has a sweet taste and a smooth and creamy texture. The espresso provides a robust and rich coffee taste, complemented by the milk’s natural sweetness. The cold temperature and ice cubes provide a cooling element to the beverage, making it perfect for warm summer days or when you need a quick and refreshing pick-me-up.

An iced latte is almost never bitter because the larger volume of milk will cover even the most intense espresso.

Iced Latte Calories

The nutrition facts of an iced latte depend on the size, milk type, and any sweetener you might use. An average medium-sized iced latte with whole milk (and no additional sweeteners) will fall between 100-200 calories. Sugary syrups, milk alternatives, and toppings like whipped cream will drastically increase the calorie content.

For reference, a 12-ounce Starbucks caffè latte that uses 2% milk has 100 calories.

How Much Caffeine Is in an Iced Latte?

It is tricky to give an exact amount of caffeine for an iced latte since it depends on the size of the drink and how a particular café prepares it. But to take an average 16-ounce size, you can expect two espresso shots and approximately 120-150 milligrams of caffeine.

Caffeine content varies depending on the coffee beans as well. At a coffee shop like Starbucks, the 12-ounce size will only have one shot and approximately 75 milligrams of caffeine. When in doubt, ask your barista how they prepare it if you are worried about too much caffeine. And, at home, start with a smaller size to see how your body reacts.

Comparing an Iced Latte with an Iced Cappuccino

The differences between a hot cappuccino and a latte come down to different ratios of espresso, milk, and milk foam. Likewise, the contrast between an iced latte and an iced cappuccino is that an iced latte uses twice as much milk.

Since a distinguishing feature of the cappuccino is more foam, an iced cappuccino usually features a layer of frothed milk on the top. Froth can highlight milk’s natural sweetness and give a lighter texture. But iced lattes typically use cold milk poured directly into the espresso.

The challenge with an iced cappuccino is getting cold foam without heating the milk. If you want to make one at home, consider buying a milk frother.

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How Many Shots of Espresso Are in an Iced Latte?

Depending on the size of your iced latte and where you are buying it, the amount of espresso can vary. Even measuring espresso by shots is not precise because different shops will have slightly varying recipes. When in doubt, it’s best to ask your barista for the details.

But for a baseline to reference, Starbucks uses one shot for their 12-ounce iced latte and two shots for the larger sizes. If caffeine is not an issue and you love a strong coffee flavor, consider putting three shots in a larger size.

How To Order an Iced Latte?

At most cafes, especially specialty shops, expect them to use whole milk and up to two shots for a standard iced latte. But don’t feel weird about customizing the drink to your preference. Add more or fewer shots and specify the type of milk you want. Soy, oat, and almond milk are standard in most cafes.

And if you want more sweetness than the natural sugars in the milk, adding vanilla, chocolate, or maple syrup is popular.

How To Make Iced Latte at Home

Learning how to make a homemade iced latte is one of the easier coffee recipes. The key is to start with hot coffee and then chill it over ice. If you already know how to use an espresso machine at home, just follow that recipe and pour the espresso over ice afterward.

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But even without an espresso machine, there are ways to make espresso. I always make AeroPress espresso at home since I do not currently own a machine. You can also brew a strong coffee and chill it over ice or use a cold brew coffee concentrate. A concentrated instant coffee can also work.

The basic steps are:

  1. Prepare a double shot of espresso or 3 ounces of cold brew.
  2. Fill a glass with ice cubes.
  3. Pour the freshly brewed coffee or espresso over the ice.
  4. Add cold milk to the desired level, leaving room for customization.
  5. Stir gently to combine the coffee and milk.
  6. Optional: Add sweeteners like sugar, simple syrup, or flavored syrups to enhance the taste.
  7. Enjoy your homemade iced latte!

Iced Latte Ingredients: What Else Can You Add?

As a coffee geek, I usually love a classic iced latte on its own so that the natural flavors of coffee and the sweetness of milk predominate. But there are other ingredients you can add to make variations on this classic drink. Let’s check some of them out!

Coffee Flavoring Syrups And Other Sweeteners

The most common ingredient people add to their iced latte is flavored syrup. Vanilla and chocolate syrup are popular. And pumpkin spice sweetener is particularly popular during the fall, although I think it tastes better in a warm drink. Even the standard Starbucks iced coffee includes three pumps of their classic syrup because of how much most people want sugar with their coffee.

For homemade lattes, consider having some fun by experimenting with making syrups. You can customize the flavors, and chances are it will be healthier!

Iced Vanilla Latte

You have almost definitely heard the term, but what’s in a vanilla latte? Aside from the typical iced latte ingredients, you only need a splash of vanilla syrup to make an iced vanilla latte. The key is adding a subtle sweetness to balance the natural sweetness of the milk.

Iced Macchiato

If you are familiar with the Italian roots of the macchiato, you know that the brewing method involves pouring milk first and “staining” it with espresso second. The word “macchiato” in Italian translates to “stained,” which is how the drink got its name.

Compared to an iced latte, it is common to use either more espresso or less milk to make the drink stronger. Also, whole milk or heavy cream is common to give more of a layering effect.

Besides the stronger taste, an iced macchiato has a fantastic visual appeal, especially when you serve it in a glass latte cup.

What Is an Iced Chai Latte?

In the Hindi language, chai means “tea.” Chai refers to a blend of spices combined with milk, the most common being cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The most common version of this beverage is a chai tea latte, which uses black tea along with spices and milk.

The overall experience of an iced chai latte is a refreshing balance of sweet and spicy. And you can make these at home without an espresso machine since there is no coffee involved.

What Is an Iced Latte at Starbucks

You can expect an iced latte at Starbucks to have the usual combination of espresso shots, cold milk, and ice cubes. As is typical at this chain, you can customize the milk type and espresso. You can also add flavored syrups or toppings such as whipped cream.

The standard iced caffé latte at Starbucks comes with their signature espresso roast and 2% milk.

Common Questions

Before you leave, check out some of the most common questions people ask about iced lattes!

What is an iced caffe latte?

An iced caffe latte is another name for an iced latte, a cold coffee beverage made with espresso, cold milk, and ice. The term “caffe latte” or “café latte” is the Italian way of saying “coffee with milk,” and connects to the Italian roots of espresso making.

Are iced lattes stronger than coffee?

Since espresso is the base of an iced latte, these drinks tend to taste stronger than coffee. But the sweet milk, which takes up two-thirds of the drink, creates a balance that most people enjoy.

Is an iced latte just a latte with ice?

An iced latte is not just a latte with ice because you usually use more espresso to chill it without diluting the drink. Additionally, you use cold milk instead of steamed milk for an iced latte.

Do you froth milk for an iced latte?

While frothing milk is more common for traditional hot lattes, for an iced latte, most coffee shops simply pour cold milk into the espresso. Frothing milk is more typical of an iced cappuccino, which has a distinct layer of milk foam on top.

How many shots of coffee are in an iced latte?

Most iced lattes have at least two shots of espresso in them, meaning you can expect 120-150 milligrams of caffeine.

What Are Iced Lattes: Final Thoughts

The iced latte is a refreshing twist on the classic latte experience, made with chilled espresso and cold milk. The balance of intense espresso and sweet milk, combined with the thirst-quenching cold temperature, is a perfect way to get a caffeine boost on warmer days.

Cheers to iced lattes!

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