If you’re a fan of cold coffee drinks, you’ll know that iced drinks are especially satisfying in the summer heat when your standard cup of coffee, no matter how great, is just too hot to handle.
You’ve probably tried various iced coffees like cappuccinos and lattes, and you may be wondering what the difference is between them. Aren’t they the same? Which one’s the best?
Let’s delve into the basics first and answer a few other questions. Like, what these drinks are, where they came from, how they evolved, and how they’re made. The iced versions are based on the originals, so let’s go right back to the beginning.
Iced Cappuccino vs Iced Latte
Traditionally, a cappuccino is a hot coffee drink made with even portions of freshly brewed espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Although it has the same basic ingredients, the ratios are different in the latte, which has a lot more steamed milk and only a light layer of foam on top.
The other significant difference between the two drinks is that a cappuccino has distinct layers, whereby all the ingredients in a latte are blended. Both are delicious and very popular in coffee shops around the world! No wonder icy variations of these drinks were invented.
Where the Cappuccino Came From
Ask any Italian, and they’ll tell you at least two or three different stories about the origin of the cappuccino. One rumor states that the drink was named after the Capuchin friars because the color of the milk blending with the espresso matched the color of their habits.
Another rumor comes from Vienna, where a decadent version of the cappuccino was made in the 18th century. It was called “Kapuziner” and was made with coffee, milk, spices, and whipped cream. And this is not the only role Vienna played in the evolution of the cappuccino.
Until the 1930s, the Italian cappuccino was completely unknown anywhere else in the world. However, Viennese-style cafes all around the world served the “Kapuzineer” to satisfied coffee lovers.
The Birth of the Latte
Of course, lattes come from Italy, where else? But other than their geographical origin, and basic ingredients, these drinks don’t have much in common with the cappuccino. Lattes don’t even have a fascinating history like the cappuccino.
There is one rumor; it was created especially for American tourists because they couldn’t handle the strength of a traditional cappuccino and needed steamed milk added to dilute the potency.
Finally, The Difference
The basic ingredients of both drinks are milk and coffee. Where the difference comes in is all in the milk. An iced latte is made with a shot of espresso or two and cold milk. An iced cappuccino is made with one or two shots of espresso and milk foam. This is the most subtle difference between both the drinks that sets them apart. The better way to notice the difference is to have them both simultaneously, you will exactly note how they vary.
If you want to take a more deep dive, we have another bunch of words about cappuccino vs latte, which starts from scratch.
The Recipes – Iced Cappuccino and Iced Latte
How to Make an Iced Cappuccino
- Ice cubes
- 1/2 Shots of chilled espresso
- Sweetener of your choice
- Foamed milk
- Ground cinnamon
- Fill a glass with ice cubes.
- Pour the espresso over the ice.
- Add sweetener.
- Top with foamed milk.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Serve you cappuccino in a cup or a mug with a narrower bottom and a wider rim, preferably something ceramic or in porcelain.
Here is a video for the same, if you are a visual seeker.
How to Make an Iced Latte
- Ice cubes
- 1/2 Shots of freshly brewed espresso
- Sweetener of your choice
- 100ml milk
- Fill a glass with ice cubes.
- Dissolve the sweetener in the espresso.
- Pour milk over and stir.
- Serve your latte in a cup with a wider bottom than what a cappuccino would require. The rim should be narrower, ideally, porcelain or ceramic mugs.
Again, here is the video for the same.
Can I Make it at Home?
Yes, you can! But, to make an excellent iced cappuccino or iced latte, you need a piece of equipment like a cappuccino maker. At coffee shops, an espresso machine is there to make the coffee, a steaming wand for the milk, and a milk frother.
Small electric milk frothers are inexpensive, and steaming milk at home is simple. All that’s left is to make excellent espresso at home is some top-quality coffee beans or grounds and the tools needed to brew it into a delicious espresso.
Some high-quality kitchen components can ease you to make a barista-quality cup of coffee, like gooseneck kettles and drip pourers (click here to find some). With the right tools, you can make great espresso at home, which means you’ll be able to whip up some of these delicious drinks for sure!
The Specialized Drinks Revolution
With specialized coffee shops like Starbucks and Seattle Coffee Company on every second corner, you almost feel like you need to learn some Italian to get a drink! Affogato, ristretto, macchiato, frappes, (and the many variations of all these!) are only some of them.
In this rise of flavors, even something called Freak Shakes has become the norm. The most ‘normal’ sounding drink these days is a cappuccino or a latte. And even these humble beverages have evolved. Besides the icy cold versions of these popular drinks, they are now also available in a range of other versions. For example:
- Iced cappuccinos from Starbucks are made with shots of espresso, cold milk, and milk foam to top them off.
- The Starbucks cold foam cappuccino has also gained popularity. It is made similarly, except for the foam, which is not made from steamed milk but rather from cold milk that’s frothed, in a special blender used by baristas.
- Various vegan versions use plant milk like almond, oat, coconut, or soya milk. Of course, sustainably sourced coffee is a must in these versions!
- Flavored versions of these delicious icy drinks are created with syrups like hazelnut, vanilla, caramel, or chocolate, and some even have toppings like chocolate shavings, cinnamon, salted caramel, or crushed nuts.
- ‘Heathen’ versions, i.e., with a generous dollop of whipped cream and chocolate powder sprinkled on top!
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Indeed, everyone must have a favorite that suits their unique tastebuds and dietary persuasions. But, not everyone loves these drinks. When it comes to the iced cappuccino, some baristas are 100% against the drink!
The Great Iced Cappuccino Debate
Believe it or not, but the cold cappuccino is not the most popular drink with baristas! Some even have an aversion to it and say they cringe every time they hear the words ‘iced cappuccino, please’. According to these baristas, cold cappuccinos are far from their favorite drinks, because:
- It’s putting something hot on something cold – Milkfoam is silky smooth and delicious, but placing something hot on a cold drink doesn’t make sense. It melts the ice too quickly and warms up the drink. When you order a cold beverage, do you really want a lukewarm one?
- If you drink it through a straw, the foam is pointless – If you are taking your drink away and using a straw, you won’t even taste the silky foam. By the time your drink is nearly finished and you get to the bottom of the glass, the foam will be an icy mess with no flavor.
- It is wasteful! – For your barista to get the right amount of foam on your cappuccino, they have to steam an entire pitcher of milk. After that, if they don’t have an order for another iced cappuccino or a hot latte, that milk goes straight down the drain. What a waste!
- It gets confusing for customers and baristas – Very often, people who actually want an iced latte will ask for an iced cappuccino. Smart baristas double-check, and more often than not, the order is wrong.
Despite these misgivings, there are still people who love iced cappuccinos and are not about to give them up just because a few baristas think it’s a silly drink! For the fans out there, here are the recipes for your favorite drinks:
What’s in a Bean?
Coffee lovers all have their individual preferences when it comes to what beans to use in their brew. You may wonder if you need a special kind of coffee bean to make icy drinks, and the answer is no. It is entirely up to personal taste.
If you’re new to coffee drinking, here are some tips to make your selection:
- Where the coffee comes from – Coffee from African countries like Ethiopia and Kenya is usually more complex, and some are even fruity. Asian coffee beans from places like Sumatra or India tend to be earthy and have deep flavors. South American coffee beans from countries like Guatemala and Brazil tend to be sweeter and cleaner.
- Blend or single origin? – Black coffee drinkers tend to appreciate the intricate flavor profiles of single-origin coffee, while milky coffee works well with blends. Can you switch it up? Absolutely! With milky coffee drinks, you can use either a blend or single-origin coffee
- Light, medium, or dark? Again, this is up to individual preference. But, because there is so much milk in these drinks, a darker roast generally gives a deeper flavor.
- Experiment! Everyone will have their own favorites and the only way you’ll discover yours is if you try out a few.
Tips to Level Up Your Iced Coffee Drink
Once you’ve learned how to make the perfect iced drink, get creative, and shake things up. Here are some ideas to elevate your cold cappuccino or latte:
- Use cold-brewed coffee – Since you’re making a cold coffee drink, it makes sense to use cold-brewed coffee. It’s also a delicious way of making coffee. The downside is that it is time-consuming.
- Making cold-brewed coffee uses time instead of heat to extract the caffeine and oils from the coffee grounds. It involves immersing the grounds in cold water for between 18 and 24 hours and then filtering it for drinking. The flavor you get at the end of it makes it worth a try!
- Make your ice blocks with coffee or milk – One of the biggest complaints about cold coffee drinks is that the ice melts too quickly, which waters the drink down. To avoid this from happening, don’t use water in your ice blocks!
- Use ice blocks made with brewed coffee for a caffeine kick, or if you’re more interested in keeping it creamy, freeze milk in your ice trays and use that.
- For an icier version – Tackle the hottest days of summer with the iciest version of your cold coffee drink. Change it up barista-style and use crushed ice instead of ice cubes. It will give you a completely different (and icy cold!) drink. A simple trick to crush ice is to wrap it in a tea towel and bash it with a hammer!
- If you prefer a dreamy, creamy drink – The more you blend milk, the creamier it gets. Blending your coffee and milk together before pouring it over the ice will make it super silky! And if this is not creamy enough, why not add a teaspoon of ice cream or cream?
- For the vegans out there, oat milk and coconut milk are the creamiest plant milk available. But watch out, coconut milk is really rich and decadent, but also packed with calories!
- ‘Adult’ iced coffee – We all know that coffee is not for kids, but this version is definitely not child-friendly! Irish coffee is famous for a good reason: coffee and alcohol go together well! If you enjoy this kind of flavor, try adding a shot of whiskey or rum to your iced cappuccino or latte.
The Final Sprinkle
It’s clear that the differences between an iced cappuccino and an iced latte are subtle. Both are sweetened, cooled coffee drinks made with milk, and both have a lot to offer to people who appreciate their espressos with the edge taken off with some milky smoothness.
Which one is the best of the two? It’s entirely up to the coffee lover’s individual taste, and whether they want their milk steamed or not. In the great debate of cappuccino vs. latte, there is no clear winner.