iced cortado

Are you a coffee lover who wants to know the key differences between two popular iced coffee drinks - iced cortado and iced latte? In this in-depth comparison, we're breaking down the milk, espresso, and foam used, the brewing methods, and the taste profiles of these two drinks. Get ready to discover which one will be your new favorite for a bold and smooth coffee experience!

Iced Cortado and Iced Latte Overview

Espresso-Based Drinks

Both iced cortados and iced lattes are popular espresso-based coffee drinks that vary in their espresso-to-milk ratios, origins, and popularity in different regions. While they may seem similar at first glance due to their cold and refreshing nature, subtle differences set them apart.

Origin and Popularity

The cortado, a Spanish-originated beverage, is made by combining equal parts espresso and steamed milk. An iced cortado is prepared by adding ice cubes to a cup of espresso, and then pouring hot milk over the ice. This quickly cools the liquid without diluting its flavor, making it an ideal choice for hot summers. The iced latte, on the other hand, is an Italian-originated drink consisting of one part espresso to three parts steamed milk. To create an iced latte, the espresso is poured over ice, followed by the addition of cold milk or chilled milk froth.

Coffee Drink Origin Espresso-to-Milk Ratio Key Features
Iced Cortado Spanish 1:1 Equal parts, little to no foam
Iced Latte Italian 1:3 More milk, frothy milk topping

In terms of popularity, the latte is more widely recognized, especially in North America and Europe. Lattes come in various flavors, often with added syrups, allowing for customization. Cortados, however, are more prevalent in Spanish-speaking countries, where they are appreciated for their balanced taste between the bold espresso and the creamy milk. Both drinks can satisfy different preferences, with the iced cortado offering a more intense coffee experience, while the iced latte provides a creamier, milder flavor, appealing to a broader audience.

Components and Ratios

Espresso Shots

Iced cortados and iced lattes both use espresso as their primary coffee component. An iced cortado typically features two espresso shots (double espresso), resulting in a more robust and intense coffee flavor. On the other hand, an iced latte often uses just a single espresso shot, leading to a milder, milkier taste.

Milk and Consistency

The milk used in iced cortados and iced lattes serves a crucial role in determining the consistency and overall balance of the beverages. An iced cortado is made with equal parts espresso and milk (1:1 ratio), typically using steamed milk or cold milk, depending on preference. When making an iced cortado, microfoam is not typically utilized, which results in a smoother texture.

Conversely, an iced latte contains a more significant amount of milk than an iced cortado, resulting in a milk-heavy drink. The ratio of espresso to milk in an iced latte is often 1:3, creating a creamier and sweeter flavor profile. In some cases, microfoam can be added to the iced latte for an extra layer of texture, but this is less common compared to hot lattes.

Size and Proportions

Differences in size and proportions help distinguish an iced cortado from an iced latte. An iced cortado is served in a smaller glass, usually around 4 ounces in total volume (2 ounces of espresso and 2 ounces of milk). The smaller size helps emphasize the espresso-forward nature of the drink while maintaining a balanced flavor.

In contrast, an iced latte is typically served in larger glasses, ranging from 8 to 16 ounces, reflecting the higher quantities of milk used in the drink. The larger size highlights the milk's sweetness and texture, making the drink appealing to those who prefer their coffee beverages creamier and less intense in terms of coffee flavor. If you've ever been to a specialty café, chances are, their expertly crafted iced lattes and cortados were made using top-notch commercial espresso machines. For businesses or aficionados looking to recreate that quality, it may be worth the investment to purchase a commercial espresso machine. The difference in flavor and texture, driven by such high-caliber equipment, is truly noticeable.

Flavor Profiles

Acidity and Bitterness

Iced cortados and iced lattes both have unique flavor profiles that cater to different taste preferences. An iced cortado has a more balanced and espresso-forward flavor due to the equal parts milk and espresso. This allows the natural acidity and bitterness of the espresso to shine through, creating a more intense coffee experience. In comparison, an iced latte contains more milk than espresso, which dilutes the coffee's acidity and bitterness. The higher milk content creates a smoother, creamier drink that is more focused on the milk's texture and subtle sweetness.

Sweeteners and Additions

While both iced cortados and iced lattes can be enjoyed without any additional sweeteners, many people choose to customize their drinks with a range of syrups and flavorings. Iced lattes, in particular, are popular for incorporating sweeteners such as vanilla or caramel, which can greatly impact the overall flavor profile. Here's a brief overview of some common additions to iced lattes:

  • Vanilla latte: A classic choice, featuring the warm and aromatic taste of vanilla paired with the espresso's richness.
  • Caramel latte: A popular option, highlighting the sweet, buttery notes of caramel combined with the coffee's naturally bold flavors.
  • Condensed milk: A less common, but still delicious addition, providing added creaminess and a unique sweetness that pairs well with the coffee's bitterness.

In contrast, iced cortados are typically enjoyed without any sweeteners or additional flavors, as the balanced espresso and milk ratio allows the natural taste of the coffee to take center stage. Of course, personal preference plays a significant role, and there's always room for customization.

To summarize, iced cortados offer a more balanced flavor profile, allowing the natural acidity and bitterness of the espresso to shine, while iced lattes are smoother, creamier drinks that often feature additional sweeteners and flavors. Experiment with these different options to find the perfect drink suited to your taste buds.

Iced Cortado Vs. Iced Latte

Strength and Caffeine Content

While both iced cortado and iced latte are cold coffee beverages, the main difference lies in their strength and ratio of espresso to milk. An iced cortado is made with equal parts of espresso and milk, which results in a more potent coffee flavor compared to an iced latte. On the other hand, an iced latte contains a larger volume of milk, diluting the espresso and providing a milder taste.

Considering the difference in milk and espresso proportions, iced cortados tend to have slightly higher caffeine content than iced lattes. However, this difference might not be substantial as both drinks typically use a double shot of espresso as their base.

Caloric Differences

When it comes to the calorie content of these two beverages, the primary factor contributing to the difference is the volume of milk used. As an iced latte contains more milk than an iced cortado, it usually has a higher caloric value. The specific calorie count will depend on the type of milk used, such as whole milk, skim milk, or a dairy-free alternative like almond or soy milk.

Here's a general comparison of average calorie values for both beverages, using whole milk as a reference:

  • Iced Cortado: Approx. 70-90 calories
  • Iced Latte: Approx. 120-200 calories

Keep in mind that these values may vary depending on the size of the drink and the choice of milk used. Additionally, other elements like added sugar or flavored syrups can also increase the calorie content. In comparison, the iced cortado tends to have fewer calories and a stronger coffee taste, making it a popular choice among those who want a more robust flavor with less milk and sugar content.

Other Espresso-Based Variations

In this section, we'll explore other popular espresso-based drinks, such as cappuccino, flat white, macchiato, mocha, and Americano, to provide a broader context for understanding the differences between iced cortado and iced latte.


A cappuccino is a classic Italian coffee drink typically made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth. It has a creamy texture and balanced flavors, allowing the espresso to shine through without being overwhelming.

Flat White

The flat white is a popular coffee drink originating from Australia and New Zealand. It is made with a double shot of espresso and topped with steamed milk, creating a velvety and creamy texture. The milk-to-espresso ratio of a flat white is typically higher than a cortado but slightly lower than a latte, making the flat white a richer option with a stronger coffee taste.


A macchiato, often referred to as an "espresso macchiato," is a small, strong coffee drink that originated in Italy. It consists of a single or double shot of espresso "stained" or "spotted" with a small dollop of milk foam. The macchiato has a bolder, more intense coffee flavor than an iced cortado or latte due to its minimal milk content.


The mocha is a delicious variation of an espresso-based drink that incorporates chocolate, making it a popular choice for those who enjoy a sweeter taste. To make a mocha, chocolate syrup or cocoa powder is added to a shot of espresso, followed by steamed milk and topped with whipped cream. The mocha has a combination of rich coffee and chocolate flavors, satisfying both coffee and dessert cravings.


An Americano is a simple black coffee option made by diluting a shot of espresso with hot water. This coffee drink is primarily enjoyed by those who prefer a lighter, less concentrated espresso flavor. The Americano is similar to a regular drip coffee, but with the distinct taste of espresso.

In summary, while the primary focus is on iced cortado and iced latte, it's essential to understand the broader context of other espresso-based drinks, such as cappuccino, flat white, macchiato, mocha, and Americano, to appreciate the wide range of flavors and strengths available in coffee culture.

Customizing and Recipes

Alternative Milks

When making an iced cortado or iced latte, you can choose from various milk alternatives to suit your dietary preferences or tastes. Some popular alternatives include almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, or coconut milk. These alternative milks will change the flavor and consistency of the drink, so you may want to experiment to find your perfect choice.

Various Sweeteners

You can customize your iced cortado or iced latte with the sweetener of your choice. Common sweeteners include simple syrup, agave nectar, honey, or artificial sweeteners like stevia. Adjust the sweetness to your personal taste or simply enjoy the drink without added sweetness for a more natural flavor.

Drink Variations

There are several drink variations you can try when making an iced cortado or iced latte:

  • Mocha Latte: Add chocolate syrup or cocoa powder to your latte for a rich, chocolatey flavor.
  • Chai Latte: Instead of using espresso or another coffee base, use strongly brewed chai tea to create a chai iced latte.
  • Matcha Latte: Replace the coffee with matcha powder mixed with hot water to create a smooth, vibrant green tea-based drink.

Also, consider trying these regional variations:

  • Gibraltar: A close cousin to the cortado, the Gibraltar typically comes in a small, glass tumbler and has a similar ratio of espresso to milk as the cortado.
  • Leche y Leche: A Spanish version of a cortado, this drink uses condensed milk in addition to steamed milk for a sweeter, richer taste.

The Iced Cortado and Latte Recipe

Here's a simple recipe to help you create your own iced cortado or iced latte at home:


  • 2 shots of espresso or strongly brewed coffee (use a Moka pot for a more authentic espresso experience)
  • Ice
  • 2 oz of your chosen milk (whole milk or any alternative milk)


  1. Brew 2 shots of espresso or strong coffee.
  2. Fill a glass with ice.
  3. Pour the espresso or coffee over the ice.
  4. Pour in the milk (use equal parts espresso and milk for a cortado, or 3:1 milk to espresso ratio for a latte).

Now that you have the base recipe down, you can customize your iced cortado or latte with the alternative milks, sweeteners, and drink variations as mentioned above. Remember to use appropriate ratios and adjust to your personal taste.

Making Iced Cortado and Iced Latte at Home

Equipment Needed

To make iced cortado and iced latte at home, you will need the following equipment:

  • Espresso machine
  • Grinder (if using whole beans)
  • Milk frother or jar with a lid
  • Ice cube tray
  • Measuring cups
  • Glass or cup

Step-by-Step Instructions

Iced Cortado

  1. Brew a double espresso shot: Make a double shot of espresso using your espresso machine. Remember that quality beans and a fine grind will result in a great espresso flavor.

  2. Chill your glass: Put your glass or cup in the freezer to chill while your espresso brews.

  3. Measure the milk: Measure an equal part of cold milk to match the volume of the double espresso shot.

  4. Add ice cubes: Fill your chilled glass halfway with ice cubes.

  5. Pour the espresso over ice: Once your espresso is ready, pour it over the ice cubes, followed by the cold milk.

  6. Stir and enjoy: Give the mixture a quick stir and enjoy your iced cortado on hot summer days.

Iced Latte

  1. Brew a double espresso shot: Just like with the iced cortado, brew a double shot of espresso with your espresso machine.

  2. Chill your glass: Place your glass or cup in the freezer to chill while you prepare the espresso.

  3. Froth milk: Measure 2/3 cup of cold milk and use a milk frother to create a frothy texture. If you don't have a milk frother, simply pour the milk into a jar with a lid and shake it vigorously until it becomes frothy.

  4. Add ice cubes: Fill your chilled glass halfway with ice cubes.

  5. Pour the espresso over ice: Pour your brewed espresso over the ice cubes, followed by the frothy milk.

  6. Stir and serve: Give your iced latte a gentle stir to mix the ingredients and enjoy the refreshing beverage on warm summer days.

Tips and Expertise

When it comes to iced drinks, understanding the key differences between an iced cortado and an iced latte is essential. Both of these drinks are coffee-based and perfect for those hot summer days, yet they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

An iced cortado is made by brewing two shots of espresso, which are then poured over ice to create a chilled coffee experience. The main element to note with an iced cortado is the equal parts of milk and espresso. This creates a well-balanced flavor, allowing both components to shine. On the other hand, an iced latte typically contains a larger amount of milk compared to espresso, giving it a creamier taste and texture.

When talking about micro-foam, this term is more commonly associated with hot drinks, such as lattes, where the milk is steamed to create a rich texture and a sturdy layer of foam. This layer helps baristas create beautiful latte art, as they can manipulate the foam to form intricate designs. However, in the case of iced drinks, both cortados and lattes do not generally include micro-foam, as the milk is not steamed but rather poured cold over espresso and ice.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when enjoying an iced cortado or iced latte:

  • For a bolder coffee flavor, opt for the iced cortado, as the equal parts espresso and milk allow the taste of the espresso to shine through.
  • If you prefer a milder, creamier coffee taste, go for the iced latte, which contains more milk than espresso.
  • Though latte art may not be possible with iced drinks, presentation still matters. Using a clear glass can showcase the contrasting colors and textures of the beverages.
  • Experiment with different cold milk options, such as whole milk or plant-based alternatives, to discover which combination you enjoy the most.

In conclusion, knowing the distinctions between an iced cortado and an iced latte can help you select the best chilled coffee option to suit your preference. Whether you're a barista looking to expand your knowledge or a curious coffee enthusiast, always remember to keep experimenting and exploring various coffee recipes and techniques.

Coffee Shop Culture

Coffee Shop Terminology

Iced cortado and iced latte are part of the extensive coffee shop terminology. While both are espresso-based drinks, they differ in composition and flavor profiles. Cortado is a Spanish drink, typically served as a small, equal-parts mixture of espresso and steamed milk. The term "cortado" comes from the Spanish word "cortar" which means "to cut" – referring to the diluted intensity of espresso by adding milk. An iced cortado is simply a cortado served over ice, which offers a refreshing twist on the traditional hot cortado.

An iced latte, on the other hand, contains more milk compared to an iced cortado. It typically uses a ratio of one-part espresso and three parts milk, resulting in a larger cup size and a smoother texture. The sweeter flavor is attributed to the larger quantity of milk used in its preparation, which helps to balance the taste of coffee. It is often garnished with a layer of foam and can be customized with syrups or whipped cream.

Popular Coffee Drink Choices

  • Iced Cortado: This delicious adaptation of the traditional cortado offers equal parts espresso and steamed milk, poured over ice. The resulting taste is an excellent balance of the boldness of espresso with the creaminess of milk, making it a popular choice for coffee enthusiasts looking for a smooth, refreshing beverage in a smaller cup size.

  • Iced Latte: For those who enjoy a sweeter and creamier flavor, the iced latte is an ideal coffee drink choice. Featuring a 1:3 ratio of espresso to milk, this popular beverage provides the perfect pick-me-up on a hot day. Its smooth texture and larger cup size appeal to those looking for a satisfying, customizable coffee treat.

When comparing the caffeine content between iced cortado and iced latte, the iced cortado tends to pack a stronger punch due to its higher concentration of espresso. It is worth noting that while both drinks can be enjoyed in coffee shops, an iced cortado is less common than iced lattes, as it originated in Spain as a cortado condensada – a sweeter, condensed milk version of the drink.

In conclusion, coffee shop culture is diverse and full of different drink options. When trying to decide between an iced cortado and an iced latte, it ultimately boils down to personal preference. Enjoy the smooth, bold taste of an iced cortado or indulge in the sweeter, creamier iced latte. It's all part of the fun and excitement of exploring different coffee drinks!

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Tony Barlow

Tony Barlow

Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team

Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.

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