There are some big differences between iced espresso and iced coffee. While they both have the same basic components — espresso or coffee, water, and ice — the methods used to get to the final product are radically different.

If you frequent your local coffee shop, you may have noticed that some stores offer iced espresso while others offer iced coffee.

So what’s the difference, and which drink is right for you?

At the end of this article, you’ll have all the know-how of these drinks, plus, you’ll have a new favorite iced beverage!

Iced espresso vs. iced coffee, what’s the difference?

If you’re like me, you enjoy having a beverage kickstart your day. However, when it comes to choosing between iced coffee and iced espresso, there are a couple of things to consider.

While both coffees can offer a unique, enjoyable flavor, the way they are made is slightly different.

The biggest difference between an iced espresso and iced coffee is how the coffees are brewed. Iced espresso uses robust espresso shots as the basis, while iced coffee is made with brewed coffee that is then poured over ice.

Iced espresso vs. iced coffee.
Iced espresso on the left. Iced coffee on the right

Most often, an iced espresso has added cold tap water to it to dilute it slightly, while iced coffee is usually served without additional water.

They both can be served with different add-ins like cold foam, a splash of milk, coffee syrups, or other sweeteners of your liking.

Is iced espresso stronger than iced coffee?

With iced espresso, you’re going to get a stronger, more concentrated flavor than what an iced coffee can provide. Iced coffees are brewed hot, then poured over ice, and are less robust in flavor.

Iced espresso is stronger in flavor compared to iced coffee. If you love drinking espresso coffee, then you’ll also love an iced espresso.

Homemade iced espresso, ready to drink.
Iced espresso

However, if you enjoy a more mellow start to the day and like to drink a big cup of filtered coffee, you might prefer an iced coffee.

Let’s continue with the caffeine content of both drinks and how they differ in taste:

Which has more caffeine, iced espresso or iced coffee?

Iced coffee has more caffeine than iced espresso. However, the difference is not drastic – iced espresso typically contains about 140 milligrams of caffeine, while iced coffee has about 170 and 220 milligrams.

Therefore, if you are looking for a quick caffeine boost, iced coffee is the better option, but if you are just looking for a refreshing drink on a hot day, either will do the trick.

The caffeine content can change, depending on where you buy your iced espresso or iced coffee or how you make them at home.

  • Each shot of espresso has roughly 68mg of caffeine.
  • If you brew Chemex coffee as the basis for your iced coffee, it’ll have 170mg of caffeine, going all the way up to 220mg of caffeine for French press coffee. (source)

The amounts of caffeine are based on using two espresso shots per iced espresso, but if you like to get some more caffeine, you might want to add another shot of espresso, resulting in a higher caffeine content.

Brewing espresso shots.

Moreover, the amount of caffeine in brewed coffee is based on using an 8-ounce cup (0.24 l) of brewed coffee to make your iced coffee.

You can also lower this amount because you’ll most likely want to add some ice, milk, or a sweetener to your iced coffee. This will lower the caffeine, which will put it around the same caffeine level as an iced espresso!

Iced espresso vs. iced coffee, how do they differ in taste?

Iced espresso and iced coffee both have a very different taste because an iced espresso uses espresso as the basis. It’ll result in a sharper and intense flavor, while an iced coffee tends to be slightly sweeter and more balanced in flavor.

Espresso has been brewed by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground beans until it extracts flavor-rich oils and sugars from those beans into a thick layer on top of what’s left of them called crema.

Espresso coffee.

This creates more complex flavors than brewing coffee for iced coffee; there are also notes of chocolate depending on how many shots have been used during brewing.

Depending on the brewing techniques you like to use or as your favorite coffee bar uses, the flavor of your iced coffee can change significantly. Have a look below for the difference in taste:

Brewing method: Flavor profile:
Chemex Balanced and floral
French press Robust and chocolatey
Hario V60 Sweet and concentrated

As you can see, the taste of your iced coffee can change significantly depending on the brewing techniques that are used.

The same goes for the coffee roast that is used; this will impact the flavor of both the iced espresso and iced coffee.

For example, there’s a big difference in taste when comparing blonde roast vs. dark roast.

Blonde roast and dark roast comparison.
Blonde roast on the left. Dark roast on the right

The darker the roast, the stronger the flavor of your coffee will be.

Medium roasted coffee is most often used for iced coffee, while espresso is most likely brewed with a dark roast.

Which is the right coffee for you?

Now that you have all the information you need about these drinks, you might already have picked one or the other.

If you’re unsure which is your favorite, the following might help you:

  • Iced espresso is more intense and flavorful than iced coffee. It is made by brewing espresso and then chilling it quickly.
  • Iced coffee is brewed with hot water, then cooled and served cold. It typically contains more water than espresso, making it less bitter and less intense.

It’s all about which coffee basis you prefer. The iced espresso is stronger, while iced coffee is less intense.

Keep in mind that you can also fine-tune these coffees to your own flavor, with all kinds of add-ins.

You could also try making an iced shaken espresso, which has added simple syrup and milk for a sweeter flavor. This is the perfect in-between coffee if you can’t decide which is better for you.

Conclusion

We all have our preferences when it comes to coffee. And if you’re a fan of an icy drink with caffeine, there are two ways you can go.

I’ve talked about the difference between an iced espresso and iced coffee. You now have all the information needed to decide which one might suit your flavor better.

Which is your favorite? Iced espresso or iced coffee? Let me know in the comments below!

Iced coffee recipes to try

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