If you’re a coffee addict like me, you probably get a little nervous when you walk up to the counter and see an ice-filled drink labeled “macchiato” or “latte.”

When asking for clarification on these beverages, you likely are met with a blank stare or an answer that doesn’t really answer your question.

In this article, I will discuss the differences between the two drinks and help you decide which one to order based on your specific preference.

Iced latte vs. iced macchiato

These coffees seem so a-like when ordering that you might not notice any difference straight away. But today, I’m going to tell you the difference between these two great iced coffees. The differences are as following:

  • An iced latte is made with an espresso shot, low-fat milk (like 2%), and is topped with ice cubes. The coffee drink looks mixed and has an even brownish coffee color to it.
  • On the other hand, an iced macchiato is made by adding whole milk to a glass, topping this with ice, and pouring two shots of espresso on top. This will create that cool marble effect between then milk and coffee.
"Iced latte vs. iced macchiato comparison."

To sum this up, there’s a difference in the kind of milk used, the iced macchiato gets an extra shot of espresso, and the iced coffees are layered differently, creating a very different drinking experience.

As you might’ve noticed, there isn’t really that big a difference between these coffees, and I can see why most people get confused when asked what the differences are.

But now you have all the information you need to make an informed decision which you prefer. I’ll do you one better. Down below, I’ve listed recipes for both coffees so you can make them and choose which coffee suits you best.

Is macchiato stronger than a latte?

A macchiato coffee is stronger in flavor because it has an extra shot of espresso added. It also uses whole milk instead of a low-fat kind that is mostly used when making a latte, creating a more textured and fuller coffee flavor.

Espresso shots are an essential part of most iced coffees, but they make a big difference in taste between these two coffees in particular.

I want you to experience these coffees as well. So I’ve listed the recipes for these coffees below.

If you want to experience it to the fullest, make sure to use the different kinds of milk used for each recipe.

The difference in milk really helps with the overall flavor and has a very distinct flavor difference that makes noticing the difference between these coffees a bit easier.

How to make an iced latte

To make an iced latte, you’re going to need a few ingredients that you most likely already have at home, which is great.

  • 3/4 cup (0.18 l) of 2% fat milk
  • Espresso shot
  • Ice cubes
"Iced latte in a glass."

As you can see from the ingredients listed above, there really isn’t that much that you need to make an awesome iced coffee at home. Let me guide you through this coffee recipe step-by-step:

  1. Grab a nice glass of choice and pour in the espresso shot.
  2. Add your cold milk to the espresso.
  3. Now, add enough ice cubes to cool your iced coffee completely.

That’s it! You’ve now made an iced latte at home. Because you mix the espresso shot and the cold milk before adding ice, it looks premixed, which is a clear difference between these coffees. Let me show you how to make an iced macchiato:

How to make an iced macchiato

The iced macchiato uses whole milk and an extra shot of espresso to make it a bit more flavorful and very different in taste than the iced latte.

It also uses less milk than the latte, resulting in a smaller, more powerful drink. You’ll need the following ingredients to make it yourself:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) of whole milk
  • Two espresso shot
  • Ice cubes
"Iced macchiato in a glass."

Now that you know what ingredients are used for the iced macchiato, you can make this amazing iced coffee yourself by following the steps below:

  1. Start by pouring the whole milk into a glass of choice.
  2. Add enough ice cubes to the milk-filled glass to make it nice and cool.
  3. Now, pour the espresso shots on top.

The espresso coffee will slowly swirl through the whole milk and create an amazing-looking iced coffee drink.

As you can clearly see from the color difference, the iced macchiato looks a lot more appealing. This is what the layering of coffee can do, I’d choose an iced macchiato over an iced latte any day, just by the looks alone.

If you want to know how to make great espresso at home and what kind of coffee beans are best used to create it with, I suggest reading along:

Best coffee beans to use for espresso

If you want to produce a proper iced coffee, you shouldn’t make espresso using a relatively cheap variant of coffee beans.

Because coffee plays such a big role in the flavoring of iced coffee, you want to use a good quality coffee bean.

You can produce amazing espresso coffee using an espresso machine at home, but if you don’t have one of those, you can produce delicious espresso-like coffee with an AeroPress or Moka pot.

These espresso makers are a ton of fun to work with and produce really good coffee that you can use in any espresso-based coffee recipe you like or drink as is.

I recommend using a darker roasted coffee bean for the making of espresso. Medium or dark roasted coffee beans are my favorites.

"Medium roasted coffee beans on a wooden plate."

Medium roasted coffee beans have enough flavor to cut through the add-ins most coffee recipes have, where dark roasted coffee beans are the clear winner in robust coffee flavor.

Most of the time, I have medium roasted coffee beans at home. These coffee beans are very versatile, and I can use them to make coffee with the Chemex, Hario V60, French press, and even with these espresso makers.

Dark roasted coffee beans are a bit too strong to use in a pour over technique and are best used to make that robust espresso.

I suggest trying out both coffee beans and producing a few different coffees with each coffee bean. This way, you’ll notice a big difference in flavor, and you can use either of these coffee beans to make your coffee recipes.

If you want to get the most caffeine in your coffee, I suggest checking out Death Wish coffee. These coffee beans taste great, as they are dark roasted and will give you that robust flavor you’re looking for.

I’ve tried these coffee beans in various iced coffees and cold brew coffees, and, amazingly, there’s such a strong-tasting coffee that is actually quite tasteful still. You can check it out here:

DEATH WISH COFFEE Whole Bean Coffee [16 oz.] The World's Strongest, USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade, Arabica and Robusta Beans (1-Pack)
  • WORLD’S STRONGEST COFFEE: Our whole coffee beans will transform your basic cup of joe into a delicious, bold, and intense beverage that will revolutionize your morning.
  • QUALITY BREW: Hands down, the best whole coffee beans in the world. One sip of our best-selling coffee will have you saying goodbye to store-bought forever. Enjoy the highest quality energy and artisanal flavor with every sip of Death Wish Coffee.
  • BOLD FLAVOR: Immerse yourself in a smooth, subtle, never bitter cherry and chocolate flavor profile. We've carefully selected premium Arabica and Robusta whole coffee beans from around the world to deliver you a dark roast coffee beverage with a bold taste you’ll instantly fall in love with.
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Which is better? Iced latte or iced macchiato?

An iced macchiato is better if you are a fan of stronger iced coffees. If you like your iced coffee to still taste strong but a bit more balanced because of just one shot of coffee, your best bet is ordering (or making) an iced latte.

The coffees differ ever so slightly but can make a world of difference if you have a preference when it comes to the strongness of your coffee.

"Iced latte vs. iced macchiato comparison."
Iced latte on the left, iced macchiato on the right.

Moreover, it also comes down to your preference. Do you want to get a coffee drink that seems to be premixed and you can drink straight away, or you like to get that layered look from the iced macchiato?

I like to make an iced macchiato instead of an iced latte because I like the added espresso shot. I think it adds just enough flavor to make the coffee drink a bit more enjoyable.

Conclusion

There it is, the difference between two very similar iced coffees. You now know the exact details of these delicious coffee drinks, and you’ve likely made a choice of which you like better.

If you prefer a more subtle coffee drink, certainly stick with the iced latte. If you like a bit more coffee kick, you should order (or make) an iced macchiato next time around.

It’s so fun to write these comparison articles, but the recipes are even better to write. If you feel like trying out even more coffee recipes today, you can check them out below. I’ve listed a few that might be of interest to you.

Which of the two coffees do you prefer? Let me know by leaving a comment down below. If you have any other questions regarding coffee, you can also contact me directly by pressing the “Contact Me” button at the top!

Coffee recipes to try

Author

On my coffee blog you will find everything you need in order to start brewing coffee at home. Ranging from the basics; to the newest coffee recipes everybody talks about!

4 Comments

  1. Good afternoon I am a barista at Starbucks and have been for seven years. I guess it depends on what coffee shop you go to to get the drinks that you have in your Articlethat you described above. In your lattes and caramel macchiato‘s at Starbucks it depends on what size you get in reference to how many shots of espresso that you get. At Starbucks a grande caramel macchiato has three shots of a different type of espresso that has less water and is a little bit sweeter compared to regular espresso which is a little bit bitter at times. A latte at Starbucks depending on what size you get can have 1 to 2 shots in them a small has one shot a grande and Venti have two shots. A small caramel macchiato has one shot A grande and Venti have three shots of risotto espresso
    .Thank You for your time

    • Hi Trish,

      The iced drinks I talked about in this article can change depending on where you get your coffee.
      It’s very interesting to hear about the number of espresso shots added to the lattes and macchiatos at Starbucks.
      Thanks for sharing!

      -Jeffrey

      • Hi Jeffery!
        I’m here for a bit of friendly banter, friendly debate. I just found this post incorrect and a bit misleading.

        So I’m actually not quite sure where you discovered this information, but I’d love to read up on it in more detail! Based on the training of certain associations of coffee guides such as SCA or even more commercial barista Inc. etc. ….. I’ve never heard of such a thing as differentiating a cup of coffee based on the kind of milk…I find this incorrect and misleading? Possibly from wherever you worked as a barista would be totally true or valid, but in general I don’t find it accurate.

        I have never worked for a chain store coffee shop such as Starbucks, Peet’s, etc, but I am aware of the different amount of shots based on cup size, which is objective again to coffee location, but another thing that I find misleading is also differentiating a cup of coffee based on the amount of shots, if it’s a triple shot macchiato, it is a machiato nonetheless, if it’s a quad shot latte, it is a latte nonetheless, and I will explain what makes a traditional macchiato.

        To my knowledge, macchiato derives from Italy which stands for “marked” espresso or “stained”. Macchiato is simply a double shot of espresso with “stained” foam on top. Another aspect of the macchiato is that it is served hot, because when it is cold it may as well be a latte, similar to you wouldn’t be serving iced cappuccinos, (that is traditionally not a thing before ‘cold foam’ existed).

        Secondly, I would say the volume of milk is the most differentiating factor and how it is prepared is what’s going to make the difference between the drink. A latte is best made with whole milk which I’ve seen all across all associations of coffee, but regardless of the type of milk. A 12,14,16,20oz cup with milk and espresso is what makes it a latte, not the kind of milk, so to specify that it’s made with 2% milk specifically is interesting.

        Lastly, the order of espresso to milk is also a bit more abstract than that. Like I said before the reason why it is called a macchiato is because the foam sits on top of the crema, thus making it marked, also another factor why you wouldn’t make it iced.
        Here is the interesting thing about your order of operations, if you pour espresso over milk, it wouldn’t be a macchiato, but it would be an Argentinian drink, where you would pour your milk before your espresso. Lattes are layered depending on hot or iced. I will pour my milk and ice and top off with my espresso, if it was iced, if the latte is hot, I would pour my espresso first and then pour my milk, this way not only are you able to do latte art, but how the latte is layered when hot is important to the construction of the latte. There is a certain kind of physics to latte making it layered, which I read this interesting article about.

        That was my spiel, I apologize for me needing out, but I felt like I wanted to clarify, but I am not closed off from hearing your thoughts! I would love to know how and where this post is derived from your experience! Let me know, thanks!

        • Hi,

          Thanks for leaving a comment!

          I was simply trying to share that in the context of a cup of iced coffee, there are ways of differentiating it by the kind of milk being used. I wasn’t trying to claim that I created a new definition for coffee drinks like these iced lattes and macchiatos. Maybe this is an issue of semantics, but as long as we both understand what we mean when we say certain words, it should be fine.

          I have never worked at a Starbucks or Peets either, but I was just trying to offer an example of how these drinks are made and how they differ. The article was just written from personal experience about what happens when you make an iced macchiato as opposed to an iced latte, and that’s the only difference.

          I hope you have a fantastic day!

          Greetings,
          Jeffrey

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