Have you ever wondered what the differences are between an iced macchiato and an iced latte? If you aren’t sure which to choose the next time you are in a cafe or you want to try making some fancy coffees at home, it’s important to understand this.

An iced latte is three parts milk and one part espresso, poured across ice. Iced lattes often have additional flavorings, too. A macchiato can vary depending on the cafe, but it is often two shots of espresso with a little steamed milk poured on top. The two drinks are very similar in most cases.

Iced Latte Compared With Iced Macchiato

Iced Latte

An iced latte is generally quite a standardized drink, and it usually consists of one part coffee to a ratio of three parts milk. The two ingredients are poured over ice to chill them, and they often have flavorings added to alter the overall taste of the coffee. It’s also worth noting that iced lattes often contain low fat milk, rather than full fat.

Some cafes will also add more coffee to increase the strength of the latte, using two shots of espresso and two or three shots of milk. This alters the flavor significantly, but it does still amount to the same thing – an iced coffee that is not enormously strong.

Iced Macchiato

An iced macchiato is an odd form of the drink because macchiatos were traditionally served hot. Two shots of espresso would be brewed, and then the barista would add up to two teaspoons of full fat steamed milk to the cup. This milk would spread across the surface, marbling the color. Sometimes, the espresso is poured over the milk instead, but neither version is stirred.

This is what led to the name macchiato, which means “marked” or “spotted.” It also means that macchiatos were always served hot, with both the espresso and the milk being heated before being combined.

Turning this into a cold drink often undoes this “stained” look and, by many people’s standards, turns the macchiato into a different drink. This may be why many coffee shops vary so widely in what they call an iced macchiato. You will often find that a macchiato in a cafe is mostly made of chilled milk, with a couple of shots of espresso.

This has led to a lot of confusion, because this is essentially an iced latte too. If we compare how popular cafes make the two drinks, you’ll notice there is a lot of overlap. For example, Dunkin Donuts makes an iced macchiato by pouring two shots of espresso over milk and ice, and makes an iced latte by pouring a shot of espresso and milk over ice.

Similarly, Starbucks makes an iced latte by pouring two shots of espresso and milk over ice, and makes a caramel iced macchiato by pouring two shots of espresso over ice and milk and adding vanilla and caramel to it. Without the flavorings, this would essentially be the same drink.

Can You Combine Iced Lattes And Iced Macchiatos?

Starbucks has created an iced latte-macchiato, and it’s similar to both iced lattes and iced macchiatos. It involves pouring three shots of espresso over milk and ice – so it’s a bit stronger, but otherwise very similar. It doesn’t automatically have flavorings added, but you can request them.

How Do You Make Iced Macchiatos?

It’s easy to make iced macchiatos yourself if you fancy one on a hot summer day. You can alter the ratios to suit your tastes if you prefer, or remove the vanilla syrup and add another flavor of your choosing – or you can leave the flavors out entirely.

It only takes about 5 minutes to make this recipe, which serves 1 person.

Equipment You Need

You will require:

  • A measuring spoon

  • A tall drinking glass

  • An espresso brewer

Ingredients Required

You’re going to need:


  1. Start by filling the glass with ice, leaving some space at the top so that you can add the liquids. It won’t need a lot of room, but you don’t want the glass to overflow.

  2. Brew the 2 shots of espresso and add them to the glass.

  3. Add the vanilla syrup and stir it well.

  4. Pour 1 or 2 teaspoons of milk over the espresso, and leave it unstirred to create the marbled effect that macchiatos are known for.

  5. Serve immediately.

How Do You Make Iced Lattes?

An iced latte is also easy to make yourself at home, and you can again leave the syrup flavoring out of it if you prefer. If you like vanilla, leave the syrup in and enjoy this slightly modified version of the drink.

Equipment You Need

You will require:

  • A measuring spoon

  • A tall drinking glass

  • An espresso brewer

Ingredients Required

You’re going to need:

  • Crushed ice

  • 3 or 4 oz of milk (adjust to suit your preference)

  • 1 or 2 shots of espresso (adjust to suit your preference)

  • Vanilla syrup


  1. Start by filling the glass with ice, but again remember to leave enough space to add the milk and espresso. You will need more space for this recipe, as there is more milk in it. Make sure the glass won’t overflow when you add the milk.

  2. Brew the espresso and pour it over the ice.

  3. Pour in the 3 or 4 oz of milk.

  4. Add the vanilla syrup to taste and stir to combine all of the ingredients.

Which Drink Contains More Coffee?

As a rule of thumb, a macchiato tends to have more coffee in it than a latte, and it’s a stronger drink. This is only a generalization, however, as different cafes make the drinks in different ways. Often, both a macchiato and a latte will contain 2 shots of espresso.

If you want a strong drink, it is usually best to opt for a macchiato, or ask the barista to make your latte with 2 shots of espresso. If you go to Starbucks and order their iced latte-macchiato, you will get a full 3 shots of espresso, but few cafes serve this mixed drink.

If you are making the drinks yourself at home, you can make either stronger, and the recipes will still work fine.

How Do They Compare To Cappuccinos?

To add further confusion to the coffee debate, cappuccinos also have quite a lot in common with macchiatos and lattes. However, a cappuccino is made with equal ratios of steamed milk, espresso, and foam, whereas both macchiatos and lattes use unequal ratios.

A latte will usually contain less coffee than a cappuccino, and a macchiato will usually contain less milk. Of course, you are likely to see variations depending on where you get your drink from or how you make it at home, but typically, a cappuccino is milkier than a macchiato and stronger than a latte.


Q: Should you stir an iced macchiato?

A: No, it’s best not to stir an iced macchiato. The point of a macchiato is to create a stained appearance by adding the milk to the top of the drink and not mixing it in. When you stir the milk in, you are almost making a latte, which is why the recipe above suggests adding the vanilla syrup and stirring it into the coffee before you add the milk.

Q: Should you stir an iced latte?

A: Yes, an iced latte is a mixed drink and it’s fine to stir it. Add the milk and then use a spoon to mix it into the coffee, along with any syrup that you wish to add.

Q: How strong should a macchiato be?

A: Macchiatos can vary in strength, but it is common to add two shots of espresso to them, and only a small amount of milk. Macchiatos will rarely have less than two shots of espresso.

Q: How strong should a latte be?

A: Lattes can also vary, but most contain only one shot of espresso, and three shots of milk. Some will have two shots of espresso, so remember to check with the cafe if you don’t like strong coffee.


Iced lattes and iced macchiatos have a lot in common, and if you are thinking of getting one, it’s worth checking how the cafe makes it. These drinks can vary quite a lot. Iced macchiatos in particular can cause confusion, and fewer cafes offer this drink – but it is available in some places and it is easy to make at home if you prefer.