Are Lattes Hot or Cold?

Upon glancing at your local coffee shop’s menu, you will notice latte populating a certain portion of the beverages section. These are safe to drink even if you’re not a regular coffee drinker, but you might want to know whether the beverage served will be cold or hot.

Lattes are usually hot but can be cold as well. The term ‘cafe latte’ refers to a hot latte (espresso with frothed milk topping), while ‘iced latte’ refers to the colder version that skips frothing. The beverages taste different despite having mostly the same contents.

In this article, you will learn more about cold and hot lattes, including the pros and cons of each type and how to prepare the respective drinks. You will also discover the secret to making a strong latte. To get started, let’s look at the word latte and what it means when you don’t use it in conjunction with “iced” or “hot.”

Latte: A Brief Overview

The word “Latte” usually refers to cafe latte, a hot coffee beverage featuring milk and sugar. Just like when someone says “coffee” when referring to a steaming cup of joe, one refers to hot lattes and lattes. This is because coffee and coffee beverages are considered hot by default, and “cold” or “iced” is considered an additive.

Except for cold-brewed coffee, the terminology and temperature fit the chronology of a cup. After all, coffee is generally brewed hot then cooled down even when it is served as a cold drink. This also lends credence to the notion that cold coffee is milder. Of course, chilled espresso is just as strong as a shot of steaming hot espresso. 

However, most “iced” drinks are diluted because ice injects water into the beverage as it melts over time. In the section on making iced lattes, I cover a hack that keeps your cold latte from getting weaker over time. For now, let’s look at whether you even want to have a cold latte in the first place.

Cafe Latte: Pros and Cons

As you know by now, a hot latte is officially titled cafe latte. Here we will explore its comparative advantages to iced lattes.

Pros of cafe latte:

  • Less social stigma – despite featuring pretty much the same contents as a cold latte, the warmer variety is considered more of an adult drink. It is also served in an opaque cup, so other coffee snobs don’t know whether you’re drinking a long black or a sugary latte.
  • It is excellent for cold weather – While taste is subjective, temperature is not. No matter how much you love cold coffee, you might not want to go near it during December. Cafe Latte, on the other hand, is perfect for the winters.

Cons of cafe latte

  • Not ideal for summers – If you live in a state where the sun shines throughout the year, you might not want to get hooked on hot lattes.
  • Can be dangerously hot – This isn’t as big a concern for regular coffee consumers, but a steaming sip cup can wreak havoc on a novice’s tongue.

Iced Latte: Pros and Cons

Iced latte is the summer-friendly version of a standard latte and comes with its own advantages and drawbacks. Let’s explore these.

Pros of iced latte

  • Great for hot weather – Iced latte is ideal for summers as it allows you to get your dose of caffeine while enjoying what feels like a chilled milkshake.
  • Best for novices – While both cafe latte and iced latte are considered gateway coffee beverages, an iced latte is easier to accept for a novice compared to the beverage’s warmer counterpart.
  • Faster – Since the milk steaming step is skipped, you get your iced latte faster.

Cons of iced latte

  • Judgment and stigma – In some circles, iced coffee beverages are considered childish. It doesn’t help that coffee shops serve such drinks in transparent cups. This can be a drawback if you care about the opinions of the people around you.
  • Diluted – If you get an iced latte at a coffee shop, it will be diluted. At home, you have the option to control dilution, but that’s not the case when you’re outside.

Strong Iced Latte Hack

One of the most commonly cited drawbacks of iced coffee is that it is weaker because of the dilution that occurs due to ice. At home, you can offset this problem by brewing a few shots of espresso and pouring them into an ice tray. 

When you freeze the espresso, you have a cooling agent that simultaneously strengthens your latte. There are limits to this hack, though, as carrying such ice cubes in a thermos and insisting the barista use them for your beverage might be too eccentric for most people to pull off.

How to Make Cafe Latte

If you want to control every aspect of the latte you have, you have to brew it yourself. Here are the steps you need to take to get yourself a cup of hot latte

  1. Add espresso to a mug. 
  2. Add milk to a frothing pitcher froth it using the steam wand.
  3. Pour the frothed milk on top of the espresso in a slow stream.

How to Make an Iced Latte

Iced latte is a colder version of the classic latte and is one of the most popular coffee beverages in the world. Here are the steps you can take to make it at home.

  1. Pour a shot of refrigerated espresso into a glass. 
  2. Add liquid sweetener because powders are hard to mix in a cold drink
  3. Add milk and stir until the three liquids are mixed evenly.

Final Thoughts

Lattes are coffee drinks featuring milk and sweetener. They’re usually hot and have a layer of frother milk that baristas use to make latte art. However, cold lattes exist as well. You can make the latter by adding refrigerated espresso or espresso with ice to a cup and pouring milk over it. It is best to get accustomed to both hot and cold lattes so you can enjoy coffee beverages in winters and summers, respectively.

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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