Iced Mocha vs Iced Latte (Here’s the Difference)


Most coffee enthusiasts enjoy their caffeine filled beverages year-round. As summer comes around many people switch out their hot coffee for a cold coffee drink.

In recent years, coffee and espresso beverages have become increasingly popular and the options for iced coffee drinks has grown tremendously. Some popular iced coffee drinks include iced coffee, cold brew coffee, and espresso beverages like and iced macchiato or an iced latte.

Two of the most popular summer iced coffee beverages are iced lattes and iced mochas. While these two drinks are similar, there are a few key differences between the two drinks which we will discuss in this post.

What is the Difference Between a Latte and Mocha?

three white mugs lined up vertically. The top mug contains a latte with heart-shaped latte art. The middle mug contains espresso. The bottom mug contains coffee beans.

What is a Latte?

A cafe latte, commonly known in the US as just a “latte” comes from the Italian words meaning coffee with milk. Lattes are typically made by combining shots of espresso with steamed milk, and a thin layer of milk foam to top of the drink. Most lattes are made with 1-3 shots of espresso depending on the amount of milk used. For reference, a tall latte at Starbucks contains 1 shot of espresso. The grande and venti sizes both contain 2 shots, also known as a double shot of espresso. 

Lattes can be customized with various flavor options. Some popular latte variations include vanilla lattes or lavender lattes. Oh, and don’t forget about the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks come fall!

There is also a yam-based latte called an ube latte that is made by mixing a type of purple yam with steamed milk and espresso.

If you go to a local coffee shop, you may find some interesting homemade coffee syrups that can be added to your latte. These syrups are usually made by infusing a simple syrup with a flavoring agent such as vanilla beans or fresh herbs or spices.

Not All Lattes Have Coffee

One caveat to know about lattes is that all cafe lattes are lattes, but not all lattes are cafe lattes. As previously discussed, the word “latte” simply means “milk”. Lattes with espresso are technically termed “cafe lattes”.

There are many types of steamed milk-based beverages that are referred to as lattes, but which don’t actually contain coffee.

An example is a matcha latte. Matcha lattes are made by mixing matcha, which is a finely ground type of green tea, with steamed milk. There is no espresso or coffee to be found in this popular drink.

What is a Mocha?

A cafe mocha is very similar to a latte. In fact some even say a cafe mocha is nothing more than a latte that is flavored with chocolate. Hot mochas are made with steamed milk and espresso, similar to a latte. The difference is that a mocha also has chocolate added to the beverage to make a sweet, rich, chocolatey espresso drink. (Check out this post to learn all about mochas).

Sometimes mochas are also topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle or shavings. 

A variation to a mocha is a white mocha. These sweet coffee beverages are made the same way as a regular mocha, but they use white chocolate sauce.

What is the Difference Between an Iced Mocha and an Iced Latte?

Both of these iced coffee drinks are made with a few basic ingredients- ice, espresso and milk. The main difference between an iced latte and an iced mocha is that a mocha is sweetened with chocolate. Iced mochas are essentially an iced latte that has been sweetened with mocha sauce. You could even refer to this drink as an iced mocha latte.

tall glass containing an iced latte sitting on a table.

Do Iced Mochas or Iced Lattes have More Caffeine?

Because both lattes and mochas are espresso-based drinks, they both contain caffeine. Most coffee shops will make a 12 oz latte or mocha with one shot of espresso. Each espresso shot contains 64 mg of caffeine. Because both iced lattes and iced mochas usually contain the same amount of espresso, they have a similar caffeine content.

With that being said, mochas may have slightly more caffeine compared to lattes because chocolate does contain caffeine in smaller amounts. A 12 oz mocha may have 1 oz of chocolate syrup added. This amount of chocolate syrup contains approximately 5 mg of caffeine.

So yes, a mocha technically has a higher amount of caffeine than a latte, but you probably won’t notice a big difference unless you are very sensitive to caffeine. If you want to enjoy an espresso-based drink with less caffeine, your best option would be to order either a mocha or latte with decaf espresso.

Does an Iced Mocha or Iced Latte Have More Calories?

Mochas typically contain more calories than a plain iced latte. This is because mochas contain chocolate sauce that add extra calories.

A 12 oz iced latte contains 97 calories. As previously discussed, a mocha is essentially a latte with chocolate sauce added. Many mocha recipes use 1.5 oz of chocolate syrup. This will add about 114 extra calories to the 97 calories in the iced latte.

If your goal is to limit your calorie intake, sticking with a plain iced is a better choice than an iced mocha. Keep in mind that if you order a latter with any type of sweeteners, such as a flavored syrup or brown sugar, you will add calories to your drink.

How to Make an Iced Latte

If you have the right equipment, making an iced latte is actually very easy. Lattes use espresso as the coffee base so in order to make a true cafe latte, you will need an espresso machine. You will also need an ice cube tray and a tall glass for serving.

If you do not have an espresso machine, you can use a moka pot. These stove top coffee makers use hot water to produce steam that is then pushed through a basket of ground coffee. This produces a strong coffee that is very similar to espresso (although it doesn’t meet the criteria to be considered true espresso). 

To make an iced latte, use your espresso machine to pull your desired number of shots. For reference, most 12oz lattes contain 1-2 shots of espresso. Add your espresso to a glass, then add a splash of cold milk. Next, add several ice cubes and fill the glass the rest of the way with cold milk. 

I find that adding the splash of cold milk helps to cool down the espresso shot so the ice doesn’t melt as fast from the hot espresso. This prevents the iced latte from getting watered down. 

Can I Make an Iced Latte with Instant Coffee?

If you don’t have access to a coffee maker of any kind, you can use instant coffee, but the flavor won’t be as good compared to freshly brewed coffee. I would only use instant coffee if you are going to flavor your drink with a syrup or make an iced mocha.

How to Make an Iced Mocha

Making an iced mocha is very similar to making an iced latte. The only difference is that you will add chocolate sauce to the cup with the hot espresso. Mix the coffee with the chocolate syrup and then add the ice and milk. If you desire, top your drink with whipped cream and chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, or chocolate shavings. 

A variation of an iced mocha is a white iced mocha. This beverage is identical to a regular iced mocha but uses white chocolate sauce rather than regular chocolate or chocolate powder. White mochas tend to have a more sweet and milder flavor compared to regular mochas.

What Type of Milk Is Used in Iced Mochas and Iced Lattes?If you walk into your local coffee shop and order an iced latte or iced mocha, the default milk used in the drink will usually be cow’s milk. Most often, 2% or whole milk is used, although many coffee shops also offer skim milk. 

With food allergies and other dietary restrictions on the rise, many people drink milk alternatives. There are many different non-dairy vegan milk substitutes available now and most coffee shops will offer at least one or two. Some of the most popular options are oat milk, soy milk, and almond milk. In my experience, oat milk and soy milk most similar in flavor and texture to regular cow’s milk. 

Iced Latte vs Iced Cappuccino

While hot lattes and cappuccinos have some key differences, iced cappuccinos and iced lattes are essentially the same drink. This is because hot cappuccinos and lattes have the exact same ingredients but different proportions of steamed milk and foam, which are only found in the hot versions of these espresso drinks. Hot cappuccinos usually have less milk and more milk foam compared to a hot latte, which is mostly steamed milk with only a thin layer of milk foam.

What is the Difference Between Espresso and Regular Coffee?

Espresso and regular drip coffee are both made from coffee beans. The difference between the two varies in how they are prepared. Espresso is made from forcing water at high pressure through a puck of finely ground coffee. This results in a small amount of concentrated, strong coffee.

Drip coffee is made by allowing hot water to pass through ground coffee and a filter into a coffee pitcher below. Drip coffee is less strong than espresso.

What Type of Coffee Beans are Used in Espresso?

You may be wondering what type of coffee beans are used in espresso. As it turns out, espresso beans are nothing more than regular coffee beans. They are the same type of coffee beans used in regular coffee. What makes espresso unique is the way it is brewed. In order for espresso to be considered true espresso, the ground coffee has to be brewed at a certain temperature and pressure.

Espresso can be made with most types of coffee beans and roasts. In fact, many coffee aficionados can detect subtle flavor differences between the types of coffee beans used in their coffee drinks.

Keep in mind that if you have a super automatic espresso machine, it is often recommended to avoid darker roasts as these beans are more oily which can affect the function of your machine.


The next time you hit up your favorite coffee shop in search of a cold drink, you should feel confident placing your order. Whether it’s an iced latte or an iced mocha, understanding the major differences between these two espresso coffee drinks will help you choose the perfect drink on a hot day.

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