Iced Espresso vs Iced Coffee: 4 Differences And Recipe!

By Evelina •  Updated: 11/09/22 •  6 min read

When the weather heats up, there’s nothing like a refreshing cold drink to cool down. And for coffee lovers, there are two popular choices: iced espresso or iced coffee. So what are the differences?

The main difference between iced coffee and iced espresso is the way its coffee is brewed. Iced espresso is made with an espresso machine, while iced coffee is made with a regular coffee maker.

Read on to learn more about the differences between iced espresso and iced coffee, and which one might be right for you!

The Sciense Behind Iced Espresso

Iced espresso is exactly what it sounds like: espresso that has been poured over ice. This method of making iced coffee was popularized by Starbucks, and it’s a great way to get a strong, flavorful cup of coffee.

The key to making a good iced espresso is to start with high-quality espresso beans. This means using freshly ground beans and brewing them with an espresso machine. Once the espresso is brewed, it’s poured over ice and served.

The First Ever Iced Coffee

The first iced coffee can be traced back in the early 1800s to Algeria. This is where coffee was first served cold (mazagran), and it quickly became a popular way to drink the beverage.

In the early 1900s, iced coffee started appearing in Italy, and it wasn’t long before this trend made its way to America.

To make iced coffee, first you need to brew a pot of coffee using your preferred method. This can be done with a Moka Pot, French Press or even a drip coffee machine. Once the coffee is brewed, it’s poured over ice and served.

Milk is also often added to iced coffee, along with sugar or flavored syrups.

Differences Between Iced Espresso and Iced Coffee

Let’s go over the main differences between iced espresso and iced coffee:

1. Which One Has More Caffeine?

Caffeine is what makes coffee the beverage of choice for many people. It’s a natural stimulant that can help you feel more awake and alert.

Iced espresso has more caffeine than iced coffee. Although, iced coffee has more caffeine per cup, when you dilute it with ice, water and milk, the overall caffeine content is lower.

The beans you use, size of your portafilter (depth) and grind will all affect the caffeine content in your espresso. But still, iced espresso has more caffeine than iced coffee.

Here is a small table with the caffeine per cup content of iced espresso and iced coffee:

Per 100g (3.5oz)EspressoBrewed Iced Coffee

2. What is the Difference in Taste?

While taste varies from person to person, iced espresso generally has a more intense flavor than iced coffee. This is because espresso is a concentrated form of coffee, so it has more of the coffee’s natural flavors.

For iced coffee, it depends on the brewer method used and the type of beans used. You can go fully manual with a brewer like the Chemex, or use a more simple drip coffee machine.

The flavor of iced coffee also varies depending on how it’s made. For example, cold brew coffee is less acidic and has a smoother flavor than iced coffee made with hot brew methods.

Below you can find the most notable taste differences for iced coffee with every popular brewing method:

Brewing MethodTaste
Moka PotStrong, rich taste
French PressSmooth, oily
AeroPressSimilar to iced espresso with less crema
Chemex, V60, Kalita WaveStrong, bold taste
Drip Coffee MachineSimple flavor coffee

3. Is Iced Espresso Stronger Than Iced Coffee?

Again, iced espresso wins in terms of strength and potency. A shot of espresso has more caffeine than a cup of regular brewed coffee, and the flavor is more concentrated.

So if you’re looking for a strong cup of iced coffee, iced espresso is the way to go. The more mellow and less potent iced coffee is better suited for those who want a refreshing drink without the caffeine kick.

4. Is Iced Espresso More Expensive Than Iced Coffee?

The cost of iced espresso and iced coffee depends on a few factors, such as the type of beans used, the brewing method and where you buy it.

In general, iced espresso is more expensive than iced coffee. This is because most stores, cafes and restaurants charge more for an iced espresso.

Espresso is a way of expressing coffee, so the higher quality beans are used. This, along with the fact that espresso is more labor-intensive to make, contributes to the higher cost.

How to Make Iced Coffee With Espresso

Although you technically don’t need espresso to make iced coffee, using it will give you a more authentic experience.

The recipe is pretty simple:

1. Make a double espresso shot.

A double shot of espresso requires twice the amount of coffee grounds than a single shot, making it a little more concentrated.

2. Pour the espresso over ice.

Once the shot is brewed, quickly pour it over a glass full of ice and stir for a few seconds.

3. Add cold milk and sugar for an iced latte.

To make it a little more like the iced coffees you get at cafes, add cold milk and sugar (to taste) before stirring again.

And that’s it! Simple, easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Iced Coffee Have Espresso?

No, iced coffee does not typically contain espresso. While both beverages contain caffeine and are served cold, iced coffee is typically brewed from regular coffee beans and may be flavored or sweetened, while iced espresso is made from finely ground espresso beans and served as-is.

As we saw from the above recipe, you can add milk and /or sugar to iced espresso if you’d like, but it’s not how the original beverage is meant to be enjoyed.

Do You Just Put Ice in Coffee to Make Iced Coffee?

Putting an ice cube or two in your hot coffee is one way to make iced coffee, but it’s not the best way. This method will water down your beverage and dilute the flavor.

A better way to make iced coffee is to brew a pot of coffee using twice the amount of grounds you normally would. Once it’s finished brewing, pour the coffee over a glass full of ice and stir.

This method will result in a more flavorful iced coffee that isn’t watered down.

Final Thoughts

I hope your next coffee drink is an iced one! Whether you use espresso or not, remember to keep it simple and enjoy.

Always remember the type of coffee you use will highly impact the taste of your iced coffee. If you want a more authentic experience, go for Arabica beans!

Happy Brewing!


Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.

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