A Step-by-Step Guide to Ordering Iced Coffee

Cold brew vs Iced Coffee Infographic

Iced coffee can be a refreshing way to start your day or get an extra dose of energy. Most restaurants, cafes, and fast-food chains now offer iced coffee and espresso drinks, especially in summer. Choose the iced drink or cold brew that’s right for you, tell your barista what type and size you want, and enjoy your drink neat or with milk and sweeteners.

Choose an iced coffee

Read the coffee menu.

The restaurant or cafe should have printed out a card or written it on a board. Here you can see which coffee drinks are available. The coffee menu is sometimes separate from the regular drinks menu, so ask a member of staff if you can’t find it. If there is no iced coffee on the menu, you can still order a normal coffee and a cup of ice cubes. However, iced coffee is usually made with twice the strength of the coffee to compensate for the watering down from the ice, so if you drink it as is, it will be less strong.

Choose a regular iced coffee if you like the taste of coffee.

You can always add milk and sweetener, but it has a stronger coffee flavor than an espresso drink with milk. If you enjoy the aroma of the coffee, regular iced coffee is a good choice. Decaffeinated coffee is also available in most places that serve regular coffee.

Try a cold brew if you want a smoother coffee with less acidity.

A cold brew is prepared by extracting coffee from beans over several days without heating the water. It contains less acid and can have a smoother, less intense flavor than regular brewed coffee on ice. Cold-brew is commonly found in specialty coffee shops with a wide variety of coffee beverages. A simple diner or a restaurant that doesn’t specialize in coffee may not offer this.

Choose an iced mocha if you want an extra sweet drink.

If you want a creamy, sweet coffee, you might want to order an iced mocha that contains espresso, cold milk, and syrup. A typical mocha contains chocolate syrup, but there may be caramel or other flavors as well. If you’re dieting or trying to restrict your calorie intake, this may not be an ideal option. Some mochas can contain a lot of fat.

Have an iced latte or an iced cappuccino if you like a lot of milk in your coffee.

While you can add milk or cream to your iced coffee after you order it, an iced latte is a better choice if you want your drink to be mostly milk. A latte is typically made from 60g of espresso and enough milk to fill the rest of the cup. A cappuccino consists of one-third each of espresso, milk and milk froth. Keep in mind that an iced latte or cappuccino doesn’t contain frothed milk like a regular latte since the froth heats the milk. Your barista can add frothed milk, but the froth will be hot, making the drink less cold.

Get an extra shot if you want more caffeine.

If the place you’re ordering from offers espresso drinks, they can add another espresso to your drink for a fee. This can be a good choice if you want more caffeine in your drink. Since it’s only a small amount, it doesn’t change the taste much.

place your order

Choose a drink before approaching the barista.

You should figure out what you want to order, the size, and if you want takeout before it’s your turn to order. This saves time and is a courtesy to the barista and everyone else in line behind you. When it’s your turn, try not to call or text, even if all you have to do is say a few words to the barista to order.

Tell the barista what kind of coffee you want.

Be specific whether you want an iced coffee, cold brew, iced latte or other iced beverage. If there are different types of iced coffee, indicate which one you would like.

Tell the barista what size you want.

Most coffee houses have a choice of small, medium, and large. Commonly, the small is 360g, the medium is 450g and the large is 570g. Starbucks drinks come in Tall, Grande, and Venti instead of Small, Medium, and Large.

State if you would like any extras not included with the drink.

If you want an extra shot of espresso or an extra stroke of syrup, tell the barista. If you would have liked the drink to be made differently, such as using only half the syrup or using soy milk instead of regular milk, you should tell him that now as well.

Tell your barista if you want the drink to go.

In some places, all drinks are served in take-away cups, but you should still mention it just in case. This way you avoid having to wait and your barista being inconvenienced when he has prepared the drink for you in a glass.

Make sure your order was correct once you get the drink.

Look at your drink and make sure it’s what you ordered. If not, politely tell the barista and they should either fix it or make you a new drink.

Add milk and sweetener

Add milk to an iced coffee if you want a creamier taste.

Milk can make a coffee taste less strong and acidic, and it’s also a source of calcium and vitamin D. Most cafes and restaurants will have milk available at a table where you can help yourself, but you may ask your barista have to put them in for you.

Give black coffee a richer flavor with cream or milk.

Most coffee shops and restaurants also offer heavy cream, which has a higher fat content and will give your coffee a richer, creamier flavor. That’s why you can add less of it compared to milk.

Ask for soy or almond milk if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant.

Many coffee houses have milk alternatives, although they may be out of sight and only available upon request. If you don’t see any with the milk and cream, ask the barista if they have any. Some places charge a little extra for milk alternatives, so keep in mind that you might have to pay a bit more.

Add sugar to sweeten black coffee.

You may be able to choose between white and brown sugar or even honey. Add a little to your coffee and taste if it’s sweet enough before adding more.

Use an artificial sweetener if you are diabetic or want to limit your sugar intake.

Please inform yourself well which sweeteners are harmless to health. In most places, you can get artificial sweeteners with regular sugar. If you want a sweeter coffee but want to limit your calorie intake, use these instead of sugar.

Add cinnamon, cocoa, or nutmeg to your drink for extra flavor.

Many cafes that serve espresso drinks have condiment shakers where you can find milk and sugar. Sprinkle a little on top of your drink to taste. Be careful when mixing flavors though – you might find that you like the taste of cinnamon, but not on your raspberry mocha!


Many places offer a discount if you bring your own cup instead of using their disposable cup. Cafes commonly charge for syrups based on how many flavors you want in your drink. If you want two flavors but don’t want to pay extra, ask for 1/2 pump of one and 1/2 pump of the other syrup.



Daniel Carter

Daniel Carter is a senior writer and editor at Usevoucher. His work has been featured by The Associated Press, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When he’s not writing about money, Carter enjoys traveling around the world.