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What is a Latte, thumbnail

What is a Latte? History, Variations, Recipe + Bonus Tips!

If you need an extra boost of energy in the morning, you can go for a shot of espresso. However, for some coffee enthusiasts, espresso is a little bit too much. They need something light and sweet but still something that still comes with a kick. And if this is you, a latte could be the way to go. But first and foremost, what is a latte?

Latte is a flavorful espresso-based beverage that combines steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam.

It boasts a velvety and creamy texture and it is light on the stomach.

Latte is one of the most customizable drinks out there as it lets you:

  • Change the espresso-to-milk ratio
  • Add various flavorings
  • You can even ditch espresso and use tea instead

But what’s so special about a latte, the favorite of millions of coffee aficionados around the world?

And how do you make one? Well, you’ll find it down below!

The History of the Caffe Latte

William Dean Howell coined the word “caffe latte” in his Italian Journeys published back in 1867.

However, Europeans were well familiar with the coffee plus milk combination decades before William even published the essay.

But it’s American tourists who made latte famous.

Back in the 19th-century thousands of Americans were frequently visiting some parts of Italy and they initially got familiar with cappuccino as the traditional coffee Italians were serving in their cafes.

However, Americans did not like the intense flavor of the espresso base.

So they decided to add more milk to this beverage to make it more palatable.

They steamed and frothed milk to mellow the taste of espresso.

The result?

The result was a richer and deeper coffee, yet less overwhelming with creamy at the base and bubbly atop – what we now know as caffe latte!

That’s also how frothing accessories became immensely popular.

The owner of the famous Caffe Mediterraneum, Lino Meiorin, introduced latte to Californians in the 1950s.

Yet, the latte craze started 3 decades later – in the 80s in Seattle, Washington and it then spanned all around Europe and Scandinavia.

Later on, in the 90s coffee lovers adopted the commercialized term caffe latte or simply latte.

How to Make a Latte? The Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s a simple latte recipe for you, including how to make a latte home without any equipment!

What You’ll Need:

  • Espresso or brewed coffee
  • 6-8 oz of milk
  • Cocoa powder
  • Large cup/glass

Instructions:

  1. Make a shot or two of espresso in an espresso or espresso-capsule machine.
    Alternatively: Brew some coffee in an Aeropress machine and pour it in a glass.
  2. Put around 8 oz of milk in a pitcher to steam it.
  3. Submerge the steaming wand and leave its tip 1 to 2 inches above the milk surface.
    Note: After a few seconds, the milk will start moving in a circular motion and begin to turn creamy. You can also wait for a few additional seconds to make some froth as well.
  4. Slowly pour your steamed milk into the glass, over the espresso.
    Note: Steamed milk goes first, and the froth will follow.
  5. Sprinkle your latte with some chocolate or cinnamon powder.

How to Make Latte at Home? (Without Fancy Equipment)

  1. Grind 2 spoons of espresso beans, add 3 oz of water to your Moka pot, add ground coffee to the filter, and place the pot on a stove.
    Alternatively: Use a French press to pull a shot or two of espresso.
  2. Pour 6-8 oz of milk into a jar, screw the lid, and shake it like there’s no tomorrow for 30 to 60 seconds to make some froth.
  3. Take the lid off and put the jar into a microwave for another 30 seconds to stabilize the froth.
  4. Pour espresso in a cup/glass, then slowly pour milk while using a spoon to hold back the foam. Add the foam atop as well and sprinkle your latte with some nutmeg.

What is a latte, barista making latte art

Bonus Tips on Making a Latte

Here are 6 brilliant tips and hacks to take your latte experience to a whole new level!

1. Syrup first, espresso later

If you want to make a flavored latte (chocolate, vanilla, or any other flavor), then do this:

  1. Pour the syrup
  2. Follow with espresso

This will help it to dissolve better.

2. More creamy and thick latte? Get whole milk!

Use whole milk if you want to achieve a nice thick and creamy texture of your latte.

But if you prefer bubbles and froth, then go for a skimmed milk.

And what about the best non-dairy latte?

Simply go for oat milk – it frots magnificently!

3. Freshly-ground coffee matters

Using freshly-ground coffee goes a lot better with latte than when you’re using pre-ground coffee.

4. The milk needs to be cold

Refrigerate the milk for around 30-45 minutes before you steam it.

Also, fill only about 1/3 of the steaming pitcher, as the air will triple its volume in the process.

5. Go deeper with the steam wand

Once you start steaming the milk and you only see large bubbles popping (with no to very little foam), create more steam pressure by submerging the steam wand about one inch deeper.

6. Don’t steam beyond 150°F

If you continue with steaming the milk after the temperature reaches 145 to 150°F, the milk will lose its taste and spoil your beverage.

What is a latte, a glass of flavored latte

What is a Flavored Latte?

A flavored latte is a traditional latte (espresso plus steamed milk) with a hint of extra flavor (flavoring syrup or powder).

Some of the most popular flavors include:

  • Vanilla
  • Hazelnut
  • Almond
  • Cinnamon
  • Caramel
  • Raspberry
  • Buttered rum
  • Toffee
  • Irish crème
  • Orange
  • Pumpkin spice
  • Peppermint

You can even spot some interesting flavors such as marshmallow-coconut or strawberry-raspberry latte on various menus around the world.

And some flavored lattes come with whipped cream or toppings on top.

Other Latte Variations

If you are not a fan of espresso, you can have a decent matcha or chai tea-based latte instead.

If you want a slimmer version of a latte or if you are intolerant to milk, you can use soy, coconut, almond, or hemp milk.

Not only that but you can prepare an iced latte as well.

Extract a shot or two of espresso, pour in 6-8 oz of cold milk, plop some ice cubes, and enjoy!

What is a latte, a glass of latte macchiato

What is the Difference Between a Latte and a Latte Macchiato?

You need a different amount of espresso to make latte and latte macchiato

Also, the ingredients are added in a different order in these two drinks.

Latte macchiato is made with less coffee (espresso) than regular latte.

To make a latte, you should pour 1 or 2 shots of espresso first, then follow that with the steamed milk.

But with latte macchiato, you pour steamed milk first and then you add a ½ shot of espresso.

Thus, the latte macchiato is a lot less caffeinated than the latte.

What is a latte, a cup of cappuccino

Latte vs Cappuccino – What is the Difference?

Here’s the difference between these popular coffee drinks:

  • Latte – 2 shots of espresso, steamed milk and a thin to a medium-thick layer of foam
  • Cappuccino – 1 shot of espresso, steamed milk and a very thin layer of microfoam on top

Latte has a creamier texture and a more subtle taste, while the cappuccino is forthy and intense.

Cappuccino also features a higher caffeine content and it has fewer calories (134kcal per serving) than the latte (210kcal per cup).

Another key difference is how these two drinks are served.

Cappuccino is typically served in 5-7 oz cups, while latte comes in much taller 11-15 oz cups/glasses.

What is the Difference Between the Latte and the Flat White?

You need the same amount of espresso to make either of these drinks but different ratios of milk are used (the flat white has less milk).

For this reason, the flat white is a much stronger beverage than the latte and has higher caffeine content.

A latte features a rich layer of steamed milk and a layer of milk foam.

But the flat white comes with a thin layer of steamed milk, with no foam.

What is a latte, a man pouring an espresso shot over milk

FAQ

1. Is Latte Stronger than Coffee?

A latte made with one shot of espresso has less caffeine than a typical cup of brewed coffee.

Yet, a regular or triple-shot latte has the same, maybe even a slightly higher dose of caffeine than regular drip coffee.

2. Is a Latte Unhealthy?

No, latte is just a coffee drink that simply contains more milk than other espresso-based beverages.

One cup of latte a day is no big issue anyhow, although latte contains more calories than other popular options such as cappuccino and macchiato.

However, it would be best to stick to a classic latte if you drink it daily.

Or alternatively switch to skimmed milk to avoid any excess fats and calories if you’re on a strict diet.

3. Dry vs Wet Latte

A wet latte comes with loads of steamed milk but very little foam.

While a dry latte is just the opposite – less steamed milk, more foam.

A bone-dry latte is all about foam and comes with no steamed milk at all.

4. Is Latte the Same as Latte Art?

No, latte is the drink while latte art stands for the patterns and shapes on the top layer of the drink.

Latte refers to the milk plus coffee drink, while latte art means creating artistic swirls by using steamed and aerated milk atop of your coffee to add some aesthetic appeal to it.

Experienced baristas know how to draw various shapes and patterns by hand, while amateurs use stencils.

You can even turn your selfie into coffee art and enjoy a latte/cappuccino with your portrait atop – selfieccino.

Conclusion

Latte is one of the most popular coffee beverages in the world and it’s a part of the daily routine of many coffee lovers across the globe.

It can give you that slight boost of energy in the morning and please your milky cravings.

No matter whether you are into dairy or non-dairy variants, classic or flavored – caffe latte is always delicious!

Now, when do you usually have your latte?

During breakfast or at any time of the day?

Also, what’s your favorite latte variation?

And are you well-versed in latte art?

Don’t be shy and drop your answer below!

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