Get to Know the Latte: What is it?

8 min read MAY 03, 2023

Coffee is a universally cherished beverage, with its creamy and intense flavor resulting from the harmonious blend of espresso and thick milk. This exquisite combination creates an impeccable balance between sweetness and strength, leaving coffee aficionados in utter pleasure.

What is A Latte?

A latte is a classic coffee type consisting of espresso and steamed milk. The name "latte" has its origins in the Italian phrase "caffè e latte," which simply translates to "coffee & milk." Generally, a latte will consist of 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk, with a thin layer of microfoam on the surface.

Typically, lattes come served in sizes between 10-12 ounces; however, baristas may be able to adjust the size if requested. A latte is a great way to start your day, as it provides an energizing caffeine boost while being light and smooth at the same time.

Latte aficionados have plenty of reasons to rejoice, with countless flavors and variations now available. Whether you're after something traditional or a more daring option, there's sure to be a latte for every palate.

Why Fall In Love With The Latte?

The beauty of lattes is that there is something for everyone. Whether you are in the mood for a robust espresso or something milder, lattes proffer various options. You can customize them with flavorings such as mocha, caramel, vanilla, other syrups, and different milk types like soy, almond, coconut, or oat.

Or, if you're looking for an even milder version of your favorite caffeine fix-up, try supplementing the coffee with tea. Popular teas such as masala chai, matcha, and rooibos are all excellent alternatives that still provide the same great taste while being gentler on the stomach.

Latte Art: Making A Masterpiece?

Latte art is an art form celebrated by baristas worldwide, and each year the skill is tested in an international competition. This unique practice requires precision and finesse as steamed milk is carefully poured into espresso to create intricate designs such as flowers, leaves, and heart shapes. It's no wonder that latte art continues growing in popularity among coffee enthusiasts. Creating these designs can be challenging, but with dedication and practice, anyone can master this skill.

The Legend of The Latte

The Italian cappuccino first appeared in the late 1700s, with Austria's coffee houses offering a beverage known as the Kapuziner. This unique and delectable treat was crafted from coffee, cream, sugar, and spices - an irresistible combination! Later on, this delicious drink captured the imaginations of many English-speaking countries and was eventually mentioned by William Dean Howells under a new name: "caffè e latte" in one of his essays written back in 1867.

Interestingly enough, this beloved coffee beverage was not found on French or Italian menus until after World War II, even though coffee had been enjoyed as part of breakfast for many years prior. It wasn't until then that baristas started referring to it simply as "latte" – shorthand for the words "caffe latte," which translates to "coffee and milk."

From then on, the term "latte" referred exclusively to an espresso beverage mostly made up of milk – and the rest is now part of popular coffee culture.

Drink Comparisons

Navigating through the multitude of coffee-based drinks is daunting, particularly regarding espresso beverages. While one of the most popular choices in this area remains the latte, several other options offer unique flavor profiles and just as much indulgence. To help make understanding these variations easier, here's a comparison of some frequently consumed espresso-based coffee concoctions compared to the beloved latte.

Cafe Au Lait

A café au lait is a coffee drink that blends 1/2 drip-brewed coffee and 1/2 steamed milk, whereas lattes use espresso rather than the standard brew. It ultimately gives the café au lait less caffeine than its espresso-based counterpart.

Café au lait offers a creamy and delightful cup of coffee while proffering milder levels of caffeine than regular brews. Even those not fond of intensely flavored coffees can find it full-bodied yet comforting due to its subtle taste profile. Thus, café au lait is the perfect choice for individuals seeking an enjoyable cup without excessive intensity or strength.

Latte Macchiato

The latte macchiato is a delicious blend of espresso and steamed milk, but what sets it apart from the classic latte is how these ingredients are combined. Rather than adding the espresso first and then pouring in the steamed milk as with a latte, the reverse process occurs when making a latte macchiato. The steamed milk is poured into the cup to create a velvety microfoam texture before topping it off with half a shot of espresso.

This results in an attractive layered drink with an unmistakable spot of espresso known as 'macchia' floating on top. Not only does this make this drink its unique appearance, but it also means less caffeine content than in a classic latte, making it a great choice for those searching to reduce their caffeine intake.


The cappuccino is a widely beloved espresso-based drink with more caffeine than its larger cousin, the latte. After combining three ounces of espresso and three ounces of steamed milk with an ample layer of luxuriant foam to make this traditional Italian beverage, you are left with just six delectable ounces that will make any morning brighter.

This combination gives the cappuccino its signature bold flavor and texture that many coffee aficionados love. Compared to the latte, which has less milk foam and is made up of larger proportions of steamed milk, the cappuccino offers a stronger caffeinated kick without compromising taste.

How To Make a Latte


The beloved latte is a staple of the coffee world, and any barista worth their salt should know how to make one. Crafting your cup at home requires only an espresso machine and some milk - it's that easy.
To create a delicious latte, you'll need the following:

  • An espresso machine
  • A milk frother
  • A milk pitcher (optional coffee grinder if desired)
  • 7-9 ounces of your preferred type of milk
  • 16.5 grams of ground espresso beans
  • A0-12 ounce sized latte cup

Once you have all the necessary ingredients, you can start brewing your perfect latte.

Think Normal Lattes Are Lame?

Love to spice things up a bit? With the latter being versatile and customizable, you can tailor ingredients to your preference for an entirely novel experience.

What About Tea?

If tea is more up your alley than espresso, making a delicious latte with any kind of tea is achievable. You only need to steep the same amount of loose-leaf tea in hot water and combine it with steamed milk. There are endless combinations for creating an incredible cup of tea latte - whether you like black or green teas.

Make It Iced

An iced latte is a perfect solution when you need a refreshing drink. Making your iced latte is easy; all you have to do is brew espresso (or tea) as usual, but instead of steaming milk, pour cold milk into the cup. Add a few ice cubes to the top of your drink to keep it cold and ensure its longevity. You'll be sipping on a delicious homemade iced latte in no time.

Wrapping Up

With that, you can make a latte easily wherever and whenever. Making a latte is an ideal starting point if you are new to coffee brewing but want to explore it further. So have fun concocting your lattes - enjoy them heartily, as always.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?

The main difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the proportion of espresso, steamed milk, and foam used in their preparation. A latte uses more steamed milk than a cappuccino, resulting in a milder flavor and creamier texture. On the other hand, cappuccinos are made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam - this combination gives it a bold flavor. The difference in ratio helps distinguish between the two drinks.

Can I make lattes without an espresso machine?

Yes! You can make delicious lattes without an espresso machine by making your "instant" substitute. Start by grinding fresh coffee beans and combining them with hot water. Let the mixture steep for a few minutes, then strain it into a mug or cup. Add steamed or frothed milk to your espresso substitute for an extra creamy texture and enjoy your homemade latte. The possibilities are endless; you can add flavors like vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, or even chocolate to make your latte unique.

Can I make a tea latte?

Absolutely! Instead of espresso, you only need to steep an equal amount of your favorite loose-leaf tea in water and then combine it with steamed milk for a tasty cup of tea latte. Whether you like black or green teas, there are endless possibilities for making a great-tasting tea latte.

Can I Make Lattes at Home?

Yes! Making lattes at home is easy - all you need to do is gather your ingredients, learn the proper technique for brewing espresso (or tea for tea lattes), and have some patience. With practice, you'll be able to craft your barista-level latte quickly.

Can I Substitute Milk for Other Dairy Alternatives?

Absolutely! Depending on your preference, you can use alternative milk such as oat, almond, or soy milk to make lattes. The amount of liquid and foam produced may vary slightly depending on the type of milk used, but these dairy alternatives will still produce a delicious cup of latte.

How Do I Make an Iced Latte?

Making an iced latte is incredibly simple - just brew espresso (or tea) as usual, but instead of steaming milk, pour cold milk into the cup. Add a few ice cubes to the top of your drink to keep it cold and ensure its longevity. In no time, you'll be sipping on a delicious iced latte.

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