In today’s article, we are going to find out what a latte is, how this preparation is made, and how it differs from other similar (but not the same) preparations that may be confusing to the uninitiated consumer.
For example, we have already seen the difference between a cappuccino and a latte macchiato, but a caffé latte has nothing to do with either of them.
It is a mixed coffee and milk drink, much more popular in European and English-speaking countries.
If you don’t know what a latte is, this article will teach you quickly. And if you already know the concept, with the help of the following lines, you will probably discover techniques and little tricks to perfect it and make it at home as if you were a professional barista.
What is the latte like? Ingredients
A latte is a preparation equivalent, but not identical, to what we know as a coffee with milk.
How is latte coffee made? Very simple: it is made from an espresso coffee, on top of which hot milk is poured, and a small layer of milk foam (or emulsified milk), lightly aerated, is poured on top.
In other words, a latte consists of:
- Espresso coffee
- hot milk
- milk foam (not too thick)
The proportions of espresso coffee and hot milk vary according to taste, depending on whether you prefer a fuller or milder coffee latte. However, the traditional ratio is usually one-third espresso and two thirds hot milk, with a light layer of milk foam on top to add creaminess (or for the barista to show off his latte art skills).
It is important that the milk emulsion is not too much: the foam should not have too much air in it, nor should it be too thin. A latte has a rather light foam. For example, a cappuccino has a milk foam with much more air, denser and thicker. And coffee with milk (the one we order in bars) has hot milk without emulsifying it.
From this standard arrangement, each customer and each region is a different universe. There can be as many lattes as there are people in the world.
It is also an optional feature of a real latte to decorate the top milk foam with a pattern, latte art style (as can be done in other preparations with foam, such as cappuccino or flat white).
Coffee Latte vs Latte Macchiato differences
As we have already mentioned, latte macchiato is perhaps the brew that is most often confused with a coffee latte. We do not know if it is because both use hot milk and milk foam, or if it is because of the presence of the word “latte” (in many countries, the expression simple latte is used to order a latte macchiato, while latte coffee has to be ordered in a different way.
To cut to the chase, the differences between latte and latte macchiato are as follows:
- In latte macchiato the espresso is served on top of the milk, last. In the latte, the espresso is served first in the cup.
- Latte macchiato is served in a tall glass. The latte is served in a large cup.
- The latte macchiato has a higher proportion of milk, and therefore a milder taste (less full-bodied) than the latte.
How to prepare a latte
If you want to know how to prepare a latte in a professional way, you can learn how to do it in this video. Although with the step-by-step explanations we’ve already given you, you shouldn’t have too many problems.
And as we know that not everyone has a catering coffee machine, a press or a milk frother like the one used by professional baristas (and like the one in the video), we will also tell you later on how you can make your latte at home without complicating your life too much.
How to make latte coffee at home?
A latte is one of those preparations that can be made at home without too many problems, with a result similar to that of coffee shops, as it is not very technically complex. First, you must make a conventional espresso, and when you have it in the cup, you must be sure to emulsify the milk slightly.
As we have said that the foam should not be very dense, you can do it by hand without the help of a milk frother (which not everyone has at home), although logically, you will always get a better result with a good tool.
Once you have your espresso black and your milk slightly emulsified, pour the milk over the coffee and fill the cup. The drawings on the cream layer are left to the professionals.
Of course, the better the espresso, the better the resulting latte will taste.
Remember that if you do not emulsify the hot milk, even slightly, you will be making a normal coffee with milk, not a latte.
Other related articles
As the good coffee lovers that we are, on our website, you will find numerous articles related to the different elaborations with coffee. If you are curious about any of them, you can take a look at the following list:
So… do you still have any doubts? Do you already know what a caffe latte is and how to prepare it? Do you like to drink it in a particular or different way from what we have explained here?