Undoubtedly one of the most popular drinks ordered in coffee shops across the world, the latte is one of the classic ways to drink coffee but how many people know what is in a latte and how it is actually made?
A latte is much more than just a white coffee and its milky cappuccino content and mild flavor are what makes it so well-liked. Although it tastes mild it still offers that caffeine kick that most coffee drinkers crave when buying a beverage.
So, what is it about the latte that makes it special, and what goes into this drink to give it the unique flavor, strength, and combination that everyone enjoys so much? The word latte comes from the Italian phrase café e latte which literally translated means coffee and milk.
And these are the two key ingredients to creating the perfect latte – but it’s not just any old coffee and it’s not just any type of milk. This is what makes the latte stand out from any other type of milky coffee.
A latte is that perfect combination of espresso shots to provide the strength and coffee flavor, and frothy hot steamed milk. It is normally around one-third coffee and two-thirds milk and normally comes with foam on top.
There are of course different sizes available, but in terms of the ratio of coffee to milk, this forms the ideal latte flavor. Once you have your perfect latte created you can enjoy it as it is, or you can adapt it to your own particular tastes.
The great thing about the latte is it’s quite easy to then add different flavors into it, such as syrups like vanilla or mocha, or you can make it with different kinds of milk, including non-dairy options such as soy milk or almond milk.
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Latte is great if you like the taste of espresso, but you prefer it to be diluted. The steamed milk component helps to dilute the acidity of the coffee as well as the caffeine content, making it a mild but tasty drink.
The Art of the Latte
One of the attractions of the latte is the way baristas use the foam on top of the drink to create art, making shapes in the drink to amuse the customers. This tradition has gained so much traction there is even an international latte art competition held every year.
The History of the Latte
Although the name comes from Italian words, it is thought the invention of the latte that so many people enjoy today is American. Coffee and milk have been enjoyed together since the 1600s but there has been no reference to a latte in European cafes of old.
In the 1700s, Austrian coffee houses started to offer a Kapuziner, which featured coffee with cream and sugar and some spice, and this is where the extremely popular Italian cappuccino is thought to have originated.
However, throughout history, even during World War 2, there was no reference to a latte on café menus in Europe, even though coffee was often consumed for breakfast across the continent. It started out in America, using the word latte as shorthand for café latte or milky coffee and grew from there.
Over time, latte came to refer to the combination of espresso shot and milk and so it became a common option on our coffee house menus and grew in popularity across Europe as well, thanks to the spread of American coffee chains.
Can I Make My Own Latte at Home?
It is possible to recreate your own favorite latte at home, but you will need some coffee-making equipment if you want to achieve all the effects which make this drink so special when you get one from a coffee shop.
To make your latte at home, you will need:
- An espresso machine
- A milk frother unless your machine has this facility
- A jug
- A coffee grinder
- Fresh espresso coffee beans
- A cup
The first thing you will need to do is grind your espresso coffee beans and for this to work, it’s important to have a really good quality coffee grinder. You need to grind the beans into a fine powder to make espresso coffee.
If you don’t want to go through this step you can always just buy ready-ground espresso coffee and use that instead, but you will need an espresso machine to then brew your espresso shots for your home-made latte.
Once your coffee is ready, set up your espresso machine to brew your coffee for you. While this is brewing, you can start working on your milk. You need to heat it up in a pan and then use your milk frother to stir up the milk and get that froth going. Be careful when doing this process as you don’t want to end up with hot milk all over the place. You might want to transfer your hot milk into a deep bowl.
Next, add your espresso shots into your mug, pour the milk over and give it a good stir, and then your homemade latte is ready to be drunk and enjoyed.
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If you want to make a cold version of a latte for a hot summer’s day you can go through the same process but instead of heating up your milk, simply add cold milk to your espresso shots and throw in some ice cubes for good measure.
Also read: Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers – 2021 Reviews
The latte is a very versatile coffee drink allowing you to switch up the flavors and the milk, enjoyable with added syrup or sugar, as well as plain and you can even make it with tea instead of coffee if you fancy a complete change.
Making a latte at home is easy if you have the equipment you need so why not give it a go and enjoy your milky American-style coffee in the comfort of your own living room or garden, rather than relying on an expensive coffee shop to do it for you?