When it comes to coffee, most of us are familiar with the classic espresso and latte – two delicious drinks popularly seen on any café menu.

But do you know what makes these two different from each other? And which one is truly better?

Quick Answer: What’s the difference between an espresso and a latte?

The main difference between an espresso and a latte is in the proportion of milk to coffee. An espresso is just one shot of concentrated coffee, while a latte consists of one shot of espresso mixed with 6 oz steamed milk and topped with a layer of foam.

Espresso vs. Latte: How Do They Differ & Which Is Better?

In this article, it’s time to explore the world of espresso vs. latte, learn the difference between them, and delve into which one might be better for you.

By the end of reading this article, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of both types of coffee so that the next time you order, they won’t seem like such foreign terms!

Espresso vs. latte, how do they differ?

Before getting into all of the differences in-depth, you can have a look at the overview below for the main differences:

Which coffee?A single serving of coffeeOne espresso shot
Milk used?No milk usedYes, 6 oz (0.18 l)
Flavor notesA smoky, complex, and bittersweet flavorSlightly sweet, creamy, and well-rounded flavor
Caffeine content68mg of caffeine68mg of caffeine
Number of caloriesVirtually no calories110 calories
Any toppings?Has a nice crema on topMilk foam topping
Add-in used?Sweetener of choiceSweetener of choice

Now that you know about the differences between these delicious drinks, it’s time to go over them in detail:

Is espresso stronger than a latte?

Espresso is definitely stronger than a latte. An espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee. On the other hand, a latte is still made with an espresso base, but it includes 6 ounces of steamed milk, which makes up the majority of the beverage volume.

To understand why, it’s important to examine the differences between the two types of coffee drinks.

An espresso is just a shot of intense coffee- usually containing around 1-2 ounces or 30 milliliters of liquid:

Espresso with crema as seen from above.

There are no other added ingredients; you just taste pure, concentrated coffee with all its natural flavors and aromas intact.

A latte, on the other hand, takes that same concentrated shot of espresso and adds 6 ounces (180 ml) of steamed milk with foam on top:

Upside-down latte, ready to drink.

This addition reduces the potency and flavor intensity levels while giving those who prefer milder tastes something they can enjoy as well.

Which is sweeter, an espresso or a latte?

A latte is usually sweetened by added sugar or syrups before it’s served, making it much sweeter than an espresso shot.

The espresso itself has a very low sweetness on its own due to its highly concentrated flavor and high levels of bitterness.

Brewing espresso shots.

A latte adds milk to the coffee, which cuts the bitter notes and gives it more balance, resulting in a smoother drink with less bite and more sweetness.

Adding steamed milk also helps create a creamy texture, which further mellows out the coffee’s acidity while maintaining some of its natural flavors.

This makes a latte taste naturally sweeter without adding additional sugar or syrup.

How many calories are in an espresso vs. a latte?

The amount of calories in an espresso vs. a latte can vary significantly depending on what type of milk and ingredients you use.

A classic espresso shot contains virtually no calories since it contains hot water and coffee grounds.

On the other hand, a latte is more calorie-dense due to its increased milk content and any additional sweeteners or flavorings you might add.

Monin caramel sauce.

When looking at just one 8-ounce serving, a latte made with whole milk usually contains 110 calories, whereas an espresso has zero calories.

However, when ordering from your local café or coffee shop, your latte may contain extras like cream or syrups, which suddenly add more fat and sugar to the beverage – resulting in higher caloric intake!

Is there a difference in caffeine content?

An espresso shot contains 68mg of caffeine per serving, as does a latte – meaning that despite having two very different coffee drinks, their caffeine contents are exactly the same!

The only difference lies in their sizes; an espresso shot is usually 1-2 ounces, whereas a regular or grande latte will be 8-16 ounces.

Three espresso shots stacked on top of each other.

Some coffee shops can prepare your latte with a doppio espresso (double espresso), increasing the caffeine content to 128mg, making it more potent than a single espresso shot.

Which is better, an espresso or a latte?

When it comes to coffee, there is no right or wrong answer. It really comes down to personal preference and the type of coffee experience you’re looking for.

An espresso is a concentrated shot of intense flavor that packs a punch, usually served in smaller amounts than other coffees.

Blonde espresso.

Generally speaking, espressos are darker, bolder, and more full-bodied with bitter notes compared to lattes, which have a sweeter taste due to added milk and sugar.

A latte comprises the same espresso but has 6 oz of steamed milk added.

The ratio difference between steamed milk and espresso makes this beverage deliciously smooth with strong yet mellow flavors.

The sweetness from the dairy helps balance out some of those sharper flavor components that may be present within an espresso shot on its own.

A side-by-side comparison between an espresso and a latte.
Espresso on the left. Latte on the right

If you’re not sure which would fit you the best, I suggest the following:

  • Order an espresso if you love a strong coffee flavor that is finished in just one or two slurps.
  •  Go with a latte if you love a more mellow coffee that you can enjoy while slowly sipping on it.

My go-to is usually an espresso, as I love the more intense flavor. But I also like to enjoy a latte occasionally.

Related coffee comparison articles

Are you wondering how an espresso and a latte compare to other coffees?

Great! Check out the articles below for more in-depth coffee comparisons:

And to compare more coffees, visit the coffee comparison hub!


In conclusion, the difference between an espresso and a latte comes down to many subtle qualities.

Most noticeably, the espresso has a more concentrated flavor, while a latte will be more creamy with added steamed milk.

The espresso is also known for its strong aroma due to the amount of pressure used to make it.

Both drinks have different tastes that appeal to different people’s needs and preferences.

Ultimately, both the espresso and latte provide unique experiences depending on the desired outcome.

Learn more about coffee

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