Coffee drinkers everywhere love lattes. Lattes give you the perfect blend of sweet milk and strong coffee, making for the perfect pick-me-up during the day. However, lattes can be expensive at coffee shops, so how do you brew one at home?

A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. The latte originates in Italy and is made either hot or iced. To brew a latte at home, you’ll need an espresso maker (preferably one with a milk steamer) and a milk frother. While whole milk works best in lattes, any milk will do.

The rest of this article will discuss what makes a latte and latte, the differences between the latte and other similar coffee drinks, and I will go more in-depth about the materials and ingredients you need to brew a latte at home (both iced and hot).

I’ll also go over the frequently asked questions regarding lattes.

What makes a latte a latte?

If you’re not super knowledgeable about coffee drinks and their differences, you probably don’t know what makes each drink different from the other.

Lattes are often confused with cappuccinos, which are similar coffee drinks, yet still different. The main differences between coffee drinks are the way they’re made and the amount of milk.

Latte is a shortened form of the Italian word caffellatte, which translates to “coffee and milk.” Hot lattes consist mainly of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. A hot latte drink includes three parts: ⅓ espresso and ⅔ steamed milk and topped with a layer of foamed milk.

Latte coffee.

While some people might choose to add extra espresso shots, the amount of milk typically stays the same.

An iced latte is made a little differently. While it still has the shot of espresso, instead of steamed milk, it’s mixed with chilled milk and isn’t topped with foamed milk. Many people prefer to add various flavors to their iced lattes as well.

Difference between a latte and a cappuccino

Now that you know what makes up a latte (⅓ espresso, ⅔ steamed milk, and topped with foam), knowing how that differs from a cappuccino is essential.

Since they’re so similar, it’s easy to accidentally make a cappuccino when you meant to make a latte.

A cappuccino consists of ⅓ espresso, ⅓ steamed milk, and ⅓ foam. Making a latte and a cappuccino requires the same ingredients, and a cappuccino is only the slightest bit different from a latte.

However, this difference can change the taste significantly. Have a look below for a side-by-side view between the two:

Cappuccino vs. latte comparison.
Cappuccino on the left. Latte on the right.

Are you interested in learning more about the differences between these drinks? Then you can find more information in this comparison article.

How do you brew a latte at home?

While lattes are delicious and can be a great start to your day, buying one from a coffee shop every day adds up. Therefore, knowing how to brew your own latte at home can save you both time and money.

To brew a latte at home, you need to invest in an espresso machine, preferably with the ability to steam milk. After making the espresso, add it to a cup with steamed milk. Then, use a milk frother to froth a small amount of milk to top it off. The latte should be ⅓ espresso and ⅔ steamed milk.

Below I’ll go over everything you need to know to brew a latte at home, including the materials and ingredients required. I’ll also suggest different options for espresso machines.

1. Have the correct equipment

While technically, you can make a latte without an espresso machine, having an espresso machine makes the process so much easier and quicker.

Without an espresso machine, the best way to make espresso for a latte is to use a French press, and the espresso typically won’t be as strong.

An espresso made in a French press.

Therefore, investing in a quality espresso machine is ideal. I recommend checking out the Chefman 6-in-1 Espresso Machine from Amazon.

This espresso machine explicitly makes cappuccinos and lattes with just the push of a button. Therefore, this machine is fantastic for those just beginning their latte-making journey.

The Chefman gives you the option for a single or double shot of espresso, and it comes with a built-in milk froth, so all you have to do is add water and milk to the respective containers.

While the price is relatively expensive to some (but is still on the low side when it comes to espresso machines), it will save you money in the long run.

However, if you’d rather spend less money and use a French press to make your espresso, I recommend the Utopia French Press Espresso from Amazon. This French press has excellent ratings on Amazon, and is easy to use.

Steaming milk can be done in the microwave or on the stove. However, to get that foamed milk to top off a latte, you’ll need a milk frother. The FrothBlask Milk Frother on Amazon is handheld, so it’s small and portable.

You can check out my guide on how to froth milk here. Over there, I’ll go over six ways you can froth milk at home!

2. Have the correct ingredients

As I’ve already discussed, you’ll need a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk to make the proper latte. Lattes are traditionally made with whole milk, as steamed whole milk is a smooth and creamy consistency, which is best for lattes.

When it comes to the milk foam on top, non-fat or skim milk (due to the thinner consistency) makes the most bubbly froth and is a lot easier for those just starting out.

Frothing milk with milk frother.

However, as kinds of milk have varying thicknesses and flavors, you’ll notice that whole milk has one of the thickest foam capabilities.

Despite this, any milk you choose will work fine for a latte, even if some kinds of milk aren’t as creamy as others.

Therefore, depending on your preference of foam consistency will tell you what type of milk is best for frothing.

Are you still looking for the perfect coffee beans for your latte journey at home? Check out my recommendations here for the best coffee beans for lattes!

3. Make the latte

After you’ve gathered the right ingredients and you have everything ready, making the latte is easy. As there are only three ingredients involved, all you have to do is put them together.

So, after making an espresso shot, either in an espresso machine or a French press, you pour the steamed milk on top of it and then add the foam.

Brewing espresso shots.

Although many people enjoy hot lattes, iced lattes are becoming more and more popular. Making an iced latte includes making a shot of espresso and preferably chilling the espresso shot.

After adding a chilled espresso shot to ice, you add your milk of choice as well as any sweeteners.

You can also make your iced latte with cold foam, which is my favorite way of doing so. Cold foam can easily be made at home and will give your iced latte a bit more texture.

Have you made cold foam at home before? If not, you can check out this guide about five ways of doing so!

How do you steam milk for a latte?

Don’t worry if you don’t have a milk steamer- you can still steam milk the old-fashioned way. While most avid coffee drinkers use milk steamers or have one connected to their coffee machines, there are other ways to get steamed milk.

To steam milk for a latte, you can either use a milk steamer, steam it on the stovetop, or steam it in the microwave. When using the microwave or stovetop, use a thermometer to test the milk until it reaches about 158℉ (70°C).

Scalded milk.

Latte beginners frequently asked questions

For people who are just beginning to experiment with making lattes or other coffee drinks, or even those who aren’t sure what to order at a coffee shop, beginners have numerous questions since there are so many drinks similar to lattes.

Similarities include cappuccinos and macchiatos.

Therefore, here are some frequently asked questions regarding lattes:

Is a latte stronger than coffee?

Because espresso is stronger than coffee, many people think lattes will be stronger or have a higher caffeine content since they’re made with espresso. However, this isn’t always the case.

A latte is not stronger than coffee. As a latte is typically made with only one espresso shot, a cup of regular coffee technically has more caffeine, making it stronger. However, adding two espresso shots to a latte will significantly increase its caffeine, making it stronger.

Espresso shot in a small glass.

Of course, this also depends on the type and size of coffee in comparison. However, in terms of a regular-sized coffee, it’s stronger than a latte.

Is a latte sweet?

With all of the varying coffee drinks and the many types of sweeteners you can add, the term “sweet” is debatable when it comes to coffee.

One person’s definition of sweet might not be the same as someone else’s. However, with lattes, many coffee lovers agree on their sweetness.

Lattes are typically sweet because of the layer of milk on top of the espresso. With hot lattes, adding other sweeteners or syrups isn’t common like it is with iced lattes. Therefore, iced lattes are often sweeter than hot lattes, depending on the added sweeteners.

What is the difference between a mocha and a latte?

Mocha and lattes, like lattes and cappuccinos, are very similar. They have most of the same ingredients, and when it comes to mochas, the ingredients are distributed mostly the same as lattes. However, there is one slight difference.

Mochas and lattes are made very similarly with espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. However, mochas have chocolate sauce added, giving it a sweeter chocolatey flavor. Therefore the main difference between a mocha and a latte is that a mocha has the added sweetness of chocolate sauce.

Mocha coffee.

Mochas are better for people who prefer sweeter coffee drinks, as the chocolate sauce makes the drink sweeter.

Both drinks are made with the same amount of espresso. Therefore with a mocha, you’ll have the same caffeine content but with a sweeter flavor.

What is a blonde latte?

If you’re a coffee (or latte) drinker and you’ve wondered what a blonde latte is and how it’s different- you’re not alone. While it’s often seen on the menu, especially at Starbucks, not many people know what it is or how it differs from a regular latte.

Blonde latte is a latte made with blonde espresso, which is lighter and smoother than regular espresso. Blonde lattes, although sweeter, tend to have higher caffeine content. One ounce (29 ml) of blonde espresso contains 85 mg (0.0029 oz) of caffeine, whereas traditional espresso contains 75 mg (0.0026 oz).

Starbucks blonde roast.

Because of the higher caffeine content and sweeter flavor, a lot of people enjoy blonde lattes. However, not everyone loves their coffee to taste sweet, so it depends on a person’s personal preference.

What is the difference between a flat white and a latte?

Both a flat white and a latte are made up of espresso and steamed milk. So, while many people may think they’re the same, they have some key differences.

A flat white and a latte are made with the same ingredients but differ in size. A flat white is typically only five to six ounces (147 to 177 ml), whereas a latte is anywhere from eight to ten ounces. Flat white is also topped with a thin layer of steamed milk, which contrasts the latte.

Since a flat white is typically smaller (although this may differ depending on where you are), the drink is much stronger than a latte.

The drinks have the same amount of espresso but different amounts of milk. Therefore, the taste of the espresso will be significantly stronger.

What is a piccolo latte?

Piccolo lattes are not the most common drink. Therefore, you won’t see it on the menu at every coffee shop you go to.

However, piccolo lattes are nice and straightforward, and if you love the strong flavor of coffee, they may become your next favorite.

A piccolo latte is a small latte and is usually served in a three to four-ounce (88 to 118 ml) glass. Piccolo latte consists of one shot of espresso combined with two ounces of steamed milk. As the drink is smaller than the average latte, a piccolo latte has a stronger taste.

Final thoughts

A latte is a delicious coffee beverage that originated in Italy. Today, it’s a standard coffee drink and is served both hot and iced, making it a year-round favorite of many.

However, a latte isn’t the most unique coffee beverage, as many other coffee drinks are incredibly similar.

A latte is made up of ⅓ espresso, ⅔ steamed milk, and a layer of foamed milk on top. It’s often compared to a cappuccino and macchiato.

Making a latte at home is easy with the right equipment, such as an espresso machine, milk steamer, and milk frother.

Latte recipes to try

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On my coffee blog you will find everything you need in order to start brewing coffee at home. Ranging from the basics; to the newest coffee recipes everybody talks about!

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