cafe latte

What is a Latte? (Definitive Guide)

What is a latte? Latte vs coffe with milk

Most coffee lovers will agree that there is nothing better than waking up to a hot cup of coffee to get you perked up for the day.

You may be looking forward to beginning your mornings with coffee.

And you may be feeling overwhelmed surrounded by the different brews and blends and names. Don’t worry! We have all been there.

Now it is impossible to talk about all the coffee types in the world in a day. If you are someone taking baby steps into the big, bold world of complex coffee flavors and tastes, we shall begin with something simple, delicious, and beautiful: the Latte.

Even if you have not tasted the drink, you might have probably heard of the term latte or the more official Café latte.

For a coffee newbie, a latte is very beginner-friendly, and the drink can be enjoyed with a lot of ease.

We will talk about all things latte here and leave no stones unturned.

By the end of this article, you might even be able to consider yourself an up-and-coming latte connoisseur!

What is a latte?

The base of a latte is a single or double shot of rich espresso blended with steaming milk in a 1:2 ratio. On top is a thin layer of microfoam. With a considerably higher milk content, latte is lighter and has a milder caffeine flavor when compared to other coffee favorites like cappuccino or macchiato. 

The word latte brings one image to mind: that of a steaming hot cup of milky foamy coffee. Unless you are in Italy where latte means milk, (so do remember that if you were to order coffee in Italy!) Latte or Café latte is one of the most popular coffee drinks enjoyed by people across the globe. 

So what does a latte contain?

The traditional latte was pretty much a standard mixture of espresso and milk.

But today, you will find many more variations, especially in Starbucks and other popular coffee chains where lattes come in different flavors like caramel, vanilla, mocha, and so on.

They can also be custom-created by adding different flavorings and delicious toppings. 

Is Latte a coffee?

The literal meaning of Café Latte is milk coffee. So yes, a latte is coffee and quite a popular one too!

Regular coffee differs from latte by being a much more intense brew with higher levels of caffeine. The milk content makes the latte a sweeter beverage when compared to a cup of plain brewed coffee.

If you are unfamiliar with bold coffee flavors and would like to start with something more palatable and pleasant, a latte would be a great first choice.

The caffeine content is on the lower side and the taste is milder. Which makes it easier to enjoy compared to, say, an espresso. 

What is in a latte?

Latte is a coffee-based beverage with two essential components: espresso and milk.

The proportion to which coffee and milk get mixed in is how latte differs from other coffee drinks. 

Caffeine in latte:

While coffee contains many substances, the first thing that comes to mind is, of course, caffeine.

Lattes typically use one to two espresso shots, and a single espresso shot(an ounce) contains about 63 mg of caffeineBy comparison, a regular cup of coffee can contain up to 100gms of caffeine.

Milk in Latte:

Latte means milk, so it’s easy to guess that latte is a pretty milky concoction.

The creamy steamed milk in the latte makes it very thick and sweet, but less intense than other coffees.

The quantity of milk would be at least double that of the espresso liquid traditionally, but you can find lattes with milk content up to three or four times as high.

Latte also comes with milk foam, created from hot aerated milk.

A layer of microfoam forms the top layer of a latte and it has a lovely velvety texture.

It’s also fun to watch baristas etch out creative patterns on this microfoam and turn lattes into a thing of beauty.

Other additives in Latte: 

Coffee is a bitter drink, so most people enjoy it with a splash of milk/ non-dairy and sometimes sweetener.

Coffee is often taken with sugar or syrups and a latte is no exception. Compared to regular coffee, the latte has a significantly higher sugar content which, along with milk, makes it very rich and a high-calorie drink.

Of course, you have sugar-free, dairy-free, and keto-friendly options that could bring down the calories.

Lattes can also be customized with extra flavors and toppings like chocolate, caramel syrup, cookie flavors, whipped cream, and even holiday flavors like eggnog, peppermint, pumpkin spice, etc.

What is the difference between a latte and coffee?

Latte falls under the broad umbrella of a coffee-based drink, but some differences make it dissimilar to regular coffee.

Latte vs regular coffee: Ingredients

Coffee is a beverage brewed from roasted and powdered coffee beans.

There are different coffee bean varieties, brewing methods, and styles for consuming coffee.

Coffee is naturally acrid and bitter-tasting, but adding milk and sugar can mellow down the intensity of the flavors.

On the other hand, a latte is prepared using espresso-style coffee, hot milk, foam, and sugar.

It is therefore a coffee-based drink. Lattes can be created with a single or double shot of espresso (or more if you can take a robust coffee flavor).

Latte vs regular coffee: Preparation

There are a lot of ways to brew coffee.

You could in fact find a zillion different ways to make your perfect brew! It can be as simple as boiling the coffee powder, using a french press like this one or a percolator, or even as instant coffee.

Each brew has varied caffeine content and yields a different flavor and taste.

Latte is made with a shot or two of espresso that forms a third of the cup.

The remaining two-thirds consist of steaming milk and on the top is a thin layer of foam. The richness and sweetness of the milk make the latte an irresistibly creamy drink!

Latte vs regular coffee: Health benefits

With a stack of amazing health benefits, it would not be an overstatement to say that coffee is quite the superfood!

The high caffeine content in regular coffee can do a lot to boost your energy levels and improve your mood.

Based on evidence, It can make your brain and heart healthier and lower the risk of diabetes II, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and even certain forms of cancers when consumed daily.

Latte contains caffeine too and may have some of its health advantages, but if you want coffee for your health, then latte might not be the best choice.

Despite the coffee content, the abundance of milk and other additives like sugar, syrups, caramel, or chocolate make it higher in fat and sugar. Latte is hence best consumed in moderation.

Latte vs Coffee: Cost

Many things can affect the cost of coffee like the quality and origin of the beans, the brewing process, the brand names, etc.

But on the whole, we can agree that a regular cup of coffee is a pretty inexpensive drink.

The cost can drop further down if you brew your own coffee at home.  

By comparison, a latte is a more expensive choice of coffee.

It requires considerable skill to make a cup of latte which can make it cost more if you prefer to buy it from a coffee shop.

For instance, a Venti-sized cup of plain coffee costs $2.45 at Starbucks, and the same costs $4.15 when it’s a latte.

Adding more milk, sugar, and foam is one reason for latte being more expensive. But costs are also driven up depending on your choice of extra toppings and flavorings.

Seasonal blends and holiday-special lattes also can cost you a pretty penny. 

Overall, regular coffee is wonderful for daily consumption, seeing how it benefits your health without burning a hole in your pocket. But if you are after an occasional indulgence, there is nothing better than a steaming cup of latte to warm you up!

Latte vs coffee with milk

Latte, as you know now, is simply milk and coffee. So you might wonder, how is it different from plain coffee taken with hot milk? 

Like latte, cappuccino, macchiato, americano, and even instant milk coffee are all coffees with milk.

What makes them different is the ratio of milk and coffee specific to each of them.

While latte has a two to one ratio for milk and espresso, macchiato has a one to two ratio and it varies for other coffee types.

The correct pouring technique also needs to be employed to create the perfect cup of latte.

This is important for the latte to taste rich and luscious and dissimilar to a simple brewed coffee with milk mixed in.

Unlike the fairly uncomplicated milk coffee, a latte contains more complex flavors and textures. You can also find the flavor and taste to vary greatly depending on the type of latte you order. 

Café Latte

Café latte is the most natural form of the latte, with Caffe meaning coffee in Italian and latte meaning milk. One-third of a latte is espresso and the remaining two-thirds is milk with a thin layer of milk foam on top.

It has a subtle caffeine flavor but a rich and creamy texture. Additional toppings, syrups, and substitutions also help create different blends of lattes.

Iced Latte

Iced latte is similar to a regular latte in that it is also a blend of milk, espresso, and sweetener. The difference? Iced latte is, in reality, a cold drink! It is a cool and creamy refreshing option for the summer when you are not in the mood for hot coffee.

Iced Latte has a strong, more intense coffee base and uses at least two espresso shots. Frothed milk is used instead of steamed milk and everything goes inside a tall glass filled with ice cubes.

Add a sweetener, some cold foam, and blend everything until you get a cup of delicious iced latte! Unlike iced coffee, an iced latte is a mellower drink despite having two or more espresso shots. It is a great choice if you are not a fan of bitter, acrid coffee.

Skinny latte

If the calories and milky richness of the latte are worrying to you, there’s good news. And that’s the skinny latte!

A skinny latte is quite similar to a regular latte, the main distinction being the type of milk used. It does away with the usual full-fat whole milk and replaces it with skimmed or nonfat milk. There is a thin layer of milk foam, but whipping cream is absent.

A sugar-free sweetener can also be used to make it lower in calories.

You can make a skinny latte skinnier by avoiding sugar and using a dairy-free alternative.

Skinny lattes are still open for customizations and taste great, if only slightly different. A good reason for their popularity today!

Mocha latte

Mocha is any coffee with chocolate added to it. A mocha latte is, by definition, a chocolate-flavored variant of a Café latte.

The mocha latte is made of milk, chocolate, and espresso and has toppings like whipped cream and other goodies like chocolate syrups and shavings. 

It is prepared similarly to a regular latte, with a few extra pumps of chocolate. There are endless possibilities for chocolate-flavored lattes and you can even have a white or a dark mocha latte if you prefer white or dark chocolate.

Naturally, the drink is not consumed for its health benefits but is beloved for its luscious comforting taste. Quite an indulgence to treat yourself to once in a while!

Final thoughts about Cafe Latte

There are plenty of reasons that make latte as popular and well-loved as it is today.

A mild coffee flavor, the sweetness and rich creaminess of milk, and the velvety smooth foam combine to make the latte a delicious beverage.

The endless combinations of flavors, toppings, and substitutes make it possible for everyone to enjoy a latte, especially those unaccustomed to the natural taste of coffee.

Even those mindful of calorie intake and sugar levels have health-friendly options like a skinny latte. And if you crave a cold coffee on a hot day, the iced latte is for you!

It is worth knowing that there is a latte for everyone and that you will most certainly find a flavor and type that suits your taste.

So the next time you go over to your favorite coffee joint, consider choosing a warm(or cold) cup of Latte and enjoy the lovely drink!

What is a Latte? (Definitive Guide)

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