What is a latte? – Coffee Lover World

A latte is an espresso base coffee drink consisting of espresso, steamed, and foamed milk.

The study shows latte variations have the highest purchase rates in Texas, California, the Western Mountain Region, the Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Northwest Midwest, and the Midwest.

Espresso and steamed milk products remain increasingly popular among modern households and industries.

As a coffee trainer, I understand that sifting through online content can be overwhelming for coffee drinkers, so I wrote a comprehensive article detailing everything you need to know about lattes.

Keep reading to explore a complete understanding of Latte. 

A regular cup of latte

What is a latte?

A latte is a coffee drink that consists of 1-2 shots of espresso combined with steamed or frothed milk. The ratio of espresso to milk is typically 1:2. This mixture is then topped with a layer of foamed milk to create a richer, creamier beverage.

Lattes can also be customized by adding various flavors like vanilla or hazelnut and are often made into sweet versions.

Latte is sometimes called “wet cappuccino” in some countries.

The origin of Caffe Latte

A latte also called a caffè latte or Caffe Latte at times, gets its name from the Italian phrase “caffè e latte” or “café au lait” in French. It refers to coffee and milk.

While latte originated in Europe during the 17th century, they were not called by their modern name until the 1850s.

In 1866 William Dean Howells wrote a book about Italy’s Journey for the Italians that incorporated the phrase coffee e latte. Although coffee has often been consumed as breakfast in European homes for years, espresso is an American invention.

It was found that Americans first imported espresso machines from Italy after World War II. Most consumers found coffee too strong for their taste buds and began adding milk to produce a milder drink.

The word “latte” was adapted because it’s a simple, easy way to say “caffe latte.” Eventually, the term “latte” started to refer to an espresso drink mostly made up of steamed milk.

An espresso machine to make lattes drinks

How to make perfect steamed milk?

We suggest 1% or 2% reduced fat-free milk for making a latte, which gives a perfect balance of taste and foams of the milk. As 1-2% reduced fat-free milk contributes a better flavor than low-fat milk and composes better milk foam than whole milk.

The latte typically contains 2/3 of the milk in a 12oz cup. This will be equivalent to 1/3 of the steaming pitcher. Thus, take out the cold milk from the refrigerator, and fill the cold milk directly into the milk pitcher about 1/3 full. This amount of milk will then generate the double or triple volume of the pitcher.

It’s essential to put a damp towel over the steam wand, then purge the steam wand at the espresso machine before and after steaming the milk. This will prevent excessive water from the steam wand from going into the milk pitch.

Steam milk

How to make a Latte?

Professional barista prefers using coffees from Central or South America. The coffee beans from these regions have more chocolate and caramel flavors, making them ideal for mixing into lattes or other more extensive milk-based coffee drinks.


  • An espresso machine
  • 16.5 grams of high-quality ground espresso beans
  • 7-8 oz of milk (preferably 1 or 2% reduced fat-free milk
  • 10-12 ounce latte cup

We could replace the daily milk with soy milk, coconut milk, or almond milk.

Steps of making Latte

  1. Grind 16.5g espresso coffee, a double-spot of espresso.
  2. Add freshly brewed espresso to a 10-12 ounce cup. (i.e., 295-355ml)
  3. Purge the steam wand in the espresso machine to clean excessive water, and pour 7 to 8 oz of milk into a milk pitcher.
  4. Immerse the wand just below the surface of the milk, and lower it gradually to create a milk whirlpool. This results in a desirable layer of milk foam on the top, and heat it to 150° Fahrenheit with the steam wand.
  5. Purge the steam wand to clean it with a damp tower.
  6. Swirl or knock the pitcher to remove the excess air bubbles. Pour the milk slowly from up high, lower the pitcher and pour from a steeper angle to create a perfect, thin layer of microfoam or latte artwork.
  7. Yummy, enjoy your Latte!
Final step to make the latte by pouring the steam milk.

Latte Art Popularity

Latte art is a form of coffee decoration that uses milk foam to create designs for espresso drinks. It is when baristas add a flourish to the specialty coffee drink by creating a bit of art atop the steamed milk, making it more visually appealing.

It has become increasingly common in Europe and America to find latte art in coffee shops. Many baristas find the creation of latte art to be enjoyable.

The shapes and patterns in a coffee beverage are drawn by how the steamed milk and foam are poured. The shapes of trees, hearts, and flowers are commonly made in coffee houses today.

Making an iced latte

With its widespread popularity and variation on a latte, it has become a coffee beverage that can be enjoyed all year round – even in the hot summer. Making iced lattes is a great way to cool down and enjoy your favorite coffee drinks.

Making an iced latte is similar to making a hot latte. However, the main difference is using cold milk instead of steaming milk for the iced latte.

Here is the process of making an iced latte. We still need to extract the espresso coffee in the first step and pour the cold milk into the fresh brew espresso. Adding a few pieces of ice to the drink is the final step in making the iced latte.

Latte vs. Cappuccino

Many latte drinkers get confused with cappuccinos and lattes because they share the same ingredients, like espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk.

Although cappuccino shares the same base as latte, i.e., single or double shot espresso, a latte has more steamed milk than foam, and the foamed milk for a latte is often just a thin layer on top.

In contrast, cappuccinos are much stronger using less steamed and more foamed milk. We recommend a ratio of 1:1:1 for the espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk for the cappuccino. Moreover, The latte mixes espresso with steamed milk, whereas the cappuccino has three distinctive layers for espresso, steamed, and foamed milk.

Often, the best place to serve a flavored cappuccino is to add a sprinkle of chocolate over the top. 

Latte vs. Macchiato

Macchiato is divided into the espresso Macchiato and the Latte Macchiato.

The espresso macchiato, a 3 oz drink in a small cup, has 2 oz of espresso and 1 oz of steamed milk. Therefore, it has a stronger taste of coffee flavor than the Latte, which contains much more steamed and foamed milk.

The Latte Macchiato is a 12 oz drink in a regular latte cup, and the only difference is pouring the espresso into the steamed milk and generating a layer of foam milk on the top. In contrast, the latte often adds steamed milk to the coffee.

Latte vs. Flat White

Flat white is innovated in Australia, and the flat white ingredients are the same as the latte. However, the flat white uses a smaller mug than the latte, around 7 oz cup (200ml).

For the top layer of foamed milk, the flat white has very light foamed milk on the top, whereas the latte gets more foamed milk.

Therefore, with the same amount of one or two shots of espresso used, the smaller cup with very little foam or less milk in flat white makes it stronger in coffee flavor than in a latte.

Latte, Machhiato, Flat White, Cappuccino

Can you make a latte at home?

Making a latte without an espresso machine is simple in our own kitchen.

All you need is some heated milk, coffee powders, a jar, and a microwave. The jar and microwave are used as a milk frother.

  1. Get the desired amount of good quality coffee powders, pour them into the boiled water, and cook it for 30-40 seconds till it is boiled.
  2. Pour the desired amount of milk into a jar fully sealed or covered by a lid, and then shake the milk until it is foamy.
  3. Pour off the milk from the jag, and heat it in the microwave for a few seconds till 150 ° F.
  4. Take out the hot milk from the microwave, then scoop the foams from the surface of the hot milk.
  5. Pour the cooked coffee into a glass or cup.
  6. Pour the hot milk into the glass or cup.
  7. Top with foamed milk and enjoy your glass of latte!
Home Made Coffee

What to do next?

By now, you should have a good understanding of what a latte is; you can make the lattes at home or get it from a nearby coffee shop.

As selecting and steaming the milk are crucial for making a latte, choosing good quality coffee beans is equally essential.

Check out our ultimate guide for the different coffee bean types; this could help you make your perfect latte!

David Huang

David Huang

David has years of experience as a barista and coffee trainer since 2017, and he is very enthusiastic about coffee. David's goal is to unite coffee lovers globally so we can connect and fully enjoy our shared coffee ritual.