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What is a latte? The ultimate guide

A latte is served in an 8 – 12 oz cup or big glass. It’s made using a single or double shot of Espresso, followed by 7 – 9 oz of steamed milk with a ratio of 1:2 and a thin layer of foam on top.

The Latte is one of the most popular and loved coffee beverages on the globe. Favored by many due to its sweet taste and smooth texture. It’s among America’s big four coffees, along with the Espresso, Cappuccino, and ice coffees.

What is a latte?

A latte is served in an 8 – 12 oz cup and uses the same base as a Cappuccino – a single or double shot of Espresso. Then steamed milk is added, usually in a ratio of 1:2, and a thin layer of foam is added on top. There are many variations when it comes to the Latte, but in general, it looks like this. In simple terms, it will have a double shot of Espresso, lots of steamed milk, and a thin layer of milk foam on top. It can be served either hot or as an iced coffee, which makes it have a lot of variations. This makes the Latte one of the milkiest and creamiest beverages out there and is a favorite amongst most if not all coffee lovers.

The history of the latte

The Caffè Latte originates from Italy and is traditionally thought of as a breakfast coffee. But has been used for many years throughout Europe and Britain. It traces back to the 17th century but has been widely popular since the 20th century. It’s one of the most popular Espresso-based drinks worldwide and I’m sure it’s here to stay.

The English word “latte” is a shortened version of the Italian caffe latte”, but in other countries like France, it’s referred to as “café au lait” or “cafe con leche” in Spain. This translates to “coffee with milk”, so don’t be confused when you ask for a latte in those countries and receive a glass of milk instead.

The American Café Latte as we know it today has been claimed to be invented in Berkeley, California by the Caffe Mediterraneum. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that its popularity exploded in Seattle.

Who is a Latte for?

Even though the latte is primarily a breakfast coffee, people drink it throughout the whole day. Most people like to drink it in the morning for its huge energy boost provided by the caffeine in the Espresso. But it’s one of those drinks that has a very smooth taste and you don’t even realize you’re drinking coffee at all

A lot of people prefer a latte over other coffee beverages because of how easy it is to get down. Even I know people that are not a fan of regular coffee but when I give them a latte they will drink the whole cup away in no time.

The drink is especially a hit during the summer when you can drink it ice cold. This is when a lot of people like to put flavored syrups and other additives on it too. Especially Starbucks is known for this and for a good reason since it’s super tasty and refreshing on a hot summer day.

Iced Latte

Latte vs Cappuccino vs Latte Macchiato

There’s some confusion since all of these beverages are quite similar to each other. So let’s have a look at the differences.

Latte: Served in an 8 – 12 oz cup, uses a base of a double Espresso shot, and a lot of milk is added with a ratio of 1:2. Then a thin layer of foamed milk is added on top. The iced version is added in a glass.

Cappuccino: Served in a 5 – 6 oz cup but the main difference here is the ratios used, which is 1:3. 1 layer of Espresso, 1 layer of steamed milk, and 1 layer of frothed milk. These layers are very even and make it a bit less milky and creamy than the Latte.

Latte Macchiato: Served in a big glass and it’s basically vice versa. You add steamed milk first and mark it with the Espresso, this gives you a Robust flavor of the Espresso in the sips of the frothed milk on top.

Latte Art

Many baristas and coffee enthusiasts enjoy brewing lattes due to the art you can create with them. You’ve seen it before, that leave, flower, or heart shape in your coffee. That is latte art. It’s an art form that consists of methodically pouring steamed milk into espresso to create a complex design. There’s even an international competition for latte art that occurs annually and is an event that has a place in the hearts of the coffee community.

But it goes much further than a simple leave or flower design, here’s one of my favorite latte art Twitter profiles:

How to make a Latte

Who wouldn’t like to make their own latte at home? Everybody loves them but the downside is that you do need an espresso machine.


  • 7 – 9 oz milk of your preference (whole milk tastes the best but any milk can be used)
  • 16.5 grams of ground espresso beans
  • 8 – 12 oz cup or a big glass


  1. Grind 16.5 grams of espresso coffee.
  2. Extract espresso with the espresso machine into your cup or glass.
  3. Pour 7 – 9 oz milk into a milk pitcher and steam to 160°F/71°C.
  4. When espresso is finished brewing, pour steamed milk at an angle about 3 – 4 inches above the cup/glass.
  5. Enjoy your coffeelicious latte!

The bottom line

The latte is one of the most popular drinks worldwide due to its sweet taste and smooth texture. It’s served in an 8 – 12 oz cup or big glass and consists of a single or double shot of Espresso, followed by 7 – 9 oz of milk and a thin layer of foam on top. It can also be served as an iced coffee which is sold a lot during the summer.

Latte is primarily a breakfast coffee but is enjoyed by many throughout the day. It traces back to the 17th century but was not popular until the 20th century. From there it blew up in Seattle and has been a massive success ever since.

Baristas enjoy brewing this one due to the latte art. Which also has an international competition annually.

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