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What Is A Latte Coffee? Latte vs Cappuccino vs Flat White

Ever found yourself standing in a busy coffee shop, bewildered by the array of mysterious beverage names? You’re not alone! From cortaditos and flat whites, to matcha frappuccinos and freddo espressos, café menus are longer and more complex than ever. A staple on all of them is the popular “caffè latte,” an espresso-based coffee drink hailing from Italy.

In this article we’ll explain what a latte coffee is, how it differs from other drinks made with coffee and milk, and we’ll even share how to make the perfect cup at home.

Key Takeaways

  • A latte coffee is a milk-based espresso beverage that originated in Italy and is known for its soft and silky foam layer.
  • It consists of three simple ingredients: espresso, steamed milk, and foam.
  • The ratio of espresso to steamed milk makes lattes different from other coffee drinks like cappuccino and flat white.
  • You can easily make a latte at home by brewing strong coffee or espresso, frothing milk, and pouring it over the brewed coffee.

What is a Latte Coffee and Where Did it Originate??

A latte coffee, also known as caffe latte, hails from Italy where it’s often enjoyed as a breakfast beverage. It is crafted with precision and balance – a perfect mix of strong espresso and creamy steamed milk.

This classic coffee drink starts with the rich taste of espresso. Poured over this bold base is steamed milk, lending its delicate sweetness to tame the strength of the espresso.

The drink gets its signature look from the soft layer of foam artfully spooned atop—adding a lightness that gives the drink great it’s mouthfeel, taste and texture. Whether served piping hot or chilled over ice, in simplicity lies its beauty —it’s no surprise why it has become an enduring staple for coffee lovers worldwide.

Ingredients of a latte (espresso, steamed milk, foam)

A latte is made using three components: espresso, steamed milk, and foam. The key part of a latte is the rich and robust espresso shot, which provides the base of the drink. For those that like strong coffee, you can use a double shot.

Next comes the steamed milk, which adds a smooth and creamy texture to the latte. Finally, on top of the milk sits a layer of frothy foam, often presented using latte art to enhance the aesthetic appeal.

The combination of these three elements creates a harmonious balance in flavor and texture. The espresso and it’s crema bring boldness and depth to each sip, while the steamed milk softens its intensity and adds sweetness.

Meanwhile, the foam not only enhances the visual appeal but also adds an airy quality to each gulp.

For those with a sweet tooth, flavors such as vanilla or caramel can be added for an extra indulgence. They can also be made with non-dairy alternatives such as oat milk, almond milk and soya milk.

The Difference Between a Latte and Other Coffee Drinks

The list of drinks that combine espresso and milk is vast. Some of the best known are:

  • Cappuccino
  • Flat white
  • Cortado 
  • Latte macchiato

A latte differs from other drinks that combine milk and coffee because of the ratio of espresso to steamed milk used in each drink.

Latte vs Cappuccino 

A cappuccino is another popular coffee drink that is often confused with a latte. It consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The key difference between a cappuccino and a latte lies in the ratio of these ingredients.

While both drinks have an espresso base, cappuccinos typically contain less steamed milk and more bubbles and foam than lattes, resulting in a lighter texture and stronger coffee flavor. This creates a delightful contrast between the rich espresso and creamy foam layers.

Latte vs Flat white

A flat white is a popular coffee drink that has gained popularity in recent years. It originated in Australia and New Zealand but has since become a favorite among coffee drinkers worldwide.

The flat white is similar to a latte, but it has some distinct differences that set it apart. Normally a flat white has two shots of espresso while a latte contains a single shot. It also has far less volume – a latte typically comes in a cup from 8oz to 16oz, while a flat white is usually about 5.5oz.

Unlike a latte, which typically has more milk and foam, the flat white has a thin layer of foamy milk on top (hence the “flat” in the drink’s name). This thin layer produces a velvety texture with just the right balance of espresso and steamed milk

This gives the flat white a more intense coffee flavor than a latte as it is less diluted by the amount of milk. 

Latte vs Cortado 

A cortado is a coffee drink made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It is typically served in a smaller glass or cup, and the ratio of milk to espresso is much lower compared to a latte. As a result, the cortado has a bolder, stronger coffee flavor and a different texture. The steamed milk in a cortado is usually less frothy compared to a latte.

Latte vs Latte Macchiato 

While both a latte and a latte macchiato are made with espresso and milk, there are some key differences between the two. The latte macchiato typically comes in a standard espresso cup, with a capacity of approximately 2-3 oz. In contrast, the latte is commonly served in tall coffee mugs that hold between 8oz and 16oz, though Starbucks trenta holds a whopping 31oz! 

The milk-to-espresso ratio in a latte is typically 1:3 or 1:4, with more milk than espresso.

On the other hand, a latte macchiato is made by adding a small amount of espresso to a larger amount of steamed milk. The espresso is poured on top of the milk, creating a layered effect. This layered presentation also creates a visual difference between the two drinks. The milk-to-espresso ratio in a latte macchiato is much lower at 1:1 or 1:2, with more espresso than milk.

In terms of taste, a latte macchiato has a bolder and more pronounced coffee flavor compared to a latte. 

Coffee with milk can be prepared in many different ways, each of which has it’s own unique look and taste

How to Make a Latte at Home

To make a delicious latte at home, you’ll need a few essential ingredients and some equipment such as an espresso machine (not essential) and a milk frother.

 First, start by brewing a shot of espresso. Next, froth the milk. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Use the steam wand on the espresso machine
  • Make it in an electric frother
  • Vigorously shaking the milk in a lidded jar until it becomes creamy and frothy
  • Use the plunger on a French press

Once the coffee is brewed and the milk is heated and frothed, pour the desired amount of coffee into your favorite coffee cup. Then slowly pour the steamed milk over the coffee, holding back any foam with a spoon so that only microfoam remains.

Variations of the Latte

If you’ve ever been to Starbucks, you’ll know there are many delicious variations of the latte. This includes flavored lattes like vanilla, caramel, and mocha. Additionally, iced lattes offer a refreshing twist that are great on warm days.

Flavored lattes 

Flavored lattes take the classic latte and infuse it with syrups or powders. The number of options available is enormous, even if you ignore the huge list of Starbucks latte flavors. Here’s an example of just some of the latte flavors you can find today:

  • Vanilla Latte
  • Caramel Latte
  • Mocha Latte (Chocolate)
  • Hazelnut Latte
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte
  • Cinnamon Latte
  • Peppermint Latte
  • Maple Latte
  • Gingerbread Latte
  • Toffee Nut Latte
  • Irish Cream Latte
  • Almond Latte
  • Coconut Latte
  • Lavender Latte
  • Matcha Latte
  • Chai Latte
  • Honey Latte
  • Rose Latte
  • Turmeric Latte
  • Salted Caramel Latte
  • White Chocolate Latte
  • Eggnog Latte
  • Chestnut Latte
  • Cherry Latte
  • Mint Mocha Latte

You can customize your latte experience any way you like it. Once you have milk and espresso and some syrup, the possibilities are endless. No baristas needed.

A Delicious Espresso Based Drink

The next time somebody asks what is a latte coffee you can wow them with your new-found knowledge. This popular milk-based espresso drink that originated in Italy is a coffee shop menu and home barista favorite.

Made with espresso and hot, frothed milk, there are numerous flavors and variations to choose from, each with it’s own unique, delicious taste.

What’s your favorite latte recipe? Let us know how you drink yours in the comments below.


Is a latte stronger than regular coffee?

A latte is not necessarily stronger than regular coffee. While it may contain more caffeine due to the addition of espresso shots, the strength of a latte depends on the ratio of milk to coffee. Regular coffee can also vary in strength depending on the brewing method and the type of beans used. 

What is difference between latte and cappuccino?

The main difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the ratio of espresso to milk. A latte is made with more milk than a cappuccino, resulting in a creamier and milder taste. A cappuccino, on the other hand, has equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, for a more intense flavor. 

Is a latte just coffee and milk?

A latte is not just coffee and milk. It is made by pouring espresso on top of steamed milk, creating a smooth and creamy texture. The ratio of coffee to milk can vary, but a traditional latte typically has equal parts coffee and milk. Additionally, latte art can be added on top for visuall appeal.

What is the difference between coffee with milk and latte?

The difference between coffee with milk and a latte lies in the ratio of coffee to milk. Coffee with milk has equal parts of both, while a latte is made with more milk than coffee. Additionally, a latte often includes a layer of foam on top, giving it a creamier texture and a distinct appearance. 

What’s the difference between a latte and a cafe au lait?

The main difference between a latte and a cafe au lait lies in the way they are prepared. A latte is made by pouring a shot of espresso into a cup and then adding steamed milk on top, while a cafe au lait is made by pouring hot brewed coffee into a cup and then adding heated milk.

Which is sweeter latte or cappuccino?

A latte is usually sweeter than a cappuccino. This is because a latte contains more milk and is often topped with flavored syrups, making it a creamier and sweeter choice compared to the espresso-forward and foam-topped cappuccino. 

Will a latte help with constipation?

A latte may provide some relief for constipation due to its high caffeine content. Coffee is known to have a laxative effect which can stimulate the digestive system. Additionally, the warmth and liquid of the latte can help to soften stools and promote bowel movements.


Coffee expert and industry insider, I’ve dedicated years to mastering the art and science of coffee making. From scrutinizing particle fineness to evaluating burr shapes, I delve into the minutiae that elevate coffee from good to exceptional. Whether it’s a complex pour-over or a robust espresso, my insights cater to those who don’t just drink coffee, but experience it.

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