What is a Latte?

You might have been sitting in your local coffee shop enjoying your favourite brew, and heard someone asking for a latte. But, what is a latte, and why is this coffee drink so popular?

Let’s have a look at this popular coffee drink known as a latte or caffè latte.

What Exactly is a Latte?

The name “Latte” is taken from the Italian word “Caffè e Latte” which essentially means coffee and milk. Although the name has an Italian origin, the drink itself is an American invention.

Thank you, coffee pioneers in the United States.


Basically, a latte’s ingredients are a shot of espresso with steamed milk and a thin layer of milk foam on top. A typical latte has 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk and is usually served in a 350ml serving. A latte is considered to be one of the most popular types of coffee drinks and loved by many. It is the ideal drink for someone who likes the taste of espresso, but not the strong taste of pure espresso.

Fun Fact: Café au lait is the predecessor to the latte we know today. The café au lait is a coffee drink made from normal drip coffee, with steamed milk added as per a normal latte. However, the main difference between a café au lait and a normal latte is that drip coffee is used instead of espresso.

Popular Types of Lattes

The reason why lattes are one of the most popular espresso drinks is that they can be customised in various ways. You can choose to have a double shot of espresso. You can easily add flavourings such as vanilla, mocha, and caramel and you also have the option to add different types of milk.

Let’s have a look at 2 popular types of lattes.

Latte Macchiato


This latte macchiato is made with the exact same ingredients as a normal latte. The difference is that the steamed milk is poured in first, and then the espresso. A half-shot of espresso is used as opposed to a single or double shot espresso.

Latte Cappuccino


Also a favourite among many coffee lovers, the cappuccino is made with the exact same ingredients as a normal latte. The main difference is the proportion of the ingredients used. A cappuccino has a considerable amount more milk foam than a normal latte. The added foamed milk usually the deciding factor for many when choosing between a normal latte and a cappuccino.

Latte Art

latte art

If you’ve ordered a latte at a coffee shop before, you would have noticed that it comes with artwork in the thin layer of milk foam at the top. This is referred to as latte art and many baristas pride themselves on creating perfect latte art with every cup that they prepare.

These shapes are created by pouring the steamed milk into the latte in a very specific way.

The most popular latte art shape is surely the heart, and I’m sure you’ve seen leaf artwork as well. If your barista is in a very creative mood, you might be the lucky one who gets a teddy bear drawn in their latte.

What is the Difference Between a Latte and Coffee?

As mentioned, a latte is essentially a shot of espresso with steamed milk. Espresso is brewed by pushing hot water through ground coffee beans at high pressure. It is much stronger than normal drip coffee, and it is thicker as well.

Drip coffee, on the other hand, is brewed very differently. There are various ways to brew drip coffee, but essentially it is created by dripping boiled water over ground coffee beans. The ground coffee beans are much coarser than the coffee ground used in espresso.

How Much Caffeine is in a Latte?

Latte is essentially espresso, and a 30ml shot of espresso has 60mg of caffeine. It has less caffeine compared to a 240ml cup of normal drip coffee which has 96mg of caffeine.

With that said, if your body is sensitive to caffeine, please consult with your doctor first before drinking a latte. While caffeine has many health benefits, it can also cause unwanted side-effects when not consumed in moderation.

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Latte is surely a favourite among coffee lovers. This espresso and steamed milk drink can be customised to your liking in various ways and is sure to help you kickstart your day or give you the much-needed push in the afternoon. And it is always exciting to see what type of latte art your barista made when your waiter comes over to serve you with your favourite coffee drink.

What is your favourite latte? Is it the macchiato, the cappuccino, or do you like the original latte?