Italian Or American? What Is A Latte?

by | Aug 21, 2019

Lattes, Cappuccinos, Americanos, Macchiatos. There’s a lot of choices when it comes to Coffee. Most are relatively similar, and your choice of coffee isn’t an Americano, then making the drink usually involves brewing coffee and mixing it with frothed milk. But the amount of milk, how its frothed and the amount of coffee are all factors that will determine precisely what kind of coffee it is.

Maybe you’ve tried most types of coffee but have always been unsure what exactly it is that makes a particular coffee the way it is. In this article, we’ll take a look at what a Latte is and how it’s changed over time. Lattes are hugely popular in the modern-day, and you’ve probably seen them in most coffee shops you’ve been to.

Although the differences between types of coffee can be subtle, it’s worth knowing them, particularly if you’re getting interested in coffee and want to expand your palette. The main difference is the amount of milk that is generally used in each type of drink. Let’s look at what a latte is.

What Exactly Is A Latte?

The word Latte is derived from the Italian Words ‘caffe latte’, which means ”milk coffee’’. If you walk into a cafe in Italy and ask for a Latte you’ll be given a glass of milk; you have to make sure you ask for a ‘’cafe latte’’. The most straightforward definition to remember when thinking of a latte is simply that it’s a type of coffee made with espresso and hot steamed milk.

A Latte contains more milk than a Cappuccino and traditionally a Latte is prepared by brewing coffee in a Moka pot and pouring it into a cup of hot milk. Internationally a Latte is prepared using frothed milk, but in the original Italian style, the milk is not frothed. This shows how different styles of coffee can change across the globe.

Outside of Italy a Latte is typically prepared in an 8 oz glass or cup with one standard shot of espresso and then filled with steamed or frothed milk. In Australia and New Zealand a variant of the Latte is called the Flat White , which is served in a smaller ceramic cup.


The History Of The Latte

The history of the Latte is a little bit murky, Europeans have been mixing coffee and milk together for centuries. Particularly in countries such as Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and Austria, however, the way we enjoy Lattes today is mainly considered an American invention, and the current form of a Latte was popularised in 1980’s Seattle, and the coffee Latte became a staple drink in the USA during the 1990s.

The term Latte began appearing in English during the 1800s. In 1867 the term ‘Caffe Latte’ was used by essayist William Dean Howell in his book ‘Italian Journeys.’ It has been theorized that the way the Latte is enjoyed in America comes down to the fact that Americans wanted to take the edge off of the strong Espresso flavor which was part of the original Italian version of the drink.

In a modern-day Latte, the ratio of steamed milk to Espresso is six ounces of frothed milk and 2 ounces espresso. The froth is achieved using a steam wand on a coffee machine, giving it a creamy yet consistent base.


How To Make A Latte At Home – A Latte Recipe

There are a few ways you can enjoy Lattes at home. The most straightforward way is to buy a high-performing Espresso machine that has a steam wand attached to it. You’ll want to froth the milk, so it has a nice creamy consistency put in a mug and then pour in your brewed coffee. Now, not everyone will have access to a high-performance coffee machine. There’s a quick and easy way to make a Latte without a machine.


The first step is to brew your coffee; it’s recommended you do this with an Aeropress or another at-home process. To froth the milk, you’ll want to pour some milk into a jar, secure the jar and shake for around 30-60 seconds.

Once you’ve shaken the milk, it should be nicely frothed. You can then microwave the milk to make it nice and hot, empty it into a mug or cup and then add your coffee. You can use a spoon to add as much foam from the milk on top of your Latte as you like. This is a great cost-effective way to enjoy a Latte at home.


Latte vs Cappuccino vs Macchiato vs Mocha

If you’re new to the world of coffee, then you may be wondering what the differences are between Lattes, Cappuccinos, Macchiatos, and Mochas. If you walk into a coffee shop, you’ll be greeted by a host of different options, so it’s essential to know the difference between the options.

We’ve already talked about what a Latte is and that it’s made up of 6 ounces of milk and 2 ounces of espresso. But what about Cappuccinos Macchiatos and Mochas?



A Cappuccino is a creamed coffee drink that can be made with milk or cream. It’s a very milky drink. A Cappuccino is not as strong as a Latte and is made up of ⅓ espresso, ⅓ cup of steamed milk, and ⅓ cup of milk foam. A Cappuccino is usually smaller than a Latte coffee and is commonly decorated with cinnamon or chocolate powder.



The macchiato offers a nice balance between an Espresso and Cappuccino. It’s not as strong as an Espresso but stronger than a Cappuccino. The simplest definition of a Macchiato is that it’s an Espresso with a small amount of foamed milk on top.

The Macchiato is more commonly drank in the afternoon, while a Cappuccino is enjoyed in the morning. Macchiato means ‘stained’ in Italian, and an apt description of a Macchiato is an Espresso that has been stained by milk. 



The name Mocha comes from the beans that the drink is made from. Mocha coffee beans have a natural chocolate flavor. In order to enhance the flavor, baristas usually add a small amount of chocolate to the mocha recipe.

Mocha coffee is often much stronger than Cappuccinos and Lattes. Lattes also have much more of a milky flavor instead of the chocolate flavor of a Mocha. So, if you’ve got a sweet tooth then a Mocha may be the drink for you.


How Will You Enjoy Your Latte?

The world of Coffee is full of different combinations and surprises. If you haven’t tried a Latte or iced Latte before then, maybe this article has inspired you to give it a try. A great way to save some money is to begin making types of Coffee from the comfort of your own home. Lattes, Cappuccinos, Mochas, and Macchiatos are all pretty simple to make when you’ve learned how.

If you prefer a sweeter drink then a Mocha maybe your favorite type of drink to go for, if you’re looking for something stronger be sure to stick to an Espresso or Macchiato. Lattes are an easy drink to enjoy, and you’ll be able to find them at any Coffee shop you choose to go to. This article should have given you a good idea of how you can start enjoying Lattes straight away!

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