How to make a Perfect Latte at Home (with an espresso machine)
A cafe latte consists of a strong espresso shot and two-thirds of frothed milk, making it a perfect combination of flavors. When made well, lattes can feel like warm hugs that wrap us in silky, sweet, coffee-flavored goodness.
Fortunately, they are easy to make at home. You only need a few ingredients, and you are good to go. Now, let’s teach you how to make a latte at home.
What you need
- Coffee beans (espresso beans work best)
- A latte glass or cup
- An espresso machine (ideally, with a steam wand)
- Additional toppings and syrups (optional)
At a Glance
Coffee Beans (for espresso brewing)
The main ingredient of every latte is coffee. Without coffee, a latte is just milk. You can grind your coffee beans if you have a coffee grinder, and if you don’t own one, there’s a solution for that as well.
Alternatively, you can buy pre-ground coffee at a local coffee store. If you have a local coffee store that roasts its beans, that’s usually the best way to go. Most of the time, it will be fresher than the pre-ground coffee you’ll find at the grocery store.
As the latte is an espresso-based drink, dark-roasted espresso beans will be best. Medium-dark roasted beans make the best espresso and add a distinctive flavor to your latte and enrich it with crema. Check out the best espresso coffee beans here.
With most of your latte being milk, the type of milk you use will have a significant effect on the flavor. Although whole milk will give the richest taste, you can also use alternative types of milk.
Skimmed, semi-skimmed, long-life milk, soy milk…all of these will work. I personally go for whole milk because you get richer and creamier consistency and that whole flavor
If you’ve ever tried making a latte with plant-based milk, you’ll agree that it’s much harder than whole fat milk (1).
A Latte Glass or Cup
A typical latte glass is 240ml (or 8oz). Getting a glass or cup of coffee this size will help you to measure the ideal amount of milk that you need to pour.
An Espresso machines (ideally, with a steam wand)
Espresso machine certainly makes it easier to brew coffee for your latte. Better machines also have a steam wand, which steams milk to the ideal temperature.
You can brew an extra-strong pot of coffee with a dark roast instead of making espresso in a machine, but the flavor will not be the same.
Additional Toppings and Syrups (optional)
Although a well-made latte provides sweetness on its own, some people feel the need to augment it. The most popular latte additions are cinnamon, chocolate, and flavored syrups. For more options, read our list of alternative types of coffee flavoring.
How To Make A Latte With An Espresso Machine And Steam Wand
Now that you have everything you need, let’s go through the simple latte recipe. In case you do not have the proper equipment, there are various ways to make a latte. But, If you have a coffee machine and a steam wand, here’s what you do:
1. Preheat your cup
Preheating is a small step, but it is essential. If you don’t preheat your cup, your espresso shot will go cold while you steam and froth your milk.
Most espresso machines have a cup warmer. If you don’t have one on your machine, fill your cup with hot water and let it sit for a minute while you prepare your shot of espresso. Once your cup has warmed up, move onto step two.
2. Pull a double shot of espresso
For each latte that you want to make, brew a double shot of espresso and pour it in your latte glass. If you prefer a weaker coffee flavor, brew a single shot.
3. Froth your milk
Put your milk of choice in a frothing pitcher and steam it using your machine’s wand. For regular milk, the ideal temperature is 150°F. If the temperature rises above this, it may burn the milk, which will reduce the milk’s natural sweetness and ruin the flavor. Ideally, you’ll want to hold the wand about half an inch below the milk’s surface so that you end up with mostly hot milk and a little froth on the top (2).
Pour the steamed milk into your glass. Take your time with this and try not to splash or spill any of the hot milk or espresso (3). You want to pour slowly so that the milk flows first, and the froth follows at the end of the pour.
Once you start to get more confident, you can play around with a little latte art.
With your cup in an angle, start by pouring your milk in from a height. As the cup is nearly full, let that silky milk just fall off from the jug, appearing at the center. Then finish by cutting through and lifting the jug.
Don’t worry if you don’t pick it up quickly. While expert baristas make latte art look easy, you’ll soon realize it takes plenty of practice. Keep at it!
And, if you need to find some fantastic latte art inspirations, check out this list of coffee Instagram accounts.
Here’s how you froth milk with a steam wand:
As you can see, you don’t need to be an expert barista to make yourself a beautiful latte at home. All you have to do is brew the coffee, froth the milk.
The rest is pure joy.
Usually, there is around 180ml (6oz) of milk in one caffè late. Most coffee shops outside of Italy serve latte in a 240ml (8oz) glass with 30ml or 60ml of espresso (depending on whether it is a double or regular shot).
Most of the time, there are either one or two espresso shots in a latte. Most shops make larger-size lattes with a double shot of espresso, while using a single shot for smaller-sized lattes.
You can froth milk by shaking it in a sealed jar as hard as you can and then microwaving it for half a minute. Here’s a guide we created on this topic.
- Caffe Society. (2012, December 05). How to Make a Latte -Barista Tips. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJQSGVW0Tn8
- Alkin, G. (2015, July 21). The Science of Steamed Milk: Understanding Your Latte Art. Retrieved from https://www.scienceandfood.org/the-science-of-steamed-milk-understanding-your-latte-art/
- Jamie Oliver – Drinks. (2016, January 06). How to Make a Latte. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAvsOpyyle4