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How to Make a Perfect Latte at Home (with or without an espresso machine)

A cafe latte is an ideal compromise for people who favor strong coffee and those inclined to the milk flavor. It consists of a strong espresso shot and two-thirds of frothed milk, making it a perfect combination of flavors.

The best thing about latte is that it’s easy to make on your own. You just need a few ingredients, and you are good to go. You don’t even need to have things such as espresso machine as long as you have the patience to brew a perfect aroma. This article will explain how.

What You'll Need 

To prepare your homemade latte, you will first need to gather some ingredients. Regardless of the method that you’ll later use, the ingredients are always the same.

Coffee Beans (for espresso brewing)

The main ingredient of every latte is coffee; otherwise, you would just drink milk foam. You may either grind your own coffee beans if you have a coffee grinder or get a pre-ground coffee at a local coffee store.

If you have a local coffee store that roasts its own beans, it is usually the best way to go. Most of the time, it will be fresher than the grounded coffee from the grocery store.  Since latte is an espresso-based drink, it would be best if you could find dark-roasted espresso beans. They will add a distinctive flavor to your latte and enrich it with crema. Here's a list to start with.

Milk

Since most of the beverage consists of milk, the type of milk you pick will significantly define the flavor. Although whole milk is recommended since it gives the richest taste, you can use some other type of milk as an alternative.

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.

You can use any type of milk for your latte, but keep in mind that some are more difficult to froth.

In his latte instruction video (1), Paul Meikle-Janney, an expert barista and a judge of the World Latte Art Championship, says, ‘’Use what you like the flavor of. I personally go for whole milk because you get richer and creamier consistency and that whole flavor”, and adds:

“If you want to use skimmed, semi-skimmed, long-life milk, [or] soy milk [in a latte], all of these will work.” - Paul Meikle-Janney, Expert Barista

A Latte Glass or Cup

If you want to make a perfect latte, you should know that a typical latte glass is 240ml (or 8oz). So, getting a glass or cup of coffee this size will help you to measure the amount of milk that you need to pour for an ideal dose.

Making a latte and pouring the milk

The hardest part of this guide is the latte art. If you don't need your latte to be fancy, you'll be fine.

An Espresso or Latte Machine (optional)

If you have a small kitchen machine, it will certainly be easier to brew coffee for your latte. Better machines also have a steam wand, which steams milk at an ideal temperature. If you don’t have a machine, this article will explain how to make latte regardless. Here's a list of the best espresso machines to get started if you don't have one, but if you don't a latte machine like one of these is a great choice.

Additional Toppings and Syrups (optional)

Although a typical late is clean and not sweetened, some people like to add toppings and sweeteners. The most popular are cinnamon, chocolate, and flavored syrup on top of the latte. Also, some toppings are ideal for making stunning latte art.

How To Make A Latte With An Espresso Machine and Milk Frother

Now that you have all the necessary ingredients, it is time to prepare the drink using a simple latte recipe. If you have a coffee machine and a frother, here’s what you have to do:

Step 1 - Preheat your cup

This is a small step with big important. You'll want your espresso to stay hot while you spend time frothing and crafting the milk, so make sure you pre-heat your mug before pulling your shot.

Most espresso machines have a mug warmer, but if yours does not simply fill your mug with hot water and let it sit for a minute while you prepare for step 2 - pulling the shot of espresso.

Step 2 - Pull a double shot of espresso

For each latte that you want to make, brew a double shot of espresso in your coffee machine and pour it in your latte glass. If you prefer a weaker flavor, you can opt for one shot, too.

Step 3 - Froth your milk

Put the milk in a frothing pitcher and steam it with a frothing wand. For regular milk, the ideal temperature is 150°F. If it gets higher, it may burn the milk, which will ruin the aroma. (2)

Pour the frothed milk in the glass. This also requires a special technique, and it takes some practice. (3) The milk foam should remain about half an inch from the top of the glass for ideal latte form.

If you want, make some artistic patterns by playing around with the top layer of the microfoam - this is what we call 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.” - Mike Cooper, Coffee Expert

How To Make A Latte Without an Espresso Machine (or milk frother)

If you don’t have the necessary equipment, you can still make a 'good enough' latte. Since you need pressure to brew a fine espresso, you’ll also need some kind of device that brews strong coffee, that’s not an espresso machine.

First, Brew a strong black coffee. The stronger the better. You can use a French press, AeroPress, but if you have it; a moka pot is your best bet. Consider double brewing your coffee to make it stronger.

On the other hand, you may just make a really strong pot of coffee with a dark roast, but the flavor will be slightly different.

Then froth your milk, DIY style. if you don’t have a milk frother, you can just take a jar or a pot with some kind of a lid. Fill half of it with milk, tighten the lid, and shake the pot as much as you can. The milk should become frothy. Then microwave it for 30 seconds. You will need to use a spoon to hold back the foam and pour the hot milk over the coffee. After that, add the foam with the spoon.

We go into more detail on how to froth and steam milk without a frother in this guide - check it out.

Anyone who think making a latte without a machine or milk steamer has not seen the result of this video:

Final Thoughts

As you can see, you don’t have to be an expert barista to brew a nice glass of latte at home. You don’t even need to have a specialized machine as long as you have other handy devices and don’t mind a slightly different flavor from a pot-prepared coffee.

So, brew the coffee, froth the milk, add some toppings, and enjoy the taste.

FAQs

How much milk is in a latte?

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).

How many shots are in a latte?

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.

How do I froth milk without a frother?

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.


References

  1. Caffe Society. (2012, December 05). How to Make a Latte -Barista Tips. Retrieved July 03, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJQSGVW0Tn8
  2. Alkin, G. (2015, July 21). The Science of Steamed Milk: Understanding Your Latte Art. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from
    https://www.scienceandfood.org/the-science-of-steamed-milk-understanding-your-latte-art/
  3. Jamie Oliver - Drinks. (2016, January 06). How to Make a Latte. Retrieved July 03, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAvsOpyyle4
Scott
 

Hi, I'm Scott, and I've traveled extensively through North America and Europe, exploring food and drink pairings around the world. My Love of coffee began during my teen years when a friend's family introduced me to the glories of the classic Italian Moka pot. That technology got me through too many early-morning final exams in college and eventually led to a manual espresso machine after graduation.

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