Our ancestors have been consuming coffee regularly for hundreds of years, and we have a huge range of ways to make them. In today’s world, asking a waiter for “coffee” simply won’t cut it, as coffee can be anything from espresso, americano, macchiato, mocha, or even latte!
In fact, a lot of people are confused about the difference between latte and coffee. If you’re one of them, you’re in for a treat!
In today’s guide, we’ll walk you through some of the most noticeable distinctions between the two. Let’s dive right in!
What Exactly is Latte?
A latte is short for “cafe latte”, which stands for “milk coffee” in Italian. This beverage is created by adding milk (usually steamed milk) over a base of an espresso shot, much like a macchiato or cappuccino.
The difference here is in the amount of milk added to lattes. In a cappuccino, you add equal parts of milk and espresso while in macchiato you add a tiny splash of milk to the taste of espresso a little milder
In lattes, you add about 2 parts of steamed milk for every 1 part espresso shot. You can also top the latte with a layer of microfoam using the frothing wand in espresso machines. Lattes are often served in tall 8 ounce cups.
How is Latte Different from Regular Brewed Coffee?
Now that you know more about Latte, let’s have a brief look at some of the aspects where latte is slightly or completely different from a regular brewed coffee.
Starting with strength, a cafe latte is made with an espresso shot as a base. You can also make lattes with two espresso shots, but since the ratio of milk is nearly constant, the strength of a latte is usually the same.
In terms of caffeine, a shot of latte should have about 63 mg per ounce of espresso, which is roughly the amount of a single shot.
On the other hand, regular brewed coffee will have less caffeine per ounce (12 to 15 mg per ounce).
Yet, since brewed coffee uses more coffee than espresso, your brewed coffee might end up with more caffeine. So, in terms of strength, it depends on the amount of espresso used in the latte.
The taste is one of the areas where there’s a remarkable difference between a latte and regular coffee.
Although espresso flavor is noticeably diluted in a latte, the bolder, less acidic tones of espresso still linger in a latte, but it tastes a lot less bitter and much milder.
On the other hand, the taste of regular brewed coffee will change dramatically depending on the roast type and the brewing method. However, in most of these methods, it’ll still have a generally stronger taste due to lack of milk.
Despite that, the choice between the two mainly comes down to your personal preferences, as some people enjoy the strong taste of coffee while others prefer to tone it down with some milk.
The evaporated milk used in making lattes provide them with a remarkable level of creaminess and smoothness that is far beyond regular espresso or brewed coffee. Milk makes the latte much milder, especially with a layer of microfoam on top.
The distinct smoky, nutty aroma of espresso is relatively masked when compared to lattes. On the other hand, adding milk makes the smell of coffee a little sweeter, although regular brewed coffee is significantly more fragrant.
Coffee on its own has almost no calories at all. However, by adding milk, the calorie content of a latte starts to ramp up against regular brewed coffee.
For example, a single shot of unsweetened espresso or 1 ounce of brewed coffee has almost zero calories.
On the flip side, an 8 ounce cup of latte (about 226 ml) that is made with a single shot of espresso will have 103 calories and anywhere between 3 to 4 grams of fat from the milk.
In fact, lattes have higher caloric and fat content than other milk based espresso drinks, such as cappuccino and macchiato.
While this is still not much, it’s worth keeping in mind in case you’re an athlete or a weight watcher. Additionally, these calculations don’t take sweetening agents into account or whether you’re using skimmed milk, so you have to add that too if you use them.
Ease of Preparation
Whether you’re drinking a latte in a cafe or you’re preparing it at home, you only need to add one extra ingredient, so it’s not much of a difference when compared to espresso, especially if you have an espresso machine.
As for regular brewed coffee, the method you’re using to prepare the coffee can have a tremendous impact on the ease of preparation.
Some methods are even easier and more convenient than lattes, such as the pour over method, while using special coffee makers such as a french press may require you to wait a little more.
Ideally, lattes will be more expensive than regular brewed coffee and espresso shots, as it requires extra ingredients and steps.
However, the difference between the two is marginal at best, and some cafes even charge the same for both of them.
Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee
Although some people can figure out the difference between a latte and coffee, many are confused about differentiating between iced coffee and an iced latte, especially because ice coffee may also contain milk, so what is the difference between them?
Milk to Coffee Ratio
Although both coffee and latte can have milk in them, the ratio of coffee to milk will drastically change between the two.
In the case of Iced Coffee, it can be prepared by adding a few tablespoons of milk per cup in order to lighten up the bitter taste of the coffee and make it more refreshing.
However, you can still make iced coffee without any milk. In other words, milk makes about 10% of ice coffee at best.
On the other hand, milk makes up the majority of liquid content in the iced latte, as you should add about 3/4 cup of milk for every 1/4 cup of coffee. This means that milk makes up about 75% of ice latte.
Type of Coffee Used
Ice coffee is made in various ways, but the most popular one is through cold-brewing regular coffee, which is done by steeping drip coffee grounds in water for about 12 to 18 hours at room temperature or in a fridge.
On the other hand, an Iced latte is usually made by adding ice-cold milk over a cooled-down shot of espresso.
Taste and Aroma
Since both of them use different types of coffee, each will have aroma undertones of their corresponding type of coffee.
Iced lattes usually have more noticeable notes of espresso. However, it tastes a lot mellower or milder than iced coffee. Iced latte also lacks the creamy texture or regular latte due to the lack of steamed foamy milk.
Since milk makes up the majority of calories in milk-based coffee drinks. An iced latte will have much more calories than an iced coffee.
However, when it comes to caffeine content, it’s usually down to the type of beans used in each one and the amount of extraction and roast darkness.
How to Make a Proper Latte
Now that you know more about the difference between latte and coffee, here’s how to make a proper latte in a simple step by step guide.
Before starting, make sure that you have an espresso machine that comes with a frothing wand, such as Mr. Coffee Steam Espresso and Latte Maker, Here’s how to do it:
- Fill the water jug until it reaches the steaming line, and pour it inside the water reservoir in the machine.
- Fill the jug again to reach the maximum capacity line, and pour it inside the reservoir. After closing the cap, you’ll have enough water for steaming as well as 4 cups of latte.
- Add your espresso coffee grounds in the portafilter and tamp them properly, then attach the portafilter to the machine.
- Set the espresso machine to “Brew”
- While brewing, fill the frother pitcher to about 1/3 of its capacity with milk and froth it using the wand by setting the espresso machine to “Steam”.
- When everything is ready, pour 1/3 cup of espresso with 2/3 cup of steamed milk with an optional layer of frothing on top.
- Sweeten the latte if necessary and enjoy!
This wraps it up for today’s guide about the differences between latte and coffee. As you can see, a latte is a type of brewed coffee that is made by adding milk to the mix, regardless of the type of milk.
If you prefer a creamier texture with less intense flavor in your coffee, a latte will be a good choice for you. It’s also a perfect introductory drink to those who aren’t huge fans of coffee.
In the end, you should remember that both coffee and lattes are delicious in their own ways, so you can give both a try and see which one you like more. Even better, you can enjoy both of them, whether they’re hot or iced!