How to Make a Latte

A step-by-step guide to making the coffee shop favorite at home.

November 17, 2022
A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk.

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A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk.

Photo by: Boy_Anupong/Getty Images

Boy_Anupong/Getty Images

By Grace Elkus for Food Network Kitchen

Grace is a contributing writer at Food Network.

Whether you enjoy one in the morning or as an afternoon treat, a steaming hot latte is a always an instant pick-me-up. And once you learn how to make it at home, it's the gift that keeps on giving. This comprehensive guide will answer all your latte-related questions, from the best type of milk to use to how to make it iced.

Feshly brewed  latte coffee on a white table, a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk.

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Feshly brewed latte coffee on a white table, a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk.

Photo by: Frank Lee/Getty Images

Frank Lee/Getty Images

What Is a Latte?

A caffe latte, or latte for short, is an espresso-based coffee drink. As far as what is in a latte, the popular drink consists of espresso, steamed milk and a thin layer of milk foam. The classic latte ratio is one-third espresso to two-thirds steamed milk, although coffee shops and recipes often use more milk to create a rich and creamy beverage with a subtle espresso flavor.

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Photo by: Westend61/Getty Images

Westend61/Getty Images

What’s the Difference Between a Latte and a Cappuccino?

While lattes and cappuccinos are made with the same ingredients, the difference comes down to how much of each is used. Whereas a latte contains more milk than espresso, a cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk foam. This higher volume of foam is what gives a cappuccino its distinct layers.

If you’re struggling to remember the difference between the two, think about a latte having a lot of milk. Lattes are also served in larger cups.

Woman pouring milk into cup of hot coffee, closeup

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Woman pouring milk into cup of hot coffee, closeup

Photo by: Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

What Milk to Use for a Latte

When frothing milk for lattes, you’re looking to create a loose, silky, pourable foam that can easily mix with the espresso. Whole milk is best for this, as it contains just the right amount of fat and also tastes sweet and rich. Two percent and skim milk also foam nicely when frothed, but don’t taste quite as decadent.

When it comes to non-dairy milks, oat milk, which produces a rich and creamy foam, is the best choice. Almond milk comes in second — though it froths best at room temperature — and soy milk is another good option. Skip rice milk, macadamia milk and cashew milk, all of which do not froth well.

A milk frother makes quick and easy work of this task, and it comes in both handheld and countertop varieties. But if you don't have one, no problem: you can also do it by hand. Add the milk to a large jar and shake vigorously until it’s doubled in volume. Remove the lid and heat the milk in the microwave, or pour into a saucepan and heat on the stovetop until simmering. Alternatively, heat the milk first, then pour into a high-powered blender and blend until frothy.

How to Make a Latte at Home, Step-by-Step

With these simple step-by-step instructions, you can skip the coffee shop lines and enjoy a latte at home. Feel free to add more milk, if desired.

Step 1: Brew and Pour the Espresso

Brew two shots of espresso (about 2 ounces) using an espresso machine. Pour into a cup or mug. For an extra-hot latte, start by filling your mug with boiling water, then pour it out right before adding the espresso.

Step 2: Steam the Milk

Steam 1/2 cup milk to 150 F. Do so by fitting a small saucepan with a thermometer and heating the milk on low, stirring frequently. Transfer the milk to a glass measuring cup and tap it on the counter a few times to break up any large bubbles.

Step 3: Pour the Milk

Pour the steamed milk over the espresso, using a spoon to hold back the foam.

Step 4: Top Off with Foam

Top off the drink with the reserved foam. If you’re feeling fancy, you can use the foam to create latte art.

How to Make an Iced Latte

In the summertime months, an iced latte is a refreshing way to get your coffee fix. Here’s how to make one.

Step 1: Fill a Glass with Ice

Fill a tall glass with ice.

Step 2: Brew and Pour the Espresso

Brew two shots of espresso (about 2 ounces) using an espresso machine. (You can also substitute cold brew). Pour over the ice.

Step 3: Add Sweetener of Choice

Add 1 ounce of liquid sweetener (such as simple syrup or agave nectar) to the glass, if desired.

Step 4: Add the Milk

Pour 1/2 cup milk into the glass and stir to combine. For a frothier iced latte, shake the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker, then strain over ice.

How to Flavor Your Latte

Because the basic latte recipe is so simple, it’s a great blank slate for all sorts of flavors. Two of the most popular twists are pumpkin spice and matcha.

Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen

Full Recipe Name: Pumpkin Spice Latte

Talent Recipe: 

FNK Recipe: Food Networks Kitchenâ  s Pumpkin Spice Latte, as seen on Foodnetwork.com

Project: Foodnetwork.com, FN Essentials/Weeknights/Fall/Holidays

Show Name: 

Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

FNK_PumpkinSpiceLatte_H

Chef Name: Food Network KitchenFull Recipe Name: Pumpkin Spice LatteTalent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Networks Kitchen’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, as seen on Foodnetwork.comProject: Foodnetwork.com, FN Essentials/Weeknights/Fall/HolidaysShow Name: Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network,Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen Full Recipe Name: Pumpkin Spice Latte Talent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Networks Kitchen’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, as seen on Foodnetwork.com Project: Foodnetwork.com, FN Essentials/Weeknights/Fall/Holidays Show Name: Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

How to Make a Pumpkin Spice Latte

To make a pumpkin spice latte (pictured above) at home, combine milk, pumpkin puree, granulated sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and poke a small hole in the plastic to vent. Microwave until the milk is hot, then whisk until foamy. Pour espresso into a large mug, followed by the milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

How to Make a Matcha Latte

Unlike caffe lattes, matcha lattes are made with tea, not espresso. Sift the matcha powder into a wide bowl, then add boiling water. Whisk until the powder dissolves and foam begins to form, then add your milk of choice and whisk to combine.

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