Nothing beats the soul-satisfying feeling of a hot latte hitting your taste buds and instantly warming up your whole body. Lucky for you, making it at home is easier than you think, as long as you have the right gear.
Here’s everything you need to know about lattes and all the gadgets and gear you need to become a barista in your own kitchen.
A latte (short for Caffè latte) is a beverage made from espresso and steamed milk with a light layer of foam on top. The drink starts with a single (or double) shot of espresso, followed by steamed milk that blends into the espresso and develops a rich and comforting beverage.
While the beverage boasts a rich and velvety mouthfeel, the several ounces of milk to espresso ratio gives it a light feel, too. A layer of foam finishes things off just right with this beverage.
A cappuccino, on the other hand, is a similar drink made with the same three ingredients. However, cappuccinos use less steamed milk and more foam than a latte. The two drinks are delicious in their own way but offer distinct flavors and textures.
There’s a lot of talk about froth and steamed milk when making this delicious drink. But what’s the difference between the two? Here’s a quick rundown.
Frothing milk means adding air bubbles with something like a frothing wand. This aeration process creates foam or froth, giving the drink its signature mouthfeel and finish.
Steaming milk produces excellent froth called microfoam and crema, which is essentially used to create those gorgeous works of art in a latte mug.
You’ll need to heat your milk separately if using a basic handheld frother; however, there are electric frothers that steam and froth for you.
Making a perfect latte takes practice, which is great because you also have to drink each delicious cup. From milk selections to achieving a fine grind, we have tips that will help:
- Keep your milk cold: It foams better than warm milk so keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
- Use fresh, high-quality milk: The week-old stuff won’t foam as well.
- Use a burr grinder: There are two main types of coffee grinders: blade and burr. Burr grinders make a more consistent, uniform grind, which is vital when making a well-balanced espresso.
- Use dark roast coffee beans: You can use any coffee beans to make espresso, but darker roasts work best for consistent quality. They also offer a complexity that harmonizes really well when paired with creamy milk. Some brands market a specialty blend called “Espresso Beans,” which are essentially dark roast beans created with espresso in mind.
- Learn how to froth milk: This is pretty easy, but achieving the perfect consistency, and learning how to make microfoam and larger, stiffer bubbles, all take time and practice.
These tips will help when it’s time to actually make your latte, but making mistakes and learning as you go is your best chance to achieve a perfect cup.
Whether you’re a sucker for hot pumpkin spice lattes or the iced vanilla kind to get through the blazing days of summer, this espresso beverage makes a lovely treat any time of year. We’ll walk you through the steps to make your own at home.
- 1-2 shots (or ounces) of espresso
- 4 ounces of cold milk
- Prepare your espresso using an espresso machine or another preferred method, and pour it right into the mug or cup you plan to drink from.
- Steam milk either using the steaming wand on your espresso machine or heat it in an electric milk steamer. Whichever method you choose, temp your milk to ensure it reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature.
- Pour the hot milk into a tall container and use the frother of your choice to create tiny foamy bubbles. Do so by running the frother up and down the container for 15 seconds. Don’t froth for too long; lattes only need a small amount of foam.
- Tap the container of steamed milk to break any large bubbles that may have formed. Carefully pour the steamed milk into the center of the mug.
- Enjoy immediately.
Now that you know how to make a latte, you’ll want to learn about the tools used to make espresso, steam milk, or even decorate your beverage like a pro barista.
Making a Latte at home is pretty easy, and the more you practice, the smoother and richer your latte will taste over time; but you’ll need a few tools and accessories first. Before running through the list of gadgets, let’s talk about milk and coffee beans!
In addition to the milk and dark roast coffee beans we mentioned previously, let’s look at some of the other gear you’ll need to make your lattes.
A burr grinder is an essential tool for grinding your fresh beans down to a fine grind. When making espresso, boiling water is pushed through finely ground coffee beans in a short amount of time. Because the process is quick, having an excellent grind is key.
The burr grinder works to provide a really consistent grind, better than any blade grinders can. Consistency and uniformity are what will make a balanced shot of espresso.
Full disclaimer here: A Moka Pot will not give you a genuine espresso due to the amount of pressure used. Moka pots use two bars of pressure, where espresso machines use nine bars. However, Moka pots are a perfect alternative to espresso machines because they are inexpensive and give similar results.
It’s a great first purchase before spending hundreds (or thousands) on a machine. The Grosche Milano Moka pot will make a really nice concentrated coffee that’s comparable to espresso, and they are popular amongst coffee consumers.
An electric milk steamer and frother combination is ideal for making lattes and great for cappuccinos and hot chocolates, too.
The Breville milk frother features two removable discs; one to achieve a silky foam needed to make a latte and a cappuccino disc for thick and larger foams. Adjust the heat setting to your desire and enjoy the convenience of this fabulous product.
Milk frothing wands are fantastic because they are easy to use and inexpensive. You can honestly get away with heating your milk on a stove (be careful not to burn) and use a frothing wand to achieve the desired bubbles.
If you are interested in an all-in-one machine that grinds your coffee beans, produces genuine espresso, steams and froths your milk, and provides a delicious coffee-shop-like latte, then you are looking at it.
The Breville barista express is a gorgeously sleek machine that’ll produce the nuanced flavor and rich body espresso should have. Once you sip on a velvety mouthfeel of genuine microfoam, you’ll wish you had this in the past. It’s pricey but worth it for anyone looking to level up.
Now that the standard stuff is out of the way, it’s time to take your latte-making experiences up a notch with mugs, ramblers, and flavorings.
Beyond the basics, lattes are known for their fancy flavors, like pumpkin spice (which you can also make at home), vanilla, and caramel. Keeping your drink temperature controlled is another important factor to achieve quality flavor.
If you’re a sucker for the Starbucks flavors, you will love having these flavors at home. Vanilla is popular, but feel free to experiment with other flavors like caramel and hazelnut, too.
For the full latte-sipping experience, having a classy set of glass mugs is just what you need to appreciate your coffee’s gorgeous layers and colors. These dishwasher-safe mugs are double-walled, which is perfect for anyone who savors each hot sip slowly.
If Iced lattes on the go are more your style, then reach for a Tronco glass tumbler with a straw. The glass creates a classy, sleek look, and the silicone protective sleeve makes it safe for travel.
For hot (or cold) lattes on the go, having a designated mug with phenomenal insulation and a nicely sealed lid makes all the difference. Rewarming your beverage alters the flavor, but the yeti will keep it hot long enough, so you shouldn’t have to.
Once you decide to take your artsy skills up a notch, you’ll love learning about fun microfoam designs and ways to create your own cool features.
Latte art books, stencils, and decorating pens aren’t necessary at first. Still, if you find yourself really getting into the latte game, these tools will give you the professional barista edge that’ll impress everyone.
Filled with over 50 unique designs and plenty of great tutorials, you’ll learn how to view your latte as a blank canvas and turn it into a gorgeous work of art. Author Dhan Tamang is a world-renowned latte artist, so you’ll be learning from the best.
Decorating pens are a fantastic tool to have when getting into fine detail work in your latte and cappuccino art. The stainless steel material and non-slip grip give these a professional edge ideal for turning homebrewed lattes into works of art.
These foam stencils are a little easier to work with, as they help dust over various powders like cocoa and cinnamon. Feel free to try some of the designs on your kiddo’s hot cocoa, too! It still gives you really cool designs with minimal effort.
You don’t need every single thing on our list to make lattes at home, of course. The thing is, once you get started, it’s hard not to become a hobbyist! And hey, with all this coffee making going on, don’t forget, you can repurpose all those used grounds, too.