What Is The Difference Between Latte And A Coffee? All You Should Know

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When you are at home, you probably do not pay heed to what kind of coffee you are making. Coffee is the perfect pick-me-up drink after a tiring day and a mood booster when you’re having seasonal blues. 

However, if you love spending your time in cozy cafes, you already know there is a major difference between a latte and a regular coffee. In this blog post, we are going to get down to the nitty-gritty of both these drinks. 

What Makes A Latte Different From A Coffee? 

The main difference between a latte and a coffee is that lattes are enriched with added milk while regular coffees are brewed from ground beans. Since milk tastes creamy and sweet, lattes are typically sweeter with flavoring syrups. Lattes typically have one espresso shot coupled with ¾ cup of steamed milk and a layer of foam. 

While regular coffee has a strong caffeine flavor due to the caffeine content, lattes are high in calories due to the added flavoring. If you’re watching your weight, then a regular coffee is a better option for you. On the other hand, if you are more interested in flavor than caffeine, lattes will please your tastebuds. 

So, Is Latte Just Coffee With Milk? 

A latte is a type of coffee with added flavoring. It is created over an espresso base, just like other espresso drinks like cappuccino and macchiato. The word ‘latte’ is derived from the Italian term, “caffé e latte” which translates to simply “milk with coffee.”

Even though lattes are prepared with ⅓ espresso and ⅔ steamed milk and topped with foam, many people prefer different flavors like mocha or vanilla. When lattes are prepared without the microfoam topping then you get a different type of latte drink–a flat white. Sometimes, a barista may even add a final touch to your latte by making a tulip or a heart with steamed milk. Lattes are, therefore, not confined to traditional ingredients like coffee and milk, some have variations in flavors and others omit the entire foam on top. 

How Do You Make A Latte? 

If you have never indulged in the creamy espresso-based drink in a cafe, you should consider trying one at your favorite coffee bar. To prepare a latte, the proportion of the ingredients varies from 6 to 8 ounces of steamed milk for every espresso shot. A larger serving of latte typically contains two shots of espresso but you can ask your barista to add an extra shot to your regular latte too. 

Though the experience is rather luxurious, making your own latte at home is not only cheap but cost-effective. There are primarily two ways of making a latte at home which depend on whether you have an espresso machine or not. 

Making A Latte With An Espresso Machine 

If you already have an espresso machine at home, then your latte-making process becomes simple. This recipe requires minimal equipment and takes 5-10 minutes to get ready. To make a latte with an espresso machine, follow the steps below. 

  1. Start by turning on your espresso machine and adding water to the proper department. 
  2. Simultaneously, pour some milk into a jug and fill it to the brim. 
  3. Transfer your coffee grind of choice into the filter basket. 
  4. Heat the milk with the wand steamer of your espresso machine. Keep heating the milk until it reaches the temperature of 130 to 140℉. 
  5. While your milk settles after being frothed, insert the espresso coffee into the slot. This ensures that the milk’s foam settles properly and appears thicker. 
  6. Place your cup under the filter basket and wait for the coffee to get brewed. 
  7. Once the coffee has been brewed, you can add a little bit of frothed milk and foam. 

Pro tip: If you are working on your barista skills, you can use a spoon to transfer the foam on top of the milk. The foam that is used as a topping should be a thin layer as a thick layer of foam is a prominent feature of a Cappucino. 

Making A Latte Without An Espresso Machine 

If you want to create a delicious latte at home, you’ll be surprised to know that the process is simpler than using a coffee machine. Making a latte at home can be achieved in four steps. 

  1. The first step involves brewing dark roast coffee grinds in a robust pot. As long as the water component is in proportion, you can even add more coffee grinds to make the coffee stronger. 
  2. To get the same frothy milk texture, pour some milk into a jar and shake it till it becomes frothy. 
  3. Place the same jar of milk without the lid in a microwave and heat it for 30 seconds. 
  4. Once you have poured your brewed coffee into your glass, add the frothy milk into your espresso coffee. Top it up with a dollop of foam. 

This process is perfect for coffee lovers as you can control how strong you want your coffee to be. On the brighter side, you have less to clean after enjoying a creamy latte. 

Why Is Regular Coffee Better Than A Latte? 

If you are a coffee enthusiast, you probably already know the downsides of a fancy latte instead of your regular dose of caffeine. Coffee is a brewed drink that is prepared from roasted coffee beans. Since regular coffee does not contain any flavored additives, it is comparatively healthier than other forms like latte and cappuccino. 

While all variations of coffee contain an espresso shot which is essentially made by forcing pressurized hot water thoroughly finely-ground coffee beans, the brewing process is a defining factor. When coffee is processed differently, there is a noticeable difference in the flavor and caffeine content. The most common form of regular coffee is drip coffee which is made by allowing water to flow through coffee grounds enclosed in a filter. 

How To Brew Drip Coffee 

 A regular cup of drip coffee contains 65-120mg of caffeine according to the National Coffee Association (NCA) which is 40 mg more than the caffeine concentrations in an espresso. Most Americans prefer filter coffee machines to prepare drip coffee but it can also be prepared without a machine. 

To brew drip coffee, you need to insert the filter with coffee grounds into the coffee maker. Make sure that the water reservoir is filled with water. When you turn your coffee maker on, the water will flow from the reservoir into the coffee basket. The water will absorb the flavor of the coffee grounds and thus, produce freshly brewed coffee. 

Latte vs Coffee: Which One Is For Me? 

Depending on what suits your palate, there can be a big difference between these two drinks. Some factors to consider when you are trying out either one for the first time are listed below. 

Taste 

Since a latte contains a higher concentration of milk and other flavored syrups, it tastes more milky and creamy. Depending on the serving of your latte and how many espresso shots are there, the taste can be rich in flavor. 

On the other hand, regular coffee contains only roasted coffee grounds and water so it has a strong caffeine flavor. It can be overpowering for some, especially if you prefer your coffee drinks to be more sweet than bitter. 

Caffeine Strength 

Typically, a latte contains one or two shots of espresso. Since a caffe latte has a higher proportion of steamed milk as compared to the caffeine content, the strength of the espresso is heavily diluted. 

You have a lot more freedom when you are preparing regular coffee so your caffeine strength can invariably differ by a large margin. You can also decide how much coffee to add no matter which method you prefer for making coffee. 

Calories 

Regular coffee with water contains only 5 calories. Even though a higher concentration of caffeine has adverse effects on your health if consumed daily, it is a better option if you are controlling your daily calorie intake. 

Lattes are incredibly creamy and sweet but they are high in calories. A latte with whole milk contains 150 calories–excluding the flavored additives. Hence, a latte contains more fats and sugars than a regular cup of coffee. 

Convenience 

It is more convenient to make a regular coffee at home than a latte. Let’s say that you are in a rush and need the coffee in less than 5 minutes, then regular coffees are more convenient. 

Even if feel like making your latte at home, it is a better idea to order it from a nearby cafe that has a powerful machine that will brew your espresso and frothy milk to perfection. 

The Bottom Line

Now that you know what a latte and regular coffee are and how they differ from each other, you can customize your morning cup of coffee according to your mood. 

If you prefer a strong caffeine shot, a regular coffee will pull through. If you are in the mood for a milder and creamier coffee, a latte will lift your spirits! So, the next time you go to a cafe or create your own coffee drink, rest assured you will make an informed decision. 

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AUTHOR

Jeff Stone
Jeff is a coffee aficionado. He loves a couple cups of joe first thing in the morning. He like trying out new grounds and gear and then writes about it here. When he is not sipping java, he is usually writing it for his clients as a software engineer.

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