Before we get into how to make a latte with an espresso machine, let's cover the differences between a latte and other popular espresso-based drinks.
One of the benefits of having an espresso machine at home is being able to make café quality drinks in the comfort of your own kitchen. If a latte is your drink of choice then let’s start with the basics & what is a latte and how is it different from a cappuccino. To start, the main difference between a latte & a cappuccino is the ratio of the ingredients; espresso, steamed milk & foamed milk. A cappuccino has equal parts espresso and steamed milk and is topped with an airy, thick layer of foamed milk where a latte has more steamed milk than espresso and is topped with a thin layer of foamed milk.
Difference Between Latte and Flat White
A latte and a flat white are very similar with the key difference being that a flat white is smaller in volume with less micro foam but the same amount of espresso. A flat white is ideal for someone that wants a stronger espresso taste while still being able to enjoy the creaminess that the steamed milk provides.
How Do You Make a Perfect Latte?
The standard overall size of a latte is anywhere from 10 – 15 oz. & it is made from brewed espresso and steamed milk of choice. The breakdown should be 1 – 2 oz. of espresso (depending on the drink size & amount of caffeine you want) and 8 – 10 oz. of milk.
How Many Shots of Espresso Are in a Latte?
You will want to use medium to medium/dark espresso beans when making a latte so that the natural coffee flavors hold up against the large volume of milk being used. We recommend using our classic Italian espresso blend, Dolce Tazza. Using a quality home grinder is crucial in extracting a delicious tasting shot of espresso, all though not as important if only making milk-based drinks. You’ll want to grind 7 – 10 grams of coffee for a single shot of espresso or 15 – 18 grams of coffee for a double shot of espresso. Once the coffee is in your portafilter you can then level the coffee to evenly distribute the grounds before tamping with an even 30 lbs. of pressure.
How to Add Flavors to a Latte?
Because the cup is relatively large in size you’ll want to preheat the cup first by using the hot water spout on your espresso machine; if your machine does not have one you could always use a tea kettle. This is an important step in the process to ensure that your drink stays warm until the last sip. You should pull the shot of espresso directly into your mug or cup of choice & if you want to use a flavoring syrup then you would pour that into the cup first before pulling the shot which will better incorporate the flavor of the syrup into the latte.
What Type of Milk & Steaming Pitcher to Use
One of the most overlooked and yet obvious components of a delicious latte is your milk choice. Milks with a higher fat content will steam better so whole milk is the best for producing a creamy latte but you can always choose to use barista quality alternative milks like oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc. Not all steaming pitchers are created equal and it’s important to understand which size and shape works best for your machine, for example - you wouldn’t want to use a small 10 oz. pitcher on a Spaziale Vivaldi II but it would work great on a Quick Mill Silvano.
How to Steam Milk with an Espresso Machine
Before steaming make sure to purge the steam wand to remove any built-up moisture and any possible milk residue. Place the steam tip into the milk and submerge it just below the surface and open the steam valve to begin steaming. Tilt the pitcher at a slight angel to create a whirlpool while adding air into the milk to create silky micro foam & turn off the valve once the pitcher is too hot to hold. Swirl the milk around in the pitcher to bring the milk together into a smooth consistency, tilt your cup and pour into the espresso above 3-4 inches above the cup to start and then slowly moving closer to (hopefully) create beautiful latte art.
All that’s left now is to sit back relax & enjoy the delicious latte you just created!
Note: Previous image no longer visible credited to Coffee Geek - Breville.