How to Make a Latte at Home
Amanda Norcross • July 13, 2021
There's nothing like tucking into your local coffee shop for a warm latte on a cool morning, especially in the fall. Just thinking about the taste of the sweet, steamed milk and the delicate latte art atop the foam—perhaps paired with a freshly baked biscotti cookie—can give anyone the warm and fuzzies.
But you don't have to leave your house for this experience (or any of the required ingredients, including good coffee). Whip up a latte and cozy up on the couch instead.
Read on to learn how you can easily make a latte at home.
What Is a Latte?
The latte is a coffee drink with two ingredients: espresso (one or two shots) and steamed milk. In Italy, the drink is known as a caffè e latte, which translates to "coffee and milk" in English.
How to Make a Latte at Home
We consulted our friend Tom Saxon, specialty coffee expert and co-founder of Batch Coffee, for his best latte recipe and tips.
What You Need
- Espresso Machine: Since espresso is one of the two required latte ingredients, it's easiest to make a latte if you have an espresso machine. Many espresso machines are also known as latte makers since they're multi-functional and able to make espressos, caffè lattes and/or cappuccinos. These are our top picks for espresso machines.
- Handheld Milk Steamer: You can purchase a handheld milk steamer, though many espresso machines also feature a milk steaming function.
- Milk Frothing Pitcher: Any stainless steel milk frothing pitcher will work; you can find a good one for $10 or less.
Step 1: Preheat your cups. This is very important as lattes are served ready to drink, so you don't want any of that precious heat escaping.
Step 2: Pull your shot of espresso. Need help with this part? Follow our step-by-step instructions for making espresso at home.
Step 3: The machine you have (whether it's a dual boiler or single) will determine whether or not you'll be able to steam the milk at the same time the espresso is pouring. Either way, pour enough milk into your pitcher for your latte. The volume will increase by around 25 percent so keep that in mind.
Step 4: Submerge the end of the steam wand in the milk jug and activate the steam. Position the end of the steam wand at an angle so the milk in the jug starts to revolve. Slowly bring the end of the steam wand towards the top of the milk; you should hear a ripping noise. Repeat this step about four to five times. This produces the delicious micro foam that sits on top of a latte. Tip: Only texture the milk like this when it's still cold. Once the jug starts to get warm, submerge the steam wand into the milk so it's still revolving.
Step 5: When the milk pitcher is too hot for you to touch for more than two seconds, the milk is done. (This can change depending on the weight of your milk pitcher and the sensitivity of your hands, but it's a rough estimate).
Step 6: Tap the pitcher on the surface to remove any small bubbles and swirl the milk to 'polish' the texture.
Step 7: Pour the milk by first tilting the milk pitcher from a little bit of a height so the milk passes through the crema of the espresso. Once the cup is around 60 percent full, start with your latte art (or skip this part) and slowly push the textured milk on top of the crema and into your desired pattern.
- Start with less milk in your jug. Pour it in just to the start of the spout. This gives you enough room to texture the milk without spilling it everywhere.
- Whole milk is a lot easier to texture than any other milk. So if you're struggling with alternatives, give whole milk a try first.
- Make sure the milk is cold when you start steaming. This will make it much easier to texture.
How to Make a Latte at Home With Instant Coffee
If you're short on gear and time, it's possible to make a latte with instant coffee. Simply boil 10 ounces of water, mix it with your instant coffee in a cup, and top it with steamed milk for a latte-like drink. You can also brew regular coffee with your method of choice and top with frothed milk. While this won't result in a bona fide latte, it'll still taste pretty good!
How to Make a Latte Without an Espresso Machine
Aside from using freshly roasted or instant coffee, there are two other ways to make a latte without an espresso machine: using a Moka Pot or an AeroPress. Fill the bottom of your Moka Pot or AeroPress with ground espresso beans, and use either coffee maker the same way you would for regular coffee. The heat and pressure will create an espresso-like drink for your latte.
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