Make a Cafe Latte

Cafe Latte in a coffee cup with a cookie

The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving

Lattes (or Caffe Lattes) are espresso drinks made with a fairly large amount of foamed milk. They are milkier than cappuccinos. In America, many lattes are prepared as flavored lattes.
In northern Europe and Scandinavia, the term café au lait has traditionally been used for the combination of espresso and milk. In France, caffè latte is mostly known from the original Italian name of the drink (caffè latte or caffelatte); a combination of espresso and steamed milk equivalent to a "latte" is in French called grand crème and in German Milchkaffee or (in Austria) Wiener Melange.


  • For the Espresso
  • 1 tablespoon coffee
  • 1 fluid ounce water
  • Optional: 1 1/2 fluid ounces (or 1 shot) of flavored simple syrup
  • For the Foamed Milk
  • 3 fluid ounces milk (or more)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this cappuccino is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for pulling shots, steaming milk, and assembling your beverage.

Pull a Single Shot of Espresso

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Caffe Latte ingredients, coffee, water, syrup, milk

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  2. Place the water into the boiler of your espresso machine.

    putting water into a coffee maker

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  3. Place1 tablespoon of coffee into the portafilter.

    coffee in a portafilter

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  4. Tamp (press) the coffee down using a tamper. Do this two to three times to make sure the grounds are packed tightly.

    Tamp (press) the coffee down using a tamper

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  5. Place the portafilter into your espresso machine's group head and lock in place by turning it to the right.

    Place the portafilter into metal espresso machine

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  6. Place a latte cup or the glass carafe that came with your espresso machine under the group head and pull the shot for 23 to 30 seconds. Typically, there is a lever, switch, or button to start this process.

    espresso pouring into a coffee cup from an espresso machine

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  7. Once the shot is pulled, add a shot of flavored syrup for a flavored latte, if using. Then foam the milk.

    pouring syrup into a cup of expresso

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

Foam the Milk

  1. Place the milk into either a glass measuring cup or a small metal pitcher.

    pouring milk into a metal pitcher

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  2. Insert the steam wand into the container with the milk, just under the surface of the milk

    steam wand in a metal pitcher of milk

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  3. Engage the steam wand on your espresso machine. (You may need to read your espresso machine's manual for this, as each espresso maker is a little different.)

    turn on team wand, milk in a metal pitcher

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  4. Make sure to keep the tip of the wand towards the side of the container. This will create a vortex with the milk.

    steam wand in a metal pitcher of milk

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  5. Move the container higher, lower, closer, then further so that the steam wand can incorporate the air into the milk, making the foam. The bubbles should get smaller and smaller as you do this.

    team wand in a metal pitcher of steamed milk

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  6. Once the milk has foamed to double its size, turn the steam wand off.

    metal pitcher full of foam / steamed milk

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  7. Using a spoon to retain the microbubbles on top of the steamed milk, pour the bottom 2/3 of the steamed milk from the steaming pitcher into the latte cup.

    pouring steamed milk into a white coffee cup with espresso

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  8. Top the latte with the remaining bubbles. (You can spoon them onto your drink if desired.)

    caffe latte in a white cup with a metal spoon

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  9. If you'd like, feel free to add some latte art. Serve and enjoy!

    Caffe Latte in a cup with a cookie

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii


  • If you're a habitual latte drinker, investing in a basic espresso maker and learning to make lattes can save you an enormous amount of money each year.
  • If using flavored syrup, try using a popular latte flavor, chocolate syrup, or chocolate powder mixed into a paste with a little hot water.

How It's Served

  • A latte is sometimes served in a bowl; in Europe, particularly Scandinavia, this is referred to as a café au lait.
  • Increasingly common in the United States and Europe, latte art has led to the stylization of coffee making, and the creation of what is now a popular art form. Created by pouring steaming, and mostly frothed, milk into the coffee, that liquid is introduced into the beverage in such a way that patterns are distinguishable on the top of the coffee. Popular patterns can include hearts, flowers, trees and other forms of simplistic representations of images and objects.
  • Iced latte is often served unstirred so that coffee appears to "float" on top of white milk in a glass cup.
  • A variation of the iced latte is an iced espresso ordered in a larger than normal cup filled up with free milk. 
  • In Asia and North America, lattes have been combined with Asian teas. Coffee and tea shops now offer hot or iced latte versions of chai, matcha, and Royal milk tea.
  • Other flavorings can be added to the latte to suit the taste of the drinker. Vanilla, chocolate, and caramel are all popular variants.
  • In South Africa, a red latte is made with rooibos tea.
  • An alternative version of latte can be prepared with soy milk or oat milk, as both have the ability to foam in the same way as cow milk, with soy milk versions being more prevalent. Such alternatives are popular among people with lactose intolerance and vegans.

More About Espresso

Espresso is coffee brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Espresso is generally thicker than coffee brewed by other methods, has a higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids, and has crema on top (a foam with a creamy consistency). 

As a result of the pressurized brewing process, the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup of espresso are very concentrated. Espresso is also the base for other drinks such as a caffè latte, cappuccino, caffè macchiato, caffè mocha, flat white, or caffè Americano.

Espresso has more caffeine per unit volume than most coffee beverages, but because the usual serving size is much smaller, the total caffeine content is less than a mug of standard brewed coffee, contrary to a common belief.