How to Make a Cafe Latte

Cafe Latte in a coffee cup with a cookie

The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
47 Calories
2g Fat
5g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 47
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 46mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 111mg 9%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 145mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lattes (or caffe lattes) are espresso drinks made with a fairly large amount of steamed milk. It is similar to a cappuccino, but a cappuccino is comprised of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam, whereas a latte is made with much more milk than coffee. Lattes use a ratio of at least 1 shot of espresso to 2 ounces of steamed milk (this recipe is 1 to 3) and are capped with just a thin layer of foam on the top. This means lattes are milkier than cappuccinos, and because it has more steamed than foamed milk, the milk sinks into the espresso in a latte, while cappuccinos have three distinct layers.

In America, it is common to add flavored syrups or powders when making lattes, including flavors such as vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel. In this recipe, the flavoring is optional, so you can customize the beverage or keep the coffee simple. To make any type of espresso drink, you will need an espresso maker; this recipe includes the steps for preparing and pulling shots.


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"You do need to have an espresso machine to pull the espresso shot and steam the milk, but you don’t need to buy a fancy one. One of the standard ones for around $40 will do just fine. Ultimately, you’ll be saving yourself money. (Plus it’s an impressive skill.)" —Victoria Heydt

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Espresso:

  • 1 ounce water

  • 1  tablespoon ground dark espresso or French roast coffee

  •  1 1/2 fluid ounces (or 1 shot) flavored simple syrup, optional

For the Foamed Milk:

  • 3 ounces milk, or more

Steps to Make It

Make the 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. Put the coffee into the portafilter.

    coffee in a portafilter

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  4. Tamp (press) the coffee down using a tamper. Do this 2 to 3 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 it 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 25 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 the flavored syrup, if using.

    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.

    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 steam wand, milk in a metal pitcher

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

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

    keep the tip of the wand toward the side of the container

    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.

    making the foam

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

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

    metal pitcher full of foam / steamed milk

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

Assemble the Latte

  1. Use a spoon to retain the microbubbles on top of the steamed milk and pour the bottom 2/3 of the steamed milk into the latte cup.

    pouring steamed milk into a white coffee cup with espresso

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  2. Top the latte with the remaining bubbles by pouring or spooning them onto the drink.

    caffe latte in a white cup with a metal spoon

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  3. Serve and enjoy.

    Caffe Latte in a cup with a cookie

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

Recipe Variations

  • To make a dairy-free latte, prepare it with soy milk or oat milk; both have the ability to foam in the same way as cow's milk.
  • A latte is sometimes served in a bowl; in Europe, particularly Scandinavia, this is referred to as a café au lait.
  • Iced latte is often served unstirred in a glass cup so that the coffee appears to "float" on top of the milk.
  • In Asia and North America, lattes are often combined with Asian teas. Coffee and tea shops offer hot or iced latte versions of chai, matcha, and Royal milk tea. In South Africa, a red latte is made with rooibos tea.