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How to Make a Latte

The essential difference between the various espresso-based drinks is the milk that is added to the espresso and the ratio of milk to espresso. So the first steps in making a latte at home are first to learn how to make a good espresso followed by how to froth your milk in preparation for making your latte.

Don't forget my golden rule for perfect espresso, which is to "pull" the espresso shot directly into your cup; do NOT make it in a stainless-steel pitcher and then pour it from there into the cup. (Read why not in my golden rule for perfect espresso).

After frothing your milk either with the steamer wand of your espresso machine or using an Aerolatte milk frother, fold the froth floating on the top of the milk into the rest of the milk to give a nice velvety consistency. Break any large air bubbles by banging the bottom of the milk pitcher onto a folded towel. (Not so hard that milk jumps out of the pitcher and hits you in the face!) Using a spoon, hold back the froth from the top of the milk and pour the milk into the espresso until your cup is almost full. Allow the foam from the top of the milk to flow into the cup for the last 1/4 inch (.6cm). Voila! You've made your own caffe latte at home.

Things to know when making your perfect latte at home

A latte is traditionally made is a smaller cup (10oz / 300ml). If you have 12oz cups, that should be fine, but anything bigger is not a true latte. You aren't meant to drown your espresso in milk.

In some coffee cultures such as Australia and New Zealand, a latte is served in a 10oz glass, so don't be surprised by this if travelling in either of these countries and ordering a latte at one of the many wonderful cafes. If you prefer it in a cup, ask for it when you place your order.

What's the difference between a latte and a cafe au lait?

Other than the fact that "latte" is Italian and "cafe au lait" is French, a cafe au lait (literally coffee with milk) is served in a large bowl with a much greater ratio of milk to espresso and is considered a breakfast drink. If you order a cafe au lait after lunch in France, you will be considered uncouth.

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