Latte Recipe: How to Make a Latte (Cafe Latte) At Home

latte recipe- how to make a latte at home

Ah, latte. Milky mug of heaven. Iced coffee is mostly enjoyed in the summer, but fall and winter belong to the latte. 

Out of the over 400 million cups of coffee Americans consume every day, most of them are latte variants. Impressive, isn’t it?

This classic coffee drink has been around since oral history began. With its creamy texture and luscious flavor profile that will keep you coming back for more – not to mention it’s super flexible in ingredients! 

Nothing sounds better than snuggling up comfortably with your favorite book, movie or even your dog or cat and enjoying a delicious, creamy latte. Just writing about this delicious, milky drink makes me want one.

But if you don’t want to drive to your local cafe and just fancy making it yourself at home, we have your back!

Here’s how to make a delicious latte at home, to sip in the morning, or with a visiting friend. Don’t skip the whip. You only need coffee and milk, and you are good to go.

In this latte recipe guide, I’ll go through what a latte is and how it originated, as well as how to make a  latte at home and espresso beverages comparable to latte.

Firstly, What is a latte?

A latte is made with the two pillar ingredients: espresso and steamed milk. A latte is a delicious, refreshing drink that has 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk with foam on top.

The word “latte” comes from the Italian word for “coffee & milk,” which simply means it has both caffeinated goodness as well as creamy, sweet dairy flavors in every sip!

The Legend Of The Latte

A latte is typically thought of as a breakfast beverage. It may be traced back to the 17th century, although coffeehouses have commonly mentioned it since the 20th century. It was invented in Italy, although it has been used for hundreds of years throughout mainland Europe and Britain.

Of course, it’s been one of the most popular espresso drinks in the United States for many generations. Despite Europeans drinking this variant of coffee in breakfast for ages, the commercial version of this espresso drink is a truly American invention. Soon after, the rest of the world was smitten with the milky coffee delight of a humble latte. For breakfast, many Italians enjoy café au lait, which is made with coffee brewed in a moka pot and lots of steamed milk without additional foam.

The term “latte” was coined as a shortening of the phrase “caffe latte,” which stands for “coffee and milk.” The shorthand term “latte” came to refer to an espresso drink that is mostly made up of milk over time. The rest, as they say, is history!

Why Fall In Love With Latte?

The Latte is always a crowd favorite! It’s super flexible in ingredients, so you can easily customize it to your liking. If that isn’t enough of an incentive for leaving the coffee shop without one (or three), here are some other reasons why everyone loves ordering this delicious drink…

Coffee Beans For Espresso Brewing

The main ingredient of every latte is coffee. Without it, the latte is just milk- no flavor whatsoever!

You can grind beans if needed using a coffee grinder. If you don’t have a grinder yourself or if you’re looking to save time in the morning then go ahead with pre-ground beans.

A latte is an espresso-based drink, so the best beans for your taste buds would be dark roasted. Light roasts can also work but they won’t be as strong tasting due to their lighter roast profile (although some people actually prefer this). 

coffee beans to use in a latte recipe - how to make latte at home

Milk to use for cafe latte

When it comes to the best milk for your cafe latte, I’d recommend whole milk before anything else.  Because it has the perfect balance of fats, proteins, sugar and water that is needed for smooth microfoam. You may also use 2% milk and it works effectively, but you lose some of the richness. The most essential thing to remember about the milk: make sure it’s as fresh as possible! Milk that is approaching its expiration date does not foam as well.

Is it possible to create a vegan latte? Why, yes! The best non-dairy milk for a latte is oat milk, which froths nicely and h as a flavorful taste. For additional information on the specifics of working with non-dairy milk, see Best Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives.

milk to use in latte- how to make latte at home - cup of caffeine

How to steam milk (with an espresso machine)

Foam can make or break the entire coffee-drinking experience, as any true espresso aficionado knows. If you invested in an espresso machine with a steam wand, steaming milk with it is quite simple. Here’s the one we use.

The attached arm simply pushes steam into your milk, softly heating it with pressure while adding air to the milk, causing it to foam. For steaming, you’ll also need a small metal pitcher. They’re just the right depth for the steam wand and have a long handle that’s easy to grip and control. Here’s the best milk frothing pitcher we use: it makes it easy to create the perfect foam for your latte with no fuss  — it’s simply a basic stainless steel pitcher that works effectively.

how to steam milk for latte with the espresso machine - latte recipe

How To Make Latte

After you’ve got your espresso and accessories, it’s time to get down to business! The most essential skill is frothing the milk, but after that it’s a piece of cake. While the ingredients in every latte are similar, the way you prepare it may differ significantly. Here’s how to make the perfect latte every time:

Latte Art

The first step in creating latte art is to use a well-steamed cup of milk. The thickness of steamed milk is what allows lattes to retain a design. It doesn’t matter how accomplished your painting skills are if you don’t have good milk-steaming abilities.

To make a latte flower, slowly pour steamed milk into the cup containing espresso. Halfway through, close the gap to bring the steamed milk you’re pouring closer to the espresso. This will begin to generate some color contrast.

When you see the white popping against the coffee instead of melding into it, move the cup from side to side carefully. With a rippled base, this will create a zigzag pattern with a ripple-free conclusion. Then, pour the steamed milk in a straight line perpendicular to the ripples. It’s important to keep the milk close to the espresso cup while pouring so you can get distinct lines.

latte art: how to make latte at home

Espresso Drinks Similar to Latte

How many caffeinated drinks can you make by combining steamed milk, foam, and espresso? It turns out the answer is more than you’d imagine. The latte, despite its uniqueness, has a number of coffee cousins that it is frequently mistaken with. It can easily be confused with macchiatos, cortados, and flat whites, among other common espresso beverages. Here are some of the most common coffee drinks that could easily pass as an innocent-looking iced cappuccino or mocha flavor when you’re not paying attention!

Cafe au lait

While the phrase “cafe au lait” means “coffee with milk,” this French beverage is considerably different from its Italian counterpart. Cafe au lait is prepared with heated steamed milk instead of frothed milk. The café au lait, unlike the café latte, does not have any milk foam.

Traditionally, it’s served in a white mug or bowl. Café au lait is not to be confused with “white coffee,” which is espresso with cold milk or powdered whitener added.
In Europe, the terms “café latte” and “café au lait” are sometimes used interchangeably—so be specific when traveling.

cafe au lait - espresso drinks similar to latte


The cappuccino is one of the most well-known espresso and milk drinks in the world. The cappuccino was invented at the same time as the espresso craze and has evolved into the beverage we enjoy today during WWII. Traditionally, a cappuccino consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. It is about 6 oz in volume.

A cappuccino is very similar to latte, except that it has a greater percentage of foamed milk than steamed milk. Due to less milk diluting the espresso, cappuccinos have a more strong flavor than lattes. The cappuccino, unlike a latte or a flat white, is intended to be ‘layered.’ The layering method of a cappuccino delivers a more distinct and rich coffee flavor.

Cappuccino is an excellent compromise for coffee lovers who want to enjoy the espresso flavor while not being overpowered by it.

cappuccino- espresso drinks similar to latte - latte recipe- how to make latte at home

Flat White

The Flat White is another delicious espresso drink that is made of a double measure of hearty espresso, topped with a good helping of steamed milk. The Flat White originated in Australia when a cafe customer asked for a cappuccino-size drink without foam. In other words, it’s a “no foam cappuccino with extra milk.”

In the specialty coffee industry, flat whites are often described as small lattes. It consists of double shots of espresso and about 2-3 ounces of steamed milk, with a thin, ‘flat’ (hence the name) layer of microfoam on the top.

Though often confused for a latte, the flat white differs from the latte in terms of the higher proportion of coffee to milk, making it a much stronger, coffee-heavy drink.

flat-white - espresso drinks similar to latte - how to make a latte at home


Cortado is a Spanish term that means “to cut.” This delicious espresso beverage has hot frothed milk, which effectively “cuts” the acidity of the espresso.

This creamy drink consists of a 1:1 ratio of frothed milk to a brewed double shot of hearty espresso and is about four ounces in volume (so about 2 ounces of espresso, 2 ounces of steamed milk). Unlike the latte, the cortado lacks any milk foam, resulting in a somewhat more robust espresso flavor.

It is most likely to be served in a small Gibraltar glass rather than your typical ceramic mug or demitasse cup.

cortado in Gibraltar glass -espresso drinks similar to latte - latte recipe - how to make latte at home- cup of caffeine


Macchiato is a delicious Italian espresso drink that has been delighting people for decades. Macchiato translates to “marked” or “stained” which refers to macchiato’s dot of milk, which is often found in the center of the drink. 
Traditionally, this drink is simply a shot of espresso topped with a tiny dollop of microfoam from steamed milk. It’s a 2-3 ounce drink, with a hint of steamed milk. Mostly, this foam is simply spooned out, so no liquid milk actually makes it into the cup.  Sometimes baristas pour a tiny bit of liquid milk into the espresso and create latte art.

There are two types of macchiato. These include the espresso macchiato and the latte macchiato. These rich espresso drinks are ideal for a quick afternoon pick-me-up.

Macchiatos are a wonderful way to enjoy espresso’s rich and complex tastes while avoiding the full punch. The tiny amount of milk and foam smooths out the roughest edges, yet the flavor profile of the shot is preserved.


Give It A Try At Home!

There you have it! The best part about making your own lattes at home? You can experiment to find the flavors that work for you. You can now have a latte in any flavor, anytime you want. Once you’ve had your cafe latte, you’ll likely feel stimulated, energized and ready to take on the day.

A well-made caffe latte is an experience in itself. A delicious combination of thick, creamy milk and rich, robust espresso creates a tantalizing taste that makes every coffee lover’s mouth water. It’s no secret why lattes are so popular around the world. A delicious latté may remind you of home when traveling abroad.

Enjoy making your latte, and as always:

Happy caffeinating!

how to make latte at home- latte recipe -cup of caffeine

Latte Recipe: How to Make a Latte (Cafe Latte) At Home

Here’s how to make a latte at home! Dust off that coffee machine and take your breakfast, or brunch, to the next level with this creamy latte!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 1
Calories 200 kcal


  • 2 espresso shots (2 ounce)
  • 4 ounce ( ½ cup) fresh whole milk*


  • Make the espresso. Use an espresso machine and pull two shots of espresso. Pour the espresso into cup or mug. Add your flavored syrup, if using.
  • Foam the Milk. Place the milk into a small metal pitcher. Insert the steam wand into the small metal pitcher with the milk, just under the surface. Engage the steam wand on your espresso machine to a steady stream of steam. Keep the tip of the wand toward the side of the container to create a vortex with the milk. Move the pitcher up and down so that the steam wand can incorporate the air into the milk, making the foam. The bubbles should get smaller and smaller progressively as you do this. Once the milk has foamed to double its size or 1 1/2 times the volume for a latte , turn off the steam wand and remove it from the pitcher. The milk texture should be similar in appearance to melted ice cream.
  • Assemble the Latte. Pour the foamed milk into your homemade latte, leaving some in the pitcher to create latte art if desired.


Use oat milk for a vegan latte!
Keyword cafe latte, latte

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