Let me show you how to make a latte at home! You’ll save a ton of money and you’ll be drinking your hot and steamy latte in your slippers in under 2 minutes at home!
Looking for iced latte recipes? Be sure to check out my Iced Vanilla Lattes and my Iced Pumpkin Spice Lattes!
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If you’ve been following along with me over the years, you’ll know that coffee is life to me. I don’t drink a ton of it but I NEED a hot cup to wrap my hands around in the mornings.
And truth be told, my coffee habits sort of follow the seasons.
When the weather warms up, I fall into iced coffee season. So last spring, I devoted more words than I thought possible to a post I wrote about how to make an iced latte at home. It’s now the most popular post on this site.
However, once the first chill hits the air and almost exclusively through the fall and winter, you’ll find me drinking hot coffee and espresso drinks.
Honestly, if I had my choice and an unlimited amount of funds, I’d be rolling through the Starbucks drive-through every morning for a hot or iced vanilla latte because they are my FAAAAVE.
Buuuut man are they expensive! Almost $5 for a grande (medium) at Starbucks now? Sheesh!!
It costs me less than $2 to make the same size vanilla latte at home. This is why I want to show you how easy it is to make a latte at home!
What is a Latte?
If you’ve never had a latte and you’re wondering what the heck it is, I’m here to tell you!
A latte is simply steamed and frothed milk that is mixed into hot espresso. Crazy simple, right?!
In some coffee shops, you’ll see a latte called a cafe latte. The terms are used interchangeably so don’t worry if you see a cafe latte on a menu somewhere – they’re the same!
The Difference Between a Cappuccino and a Latte
While standing in line for coffee, I’ve often heard people asking what the difference is between a cappuccino and a latte. There are a couple of differences in cappuccinos vs lattes.
First, cappuccinos contain less steamed milk than lattes. This makes them taste a bit stronger. Cappuccinos contain equal parts of steamed milk to espresso to milk foam.
To this end, cappuccinos usually contain about half as much steamed milk and twice as much milk foam as lattes do.
Second, cappuccinos aren’t usually sweetened with a flavored sweetener. They’re more of a “purist” drink for espresso fans. Adding sugar or sugar cubes isn’t uncommon but flavored sweeteners usually aren’t added (though you could add one if you wanted to).
What Kind of Milk Should You Use for a Latte?
You can use any kind of milk you want from whole to skim cow’s milk to almond, soy, oat, or coconut milk. Or any kind of milk in between as long as you love it!
Heavy cream and half-and-half aren’t really recommended for lattes. You’ll be adding at least 8 ounces of milk to your latte and the higher fat content in heavy cream and half-and-half doesn’t make them a great option for this drink.
Do You Froth Milk for a Latte?
If you’ve ordered a latte from a coffee shop, then you know that hot, frothy milk is poured into a cup with espresso. Great baristas often make pretty latte art with the steamed milk. (The lattes I make at home NEVER look pretty!)
Does a Latte Have Caffeine?
Yes, lattes definitely have caffeine. That’s because the espresso used to make the drink has a high concentration of caffeine.
It’s important to note that even decaf espresso has a little bit of caffeine in it. So, if you’re trying to watch your caffeine intake be sure you consider this.
To cut down on my caffeine intake, which I’ve done since I was diagnosed years ago with a heart condition, I mix a shot of decaf espresso with a shot of regular espresso. That way, I still get a little boost from the regular espresso without causing unwanted heart palpitations.
And if I want to make a latte later in the day, I make it with 2 shots of decaf espresso. Otherwise, I would never sleep at night!
Which is Stronger: Coffee or Lattes?
The answer to this question is dependent upon a number of variables:
- The strength of the espresso you make your latte with. Espresso is available in varying levels of boldness. Bolder espresso will yield a stronger drink.
- The number of shots you make your latte with and the size of the glass you use. If you make your latte with 2 shots of espresso in a smaller glass, there may be little room for the milk. This will yield a stronger latte. Conversely, if you make your latte with 2 shots of espresso in a large glass, it will take more milk to fill up your glass. Extra milk will dilute the espresso and weaken the strength of the espresso in the drink.
- The strength of the coffee you use to make coffee. Like with espresso, bolder coffee yields a stronger drink.
Ounce for ounce, espresso contains more caffeine than coffee. One ounce of espresso contains about 63 mg caffeine. One ounce of coffee contains about 14 mg caffeine.
However, since a medium coffee contains about 12 ounces of coffee (about 168 mg caffeine) and a medium latte contains 2 shots of espresso (about 126 mg caffeine), a medium coffee is actually stronger than a latte (source). Who would have thought!!
How Do You Make a Latte?
So after all this talk about what kind of milk to use, frothing milk, and caffeine strength in a latte, let’s get down to making one!
First step is you need espresso. You’ll need 1 shot of espresso for each 12 ounce latte you plan to make.
Ways to Brew Espresso
I brew my espresso with my Nespresso machine. My goodness do I loooooove this machine!!
It’s a fast way to make an espresso (or coffee, if that’s your thing!) and there’s no guessing game about how much water is needed because the pods have a barcode on them. The machine reads the barcode and adds the exact amount of water that each pod requires for the espresso or coffee you choose.
PRO TIP: When I brew espresso to drink straight away, I like to use these little double-walled (insulated) espresso glasses. They keep the espresso hot longer when I want to drink it hot. They’re just like the Tervis tumblers but made of glass instead of plastic.
So if I brew an espresso and then say, the dog rings his bell to go outside or Riley is running amuck through the house and I need to wrangle her, my espresso stays hot for juuust a little bit longer. And boy, I’m always so thankful for this! Life happens, people!!
There are other ways to make espresso as well. An old-fashioned but still really cool stove top espresso maker works great too! I have used this stove top maker in the past but switched over to the Nespresso as my go-to when we purchased it 3+ years ago.
My mom uses still makes espresso (or demitasse, as the Italians in my family call it) on the stove top and it’s really easy to use! You just need to grind your espresso beans or buy ground espresso, add the ground espresso to the pot, add water, and brew. Otherwise, you can buy ground espresso in the grocery store or online at places like Amazon. Illy is my favorite brand of ground espresso!
If you have an actual espresso machine in your kitchen, this is going to be how you make your espresso. That’s a luxury item for us since we tend to drink more coffee than espresso and I don’t want to sacrifice counter space for one either.
And of course, you can definitely stop by a coffee shop and order a shot or 2 (or however many shots you need) to bring home to make your latte. Before we had the Nespresso machine, I did this on a few occasions.
How Do You Sweeten a Latte?
The ways you can sweeten a latte are almost endless!
Here are some flavoring suggestions for your homemade latte:
Flavored coffee syrup to sweeten a latte: My toasted coconut coffee syrup is always a winner. And so is my cinnamon brown sugar coffee syrup that’s basically a copycat recipe of the Starbucks cinnamon dolce syrup.
OH! And how could I forget my almond toasted coconut variety with real toasted coconut that you’ll steep in a 5-minute simple syrup.
Of course, the Christmas season brings a whole other slew of latte possibilities! I made a gingerbread syrup this past season for these gingerbread lattes and if you’re a gingerbread lover, this drink is definitely for you.
Eggnog lattes are a big favorite at Christmas too! You can make them at home with just hot espresso and eggnog that you heat and froth.
Though I haven’t tried it, the rosemary syrup I added to my mistletoe kiss cocktail might be a nice herby addition to your coffee drink.
You can buy or make your own coffee syrup but I really do love to make my own. They’re all SO GOOD!
Flavored Coffee Creamer: My pumpkin spice creamer is a copycat recipe of the coffee creamers you find in the grocery store. Combined with some steamed milk, this is a great way to make pumpkin spice lattes.
Maple syrup to sweeten a latte: This natural sweetener is a delicious way to sweeten your coffee, whether it’s hot or cold. Look at that! Now you’ve made a maple latte!
Simple syrup to sweeten a latte: This just a simple mix of equal parts water and sugar that you boil for 5 minutes. When the liquid is cool, it’s a basic syrup to sweeten your coffee with. This is known as the “classic syrup” at Starbucks.
Caramel sauce to sweeten a latte: Caramel sauce is an excellent way to sweeten your iced latte! My vanilla bean caramel sauce will give an latte a sweet toasty flavor. And my 3 ingredient salted caramel sauce will give your latte a sweet, deeply toasty, and slightly salty flavor. You can’t go wrong with either of these caramel recipes for your drink!
Honey to sweeten a latte: This is also a great natural sweetener for hot and cold drinks. Honey will give your latte some floral flavor notes and it will enhance any naturally sweet flavors your espresso already has.
Flavored milk to sweeten a latte: You can find some milk varieties that are sweetened these days. Vanilla almond and soy milk are both fairly common in grocery stores.
How to Froth Milk
So now you know that you’ll need some hot milk for this drink, let’s chat about how to froth milk. There are a couple different ways so let’s walk through them.
- The Stove Top Method #1: This is by far, the most straightforward and “old-school” way to steam and froth your milk. Simply pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat it until it starts to release some steam and bubble a tiny bit around the edges of the pan (this is called simmering). Then whisk it up until it starts to get frothy. This will take a little elbow grease but it’s the cheapest method around.
- The Stove Top Method #2: If you’re going to use a stove top cappuccino maker to brew your espresso, you can also steam your milk in the top portion of the pot. The milk won’t be frothy until you whisk it but this pot will save you some time and extra dish washing compared with using a saucepan. And these cappuccino makers are a WHOLE LOT less expensive than the countertop espresso machines are.
- The Blender Method: If you have a fancy dancy blender that has a heating function for soup, you can use this to steam and froth your milk too by whirring it up. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- The Milk Frother Method: A milk frother will take all of the “hard” work out of frothing milk. You’ll pour the milk in, plug the unit it, and press the Start button. This is the milk frother I use for my lattes and I love how it takes all the guesswork out of steaming and frothing milk!
Making A Latte at Home
Once you have your espresso brewed and your steamed milk and sweetener ready, pour the espresso in your mug. Then add the sweetener. Lastly, pour in the hot milk to fill the mug and top with some of the milk’s foam.
Like I said, it’s super easy to make this drink at home!
- 12 oz latte (tall or small size drink from a coffee shop): 1 shot espresso, 1 ounce liquid sweetener, 8 ounces milk
- 16 oz latte (grande or medium size drink from a coffee shop): 2 shots espresso, 2 ounces liquid sweetener, 10 ounces milk
- 20 oz latte (venti or large size drink from a coffee shop): 3 shots espresso, 4 ounces liquid sweetener, 10 to 12 ounces milk (depending on the size of your mug)
I hope you’ll start making your own lattes at home now! It’s a delicious and cozy cold weather drink that will cost you pennies on the dollar to make at home compared to buying at a coffee shop!
BONUS!! What to Serve with a Latte!
If you’re familiar with the bakery selection at Starbucks or your local coffee shop, you’ll know they’re usually filled with coffee cakes, muffins, cinnamon buns, and loaf cakes. And while they’re tempting to grab as a snack with your latte, you can just as easily make any of them at home!
Here are a few of my favorite coffee shop bakery knock-offs that you can TOTALLY make at home and that I guarantee will be SO MUCH better than what you can buy:
You can either brew the espresso directly into the mug or glass if you have an espresso machine or make the espresso on the stove top and pour it into the mug or glass when finished brewing. As a member of the Amazon Associate affiliate program, I earn a small percentage from your qualifying Amazon purchases when you click the Amazon links on this page. I'm not informed of who purchases what, just of what products are purchased.
You can either brew the espresso directly into the mug or glass if you have an espresso machine or make the espresso on the stove top and pour it into the mug or glass when finished brewing.
As a member of the Amazon Associate affiliate program, I earn a small percentage from your qualifying Amazon purchases when you click the Amazon links on this page. I'm not informed of who purchases what, just of what products are purchased.