Difference Between Espresso And Latte

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When you’re preparing your morning cup of joe or grabbing your caffeine fix from a cafe, it is easy to forget what truly goes into the drink and the process. In this article, we give an in-depth look at two popular coffee drinks, the espresso and latte, primarily how they differ in terms of preparation, taste, form and usage.

A latte is a coffee beverage made with espresso shots and steamed milk. Espresso is a kind of strong coffee made by forcing steam or boiling water through ground, dark-roast coffee beans. It has three parts; at the bottom is the dark brown body, the middle is lighter, and the top has the foamy light crema.

What is Latte?

Caffè latte, often shortened to just latte in English, is a coffee beverage of Italian origin made with espresso and steamed milk. In other words, A latte is a coffee drink with espresso, steamed milk and a layer of foam on top.

Variants include the chocolate-flavored mocha or replacing the coffee with another beverage base such as masala chai (spiced Indian tea), mate, matcha, turmeric, or rooibos; alternatives to milk, such as soy milk or almond milk, are also used.

A latte begins with the same base — a single or double shot of espresso. This espresso is then combined with several ounces of steamed milk to create a rich, creamy beverage that has a more subtle espresso taste. The typical ratio for espresso to steamed milk is about 1-to-2. The latte is then topped with a layer of foam.

Lattes are much creamier than espresso and have a layer of microfoam on top. Microfoam is milk that you steam until it forms bubbles that are too small to be seen by the naked eye.

What is espresso?

Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee of Italian origin served in small, strong shots and is the base for many coffee drinks. It’s made from the same beans as coffee but is stronger, thicker, and higher in caffeine. 

Espresso is made by forcing very hot water under high pressure through finely ground compacted coffee. There is no universal standard defining the process of extracting espresso, but several published definitions attempt to constrain the amount and type of ground coffee used, the temperature and pressure of the water, and the rate of extraction. Generally, one uses an espresso machine to make espresso.

Espresso has three parts, the body at the bottom is dark brown, the middle is a lighter brown, and the foamy, light-colored crema sits on top. Espresso has all of the same flavors of coffee but amplified—bitter, lightly sweet, acidic, toasty. The exact flavor profile will vary depending on the coffee roast. It has a thicker, creamier texture than coffee.

Espresso is served on its own, and is also used as the base for various other coffee drinks, including caffè latte, cappuccino, caffè macchiato, caffè mocha, flat white, and caffè Americano.

Latte vs Espresso: Key Differences

Points of ComparisonLatteEspresso
DescriptionCaffè latte often shortened to just latte in English, is a coffee beverage of Italian origin made with espresso and steamed milk.Espresso is a kind of strong coffee made by forcing steam or boiling water through ground, dark-roast coffee beans.
CompositionA latte is traditionally around 75% steamed milk and milk foam. Espresso doesn’t have milk. If you add milk to espresso, it’s no longer considered an espresso.
TasteLattes have a more mellow and subtle coffee flavor because of the milk content.Epresso taste is Strong, bitter, and acidic flavor.
CaffeineLattes generally have more caffeine than a standard espresso because they contain more milk and numerous espresso shots.Espresso generally have more caffeine than a standard latte.
PreparationA latte is typically composed of 1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk and topped with a layer of milk foam.A small amount of boiling water is forced over grounded coffee beans and the outcome is a thick coffee concoction.
PartsCafe latte has two parts, the creamy body and frothy milk.Espresso has three parts, the body at the bottom is dark brown, the middle is a lighter brown, and the foamy, light-colored crema sits on top. 
StrengthLow to high strength depending with preparation.Medium to high strength
VariationsLatte has many variations and forms. It also comes in different sizes.There are fewer available options and additions, but you can customize how the shot is pulled.

Key Takeaways

  • Latte is a creamier version of coffee. Two-thirds of it is steamed milk, poured over a shot of espresso and topped with a layer of milk foam. In other words, A latte is typically composed of 1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk, and a layer of foam. 
  • Espresso is black coffee which is stronger than most coffees brewed by other methods because while making an espresso, a small amount of boiling water is forced over grounded coffee beans and the outcome is a thick coffee concoction.
  • Espresso is thicker than regular coffee and has a layer of “crema” on top, which results from air bubbles mixing with the coffee’s oils.  
  • A latte is traditionally around 75% steamed milk and milk foam. Espresso doesn’t have milk. If you add milk to espresso, it’s no longer considered an espresso.
  • Espresso has a bold and intense flavor because of the way it’s made. It can be drunk as it is in small shots or served as the base to your favorite drinks, including cappuccinos and Americanos.  
  • Lattes have a more mellow and subtle coffee flavor because of the milk content. Lattes also have a richer flavor than espresso due to the steamed milk.
  • Lattes generally have more caffeine than a standard espresso because they contain more milk and numerous espresso shots.
  • Espresso doesn’t have many variations whereas latte has many variations.
  • Lattes are much creamier than espresso and have a layer of microfoam on top. Microfoam is milk that you steam until it forms bubbles that are too small to be seen by the naked eye.
  • Espresso is a strong coffee which makes it a good morning routine coffee because it is full of caffeine whereas Latte is smooth and creamy which makes it a good option for a chill mood drink.