How to make a latte at home

A latte is a special type of espresso that you want to avoid making at home because you think it's too complicated, or you don't want to spend a lot of money on a latte or an espresso machine.

We can hear you. But we believe that your cravings for coffee should not be dictated by your budget or space constraints.

So we're here to tell you how to make a latte ... without any expensive equipment. It's easier than you think, so you're not far from a fresh latte in the comfort of your own home.

What is a latte?

Before we can learn how to make a latte, we need to define exactly what a latte is. This is the shortened form of caffè latte, which is the Italian version for coffee with milk. Sounds better in Italian, doesn't it?

The slats are therefore a mixture of espresso and steamed milk, supplemented with a spoonful of milk froth. Or, if the barista feels really chic: artistic swirls in the foam!
Person Performing Coffee Art
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You don't need an espresso machine
So you don't have a machine to cook your milk or prepare your espresso. No problem !

Although a machine makes the process much easier, you can still enjoy a fresh latte from the comfort of your own home. It just takes a little organization and some elbow grease.

You need a little more than your regular coffee maker to make your café au lait at home. Unless you buy a machine, we recommend that you invest in a few tools to facilitate the preparation of a café au lait.

Depending on the types of coffee makers you already have, you may not need anything. Basically, you need:

One way to cook your milk
One way to froth your milk
One way to make your espresso.

Steamed milk and frothed milk: what's the difference?
This can make a huge difference in the texture of your coffee. You don't just want to mix frothed milk with an espresso and you are happy with it. Although it may taste good, it is a macchiato, not a latte.

So what's the difference? Think of it like this: you can have steamed milk by itself, but you can't have froth without steamed milk.

Delicate milk bubbles cannot survive without heat. Cooked milk is essentially the result of the aeration of heated milk.

How to make steamed milk?

Steamed milk is essentially heated milk. However, you want to heat it just enough to give it the power of bubbles without scalding or changing the milky flavor.

You can do this in the microwave, but you have more control over the heat of the fire, so we recommend using the stove for this one.

What do you need ?

Small saucepan
Pour the milk into a small saucepan and place it on the stove.
Place the thermometer in the milk to monitor the temperature. Or, if this is not possible, it is sufficient to have the thermometer at hand to periodically check the temperature.
Heat the milk over low or medium heat. Depending on the type of milk you use, you want to reach a certain temperature to vaporize it:
Regular milk: 65 ºC
Soy milk: 60 ºC
Almond milk: 54 ºC
Stir the milk occasionally to keep it from boiling. Once it reaches the proper temperature, remove the milk from the heat and pour it directly into your coffee, or froth it.
How to froth milk?
You have a few options for making frothed milk. If you have a glass plunger coffee maker and a microwave, you're about a minute and a half from freshly frothed milk.

Alternatively, a simple milk frother is worth the minimum investment. You can also froth your milk in a simple mug.

1. With a French press

Temperature and air are the keys to an airy, fluffy milk froth. To achieve the same effect as a frothing wand or an espresso machine, you can use the piston of your piston coffee maker to aerate the milk before heating it in the microwave.

What do you need ?

Cold milk
French press with a glass beaker
Microwave oven
Fill a third of the beaker of your French press with milk.
Pump the plunger for twenty seconds or until the milk doubles in volume.
Set the cover and the piston aside. Remove the beaker.
Place the beaker in the microwave until the foam rises to the top. It takes about 30 to 45 seconds.
Remove the beaker from the microwave and enjoy your fresh milk froth.

2. With a frother and a pitcher

If you plan to make slats more regularly, a frother and a pitcher are pretty good investments. You can usually find them online for less than € 30 each, and they allow more finesse on the milk froth process.

What do you need ?
Steamed milk
Milk frother
Sparkling pitcher or small saucepan.
Pour the steamed milk into the frothy jug or leave it in the jar.
Immerse the whisk halfway in the milk. Make sure you have enough space in the pitcher for the foam to expand properly (it can triple in size).
Turn on the frother and slowly pull the wand closer to the surface of the milk. Lower the whisk toward the middle in a gentle motion.
Continue to lower and raise the whisk for about 30 to 45 seconds, or until you have a pitcher or pan full of foam.
Note: Be sure to review the manufacturer's instructions before using your milk frother. The instructions may differ.

3. With a glass container

Like making frothed milk with a French press, all you really need is a way to heat the milk after it has been aerated.

This can be easily accomplished with a glass container, even if your foam will be a little coarser.

What do you need ?

- Milk
- Glass container
- Microwave oven


Fill the glass container with milk, up to a third maximum.
Close the container.
Shake well until the milk doubles in volume.
Remove the lid and place the container in the microwave.
Heat the milk at high temperature for 30 to 45 seconds. The foam needs to rise near the lip of the container, but you don't want it to overflow.
Remove the container from the microwave and enjoy.
What makes milk froth so frothy?
No, it's not fair to make it move, even if it helps a lot. The actual composition of milk carbohydrates, proteins and fatty acids are the main drivers of foam capacity. This is also why using milk substitutes can give you different types of froth.
Vanilla Chocolate Frappe on White Ceramic Saucere
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It helps to think of milk as a food more than a liquid, especially when there is heat. This is because the three main components of milk tend to clot in the heat and to burn when overheated.

When you shake milk to froth it, the addition of air disrupts casein, a type of protein found in milk. But casein wants to stay united so it forms a kind of shield around the air bubbles, which helps them to keep their shape longer and protects them from bursting.

So if you want a super frothy foam, look for milk with a higher protein content.

For a quick reference, take a look at the average protein content of milk and milk alternatives:

Skim milk: 3.4%
Whole milk: 3.2%
Soy milk: 2.7%
Almond milk: 0.4%
Remember, low protein does not mean bad foam; it just means foam of a different character.

Indeed, these types of milk have different fat and carbohydrate contents, which contributes to the smoothness of your foam, this is why we like to use whole milk, as well as the capacity to retain the foam longer .

How to make espresso?

It is much easier to make steamed and frothed milk without an espresso machine than to prepare an espresso without a machine. Indeed, a good espresso relies on pressure and a machine is the easiest way to achieve constant pressure.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, espresso at home is simple once you understand it. All you need is an Aeropress, an Italian coffee maker or a French press.

These coffee makers rely on some type of pressure to prepare or extract the coffee. They might not provide as much strength as an espresso machine, but they can still get the job done.

Now that you've covered the pressure, all you need are roasted coffee beans and, of course, a coffee grinder. Another key part of the espresso is fine grinding, which can be almost impossible without a proper grinder.

In addition, many grinders are inexpensive and you can save yourself the labor and stress of grinding your grains.

Spice up your latte

Of course, a traditional latte is just milk and an espresso. But we live in a world of endless flavor combinations, so don't let a simple recipe stop you from spicing up your carefully prepared latte.

After all, why go to a huge coffee chain for flavored lattes when you can do it at home for less?

Although this is a popular option, syrup is not the only way to add zest to your café au lait. Experience the spices for a delicious and flavorful cup of coffee.

You do not know where to start ? Try adding a dash of:

Cocoa powder
chilli pepper
Cardamom pods
Grounded ginger
Ground cloves
Black peppercorns
Chocolate chips
Peppermint extract
Vanilla extract
Almond extract.
Just a word of warning: start with an eighth or a quarter of a teaspoon, and work your dosage up to the perfect amount of flavor for you.

Best of all, be sure to write down what you are doing so that you can adjust and reproduce your latte flavors in the future.

The advantages of espresso machines

Two Cup of Coffee Lattes on Saucers
Yes, we talked about how to make café au lait without the machine. But if you drink lattes more often than an ordinary cup of coffee, an espresso machine might be a good investment for you.

This is because espresso made without a machine is less precise. Preparing a good dose of espresso depends on extremely precise water pressures and temperatures. Using alternative methods of brewing espresso can expose you to mistakes in your brewing, rather than a perfect cup every time.

We understand that your budget and counter space can really limit your coffee equipment fantasies. But if you have the means and the space in the kitchen, an espresso machine is the best way for an exceptional café au lait.
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