December 14th, 2022
How to Make a Caffè Latte in 5 Easy Steps
A latte is the “milkiest” drink out of the classics and a good drink to start with if you are just diving into the espresso drink world.
What You'll Need:
- 20g of Coffee Bros. Espresso Roast Coffee (less depending on how much your machine/portafilter can handle)
- Coffee grinder that can grind very fine
- Espresso Machine (manual, semi-automatic, or automatic)
- Frothing Pitcher
- Milk (whole milk works best but alternative milk works just as fine)
- Latte cup that can hold 9.5 - 10 ounces of liquid
The 5 Steps for the Perfect Latte
- Know your espresso brew ratios - this recipe calls for a 1:2 double shot
- Nail the perfect grind size - grind fine enough to extract your espresso within 35 seconds
- Extract your espresso using a manual or automatic machine
- Froth your milk to the perfect texture
- Layer your milk into your espresso
Step 1: Knowing your Espresso Brew Ratios
This recipe calls for a double-shot of espresso using 20g of coffee in and 40g of liquid out. This is a classic 1:2 double-shot ratio. Read below to learn more about espresso brew ratios or skip to the next step!
To best understand the difference between your favorite milk-based espresso drinks, you must first understand brew and drink ratios.
What is an espresso brew ratio? Espresso brew ratios are the amount of coffee grounds used versus the final extraction yield or liquid in your cup.
For example, a double espresso calls for a 1:2 ratio, meaning that for every 1 gram of ground coffee in your espresso portafilter, you aim for 2 grams of espresso yield in your cup. A standard double espresso recipe would call for 19 grams of finely ground coffee in your portafilter, yielding 38 grams of espresso in your cup and typically within 30 – 35 seconds.
This is important when understanding milk-based drinks, as some “classic” drinks call for a double espresso 1:2 ratio. In contrast, others may call for a single espresso using a similar ratio. You also have variations of espresso drinks ranging from 1:1 (1g of coffee grounds to 1g of espresso liquid) to a 1:3 – 1:4 ratio (called a lungo).
Step 2: Nail the perfect grind size
The perfect espresso extraction comes down to a few things, one being the total time of extraction. If your brew takes too long or too short, you may have a lackluster cup that can be sour and missing the oh-so-desired crema!
To ensure your espresso brews perfectly, you must perfect your grind size. Every coffee needs a different grind setting to hit the perfect 30 - 35 seconds of total extraction. The coffee type and even the age of the coffee will alter how fine you grind your coffee.
To know if you are grinding your coffee to the perfect size, measure your shot time. This recipe calls for 40g of espresso brewed within 30 - 35 seconds. With keeping all things constant (especially tamping pressure), if your shot brews faster than 30 seconds, you need to grind finer, and anything over 35 seconds means you need to grind coarser.
Nailing the perfect grind size will determine your espresso’s brew length, which impacts overall taste. Get this step correctly, and you are on your way to an amazing-tasting latte!
Step 3: Extracting your espresso
We've come to the easy part! Now that you understand brew ratios and the perfect grind size, you are all set to brew the perfect espresso for your latte.
Suppose you are using a manual or semi-automatic machine. In that case, you will need to place your portafilter containing your tamped coffee grounds into the group head and manually extract your coffee (think lever machine) or press a button to start the brew!
Remember, this recipe calls for 20g of ground coffee to 40g of espresso liquid, all extracted within 30 - 35 seconds. If your brew is faster or slower than the suggested time, revisit step 2 and make sure you get your grind setting correct!
Step 4: Froth your milk to the perfect texture
You have extracted your 40g of espresso (about 1.4 ounces), and now you need to froth 8 ounces of milk to make the perfect 9.5 - 10-ounce latte.
You will need to froth your milk differently for different espresso milk-based drinks. The key here is how much microfoam you should add to a latte. In terms of frothiness, the latte should hit around 1cm of thick milk foam at the top of the drink. If you are familiar with other espresso milk-based drinks, the cappuccino is the frothiest and calls for 1.5 cm of foam at the top of the drink. You do not want to make your latte too frothy.
To make the perfect frothed milk for a latte:
- Place the steam wand's tip in the center of the pitcher and tilt the pitcher to one side. Do not place the steam wand too deep into the milk.
- Turn on the steam wand. The milk should begin to tornado around the inside of the pitcher
- To create foam in the milk, slowly start lowering your pitcher, so the steam wand gets closer to the top of the milk. As the milk begins to expand, you will need to continue lowering the pitcher so the steam wand is closer to the top of the milk. Depending on the strength of your machine’s steam, do this step for roughly 10 - 15 seconds.
- The last 20 - 30 seconds is where you will help the milk reach the end temperature of between 155 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To do this, place the steam wand into the center of the milk and lower the wand to about the halfway point into the milk. This helps fully and evenly heat all of the milk in the jug.
The final milk product should look like wet paint and contain no bubbles. If your milk has many bubbles, you placed the steam tip too close to the top, causing air bubbles. You can spin the jug to help remove the air bubbles or tap the jar against your counter.
Step 5: Layer your milk into your espresso
It is time to take your perfectly steamed milk and pour it into your espresso.
We like to tilt our latte cup at an angle and pour half of the milk to the bottom or underneath the espresso. This helps incorporate your milk and espresso together versus pouring your milk directly on top of the espresso. Also, this step helps set you up to start pouring latte art like hearts of tulips (something we won't get into here!)
Finish pouring the milk into the espresso and attempt latte art if you feel bold enough.