A latte is a special type of espresso that you want to avoid doing at home because you think it’s too complicated, or you do not want to spend a lot of money on a latte or an espresso machine. We hear from you. But we think your coffee cravings should not be dictated by your budget or space constraints.
So we are 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. It sounds better in Italian, does not it?
The slats are therefore a mixture of espresso and steamed milk, supplemented with a spoonful of milk froth. Or, if the barista feels chic: artistic swirls in the foam!
You do not need an espresso machine.
You do not have a machine to cook your milk or to prepare your espresso. No problem! Although a machine makes the process much easier, you can still enjoy a fresh latte in the comfort of your own home.
It just takes a bit of organization and elbow grease.
You need a little more than your ordinary coffee maker to make your coffee with milk at home. Unless you buy a machine, we recommend investing in a few tools to help you prepare a latte.
Depending on the types of coffeemakers you already have, you may not need anything. Essentially, you need a way of doing things:
- cook your milk
- froth your milk
- your espresso
Steamed milk and frothed milk: what’s the difference?
This can make a huge difference in the texture of your coffee. You do not just want to mix sparkling milk with espresso and you’re 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 not have steamed milk without foam. Delicate milk bubbles cannot survive without heat. Cooked milk is essentially the result of aeration of the heated milk.
How to make milk steamed?
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 with the heat of the fire, so we recommend using the stove for it.
What do you need?
- Small saucepan
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan and place on the stove.
- Place the thermometer in the milk to monitor the temperature. Or, if this is not possible, simply have the thermometer handy 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: 149ºF
Soy milk: 140ºF
Almond milk: 129ºF
- Stir the milk from time to time to prevent it from boiling. Once it reaches the proper temperature, remove the milk from the heat and pour it directly into your coffee, or foam it.
How to froth milk?
You have some options for making foamed milk. If you have a French glass press and a microwave, you are about a minute and a half freshly lathered milk.
Alternatively, a simple milk frother is worth the minimum investment. You can also froth your milk in a simple mug.
Foaming milk with a french press
The temperature and air are the keys to airy and mellow milk froth. To achieve the same effect as a foam wand or an espresso machine, you can use your French press pump to aerate the milk before heating it in the microwave.
What do you need?
- Cold milk
- French press with a glass or microwavable beaker
- Fill up to one-third of your French beaker with milk.
- Pump the plunger for twenty seconds or until milk doubles in volume.
- Set aside the lid and piston. Remove the beaker.
- Place the beaker in the microwave until the foam rises. It takes about 30 to 45 seconds.
- Remove the beaker from the microwave and enjoy your fresh milk froth.
Foaming milk with a whip and a pitcher
If you plan to make slats more regularly, a whip and a pitcher are quite wise investments. You can usually find them online for less than $ 28 each, and they allow more finesse on the milk froth process.
What do you need?
- Steamed milk
- Milk frother whip
- Sparkling pitcher or small saucepan
- Pour the steamed milk into the frothy pitcher or leave it in the jar.
- Dip the whisk halfway into the milk. Make sure you have enough space in the pitcher for the foam to expand properly (it can triple in size).
- Light the whip and slowly pull the wand closer to the surface of the milk. Lower the whisk towards the middle in a gentle motion.
- Continue lowering and raising the whip 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 whip. The instructions may differ.
Foaming milk with a glass jar
Like making frothed milk with a French press, all you need is a way to heat the milk after it has been aerated. This can be easily accomplished with a sealable glass jar, even if your foam will be a little coarser.
What do you need?
- Glass container
- Fill the glass jar with milk, up to a third.
- Seal the pot.
- Shake well until milk doubles in volume.
- Remove the lid and place the pot in the microwave.
- Heat the milk at high temperature for 30 to 45 seconds. The moss needs to rise near the lip of the pot, but you do not want it to overflow.
- Remove the pot from the microwave and enjoy.
Science point: what makes foamy milk so frothy?
No, it’s not fair to make it move, even if it helps a lot. The actual composition of carbohydrates, proteins and fatty acids are the main drivers of foam capacity. This is also why the use of milk substitutes can give you different types of foam.
This helps to think of milk as a food rather than a liquid, especially when there is heat. This is because the three main components of milk tend to coagulate in heat and burn when overheated.
When you shake milk for lather, adding air disrupts casein, a type of protein found in milk. But the 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 mousse, look for milk with higher protein content.
For a quick reference, take a look at the average protein content of milk and alternatives to milk:
- Skimmed 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.
It is much easier to make steamed and sparkling milk without an espresso machine than to prepare espresso without a machine. Indeed, a good espresso is based on pressure and a machine is the easiest way to get consistent levels.
But that does not mean it’s impossible. The 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 coffee. They might not provide as much force as an espresso machine, but they can still do the job.
Now that you’ve covered the pressure, all you need is roasted coffee beans and, of course, a coffee grinder. Another key part of the espresso is a fine grind, which can be almost impossible to achieve without a proper grinder. Besides, many shredders are inexpensive and you can save yourself the work and stress of grinding your grains.
Spice up your latte
Of course, a traditional latte is just milk and espresso. But we live in a world of infinite flavor combinations, so do not let a simple recipe keep 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, the syrup is not the only way to add zest to your latte. Experience your spices and bakery supplies for a delicious and tasty cup of coffee.
You do not know where to start? Try to add a line of:
- Cocoa powder
- chili pepper
- Cardamom pods
- Grounded ginger
- Ground clove
- Black peppercorns
- Chocolate chips
- Peppermint extract
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extract
Just a word of warning: start with eighth or quarter of a teaspoon, and work your dosage up to the perfect amount of flavor for you.
Better yet, be sure to write what you do so you can adjust and replicate your latte flavors in the future.
The advantages of espresso machines
Yes, we talked about how to make a latte without the machine. But if you drink lattes more often than a regular cup of coffee, an espresso machine could be a good investment for you.
This is because espresso made without a machine is less accurate. Preparing a good dose of espresso depends on extremely accurate water pressures and temperatures. Using alternative methods to prepare an espresso can expose you to mistakes in your preparations, rather than a perfect cup every time.
We understand that your budget and counter space can limit your coffee equipment fantasies. But if you have the means and space in the kitchen, an espresso machine is the best way for an exceptional coffee.
Thanks to Latte
You have (or most) the tools and now you know: what are you waiting for to prepare a good old Latte?