Latte comes from the Italian words café latte which means coffee and milk. The American version of a latte is somewhat different from the Italian version; however both are scrumptious.
The Original and the Variation of Latte
In Italy café latte is a breakfast drink only. It is made using a stovetop pot called a Moka. The coffee is brewed very strong in the Moka and then poured into a serving cup which contains the warmed milk. The Italian version does not have a frothy top layer.
In other places, including America, the latte is made using espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk. A latte is usually smaller in size than a cappuccino and has a smaller froth layer than a cappuccino.
Making a latte doesn’t require an espresso machine, although having one will make a better espresso to start the latte with; however, a French press or very strongly brewed coffee can be substituted. Regardless of whether an espresso is used or a strong coffee is used, the coffee beans should be high quality, otherwise the latte will be of poor quality.
First, prepare the coffee beans. Only grind enough to use for the task at hand, ground beans lose their freshness quickly. Keeping coffee beans in the freezer has been shown to help keep them at their peak as well, although there are opponents of this idea.
Using either an espresso machine, a French press, or a coffee maker prepares the base for the latte. If using French press or coffee maker is sure to make the coffee extra strong to get a taste close to an espresso.
Skim milk is a great choice due to the lower calories and it will foam nicely. If using an espresso machine with a steaming wand, prepare the milk with a foamy top. Remember that the foam top is not as thick on a latte as it is on a cappuccino so don’t over froth. If there isn’t a steaming wand, warm the milk in a saucepan and use a whisk to make a delicate froth.
Once the milk is ready and the coffee or espresso is ready, assemble the latte. A proper latte is one third espresso, two-thirds steamed milk and a small layer of froth. If flavorings are desired these should be added before the froth layer to keep from being disturbed prior to drinking.
Lattes are often served in a glass on a saucer with a napkin for holding the hot cup or in a bowl-type mug. These resemble bowls but are large mugs with handles. This type mug is also used for serving cappuccino.
Lattes and cappuccino’s are quite similar in their creation, the only difference being the amount of foam and milk. Lattes have approximately 1/3 more milk than cappuccinos and so the espresso is more diluted than in a cappuccino.
A tall, piping hot latte and fresh biscotti are the perfect morning break and very simple to make.
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