Espresso drinks have recently gained popularity in the U.S. as more coffee drinkers are looking for alternatives to the standard cup of Joe. Lattes are arguably the most popular for Americans.
While a latte was initially served hot, the iced latte has gained popularity, especially during the summer months. So, if you’ve been wondering, “are lattes hot or cold?’’ The answer is “both!”
Lattes can be served hot or cold.
In This Article
Can Lattes be Served Hot or Cold?
Traditionally speaking, lattes are served hot, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to enjoy them. Latte is an Italian word that literally means “milk coffee” and has nothing to do with the drink’s temperature.
The secret to making a latte is the ratio of espresso to milk. Hot or cold, when the proportion of espresso to milk is 1:3, you have made a latte.
Interestingly, a splash of milk was first added to the espresso to cut the acidity. Still, it seems Americans enjoy their espresso with plenty of creamy milk, which led to the popularity of lattes in America. The leap from hot lattes to cold lattes wasn’t far behind, as coffee shops catered to the unique tastes of their customers.
Which Way is the Best Way to Serve a Latte?
Whether a hot or cold latte is best for you depends on your preferences. Many prefer a hot latte in the morning to start the day and switch to cold later in the day during a coffee break. Likewise, a hot latte can be comforting and warming on a cold winter’s day, while a cold latte can be refreshing during the hot summer months.
Many people enjoy lattes, either hot or cold, depending on their mood, the time of day, or even the season. For example, if you enjoy the flavor of a hot latte, you will likely enjoy a cold latte on a hot day.
What is a Latte?
Latte is an Italian word that means “milk coffee,” It is a good descriptor for a latte. A latte is made from espresso and milk, with a 1:3 ratio of espresso to milk. It is similar to a cappuccino with a 1:2 ratio or a cortado with a 1:1 ratio. The three drinks are the same, except a latte has more milk than the others.
While many choose 2% or skim milk in their lattes, it can also be made with whole milk. A hot latte is made with steamed and foamed milk, but a cold latte typically does not have any foam.
What is an Iced Latte?
The difference between an iced latte and a hot latte is in temperature only. The same 1:3 ratio of espresso to milk is used to make the latte. Flavored syrups and sweeteners can be added to either hot or cold lattes. Iced lattes are served over ice.
What Does a Latte Taste Like?
Lattes are rich and creamy with a rich coffee flavor. They are lighter and milder than either a cappuccino or a cortado.
A hot latte in the morning combines the rich flavor of hot espresso with the sweet creaminess of the milk. This soothing drink is often enjoyed while taking a few moments to reflect on the day ahead.
A cold latte is crisp and refreshing, brimming with coffee flavor. It is most often enjoyed as a pick-me-up drink in the afternoon or as a refreshing beverage on a hot day.
How Should I Order a Latte?
Latte can be made to suit your taste. Depending on the coffee shop you frequent, you will likely have a choice between several sizes. For example, Starbucks offers hot lattes in 8, 12, 16, and 20-ounce cups. While the eight and 12-ounce cups have one shot of espresso, the 16 and 20-ounce cups have two shots.
Starbucks cold lattes come in the above sizes but are also available in a 24-ounce size containing three espresso shots.
Likewise, you can typically choose the type of milk you want in your latte. Lastly, you can choose a shot of flavored syrup and sweetener for your latte.
When you have made your choices, tell the barista what you want.
- Choose a size. If you are caffeine conscious, consider the number of espresso shots in each size. For example, one shot of espresso contains 63 mg of caffeine, two shots have 126 mg of caffeine, and three shots have 189 mg of caffeine. When choosing a size, check the coffee shop’s menu, as what is sold as a large Latte in one establishment may be sold as a medium or extra-large in another.
- Choose the type of milk. This typically includes whole, 2%, or skim milk. You can often choose an alternative, like oat or almond milk, too. The number of choices offered depends on the coffee shop.
- Choose a flavoring. Most offer unsweetened syrup shots in a variety of flavors, such as hazelnut, vanilla, or caramel.
- Choose a sweetener: While sugar is a common sweetener, you can choose a sugar substitute too.
What’s the Ideal Temperature for a Latte?
The ideal temperature for a hot latte is between 150 and 165 degrees. This allows for good flavor without the risk of burning yourself. But there are no hard and fast rules about how hot your latte should be. You can let it cool if you prefer a cooler drink.
Whether you prefer to sip your latte or like to drink it also affects how warm you are likely to prefer your latte as long as the latte isn’t hot enough to burn you, whatever temperature you prefer is fine.
How to Make a Hot Latte
Making a hot latte at home is quick and easy as long as you still to a 1:3 ratio of espresso to milk.
- Prepare your espresso machine for brewing.
- Heat three ounces of milk in the microwave for a few seconds or just until the milk begins to form tiny bubbles around the edges.
- Use a whisk of milk frother to froth the milk.
- Scoop off the foam with a spoon and set it aside.
- Pull a shot of espresso into your cup.
- Add the heated milk and top it with the reserved foam.
How to Make an Iced Latte
An iced latte typically begins with fresh, hot espresso but can be made from leftover espresso stored in the refrigerator.
- Prepare the espresso machine for brewing.
- Pull a shot of espresso into a cup.
- Add three ounces of cold mix to the espresso and mix it with a spoon.
- Place several ice cubes in another cup or glass.
- Pour the espresso and milk mixture over the ice cubes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Latte is an espresso-based drink with a 1:3 ratio of espresso to milk. While there is some variation in this formula in coffee shops, a latte always contains espresso and milk.
Traditionally, a latte is made from one shot of espresso per three ounces of milk. However, this is not always the case when purchasing a latte in a coffee shop. For example, Starbucks sells Lattes in several sizes. An 8-ounce or 12-ounce latte has one shot of espresso, while a 16 or 20-ounce drink has two shots of espresso. In addition, their 24-ounce cold latte beverage has three shots of espresso.
A latte tastes smooth and creamy with a rich coffee flavor. When compared to black coffee, or coffee with one cream, it will likely taste lighter on the taste buds. However, it is made with espresso, which is a rich, strong coffee, so the flavor may seem more intense to your pallet.
As far as caffeine content goes, a latte made with one shot of espresso has a mere 63 mg of caffeine, which is less than the amount of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee that weighs in at 95 mg of caffeine.
A latte with two shots of espresso compares in caffeine content to a 12-ounce cup of brewed coffee, while a latte with three shots of espresso is about the same amount of caffeine as three 8-ounce cups of coffee.
Many people swear by a hot caffeinated drink for a quick boost of caffeine in the morning. However, you may be surprised to learn that it doesn’t matter if you drink your latte hot or cold when it comes to how quickly your body absorbs the caffeine and begins to feel the effects.
Temperature does not affect the rate of caffeine absorption.
How quickly you drink your latte doesn’t affect how fast it works either, it will take 14 to 45 minutes to work its magic either way. However, it should be noted that the amount of caffeine ingested does affect how alert and energized you will feel. For example, a latte with two espresso shots will give you a bigger caffeine jolt than one with one shot.
Lattes are served plain or with sugar or other sweeteners. While the milk does add some sweetness to the latte on its own, the amount of sweetener you choose in your latte determines how sweet the latte is.
Lattes can be sweetened with sugar or sugar substitutes. Sometimes, sweetened syrups are used. You can use whatever you prefer if you make your own lattes at home.
Final Thoughts on Are Lattes Hot or Cold
A hot or cold latte is a great way to enjoy the rich flavor of espresso any time of day. The milk in this espresso drink helps reduce the coffee’s acidity, giving it a mellower flavor. It is an excellent choice for those who suffer from acid reflux or have difficulty with acidic foods.