If you enjoy coffee, you probably already know there are a wide variety of coffee drinks to choose from. Two common coffee drinks, caffé breve and latte, are each made with espresso and dairy.
Those are the similarities. But how are they different?
Find out what the difference between caffé breve vs latte is and how to make your own at home.
In This Article
What are the Differences Between Caffè Breve and Latte?
In a nutshell, the differences between a latte and caffé breve are as follows:
Both caffé breve and latte are made with espresso and a dairy creamer. But…
- Made with steamed half and half, creating a thick layer of creamy foam
- The ratio of espresso to half and half in is 1:1, giving it a robust coffee flavor.
- Made with steamed milk, topped with a layer of milk foam
- The ratio of espresso to milk is 1:3, making it milder in coffee flavor.
We’ll go into even greater detail about lattes and caffé breves and their key differences below.
What is a Caffè Breve?
Caffé breve is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed half and half. It is creamy and bold with a creamy foam on top. A caffé breve has an espresso to half and half ratio of 1 to 1. It can be flavored with syrups, such as hazelnut, vanilla, or chocolate, or sweetened with sugar or sugar substitutes.
How to Make a Caffè Breve
Making caffè breve at home is straightforward. While it works best if you have an espresso machine, you can use strong brewed coffee if you don’t have one. The ratio of espresso to half and half in a traditional caffè breve is 1 to 1. Therefore, you will need to prepare equal amounts of half and half and espresso to make your breve at home.
Frothing the Half and Half
- Heat the half and half in the microwave for approximately 1 minute or until bubbles begin to form around the edges.
- Use a whisk to froth the half and half.
- Scoop off the foam as it forms and place it into another cup or bowl.
- Continue frothing the half and half with your whisk until you have 1/3 cup of foam.
Preparing the Espresso
Pull a shot (or two) of espresso from your espresso machine. If you don’t have a machine, brew strong coffee in your coffee maker instead.
Blending the Caffé Breve
- Pour the espresso into a coffee cup.
- Slowly add the half and half and stir to blend it.
- Spoon the foam over the top of your caffè breve.
If you choose to use sweetener or other flavorings, add them before topping your caffè breve with foam.
What is a Latte Coffee?
A latte is a hot coffee drink made from espresso and milk. You can use whole, low-fat, or skim milk in making a latte. The ratio of espresso to milk is 1 to 3, which means you will need one part espresso to three parts milk or approximately 1/3 cup of espresso to one cup of milk. Lattes can be served hot or cold.
How to Make a Latte
Making a latte at home is easy if you have an espresso machine, but don’t worry if you don’t. You can also make a latte with strong brewed coffee.
Remember, the ratio of espresso (or strong brewed coffee) to milk is 1 to 3. Therefore, you will need three times as much milk as espresso or three ounces of milk for every ounce of espresso. To make an 8-ounce latte, you will need two shots of espresso and 6 ounces of milk.
Froth the Milk
- Heat the milk in the microwave for about 1 minute or until it begins to simmer.
- Use a whisk to froth the milk. Be patient; it takes a minute or two to work the milk into a froth, especially if you are using skim or low-fat milk.
- Scoop the foam into another cup or bowl. Remember, you don’t need a lot of foam, as a latte only has a thin layer of foam on top.
Prepare the Espresso
Pull a shot or two of espresso from your espresso machine or measure the appropriate amount of strong brewed coffee for your latte.
Making the Latte
- Pour the espresso into a cup.
- Pour the frothed milk into the espresso slowly and mix it in gently with a spoon.
- Top with the foam you reserved earlier.
- Serve steaming hot.
If you choose to sweeten or flavor your latte with syrup, add it to the espresso and stir it in before adding the steamed and frothed milk.
Best Coffee Beans for a Caffè Breve or Latte Coffee
Because a caffè breve or latte has milk or cream, smooth, mild beans are recommended for the best flavor. Try Ethiopian, Guatemalan, or Brazilian coffee beans. But remember, individual tastes vary. You can use any coffee beans you find enjoyable in your caffè breve or latte.
Caffè Breve vs Latte: The 5 Main Differences
Caffé breve and latte are similar coffee drinks made with dairy products, but they differ.
1. Caffè Breve vs Latte: The Dairy
Caffé breve is made with cream, while a latte has milk.
2. Caffè Breve vs Latte: Espresso Ratio
Caffé breve has a 1-to-1 ratio of espresso to dairy, while a latte has a 1-to-3 ratio.
3. Caffè Breve vs Latte: Foam
Caffé breve has a thick layer of foam, while a latte has a thin layer.
4. Caffè Breve vs Latte: Caffeine Levels
Caffé breve has more caffeine per ounce than a latte.
5. Caffè Breve vs Latte: Calories
Caffé brevee has more calories than a latte.
Which One Should I Order? Breve vs. Latte?
Which variety of coffee drink is best for you is a matter of personal taste. While some prefer the creamy smoothness of the caffè breve, others prefer the milder flavor of a Latte.
A breve may be a good choice if you are looking for a quick caffeine boost but don’t like espresso straight. On the other hand, if you drink coffee drinks for the flavor and would prefer a little less caffeine, a Latte might be right for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ounce per ounce, a traditional caffè breve contains more caffeine than a latte because the ratio of espresso to cream in the caffè breve is 1 to 1, while the ratio of espresso to milk in the latte is 1 to 3.
However, not all coffee shops follow this ratio, and the amount of caffeine in each can vary.
If you are making caffè breve or lattes at home, it is easy to determine which has the most caffeine because you can be sure of how much espresso has gone into each.
That said, coffee shops sometimes use more or less than one or two shots of espresso, and even the measurement of a shot of espresso can vary. To be sure which has the most caffeine, check the amount of espresso in each.
One shot of espresso (1 ounce) contains 64 mg of caffeine.
Both lattes and caffè breves can be served with sweeteners and flavored syrups. The cream does add some sweetness to a caffè breve, but this in itself won’t make a big difference in sweetness.
Which is sweeter depends on the coffee shop’s formula and how much sweetener you add to your drink.
By using cream instead of milk, an unsweetened caffè breve has more calories than an unsweetened latte, as the fat in the cream adds calories. However, the calorie content will vary if your drink is also sweetened with sugar.
According to Nutritionix, a 16-ounce (unsweetened) latte with 2% milk has 189 calories, while a 16-ounce unsweetened breve has 455 calories.
Keep in mind that the ratio of espresso to cream or milk in a breve or latte may vary among coffee shops, which can also affect the calories in the drink. Always check the coffee shop’s nutrition information to determine the number of calories in their beverages.
People drink caffé breve for a variety of reasons. Some may want a quick boost of caffeine but don’t like the flavor of straight espresso. Others may choose a caffé breve as a treat because it is rich and creamy with a smooth coffee flavor. Still, others may choose a caffè breve because it often comes in a smaller size.
From a nutritional standpoint, Latte is healthier than a caffè breve because the breve has more fat from the cream and, therefore, has more calories.
Nutritionix indicates that a 16-ounce caffè breve has 455 calories with 38 g of fat. In contrast, a latte (with 2% milk) has 189 calories with 7.4 g of fat. The calorie content of a latte varies depending on whether whole, 2%, or skim milk is used.
While there are some discrepancies between the ratio of espresso to dairy in breve and a latte among coffee shops, one thing is clear. A caffè breve is made with espresso and half and half, while a latte is made with espresso and milk. Lattes made with 2% milk appear to be the most common, but they can also be made with whole or skim milk.
Final Thoughts on Caffè Breve vs Latte
We’ve covered in great detail the differences between caffè breve and latte. The final verdict is really up to you. All you need to do is to compare one against the other in a drink-off to see which appeals the most to you. Because in the end, it comes down to personal preference and ultimately, the flavor that you want.
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