If you’re a coffee lover like us, we’re sure you know about lattes. The espresso-based drink is commonly seen on menus in just about every coffeehouse in the world, and it is the first choice for many coffee enthusiasts out there.
And if you’ve ever sipped on a caffè breve at a fancy cafe, you must have found it a bit similar to the traditional latte.
But there are more differences than there are similarities between the two.
In this guide on caffè breve vs latte, we’ll tell you all about what makes them unique and how you can prepare both of them right at home. Read on!
What Is A Caffè Breve?
Caffè breve, also known as a breve latte, cafè breve, breve coffee, or simply, breve, is an espresso-based beverage. It is an American version of the classic Italian caffè latte. Caffè breve is brewed like a cappuccino but with steamed half-and-half in place of milk.
Half-and-half is a blend of whole milk and heavy cream in a 1:1 ratio. It is the key ingredient for whipping up a rich, creamy, and delicious concoction that tastes indulgent and luxurious.
You can buy half-and-half from the grocery store or make your own at home using full-fat milk and cream. Make sure that the half-and-half contains at least 10% fat.
The word “breve” is Italian for “short” or “little,” and a caffè breve is traditionally served in a 4.5-ounce cappuccino cup. However, you won’t always get this drink in a small cup—some cafes may serve it in different sizes.
Some cafes may froth the half-and-half to make it creamier and thicker, much like how steamed milk is frothed for a cappuccino. Some cafes may choose to foam it to make it velvety smooth, as done for lattes.
You can enjoy a caffè breve as your go-to morning beverage or have it in the evening as a decadent dessert.
How Does It Taste?
A cup of caffè breve has a rich, creamy, and sweet taste from the half-and-half used to prepare the drink. This decadence is balanced well with the intense, bold flavors of the espresso shot.
Overall, a caffè breve has a luxurious, smooth flavor that all coffee drinkers are sure to enjoy!
How To Prepare a Caffè Breve
Preparing a cup of caffè breve is relatively easy. To brew a delicious cup at home, follow the steps below:
- Chill 2 ounces of half-and-half in the fridge until it is ice cold.
- Then steam and froth the half-and-half at 145°F to 160°F using a steaming wand. The wand should make a low hissing sound and a whirlpool motion to increase the volume of the liquid without making big bubbles. Do not steam it past 160°F, or it will burn and become a custard-like liquid.
- You can also froth it with a hand-held frother, a French press, or a whisk.
- Let the half-and-half rest and set.
- Meanwhile, pull a shot of espresso (2 ounces) in a 1:2 ratio using a traditional espresso machine or a French press and a medium-fine grind. A 1:2 ratio for espressos means 20 grams of ground coffee should yield 40 ml of brewed espresso.
- Pour the brewed espresso into a small cup.
- Pour the hot half-and-half into the cup while holding the foam back.
- Spoon the leftover foam over the top of the drink and enjoy your sweet treat!
If you want to make your caffè breve a little more indulgent, add a bit of sugar, flavored syrup, or toppings like chocolate shavings or peppermint flakes.
What Is A Latte?
Lattes are one of the most popular espresso drinks enjoyed worldwide. It is also known as cafe latte, which literally means coffee with milk; “café au lait” in French and “cafe con leche” in Spanish.
Most coffee houses around the world will serve you a cafe latte if you ask for a latte. But in many European countries, a latte order will get you a glass of milk, so be careful!
A latte is an espresso-based drink like a breve, but it uses a large amount of plain steamed milk instead of the fancier steamed half-and-half. It has a silky layer of foam on the top and a lovely, smooth texture.
A latte has a strong, bold flavor because of the espresso. But the milk makes sure that it is not too overpowering.
It is commonly consumed as a breakfast drink. But of course, it can be enjoyed at any time of the day—as a mid-morning treat or after lunch to beat the afternoon slump and keep you focused and alert.
Lattes come in different serving sizes ranging from six to 20 ounces. So you can choose between a small, medium, or large cup depending on how much of a caffeine fix you need.
How Does It Taste?
A cafe latte tastes like a cup of extra creamy coffee. It has a complex flavor and a heady aroma conjured up by its three key ingredients.
The steamed milk and the thin layer of milk foam on the top work together to create a smooth, silky, and delicious drink with a luxurious mouthfeel. It is balanced with the intense, strong notes of the bitter espresso brew that helps to create a delicate harmony of flavors.
How To Prepare a Latte
Brewing a latte is easier than making a cup of breve. Just follow the steps here, and you’ll have an expertly-made drink in your hand:
- Pull a double shot of espresso (2 ounces) using an espresso maker, espresso machine, or Aeropress and pour it into a cup.
- Steam the milk in a pitcher using a steaming wand that comes with your espresso machine till it reaches 150°F. Hold the wand just below the surface of the milk and set about creating the ultra-fine microfoam. The microfoam should have a creamy texture like wet paint.
- Alternately, you can heat the milk on a stovetop till it reaches 150°F—measure it with a thermometer. Then froth it with a hand-held milk frother, French press, or whisk until you get small, smooth bubbles.
- Wait for 30 to 60 seconds to let the foam mix into the milk.
- Now pour the frothed milk into the center of the brewed espresso and top off with the foam. To enhance its visual appeal, you can create latte art by pouring the fine microfoam in the shape of your favorite designs like hearts, flowers, or leaves.
You can add different flavors like vanilla, chocolate, caramel, or hazelnut to your latte to jazz it up and enhance its taste. If you’re going to add flavored syrup or powder, stir it in before adding the steamed milk and foam.
What Are the Differences Between Caffè Breve vs Latte?
Here’s an in-depth look at how a caffè breve differs from a latte:
Both drinks are espresso-based, and that’s where the similarity ends. A caffè breve uses steamed half-and-half instead of milk or milk foam to make a richer, creamier, fluffier drink. You can foam or steam this key ingredient and add a single or double espresso shot. No-fuss here.
On the other hand, a latte is prepared by pouring some steamed and frothed milk over espresso to create a velvety smooth and creamy top layer.
You cannot use milk foam or half-and-half, depending on the flavor you want to achieve.
The milk used for a latte can be low-fat or full-fat, and it can come from any source: cow’s milk, oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and so on.
So you can create a dairy-free latte without affecting its flavor, unlike a breve which is best made with animal-based milk.
A traditional caffè breve recipe uses only espresso and half-and-half. Any kind of additive is a deviation from the traditional method of preparation.
In a latte, you can add different flavored syrups and toppings without affecting the authenticity of the beverage.
The full-fat milk and cream in the steamed half-and-half make the caffè breve smoother and sweeter than a latte.
In contrast, lattes usually center the espresso base, making them taste bolder, stronger, and not quite so sweet without any flavor additions.
To make a delicious cup of caffè breve, espresso and half-and-half are all you need for a luxurious caffeinated treat. The two ingredients are combined in a 1:1 ratio to create a fine and delicate balance of bold flavor and creamy richness.
In a latte, the milk and espresso are added in a 2:1 ratio so that the intense flavors of the latter do not overpower your tastebuds.
A caffè breve is often served in a small 4.5-ounce glass as it is usually made in a single 4-ounce batch.
A latte is served typically in a 6-ounce cup, mug, or glass. The serving size can also be scaled higher, up to 20 ounces.
Latte is undoubtedly the more popular drink of the two and is consumed all over the globe.
Whereas a caffè breve can often be found in specialty cafes, it is still a bit of a lesser-known gem in the world of coffee enthusiasts.
Lattes are strictly milk-based, so they have significantly lesser foam volume than a caffè breve. A breve has thicker, rich foam because of the richness of the half-and-half.
Ease of Preparation
It is much easier to make a latte as most coffee machines have pre-programmed settings to make this beverage.
Whereas you need to be very careful while making a caffè breve, as overheating the half-and-half can burn it and ruin the flavor.
In general, a traditional latte with little to no sugary additives contains fewer calories, fat, and cholesterol due to the lack of heavy cream in the blend. This makes it slightly healthier than a caffè breve.
What Coffee Beans To Use for Brewing a Breve and a Latte?
Preparing a caffè breve and a latte requires different types of coffee beans.
Coffee Beans for Caffè Breve
Coffee beans from Brazil, Ethiopia, and Guatemala deliver an intense coffee flavor that beautifully complements the richness of the half-and-half in a caffè breve.
A medium or dark roast will work best for a caffè breve. These roasts make it easier for the espresso machine to extract complex flavors and create a richer, bolder brew.
They also help cut through the richness of the half-and-half, better than a light roast.
Coffee Beans for Latte
Brewing a latte does not require much fuss. You can easily make it with a light or dark roast, fine or medium-fine grind, and Arabica or Robusta beans.
If you use a light roast and Arabica beans with a medium-fine grind, you’ll be able to cut down on the bitter flavor of the espresso.
In contrast, using Robusta beans with a dark roast and a fine grind will increase the richness and bitterness of the brewed espresso.
It’s best to brew a latte with a dark roast and a mix of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans.
Whether you’re a caffè breve fan or a latte lover, there’s no denying that both coffee drinks are delicious. So you won’t go wrong with either of them.
A latte is best suited for those who enjoy a bolder, stronger taste with more flavor combinations and fewer calories. You can also get larger serving sizes if you go for a latte.
In comparison, a breve is a creamier, sweeter, and more decadent treat that comes in a smaller serving size.
The differences between these drinks mean they cater to different crowds and have earned dedicated fan followings.
We hope our breve vs latte article helped you understand these drinks better and expanded your knowledge of the coffee world. Happy caffeinating!
Last Updated on August 31, 2022 by Ashok Parmar