Most coffee lovers will try just about any type of espresso-based beverage once.
While there are some interesting combinations and methods out there, lattes have stood the test of time for a reason.
They’re simple, delicious, and comforting.
But, what’s the difference between coffee and a latte?
Many people are unsure of the difference or think that they are the same thing – but they’re not!
This guide will break down the differences between these two drinks and help you decide which one is right for you.
Of course, there’s no shame in loving both!
So, what is the difference between lattes and coffee? Lattes are coffee or espresso-based drinks with added milk and foam.
Coffee is made from roasted beans. It’s usually lighter in flavor and depth than the espresso used for lattes.
While you can add milk, sugar, and whatever other mix-ins you enjoy to a cup of coffee, it doesn’t automatically make it a latte.
Deconstructing the Drinks (Coffee and Latte)
Whether you roast and grind your beans or buy them from the store, coffee is a convenient everyday drink for millions of people across the globe.
There are several brewing methods to consider. But, the basics are the same – ground coffee beans are steeped with hot water to create the familiar drink.
Lattes, on the other hand, are coffee drinks with added milk and foam. Latte comes from the Italian word “caffè latte,” meaning “milk coffee”.
The drink is made with one or two shots of espresso and steamed milk, then topped with foam at the end. Sometimes, flavorings and sweeteners are added.
Difference in Taste
While regular coffee and lattes both have similar tastes, there are obvious differences in the strength of each flavor, as well as other textures involved.
Let’s break down what you can expect from each sip.
What Does Coffee Taste Like?
Coffee often has a strong flavor because it’s made from roasted beans.
It can be bitter if you don’t add milk and sweetener, but it can also be sweet and creamy if you add the right ingredients.
So, what are the perfect coffee flavors? Balance, sweetness, and acidity – you can’t have one without another.
These characteristics work together in harmony to create an unforgettable cup of joe that will have your taste buds singing each morning.
Good coffee should have a rich smoothness to it. The aroma will be different depending on where the beans come from and how they were roasted.
But, most brewing coffee should have hints of chocolate and nuttiness. Some even have floral notes.
The best quality type of coffee is arabica coffee.
To get that rich coffee taste from coffee, you need to roast the coffee beans but not too much. If you roast the beans too much, you’ll get a bitter-tasting coffee.
Lattes have a milder flavor than coffee because of the added milk. They’re not as bitter as coffee, but much creamier.
The foam on top adds a slightly sweet flavor, but it’s not overpowering.
Generally, a latte has a delicious taste that is subtler than other similar drinks. Lattes are known for coating your tongue thanks to the rich milky consistency and foam.
There’s a reason they continue to be one of the most popular espresso drinks.
Lattes also have a thicker texture than coffee because of the added milk.
Thickness can be great if you’re looking for something that will fill you up more than a regular cup of joe.
Although it depends on the place and the size, lattes typically cost more than coffee because of the added ingredients.
Lattes are often considered “higher quality” as they use top-grade beans to brew their espresso-based drinks.
Standard coffee tends to use lower-grade beans, though that isn’t always the case! If you go to a quality coffee shop, all of their beans will be top quality.
Just remember, paying a few extra cents is likely to get you a better drink experience.
Differences in Brewing Coffee Vs. Lattes
Coffee is brewed with hot water and ground coffee beans.
You can brew your beans in various ways, including drip machines, French presses, or even on the stovetop.
Lattes are made by pouring one or two shots of espresso into a glass filled with steamed milk and adding foamed milk on top.
Put the coffee into a filter and place it in your machine.
Add water to the reservoir and turn on your machine, which should start brewing right away. Once brewed, pour yourself some delicious coffee!
The first step is to heat your water – nearly to boiling.
Add coarsely-ground coffee beans into the French press, and pour your hot water over.
Let steep for 4-5 minutes before pushing down the plunger, and enjoying a cup.
- Start by boiling water
- Measure out the weight/grams of coffee needed for the correct number of servings
- Put the ground coffee in a pot and pour hot water over it
- Let steep for 4-5 minutes
- Use a filter of your choice over a pot or cup
- Pour the hot water and grounds over the filter
- Enjoy your fresh cup of coffee!
Brewing a latte is similar to brewing coffee, but you’ll need an espresso machine to do it.
Start by heating some water in the machine and adding your espresso grounds.
Once the water reaches its boiling point, let it sit for about 30 seconds before extracting the espresso.
Next, pour the espresso shot into a glass filled with steamed milk. Foam up some more milk using a wand. You can also add syrups or flavorings to your latte if you’d like.
Latte art is the name given to the coffee drink decoration technique that involves adding textured designs to the top of a latte using milk.
It takes some practice, but it’s doable if you’re willing to learn.
- Heat some milk in a saucepan over low heat until it’s steaming but not boiling. The key is to get the milk hot enough so that when you pour it into your espresso shot, there will be tiny foam bubbles on top of the liquid.
- Pour the milk into a cup or container taller than it is wide. Pouring the milk into a taller container will help you create more foam on top.
- Insert a coffee straw into the center of your milk and hold it there until the foam has formed around the straw.
- Remove the straw and pour the milk slowly into your espresso shot. The key here is to pour in a circular motion so that the milk swirls around the espresso. If you do it correctly, you should end up with a lovely textured design on top of your latte!
If you’re looking for a delicious and creamy coffee drink, then a latte is the way to go.
It has a milder flavor than coffee, and it’s also less bitter because there’s not as much caffeine in it.
You can brew lattes at home with an espresso machine and some steamed milk, or you can go to your local coffee shop for a quick cup on the go!
Coffee vs Latte – Which Drink is Healthier?
A shot of espresso with two parts frothed milk has the same nutritional content as a full-fat flat white (less foam), but only 70 calories and no fat.
It’s also an excellent source of calcium, so you can feel great about drinking this throughout your day.
There’s a reason why coffee is considered an afternoon pick me up.
From a health perspective, research has repeatedly shown that drinking caffeine can help to lower blood pressure and reduce fats in the body without adding any extra calories from milk or sugar!
What you may not know is how your constant stream of sugary extras could be affecting weight loss goals if taken daily as part of your regular diet plan.
So, if you’re counting calories, a cup of black coffee is the way to go.
Regular coffee is more robust than a cafe latte when it comes to caffeine.
However, the milk added to the latte makes it sweeter and less intense for some people’s taste buds.
Milk also reduces its perceived strength overall because it cuts through the strong espresso.
While a latte may contain more caffeine, the taste is smoother and more subdued than a black cup of coffee.
Are you a fan of the robust taste of coffee? Or, do you prefer something more mellow for an early morning wake-up call?
Either way, there’s no need to feel left out in this debate. You can make a perfect cup of coffee or a latte at home, or head to your favorite local cafe to order with ease.
The main difference between these drinks is the ingredients. Coffee comes from steeped coffee grounds. Lattes are made with finely-ground espresso and steamed milk.
There are also differences in how they’re brewed. Lattes usually require a machine, whereas coffees come from a drip or pour-over method (depending on what kind of drinker you are).
Knowing the differences between these popular drinks can help you decide what to order or make for yourself each day.
But, there’s no shame in going back and forth. They’re both delicious in different ways.
Other articles you may also like:
- Different Types of Coffee Roasts (Light, Medium, Dark, Other)
- Americano Vs. Espresso – What’s the difference?
- 26 Types of Alcoholic Coffee Drinks (Hot and Cold Coffee Cocktails)
- What Are Coffee Flights?
- Can You Use Regular Coffee Grounds for Making Espresso
- Difference Between Coffee and Cappuccino
- Difference Between Coffee Latte and Cappuccino
- The Best 5 Pour-Over Coffee Beans To Try