A latte (from the Italian caffè latte or caffellatte, meaning "coffee and milk") is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. Variants include replacing the coffee with another drink base such as chai, mate or matcha. The word is also sometimes incorrectly spelled latté or lattè.
In Italian latte means milk. What in English-speaking countries is now called a latte is shorthand for "caffelatte" or "caffellatte" ("caffè e latte"). The Italian form means "coffee and milk", similar to the French café au lait, the Spanish café con leche and the Portuguese café com leite. Other drinks commonly found in shops serving caffè lattes are cappuccinos and espressos.
Ordering a "latte" in Italy will get the customer a glass of hot or cold milk.
Caffe Mediterraneum, a landmark café in Berkeley, California, claims to be the birthplace of the caffè latte, crediting its birth to one of the café's owners, Lino Meiorin in the late 1950s. According to a sign that is proudly displayed in the café, Lino was the first Italian-trained barista in the San Francisco Bay Area, and his Italian-style cappuccinos were apparently too strong for the customers. In response to his customers, he decided to add a larger, milkier cappuccino to the menu, and he called this drink the "caffè latte".
Coffee menus worldwide use a number of spelling variations for words to indicate coffee and milk, often using incorrect accents or a combination of French and Italian terms. Italian is caffè latte, (with a grave accent over the e), while French is café au lait (with an acute accent); Spanish is café con leche and Portuguese is café com leite. Variants such as caffé latte, café latte, and caffé lattè are commonly seen in English.
In Italy, caffè latte is almost always prepared at home, for breakfast only. The coffee is brewed with a stovetop Moka pot and poured into a cup containing heated milk. (Unlike the international latte drink, the milk in the Italian original is not foamed.)
Outside Italy, a caffè latte is typically prepared in a 240 mL (8 oz) glass or cup with one standard shot of espresso (either single, 30 mL, or double, 60 mL) and filled with steamed milk, with a layer of foamed milk approximately 12 mm (½ inch) thick on the top. A caffè latte may also be served consisting of strong or bold coffee (sometimes espresso) mixed with scalded milk in approximately a 1:1 ratio. The drink is similar to a cappuccino, the difference being that a cappuccino consists of espresso and steamed milk with a 20 mm (¾ inch) layer of thick milk foam. An Australian/New Zealand variant similar to the latte is the flat white, which is served in a smaller ceramic cup with the creamy steamed milk poured over a single-shot of espresso, holding back the lighter froth at the top.
- In some establishments, lattes are served in a glass on a saucer with a napkin which can be used to hold the (sometimes hot) glass.
- A latte is sometimes served in a bowl; in Europe, particularly Scandinavia, this is referred to as a cafe au lait.
- Increasingly common in the United States and Europe, latte art has led to the stylization of coffee making, and the creation of what is now a popular art form. Created by pouring steaming, and mostly frothed, milk into the coffee, that liquid is introduced into the beverage in such a way, patterns are distinguishable on the top of coffee. Popular patterns can include hearts, flowers, trees and other forms of simplistic representations of images and objects.
- Iced latte is often served unstirred so that coffee appears to "float" on top of white milk in a glass cup.
- The relatively high prices demanded by some establishments have led to the creation of ghetto latte or bootleg lattes, whereby customers mix their own latte by ordering a lower-priced cup of espresso and then mixing it with milk and other condiments offered for free at the condiments bar.
- In Asia and North America, lattes have been combined with Asian teas. Coffee and tea shops now offer hot or iced latte versions of chai, matcha, and Royal milk tea.
- Other flavorings can be added to the latte to suit the taste of the drinker. Vanilla, chocolate, and caramel are all popular variants.
- In South Africa a red latte is made with rooibos tea.
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Caffè latte, www.caffelatte.com
How to Make a Caffe Latte, www.ehow.com