latte and espresso

Are you a coffee lover who wants to know the key differences between two classic coffee drinks - latte and espresso? In this ultimate guide, we're breaking down the milk, espresso, and foam used, the brewing methods, and the taste profiles of these two drinks. Get ready to discover which one will be your new go-to for a bold and creamy coffee experience!

Latte vs Espresso: Basic Definitions

In this section, we delve into the basic definitions of latte and espresso. We'll explore each coffee-based beverage, highlighting their composition, brewing techniques, and flavor profiles.


Espresso is a rich and concentrated coffee drink prepared by forcing hot water under high pressure through finely-ground coffee beans. Typically served in small 2-3 oz portions, espresso serves as a foundation for various coffee beverages and can be enjoyed on its own. The brewing process extracts the coffee's natural oils and flavors, resulting in a bold and robust taste with a smooth, velvety consistency. Espressos often feature a thin layer of golden crema on the surface, which is a sign of a properly brewed shot. Most coffee shops and enthusiasts prepare espresso using specialized machines to achieve the required pressure and temperature.


A latte, on the other hand, is a creamy coffee drink that combines a shot of espresso with steamed milk and a thin layer of milk foam on top. Lattes generally consist of around 60% milk, which softens the robust espresso flavor and gives the drink a creamier, mellower taste profile. They're served in larger volumes, with the smallest size typically starting from 8 oz. Lattes can be made with various types of milk, but some froth better than others, impacting the final texture and taste.

To prepare a latte, one begins by brewing a shot of espresso, followed by steaming the milk to create micro-foam, and finally, pouring the frothy milk onto the espresso. The balance between the espresso and milk is essential in creating the perfect latte. The drink can be customized with different flavored syrups, toppings, or the creation of beautiful latte art – all of which are common in both home brewing and coffee shops.

In summary, the primary difference between a latte and an espresso is the addition of steamed milk and foam in a latte, which results in a creamier, mellower beverage compared to the concentrated and bold espresso. Each drink offers a unique experience for coffee lovers and can be tailored to individual taste preferences.

Key Differences

Flavor and Taste

Espressos and lattes differ greatly in taste and flavor profiles. Espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee, providing a strong and intense flavor. It is made using finely ground coffee beans and hot water, resulting in a rich and bold taste. On the other hand, lattes are made by adding steamed milk to a shot of espresso, creating a smoother and creamier flavor. The ratio of milk to coffee is considerably higher in lattes, which leads to a milder coffee taste compared to espressos.

Texture and Milk Content

The texture of these two coffee beverages is another key difference. Espresso is a pure, dense liquid with no milk content. When properly prepared, it may feature a rich, golden crema—the layer of creamy, brown froth that forms on top of an espresso shot.

In contrast, lattes have a significant milk content, usually comprising 60% of the drink. Lattes involve steamed milk, which creates a creamy, velvety texture when added to the espresso. The incorporation of frothed milk also generates a foam layer on top of the latte, adding another dimension to the beverage’s texture.

Caffeine Content

Caffeine content differs between lattes and espressos due to their variations in preparation and volume. A shot of espresso is typically between 1-2 ounces, containing around 63 mg of caffeine per ounce. When comparing this to a latte, which ranges between 8-12 ounces, the espresso has a relatively higher caffeine concentration. However, the latte's larger size may result in an overall higher caffeine content, but it is diluted by the milk.

Method of Preparation

The method of preparing these beverages also distinguishes espressos and lattes. Espresso is made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans under high pressure, extracting the concentrated coffee liquid. In contrast, a latte is created by first preparing a shot of espresso and then adding steamed milk to it. The milk can be frothed using various techniques, including steam wands or frothing pitchers, resulting in a combination of silky steamed milk and velvety foam.

When it comes to choosing between a latte and an espresso, their unique flavors, textures, caffeine content, and preparation methods are significant factors to consider. Each drink offers a distinct coffee experience, catering to different preferences and moods. If you're passionate about making these beverages in a professional setting, it might be time to invest in a high-quality machine. Check out our commercial espresso machine collection for top-notch options, ensuring you serve the best espresso and latte every time. Whether you're looking to buy a commercial grade espresso maker or simply want to explore the various models available, our selection promises excellence and reliability.

Variations and Popular Options


A cappuccino is a popular espresso-based drink that consists of a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and a generous layer of milk foam on top. This hot beverage typically has an equal ratio of coffee, milk, and foam, creating a more balanced flavor that is both rich and creamy while still allowing the taste of the espresso to shine through.


The macchiato, another espresso-based option, features a shot of espresso topped with a dollop of foamed milk. The name "macchiato" originates from the Italian word for "stained," as the beverage appears as if the espresso is stained with a touch of milk. Offering a stronger coffee flavor than lattes or cappuccinos, this option is perfect for those who appreciate the boldness of espresso but desire a slight creaminess.


The Americano consists of a shot of espresso mixed with hot water, creating a beverage that is similar in strength to drip coffee but with the unmistakable flavor profile of espresso. It allows coffee lovers to enjoy the deep, bold characteristics of an espresso in a larger, longer-lasting drink.


Ristretto is a concentrated version of an espresso, using a smaller amount of water to extract the coffee. This creates a short, bold, and more intense espresso shot, emphasizing the rich flavors and nuances in the coffee beans.


In contrast to ristretto, a lungo is an espresso that uses more water, resulting in a longer extraction time and a milder flavor. While still showcasing the distinctive espresso taste and aroma, a lungo offers a softer and more approachable flavor profile.


The mocha is a delightful fusion of espresso, steamed milk, and chocolate. It's the perfect choice for those who want to indulge in a creamy caffeine fix with a touch of sweetness. Lattes and cappuccinos can also be turned into mochas by adding chocolate syrup or cocoa powder.

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee provides a refreshing, cold alternative to traditional espresso-based beverages. It can be crafted from various base drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, or americanos, simply by pouring the beverage over ice or chilling it beforehand. During the warmer months, iced coffee variations, such as iced lattes and iced macchiatos, are especially popular for their ideal balance of coffee and cooling sensation.

Choosing the Right Coffee Beans

Roast Level

When it comes to choosing coffee beans for your latte or espresso, the roast level is a crucial factor to consider. Espresso typically utilizes darker roasted beans, providing bold, full-bodied flavors that are a signature of this concentrated coffee beverage. In contrast, a latte often employs lighter roasts, as its taste profile is mellowed by the addition of steamed milk.

For espresso fanatics, opting for dark roasts offers a rich and smoky flavor that appeals to the discerning palate. However, it's worth noting that coffee beans' original flavors become less pronounced as the roast gets darker, giving way to a uniform "roast flavor."

Grind Size

Another essential aspect of selecting the perfect coffee beans for your espresso or latte is the grind size. Espresso requires a finely-ground coffee to produce its strong, concentrated brew. Hot water is forced through the fine coffee grounds at high pressure, which allows for efficient extraction of flavors and caffeine in a limited timeframe.

On the other hand, a latte typically uses a coarser grind, closer to that of drip coffee. The looser grounds allow water to flow through at a slower rate, resulting in a milder and less concentrated brew desired for latte preparation.

To summarize, when selecting coffee beans suitable for a latte or an espresso, consider the following:

  • Roast Level: Opt for darker roasts for the bold, smoky flavors in your espresso, and lighter roasts for a mellower latte.
  • Grind Size: Choose finely-ground beans for a rich, concentrated espresso, and coarser grounds for a latte.

By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that your coffee beans will produce the desired flavors and characteristics for both lattes and espressos.

Brewing Methods and Equipment

Espresso Machines

Espresso machines are specially designed to brew a strong and concentrated coffee, using pressure to force hot water through finely ground coffee. These machines come in varying sizes and functionalities, ranging from manual to semi-automatic and fully automatic machines. Espresso forms the foundation of various coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and americanos. In a latte, the espresso is combined with steamed milk and topped with a layer of frothed milk, creating a creamy and smooth texture.

French Press

The French press is a popular and straightforward brewing method that allows for full immersion of coffee grounds in water. To use a French press, coarse coffee grounds are added to the press, followed by hot water. After steeping for a few minutes, the plunger is pressed down, separating the coffee grounds from the liquid. A French press produces a rich and bold flavor profile. Although a latte cannot be made directly using a French press, the strongly brewed coffee can be combined with steamed milk to create a coffee drink similar to a latte.

Drip Coffee

Drip coffee is a common brewing method that involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds. The water seeps through the grounds, extracting the flavors and oils, and then drips into a container below. Drip coffee machines come in various sizes and models, some with programmable brewing times and temperature settings. The brewed coffee is typically milder in flavor and lower in concentration compared to espresso. While not ideal for making a traditional latte, drip coffee can be used as a base for adding steamed and frothed milk to create a coffee drink similar to a latte.

To summarize, espresso machines are specifically designed for making concentrated and bold coffee, which is used as the base for lattes. French press and drip coffee are alternative brewing methods that produce rich and flavorful coffee, but do not create an espresso-like concentration. These brewing methods can still be used to create latte-like drinks when combined with steamed and frothed milk.

Customizing Your Coffee

When it comes to personalizing your latte or espresso, the possibilities are endless. This section will provide you with several ways to enhance your coffee experience by customizing your drink with sweeteners and syrups, milk alternatives, and toppings.

Sweeteners and Syrups

There are many sweeteners and syrups you can add to your latte or espresso to create a unique flavor profile. Here are some popular options:

  • Sugar: The simplest option, sugar can come in various forms such as granulated, brown, or powdered. Remember to add it sparingly to maintain the drink's natural flavors.
  • Vanilla: A popular choice, vanilla syrup adds a subtle sweetness without overpowering your coffee's taste.
  • Caramel: For those who enjoy a richer sweetness, caramel syrup can provide a buttery flavor that complements the espresso's bold taste.
  • Cinnamon: Adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your drink introduces a warm, spicy flavor that pairs well with the coffee's natural notes.
  • Pumpkin Spice: A seasonal favorite, pumpkin spice syrup can transform your drink into an autumnal delight.

Milk Alternatives

While traditional lattes include steamed milk, you can also customize your drink with a variety of milk alternatives. These options can enhance your beverage's flavor or cater to dietary preferences. Some popular alternatives include:

  • Almond Milk: Nutty and slightly sweet, almond milk adds a distinct flavor to your latte without increasing the drink's heaviness.
  • Soy Milk: Slightly thicker and creamier than almond milk, soy milk provides a smooth texture and subtle taste to your coffee.
  • Oat Milk: Known for its creamy consistency and mild flavor, oat milk is gaining popularity as a dairy-free option for coffee lovers.
  • Coconut Milk: For a rich and tropical twist, coconut milk can be added to your latte or espresso, providing a distinctive taste and creamy texture.


To give your customized latte or espresso a finishing touch, consider adding one or more of these popular toppings:

  • Milk Foam: A classic latte topping, milk foam adds a light, airy texture to your drink. It can also be used to create intricate designs for an eye-catching presentation.
  • Whipped Cream: If you prefer a richer, creamier texture, whipped cream can be added as a topping to create a more indulgent beverage.
  • Chocolate Shavings: A sprinkle of chocolate shavings not only adds a touch of sweetness but also makes for an appealing visual presentation.
  • Nutmeg or Cinnamon: For a fragrant and warm flavor, a dusting of nutmeg or cinnamon can enhance your coffee's natural aromas.

As you experiment with different combinations of syrups, milk alternatives, and toppings, you will soon discover your ideal latte or espresso. The key is to have fun and explore the various options available on the coffee menu, all while ensuring that the drink remains true to the essence of the primary keyword: coffee.

Calories and Nutritional Considerations

When comparing espresso and latte, it's essential to consider the calorie count and nutritional aspects of both beverages. While both start with a base of espresso, the addition of milk in a latte significantly increases its calorie count and changes the nutritional profile of the drink.

An espresso shot on its own contains minimal calories – around 5-10 calories per serving. This low calorie count is due to the absence of milk or other additives, making it an ideal choice for those watching their calorie intake.

In contrast, a 12-ounce latte has a higher calorie count, with the specific number depending on the type of milk used and the presence of flavoring syrups. For instance, a latte made with 1% fat milk and no syrups contains around 140 calories. If we compare this with a Starbucks' grande blonde vanilla latte made with their default 2% milk, the calorie count jumps to 250, with 60 calories from fat.

The type of milk used in a latte has a significant impact on the caloric content and nutritional value. Here are some common milk options:

  • Whole milk: Rich in flavor and creamy, a latte made with whole milk has more calories and fat than those made with lower-fat milk varieties. It provides additional nutritional benefits such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Low-fat milk (1% or 2%): Lattes made with low-fat milk have fewer calories and less fat than those made with whole milk. They still offer some essential nutrients, including calcium and protein.
  • Skim milk: With the lowest fat content, skim milk provides the fewest calories in a latte while maintaining most of the nutritional benefits found in other milk types.

Considering the health benefits of each beverage, espresso offers a calorie-light way to enjoy the taste and caffeine content of coffee without added sugars or fats. In comparison, lattes made with lower-fat milk options can still provide various essential nutrients, such as calcium and protein, while keeping the calorie count relatively moderate.

When choosing between an espresso or latte, consider your personal nutritional goals and preferences. If you prefer a creamy, flavorful drink, a latte made with low-fat milk may be your best option. However, if you're more focused on minimizing calorie consumption and avoiding added sugars, espresso may be the ideal choice for you.

Latte Art and Presentation

Latte art has become a significant part of coffee culture, with skilled baristas using it as a way to elevate the overall presentation of the drink. Latte art is created by skillfully pouring steamed milk into a cup of espresso, forming intricate designs on the surface of the drink. While latte art is chiefly an aesthetic element, it also serves as an indicator of the quality of the espresso and the skill of the barista.

Creating latte art requires a good understanding of espresso and milk. The espresso should have a rich crema, which plays a crucial role in forming the art. The crema is the top layer of an espresso shot, characterized by its caramel color and unique flavor. The milk must be steamed to the right temperature and microfoam consistency, ensuring it blends seamlessly with the crema to form the desired design.

In the world of latte art, there are two main pouring techniques: free pour and etching. Free pour involves pouring the milk directly into the espresso with controlled movements, creating shapes such as hearts, rosettas, or tulips. Etching, on the other hand, utilizes tools like toothpicks or fine brushes to manipulate the milk and crema into more detailed patterns, which can include animals, faces, or intricate geometric designs.

Aspiring baristas often practice and perfect theirlatteart skills, attending workshops or courses to learn the nuances of milk steaming, espresso extraction, and pouring techniques. Competitions are often held, showcasing the incredible talent of these coffee artists.

With the rise of social media, latte art has gained widespread popularity and appreciation, becoming a viral phenomenon. Coffee enthusiasts around the world regularly share photos of their favorite latte art designs, and specialty coffee shops pride themselves on providing visually stunning presentations.

In summary, latte art is more than just an aesthetic touch – it represents the skill of the barista, the quality of the espresso, and the overall coffee experience.

Latte vs Espresso: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to coffee, the two most popular choices are often lattes and espressos. Both drinks have their distinct characteristics and flavors, making them favorites for different reasons. In this article, we'll dive into the key differences between lattes and espressos, giving you all the information you need to make an informed decision about your preferred caffeinated beverage.

The Fundamentals

Espresso is a concentrated coffee, made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans. This process results in a small, strong shot of coffee, typically 2-3 oz in volume.

On the other hand, a latte is a larger, milk-based drink, consisting of espresso combined with steamed milk and topped with a small amount of milk foam. A latte usually starts with a single or double shot of espresso and is then filled with steamed milk, making up about 60% of the beverage. The smallest latte you can order is typically 8 oz in volume.

Flavor Profiles

Espressos pack a powerful flavor punch, with concentrated, bold coffee notes. This intense flavor makes it ideal for those who appreciate a strong coffee taste without any added ingredients to dilute it.

Lattes, with their high milk content, offer a more subdued coffee flavor. The steamed milk adds a rich, creamy texture and naturally sweet flavor to the drink, which can be appealing to those who prefer a milder coffee experience.

Caffeine Content

The caffeine content varies between espresso and latte, too. Due to its concentrated nature, a single shot of espresso contains more caffeine than a single shot in a latte. However, as lattes are larger in volume, the total caffeine content can be similar, depending on the number of espresso shots used.

Customization Options

Lattes provide more customization options compared to espressos. You can choose your preferred milk type, flavored syrups or even opt for non-dairy milk alternatives, such as almond or soy milk. Some cafes even offer seasonal latte options with unique flavor combinations.

Espressos are typically served without any additional ingredients, although some twists on the classic include an Americano (espresso diluted with hot water) or a cappuccino (espresso with equal parts steamed milk and foam).


In summary, while both lattes and espressos begin with a base of espresso, they differ mainly in the inclusion of steamed milk and the resulting flavor profiles, caffeine content, size, and customization options. It ultimately comes down to personal preference when choosing between a latte and an espresso, as each has its unique characteristics that cater to different tastes and needs. Whether you prefer the bold intensity of a straight espresso or the creamy richness of a latte, both beverages can provide an enjoyable coffee experience.

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Tony Barlow

Tony Barlow

Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team

Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.

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