How to Make a Latte Like a Professional Barista

Jason Gutierrez

Ah, the latte. Lattes are of the most popular coffee beverages, if not THE most popular coffee beverage among java enthusiasts everywhere. You’d be hard pressed to find a cafe that doesn’t have at least several types of lattes on their menu.

We know that ordering lattes or other specialty drinks on the reg can get pricey fast. So whether you’re strapped for cash or just wanting to enjoy a gourmet cup of coffee from the comfort of your own home, you can easily learn how to make a latte like a professional barista. With a good guide, a few tools, and a little bit of practice, you’ll be sipping on this delicious beverage in no time.

Let’s get started.

What Is a Latte?

A latte is an espresso-based coffee drink composed of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth. Of the espresso drink family (lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos), the latte is by far the creamiest, with two-thirds of the beverage consisting of steamed milk.



Traditional lattes start with a single shot of espresso at the base, followed by steamed milk, and topped off with a thin layer of froth.

The latte is not to be confused with its sister-drink the cappuccino, though to the uninformed it’s an easy mistake to make. They are, after all, made of the exact same ingredients. However the difference is the ratio of steamed milk. Cappuccinos are equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and froth, whereas lattes (as shown above) are heavy on the steamed milk, which is what gives them their creamy, satisfying taste.

How to Make a Latte Using an Espresso Machine

First, let’s cover how to make a latte if you own or have easy access to an espresso machine. If you have one of these bad boys in your kitchen, you’ll quickly realize how easy it is to whip up a latte.

Note: If you don’t have an espresso machine but are trying to get one, we found this guide to be quite useful in the decision-making process.

What you need:

The tools below are what we at Dreamweaver Coffee recommend when making lattes at home or at a coffee shop. We understand that sometimes you don’t have all the tools for the job, so we listed some alternative options as well.

  • Espresso machine with steam + frothing capabilities
  • Whole espresso beans, or your favorite Dreamweaver Coffee roasted beans
  • Coffee grinder, preferably a burr grinder for better consistency
  • Milk
  • Frothing wand
  • Sugar and syrups as desired 

Other options:

  • Other means to steam milk: microwave, electric milk frother, saucepan + whisk
  • Other tools to froth milk: mason jar, whisk, or blender
  • Pre-ground beans instead of whole beans (eliminates the need for a coffee grinder, but less fresh)

Instructions:

  1. Measure out the quantity of beans you need based on the amount of espresso you want to make. A good rule of thumb is 1 shot of espresso = 7-9 g of espresso beans. Since a tablespoon is ~14 g, you will want to use about two-thirds a tablespoon for each shot of espresso. Remember that a latte can be made with either a single or double shot of espresso, so do whatever your heart desires.

Note: If you don’t know what espresso beans are, they’re essentially just dark-roasted beans. The longer roast time reduces the acidity of the beans and embodies a bolder flavor, which is ideal for espresso. But medium or light-roasted beans work just as well - know that the flavor profiles will vary depending on the roast you choose.

  1. Grind your whole beans in a coffee grinder using a fine grind. As a tip, most pre-ground, store-bought coffee comes in a fine grind, so mimic that.
  2. Warm the cup you will be using to catch the espresso. We recommend running under hot water. This prevents your expresso from cooling while you steam and froth the milk.
  3. Brew your espresso
  4. Steam and froth the milk. Use your machine’s wand to do this.
  5. Pour the hot espresso into a glass of your choosing
  6. Slowly pour the steamed milk into the same glass. The froth will settle on top.
  7. [Optional] Add sugar, syrups, or other flavors as desired (cinnamon works great).
  8. [Optional] Take your best stab at latte art - trust us when we say this takes some practice.
  9. Enjoy your latte!

Tips:

  • The better the coffee beans, the better the coffee.
  • Pre-ground coffee naturally won’t be as fresh or flavorful as whole bean coffee that’s ground just before brewing.
  • Roast date matters. Coffee is freshest 2 to 3 weeks after roasting. At Dreamweaver Coffee, our goal is to provide you with fresh, locally roasted coffee right to your doorstep.
  • Water quality matters. If you buy quality beans and the coffee still tastes “bad”, the water you use may be the culprit. Always use filtered water whenever possible.
  • Measuring might be annoying but is key to perfecting a consistent, great-tasting latte.
  • Keep your espresso machine clean and follow manufacturer instructions for regular cleaning and maintenance


How to Make a Latte Without a Machine

If you don’t own or have easy access to an espresso machine, don’t worry. You can still make a bomb-ass latte at home or wherever with the tools you’d use to make regular coffee. It may not taste exactly like a latte made from a machine, but you can still get pretty darn close.

Since most people own drip coffee machines, we figured we’d cover the best way to make a latte using a drip machine to make your espresso. It’s far from ideal, but should work just fine. Let’s go over what you will need and how to make ‘em.

What you need:

  • Drip coffee machine
  • Whole espresso beans, or your favorite Dreamweaver Coffee roasted beans
  • Coffee grinder, preferably a burr grinder for better consistency
  • Milk
  • A microwave
  • Mason jar
  • Sugar and syrups as desired 

Other options:

  • If no drip machine, french press or pour-over works as well
  • Other means to steam milk: electric milk frother, saucepan + whisk
  • Other tools to froth milk: whisk or blender 
  • Pre-ground beans instead of whole beans (eliminates the need for a coffee grinder, but less fresh)

Instructions:

  1. Measure out the quantity of beans you need based on the amount of espresso you want to make. Since you’re using a regular drip machine to make espresso, you won’t be able to get the water pressure typically used to make espresso. However, you can compensate by using a much greater coffee to water ratio. In another article, we covered that 1 to 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 1 cup of water was the ideal ratio. For this, you’ll want to use at least a 6:1 coffee to water ratio, more being better. You need a strong cup of espresso as a good base for the latte.
  2. Grind your whole beans in a coffee grinder using a fine grind. As a tip, most pre-ground, store-bought coffee comes in a fine grind, so mimic that.
  3. Warm the cup you will be using to catch the espresso. We recommend running under hot water. This prevents your expresso from cooling while you steam and froth the milk.
  4. Brew your “espresso” from the drip machine
  5. Steam and froth the milk. Pour 1 to 2 cups of milk into a mason jar, put the lid on and shake until it froths up. Then, remove the metal lid and microwave the milk for 30 to 45 seconds.
  6. Pour the hot espresso into a glass of your choosing
  7. Slowly pour the steamed milk into the same glass. The froth will settle on top.
  8. [Optional] Add sugar, syrups, or other flavors as desired (cinnamon works great).
  9. [Optional] Take your best stab at latte art - trust us when we say this takes some practice.
  10. Enjoy your latte!

Tips:

  • All the same tips that were applicable to the espresso WITH a machine can be applied here as well

Now You Know How to Make a Latte Like a Pro

If you’re a coffee fanatic, there’s a high chance you love a good latte just as much as the rest of us. There’s no need to settle for a regular ol’ cup of coffee at home when you could make your own cafe-quality lattes with relative ease. At Dreamweaver Coffee, we understand that knowledge is power, and in case this, it’s the power to create your favorite coffee drink on-demand, your way.


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