All milk and espresso based beverages will make use of steamed or frothed milk, and very rare just cold milk. Although not critical, using the right type of milk sometimes makes the difference between latte and espresso.
Frothed Milk vs Steamed Milk
Both steamed milk and frothed milk are obtained by using the steam wand from an espresso machine to heat the milk and foam it. The difference is the amount of bubbles introduced into the milk.
Frothed milk is literally a milk foam, whereas steamed milk is just slightly foamed, and more dense.
In order to obtain steamed milk, you need to introduce the steam wand just a little bit in the milk, and position it in an angle, so that the steam pressure creates a vortex in the milk. When the liquid reaches the perfect temperature, about 145 to 155 °F, stop steaming.
The procedure for frothing milk is similar, place the wand so it creates a vortex, and as the milk gets foamed on the surface, advance the steaming wand little by little, until you reach the bottom. The steaming wand only foams a thin milk layer, so you will have to move the wand to the bottom, so all the milk gets frothed. Don’t steam too long in one place, when the volume expanded, go further to the bottom.
What Is Latte
Latte is an espresso based milky drink, that contains more milk than a cappuccino.
The standard latte recipe is prepared in an 8 oz. cup, and contains:
- 1 or two shots of espresso
- Fill the rest of the 8 oz. cup with steamed milk, (around 5-6 oz.)
- Top up with a thin layer of frothed milk.
Latte is basically coffee with milk, and it originates in Italy, where it is called caffè latte. Latte is very popular because the frothed milk layer allows talented baristas to create beautiful draws in the coffee cup. Latte art has become very popular, and many baristas perfect their art to greatness.
Cappuccino is an espresso based drink, of Italian origin. Unlike latte, cappuccino is a stronger coffee, because it contains 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 frothed milk. Cappuccino has a rich and bold taste, as any espresso would, but is toned down by the steamed milk.
In fact latte is only popular in North America, in Europe latte is considered milk, and not coffee, (and considering the milk coffee ratio, seems right).