I am a full-time barista and I love what I do. I am going to address some questions that I heard every day about how Starbucks makes lattes. By definition, a latte is composed of shots of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. What makes a latte different from other espresso based beverages is not only its ingredients, but the way it is assembled. Starbucks has its own recipe and steps.
The Basic Starbucks Latte Recipe
The components of a hot latte are espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Starbucks baristas use 2% low fat milk unless the customer requests something else.
When milk is steamed, it is aerated to create the rich, creamy texture that all latte drinkers know and love. The aerating process actually makes the milk a bit sweeter. Foam is a by-product of this process and it has a unique texture that people tend to either love or hate. The best way I can describe it is to say it’s aptly named. It’s, well, foamy.
A Starbucks barista makes a latte by pouring shots of espresso directly into the cup. Then they pour in the steamed milk and finally top it off with a spoonful of foam. The espresso and the steamed milk completely mix together and the foam adorns the top.
An iced latte isn’t terribly different. Simply put, cold milk substitutes for steamed milk and ice for foam. Shots of espresso are poured directly into the cup, cold milk is added, and the beverage is finished off with a scoop of ice. A plain iced latte might not be quite as creamy or sweet as a hot one, since the milk is not steamed. Baristas use 2% low fat milk unless another type is requested.
While the table above shows the standard amount of syrup for each drink size, baristas can adjust the amount upon request. Flavors can also be mixed. For instance, Starbucks doesn’t actually offer a French Vanilla flavor, but baristas can make it by mixing vanilla and hazelnut syrups.
Here are the syrup flavors that Starbucks offers:
- vanilla (available sugar-free)
- caramel (available sugar-free)
- cinnamon dolce (available sugar-free)
- hazelnut (available sugar-free)
- toffee nut
- peppermint (available sugar-free seasonally)
- classic (a mixture of sugar and water also called simple syrup)
There are so many ways to make a Starbucks latte extra fancy and delicious. Here are some toppings to choose from.Whipped Cream – Starbucks baristas make the whipped cream in-store with heavy cream and vanilla syrup. It’s obviously not whipped by hand, but it IS fresh and delicious. Generally, adding whipped cream to a
- Whipped Cream Starbucks baristas make the whipped cream in-store with heavy cream and vanilla syrup. It’s not whipped by hand, but it is fresh and delicious. Generally, adding whipped cream to a latte means the foam will be left off.
- Caramel Drizzle This sweet, thick caramel sauce is standard on a caramel macchiato but can be requested for any drink.
- Mocha Drizzle The same sauce used to flavor a mocha, this is a nice addition if you’re looking for just a little bit of chocolate.
- Chocolate Powder
- Vanilla Powder
- Dolce Sprinkles A delicious combination of cinnamon and sugar.
- Caramel Brulee Topping Crushed hard candy with a smoky, caramel flavor.
- Chocolate Curls A seasonal holiday topping made from dark chocolate.
- Sea Salt I’ve never had someone ask for this without the Caramel Drizzle it’s usually paired with. The combination is amazing and definitely my favorite topping.
- Pumpkin Spice I’m told that this powder is made of traditional pumpkin pie ingredients.
- Molasses Drizzle A very strong flavor!
- Italian Roast Drizzle A sweet yet super coffee-flavored drizzle that seasonally tops the Cafe Espresso Frappuccino.
- Cookie Crumbles Little pieces of chocolate cookies, this topping usually accompanies the seasonal Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino.
- Caramel Crunchies I’m not sure what else to call these, but they top the Caramel Ribbon Crunch and give it the crunch!
- Flavored Whipped Cream Starbucks offers flavored whipped creams seasonally. Chocolate is usually available in the summer, spiced with gingerbread during the holiday season. Caramel and espresso flavors were introduced in 2014.