Explaining the Differences Between a Latte and Coffee – Barista Tips & Tricks

Are you a coffee lover looking for the perfect beverage to satisfy your cravings? Whether you’re grabbing a brew from your local cafe or making it in your own kitchen, knowing the difference between latte and coffee can help you decide which one is best for you. Both are brewed with hot water that comes into contact with ground beans, yet offer distinct flavor profiles depending on how they’re prepared. Here I’ll explain what sets apart these two caffeinated beverages from each other in detail.

Definition of a Latte

A latte is a popular coffee beverage that originated in Italy. The word “latte” is derived from the Italian caffè latte, which means “milk coffee.”. It is made by combining espresso with steamed milk and a small layer of foam on top. The espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee made by forcing pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee beans. The steamed milk, which is mixed with the espresso, contributes to the creamy texture and sweetness of the drink.

The proportion of espresso to milk can vary depending on personal preference, but a typical latte is made with one or two shots of espresso and around 6-8 ounces of steamed milk. Lattes are traditionally served in a tall, transparent glass that can be further customized with syrups like vanilla, caramel or cinnamon for an extra kick of flavor. Whether you’re looking to add more sweetness or spice to your latte experience – the possibilities are endless!

Definition of Coffee

Coffee is a popular beverage made from the roasted seeds of the Coffea plant. The Coffea plant is native to tropical regions of Africa, but is now grown in many parts of the world. The beans are harvested, processed, and then roasted to varying degrees to produce different flavors and strengths of coffee. Coffee can be brewed in a variety of ways, including drip brewing, espresso, French press, and more. It is typically consumed hot, but can also be served cold or blended with ice to make a refreshing iced coffee. In addition to its stimulating effects due to the presence of caffeine, coffee is also enjoyed for its rich flavor and aroma.

Ingredients: Latte vs. Coffee

difference between latte and coffee

The main ingredients in a latte and coffee are the same, which are coffee and water. However, a latte also includes steamed milk and a small amount of foam, while coffee is typically served black or with a small amount of milk and sugar added to taste. 

In a latte, the espresso is the base of the drink and is combined with steamed milk, which is created by heating and frothing milk with a steam wand. The milk is added to the espresso in varying proportions, depending on the desired strength and flavor of the latte. A small amount of foam is then added on top of the milk to create a creamy texture.

Coffee, on the other hand, is brewed by pouring hot water over ground coffee beans, which extracts the flavor and caffeine from the beans. The resulting beverage can be served black, or with a small amount of milk and sugar added to taste. 

In summary, while both latte and coffee contain coffee and water, a latte includes steamed milk and foam, while coffee is typically served black or with a small amount of milk and sugar added to taste.

Brewing Process: Latte vs. Coffee

The brewing process for a latte and coffee is different due to the addition of milk in a latte. Here is a brief overview of the brewing process for each:


1. Start by brewing a shot or two of espresso using an espresso machine.

2. Steam and froth milk using a steam wand on the espresso machine.

3. Pour the steamed milk into the espresso, holding back the foam with a spoon.

4. Spoon the foam on top of the milk, creating a layered effect.


1. Grind coffee beans and place them in a coffee filter.

2. Heat water to the desired temperature (typically between 195-205°F or 90-96°C).

3. Pour the hot water over the coffee grounds, allowing the coffee to drip into a carafe or cup.

4. Add milk and sugar to taste, if desired.

As you can see, the process for making a latte involves both brewing espresso and steaming milk, while the process for making coffee involves simply brewing coffee with hot water. The addition of milk in a latte also requires a specialized espresso machine with a steam wand for heating and frothing the milk.

Taste: Latte vs. Coffee

The taste of a latte and coffee can vary widely depending on the type of beans used, the brewing method, and the addition of any milk, cream, or flavorings. However, here are some general differences in taste between the two beverages:


  • A latte has a rich, creamy texture due to the steamed milk.
  • The espresso shots add a strong coffee flavor that is balanced out by the sweetness of the milk.
  • If syrups or flavorings are added, the taste can vary widely and be customized to the person’s preferences.


  • A regular coffee made by drip brewer or French press has a simpler, less complex taste profile than a latte.
  • The flavor of the coffee beans comes through more prominently in black coffee than in a latte, where the milk may mask some of the coffee flavor.
  • Different brewing methods can produce different flavors, such as a French press resulting in a fuller-bodied and stronger coffee flavor than a drip brewer.

Ultimately, taste is subjective and varies depending on personal preferences. Some people gravitate toward the rich, creamy flavor of a latte, while others prefer the simpler taste of black coffee.

Cost: Latte vs. Coffee

difference between latte and coffee

The cost of a latte and coffee will vary depending on various factors like the quality of the beans, the location of the cafe or coffee shop, and the size of the cup or glass. However, generally speaking, a latte is usually more expensive than a regular coffee due to the addition of milk and espresso.

The cost of a latte will depend on factors such as the location, quality of beans, and if any flavorings are added. A regular latte can cost anywhere between $2 to $5, with some specialty or gourmet lattes costing even more. Additionally, the cost will vary depending on the size, with larger servings costing more.

On the other hand, the cost of a regular coffee is generally less than the cost of a latte. A cup of black coffee in a cafe or coffee shop can typically cost between $1 to $3, again dependant on the location, type of coffee, and serving size.

At home, the cost of both latte and coffee will depend on the cost of the coffee beans or grounds, milk, and any flavorings used. Making a latte at home requires an espresso machine, which means higher upfront costs, while making regular coffee requires a drip coffee maker or a French press which are less expensive. This makes brewing a regular coffee at home less expensive than making a latte at home.

Can you suggest any variations of a latte that I can try?

Certainly! There are many variations of a latte that you can try, depending on your taste preferences. Here are a few ideas:

1. Flavored Latte – You can add flavored syrups such as vanilla, caramel, hazelnut or chocolate to your latte to give it a unique taste. 

2. Iced Latte – An iced latte is a refreshing drink that is perfect for hot summer days. You can make it by pouring espresso over ice and then adding cold milk.

3. Mocha Latte – A mocha latte is made by adding chocolate syrup or cocoa powder to the espresso and then adding steamed milk and foam.

4. Cinnamon Latte – A cinnamon latte is made by adding cinnamon syrup or ground cinnamon to the espresso and then adding steamed milk and foam.

5. Matcha Latte – A matcha latte is made by whisking matcha powder with hot water and then adding steamed milk and foam. 

6. Honey Lavender Latte – This latte is made by adding honey and lavender syrup to the espresso, and then adding steamed milk and foam. 

These are just a few examples of the many variations of a latte that you can try. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and ingredients to find your perfect latte!

Can you suggest any variations of a coffee that I can try?

Of course! There are many variations of coffee that you can try, depending on your preferences. Here are a few ideas:

1. Cold Brew Coffee – Cold brew coffee is brewed with cold water over a period of 12-24 hours, resulting in a smooth and less acidic flavor. It’s perfect for hot days and can be served over ice.

2. Espresso – Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that is made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans. It has a strong, bold flavor and is the base for many coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos.

3. Pour Over Coffee – Pour over coffee is made by pouring hot water over a filter filled with coffee grounds. It results in a clean and bright flavor, and allows you to control the strength of the coffee.

4. Turkish Coffee – Turkish coffee is a traditional method of brewing coffee that involves simmering finely ground coffee beans in a pot with water and sugar. It results in a strong, thick and sweet brew.

5. Vietnamese Iced Coffee – Vietnamese iced coffee is made by brewing strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk and serving it over ice. It has a sweet and creamy flavor that is perfect for those who enjoy sweetened coffee.

6. Irish Coffee – Irish coffee is made by adding a shot of whiskey and a spoonful of brown sugar to hot coffee, and then topping it with whipped cream. It’s a perfect after-dinner drink and has a rich and decadent flavor.

These are just a few examples of the many variations of coffee that you can try. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different brewing methods and flavors to find your perfect cup of coffee!


When trying to decide in difference between a latte and a coffee, the most important factor is personal preference. Both drinks offer caffeine to help get you through your day, but the latte is much smoother and creamier than regular coffee. It can also be customized with different flavors and milks to suit individual tastes. Latte art adds an extra element of sophistication to this beverage that can’t be matched by a regular cup of coffee. While lattes may be slightly pricier than a standard cup of java, they sure make for an enjoyable way to switch things up! Start your morning routine off right – take some time out of your day and enjoy one today!

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Can I make a latte with non-dairy milk?

Yes, you can definitely make a latte with non-dairy milk! In fact, many coffee shops now offer non-dairy milk options for their latte drinks. Non-dairy milk such as almond milk, soy milk, oat milk and coconut milk can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk in a latte.

To make a non-dairy latte, you can follow the same basic steps as you would for a regular latte. Start by pulling a shot of espresso into your cup, then heat and froth your preferred non-dairy milk using a steam wand. Pour the steamed milk over the espresso, holding back the foam with a spoon, and then spoon the foam on top of the milk.

Do lattes have more caffeine than coffee?

No, lattes do not typically have more caffeine than coffee. The amount of caffeine in a latte will depend on the type and strength of espresso used to make it, as well as the size of the drink. A single shot of espresso typically contains around 50-75mg of caffeine, while an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee can have anywhere from 80-100mg of caffeine. Therefore, a standard 8-ounce latte made with one shot of espresso is likely to have around 50-75mg of caffeine. That said, some coffee shops may add extra shots of espresso to their lattes, which can increase the amount of caffeine in the drink.

Will a latte keep me awake?

Yes, a latte can definitely help to keep you awake if you are feeling tired or drowsy. The caffeine in the espresso helps to stimulate your nervous system and give you an energy boost, while the milk provides a source of protein that helps to sustain your energy levels. However, it is important to remember that drinking too much coffee can cause unpleasant side effects such as nervousness and jitteriness. If you are looking for a way to stay awake without the caffeine, try drinking a decaffeinated latte or having a glass of warm milk with some honey instead. This will help to keep you feeling alert and energized without any of the potential side effects associated with too much caffeine.

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