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Are you new to the coffee world? If so, you may have many questions about the widely popular latte. One of these questions you’re obviously curious about is this: is a latte hot or cold? Well, technically the answer is both.
Is a Latte Hot or Cold? The Quick Answer
You can drink lattes hot or cold. The cold version is called an Iced Latte, and the hot version is simply called a latte.
Both types are a good choice for individuals wanting to try a coffee-related drink for the first time. The reason for this is that a lot of milk is mixed in with the espresso, making the flavor more smooth. You also have the option of adding syrups and sweeteners too!
You’ll likely see an increase in coffee lovers drinking Iced Lattes during the warmer months, and the opposite will be likely the other way around.
The Origins of the Latte
The official name for a latte is “caffé latte”. The story goes that American tourists would come to explore what Italy has to offer, however, they would be faced with the dilemma of coffee being too rich and bitter.
To combat this, Italians began adding warm milk to the drink. The result was a smoother and sweeter coffee drink that was thoroughly enjoyed. Moving forward to the 1980s a latte became popular in Seattle, WA. Eventually, it spread across the entire U.S.
The Origins of the Iced Latte
It’s hard to pinpoint who first created the iced latte, although many historians agree that it was first made in the U.S. The story that follows doesn’t have much evidence behind it, but goes along the lines of this…
A lover of all things coffee had a major caffeine addiction that required him to drink at least 3 lattes a day. If he didn’t do this, he could not go about his daily life. To make consuming a latte more bearable during the warmer months, the iced latte was born.
Move forward to today, and iced coffee is widely drunk across the U.S. and in many parts of the world.
How Hot is a Normal Latte?
A typical latte that you purchase from a coffee shop will serve it at 160°F (approximately). The drink is a concoction of hot espresso, steamed milk, and a tiny layer of foam on the top.
On average, the espresso will be brewed at temperatures between 195-205°F. The hot milk on the other hand is a little less than this, reaching temperatures of 140-165°F.
How is an Iced Latte Made?
An iced latte is actually easier to make than a standard one. All you do is take the shot of espresso, add milk and ice, then stir the mixture together. Done!
Sometimes other ingredients are added to satisfy tastebuds, similar to a hot latte. For instance, sugar, honey, or syrups. However, the traditional way of making an iced latte doesn’t include these extra sweeteners.
Do “Warm” Lattes Exist?
Is a latte hot or cold? What about warm, you may ask?
This may sound like a silly question, but it isn’t. Warm lattes actually exist! Starbucks offered this drink to kids to reduce the chance of them burning their mouths. Milk is steamed to a temperature of 130°F rather than the usual heat of 140-165°F.
When milk is steamed at lower temperatures, a natural sweetness occurs from the lactose being broken down. If the temperature is too high, the opposite can happen where the sugar compounds of the milk are removed. The foam is also negatively affected at high temperatures, as the milk proteins are completely broken down.
Keep in mind that asking for a warm latte may result in the barista looking at you with a confused expression. To avoid this and to carry on your day without the embarrassment of this encounter sticking in your memory, ask for your latte to be made at 130°F.
If you make lattes in the comfort of your own home, it’s likely that you already make warm lattes. Mainly because of these two reasons:
- Equipment used to steam milk will typically produce lower temperatures.
- Baristas create coffee extremely fast. Non-professionals usually take a lot longer, which results in the drink being warm once it’s ready to drink.
Are “Extra Hot” Lattes a Thing?
It’s not totally uncommon for people to order a latte that is hotter than usual. In some cases, you may want to take your drink back to the office or somewhere else. Then it makes sense for the drink to be hotter so it’s the perfect temperature when the time comes to drink it. During the winter months, this method of making a latte is also used.
To make an extra hot latte, a barista can do a couple of things:
- Get the milk to 180°F when steamed
- Preheat the cup
- Give you the drink straight after its made
Although an extra hot latte may seem ideal for combating cold temperatures and traveling, there are some drawbacks. The overall flavor will lack the sweetness that’s key to a good-tasting latte. There’s also the possibility that you’ll experience a burnt taste from the milk.
Is a latte hot or cold? Nope, it’s burnt in this case.
My Latte is Too Cold, What Should I Do?
If you can’t seem to get the technique right at home, there are a few things you can do to get a barista-worthy latte that’s the right temperature.
Increase the temperature of the milk – Try steaming the milk at a higher temperature. Just be careful not to turn the temperature up too high, or you could ruin the flavors. We recommend not going any higher than 180°F.
Preheat the cup – Warming up the cup beforehand can help keep your latte in prime condition for longer.
Use a lid – Consider using a lid for your latte to keep the heat in for longer.
Reduce wait times – If you nail the coffee-making process by making sure both the steamed milk and espresso are ready at the same time,
Swap out your current cup – Not all cups are designed to retain heat. Try testing different cups to see if that’s the problem.
Are Lattes Bad For You?
We always say “everything in moderation”, and the same goes for lattes. The coffee element is the healthiest ingredient as it includes many natural nutrients and antioxidants. However, depending on what type of milk is used will determine how healthy it is. Whole milk contains more saturated fat than other options and has the chance of raising your cholesterol too.
You also need to think about the sweeteners that come with the drink. If you’re adding loads of sugar or syrup then overall the drink isn’t going to be particularly good for you. Natural sweeteners including honey would be your best option compared to using artificial sugars.
Ordering a Latte As a Newbie
It’s easy to forget that there’s a first time for everything. So, if you’re wanting to try a latte for the first time, this is how it’s done.
To start, ask for a latte when you want the hot version or an iced latte if you want the cold one. You’ll usually be asked what cup size you want. Although it can vary, typical sizes are small, medium, or large.
Next, tell the barista if you want your order decaf. Don’t worry about this step if not. Dairy milk is typically used, so feel free to mention your alternative milk choice if desired.
Lastly, ask them to add any syrups or sugar. Some coffee shops make you add the sugar yourself after you’ve got the drink.
How a Latte Differs From Coffee
A traditional coffee doesn’t have any milk added, so the flavor is very strong. In contrast, a latte is made from 1 part espresso and 2 parts steamed milk with a small amount of foam on top.
A latte is viewed as the more desirable choice if you’re experimenting with coffee drinks for the first time, as it’s a lot sweeter than coffee on its own.
There’s also the chance that you hate the taste of coffee altogether, which some people do. However, there’s a lot of caffeine in coffee. These individuals will still drink it, but instead, they will drink a latte with sweeteners to get rid of the coffee flavors.
If you ask us, we love the rich coffee tastes that tickle the tastebuds, but each to their own!
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