What is a Latte at Starbucks (History of lattes, how to make a latte+ more FAQs)

Starbucks is the leader in offering coffee drinks such as the famous lattes. So, what is a latte at Starbucks?

We have all ordered or at least heard someone order a latte at Starbucks. A latte at Starbucks is a drink that contains a double espresso and steamed milk. It can be served either hot or iced. The latte dates back to the 17th century and has been served all through the years as a favorite drink among many. I have always appreciated a Caffe latte, as it is called in full, on most of my mornings. In this post, we shall give you the history of your favorite drink and you will even learn how to make one, so keep reading.

History of Latte

The name Caffe Latte is Italian as the drink originated in Italy. The name simply means coffee and milk. The coffee and milk combo has been on European breakfast tables for centuries. The name of this drink was first seen in an 1867 essay dubbed ‘Italian Journeys’ by William Howells. William had the pleasure to have the original latte in Venice, Italy before the modern variations were invented. In his days, the latte was made in Moka pots with steamed milk and espresso and no foam. In France, the drink was first mentioned in the 20th century and was called café au lait. The commercial version of the drink, however, was invented in America. If you go to an Italian restaurant and order a latte, you will be handed a glass of milk. The Austrian-Hungarian Empire called it the Kapuziner which was an equivalent of the traditional Italian cappuccino while the Germans called it the Milchkaffee.

Caffe Latte in America

The modern lattes that we commonly order at Starbucks were first made in California, United States. The drink was specifically made in Berkeley by an Italian barista based in California called Lino Meiorin. The invention was fuelled by the constant complaints of some Americans who found the then-famous cappuccino to be too strong. As was the tradition, most Italian homes made a drink of warmed and frothed milk that was added to the espresso to make what is known as cappuccinos.

The American market did not receive the drink well and it was modified by the addition of steamed milk to remove the edge. However, there were likely others who had made this drink before Lino Meiorin but were not recognized. When Starbucks first opened its doors in Seattle, Washington in 1971, the drink became popular in this state and spread across America in the 80s.

Latte and Politics

Politics have a way of getting into almost everything, and the lattes did not escape the political trap. In the past, calling people late drinkers provoked some political attacks in some Western Nations. This trend has continued to prevail in the political arena where conservative political commentators have time and again called their opponents Latte-drinking elites. This stemmed from the stereotype that drinking Caffe lattes was an elitist habit in the United States political scene. A study in 2018 proved this stereotype to be right when it was discovered that 16% of liberals take lattes. In the Canadian political scene, the latte-drinking culture is portrayed as an out-of-touch behavior and characterizes a common or ordinary Canadian.

How is Starbucks Latte made?

how to make a latte

Starbucks has served lattes to millions all over the world. The famous drink has been modified to suit the ever-changing tastes and preferences of its consumers. At Starbucks, lattes are served either hot or iced.

Hot lattes

Hot Starbucks lattes are made with steamed milk poured into a cup with two shots of espresso and a spoon of foam. If you want to whip up a cup at home, you will need a double shot espresso, milk frother, milk, saucepan, and stove. You will be required to heat the milk on the stove in your saucepan. When boiled, use a hand frother to produce the foam on some of the milk. In a Grande cup (16 FL OZ), pour two shots of espresso and add hot milk then finish off by adding the frothed milk. If you would like to sweeten, add sugar or honey to taste.

Iced Lattes

The iced version does not use steamed milk. All that is needed is a single shot espresso for a tall cup and a double for Grande and above. Baristas use 8 ounces of milk and ice to make iced latte. The espresso is added to the frothed milk and poured over ice. If you want a homemade version, you need to froth the milk to simulate the standard latte steamed milk.

If you need to go all the way out, you can add some latte art to your latte using frothed milk. You can make a heart shape or a flower. If you are having a hard time making the art with the foam itself, try out a stencil to sprinkle some cinnamon in the shape of your choice. You can also use cocoa powder for the same if you are not a fan of cinnamon. Japan has made it even easier with its latest invention of the specialized machine that uses the coffee extract to paint an image on the latte. If you have heard about the selfie foam art, then this is the machine that we are talking about.

Final Thoughts

The latte has been and continues to be the drink of choice among many in Europe, America, and the world at large. The drink continues to grace most breakfast tables but some people have enjoyed it in the evenings. Starbucks continues to serve this drink and has introduced many flavors including vanilla, cinnamon, and pistachio among others.


Are Starbucks lattes made with sugar?

No, the drink is made free of sugar and sweeteners are added by preference.

Is Latte good for weight loss?

No, a latte is high in fat and calories.

Is a latte stronger than coffee?

No, lattes are mild compared to normal coffee.

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