We have a confession to make… Thanks to third wave coffee, we’re addicted to lattes.
They have a nice, strong coffee taste, but they’re oh so creamy at the same time. Our favorite part is the layer of foam on top! No feeling is better than the milk foam mustache feeling while you’re sipping on a hot latte during the winter, it just warms my soul!
We love getting lattes from our local coffee shop—we’re suckers for some good latte art. But every once in a while, it’s nice to enjoy a latte in the comfort of our own home.
That’s why we’re so glad that we got an espresso machine and learned to make lattes a few years ago. If you want to drink lattes in your pajamas, then keep reading to learn how to make a latte!
The Anatomy of What’s Inside a Latte
Lattes are made with one shot of espresso and six to eight ounces of steamed milk. They’re topped with a thin layer of foam that’ll give you a nice milk mustache when you take a sip!
If you get an iced latte, you’ll get one shot of espresso, six to eight ounces of chilled milk, and a lot of ice. This is probably the easiest kind of latte to make at home because you don’t have to steam the milk.
Every coffee shop makes their lattes a little differently, but the recipes above are fairly standard. The only difference is really the quality of the ingredients that make all the difference in your experience with lattes.
If you want to have a go and make this yourself the best way to replicate them at home is with an espresso machine.
How to Make a Latte with an Espresso Machine
To make a truly authentic latte at home, you’ll have to use an espresso machine. Without one, you can’t make a real shot of espresso that has all of the rich, bold flavors and aromas you’re used to.
Espresso is made by forcing super pressurized hot water through tightly packed coffee grounds. The kind of pressure we’re talking about here is 9 bars, or a whopping 130 pounds per square inch of force! Sadly, that’s not something you can do at home with your French press.
What you’ll need to create a latte from home
If you’re ready to take the plunge and buy an espresso machine, you have a few options. You can get an automatic one like the Nespresso that uses pods to make the shots. Most models come with a milk frother that will steam or froth your milk at the touch of a button, too.
The Nespresso is like the Keurig of espresso machines, but it still produces pretty great drinks! We own one and we haven’t noticed much of a difference between the espresso we get at our favorite coffee shop and the shots this machine pops out.
But we’re not espresso connoisseurs, so your mileage may vary!
There’s also home espresso machines that are more like the ones coffee shops use. They range in price from around $50 to $500 or more. Here’s a whole list of espresso machines that are in the above price range we just mentioned.
How to use an espresso machine
To use these machines, you’ll have to grind your coffee beans into a fine powder and measure them with a scale to make sure you’re using the right amount. We recommend using this highly rated coffee grinder from Secura. Then you’ll have to pack the powder into the portafilter, which is that part of the espresso machine on the front that looks like an ice cream scoop. You’ll have to make sure you’ve packed the coffee grounds tightly and evenly to get a good shot.
Then you’ll have to turn on your machine and wait for it to heat up. Some people say that you only need to wait 5 or 10 minutes before making your shot, while others think espresso machines work best if you give them 30 to 45 minutes to heat up. We’ll let you decide on this one.
Once the machine is hot, you can make the espresso, which is called “pulling the shot.” From what we’ve heard, it takes a little bit of skill.
If you’re making an iced latte, you can just add the finished espresso to your ice and chilled milk. But if you’re making a hot one, you’ll need to steam the milk before you sit down and enjoy your drink.
That whole process seemed too intimidating and time intensive to us, so we went with the automatic espresso machine! There is no shame in deciding that making a latte from scratch is too much work.
How to Make a Latte without an Espresso Machine
If you’re like us, you don’t care whether or not your espresso is authentic 100% but you do care about a good tasting espresso nonetheless.
You just want to learn how to make a decent latte with the stuff you already have in your kitchen. That way you don’t have to spend $5 at the coffee shop every time you get a latte craving. Which, if you’re like us, is multiple times a day! Plus, the $5 adds up really fast…
You can actually make a good, strong cup of coffee in your French press and steamed milk in the microwave. You’ll even get a couple spoonfuls of foam you can use to top your homemade latte!
Making a latte in a french press at home
To make espresso in the French press, you’ll have to use double the amount of coffee beans you normally would. So for every cup of water you use, you’ll need two tablespoons of coffee beans.
You should also use dark roast beans or espresso beans and grind them up very finely. You can do that in a burr grinder.
Now that you’ve done that prep, you’re ready to make the espresso! Fill a kettle with water, bring it to a boil, and set it aside while you add the coffee grounds to your French press. Using an electric water kettle can make the process a lot faster too, in case you’re in a rush. Add a splash or two of the hot water to the ground coffee—doing this will help bring out its flavor and improve your brew.
Give it a few seconds and then add the rest of the water. Don’t stir it! That might ruin the flavor.
Shut the lid and steep the coffee for around five minutes. Then, push the plunger down nice and slow until it’s reached the halfway point. Pull it back up to the top and then push it all the way down to finish making your espresso.
This process is a little bit different from making regular coffee in the French press, but trust us—it’ll give you good results!
Making the steam milk for your latte at home
Now you’re ready to make the steamed milk! Grab your favorite kind of milk and a large mason jar with a lid.
First, fill up your mason jar halfway with milk. We like to put eight ounces of milk in ours, because that yields a nice, creamy latte. But if you’re working with a small mason jar, you’ll have to microwave the milk in batches. The jar can’t be more than halfway full, or else this trick won’t work.
Next, screw the lid on and start shaking the jar as hard as you can. Continue doing this for 30 to 60 seconds until the milk looks all frothy and has doubled in volume.
Take the lid off the jar before putting it in the microwave for 30 seconds. The heat from the microwave will stabilize the foam you just created while shaking the jar. So when you take the jar out of the microwave, you should see a thick layer of foam at the top!
To assemble your latte, measure out one ounce of the espresso and put it in the bottom of your coffee mug. Then pour the steaming hot milk in and go enjoy your coffee! You earned it.
Making lattes at home sounds a bit complicated, but we promise it’s easy after you’ve done it a few times. The best thing is that the latte gets better with each time, experience is wonderful.
Are you going to try your hand at making lattes at home? Let us know which one of these methods you’re going to use in the comments section below!