Espresso vs Latte

For a newcomer in the coffee world, the numerous types of coffee drinks may seem confusing and overwhelming. Well, don’t worry! We can help you understand the basics so that you can have a solid first grasp. In this article, we will see the differences between two popular coffee drinks, esperesso vs latte.

Continue reading below if you want to find out more about:
– What are espresso and latte,
– How to make espresso and latte,
– The distinctive characteristics of each drink, and
– Which one that is more recommended for different types of people.

What is Espresso?
Before you take the wrong idea, it is important to point out that “espresso” is not a specific type of coffee beans or a roast type. Instead, espresso refers to the method of preparation. It uses finely ground coffee which is tightly tamped or packed into a portafilter. Afterwards, high-pressure water is forced to go through the grounds to extract the flavors and oils into a small yet concentrated amount of liquid. See also: Espresso vs Regular Coffee.

So, it is actually a misconception to think of espresso as a dark, bitter, burnt-flavored coffee roast. It is not a roast at all. Espresso may be made using any varietal and any roast. More often than not, espresso is made from a blend of several varietals and roasts to create a rich and bold flavor – it is not necessarily bitter.Espresso is typically served in “shots”. It is served in a small cup or glass, usually 1-oz or 2-oz.

This is in contrast with regular coffee that most Americans are familiar with, which are made by pouring hot water onto ground coffee while using a paper filter. Espresso originated in Italy, and became popular across in the Europe before spreading all around the world.

Characteristics of Espresso
Espresso has a layer of crème on the top which contains the oils from the coffee. However, the different layers and crème may start to blend after about ten seconds. This is why people don’t wait very long to drink the espresso once it is served. Some others prefer to just stir the espresso, mixing the layers into one.

The flavor of espresso is typically strong, rich, and bold. It is often associated with bitterness and sourness. It may have some sweetness, too. However, the overall flavor is actually quite complex, and it heavily depends on the varietals and roasts used. Hence, espresso is great for coffee lovers who want to taste and enjoy the full strength of a blend or varietal.

As explained by Wikipedia, due to the concentrated extraction, espresso typically has higher caffeine content per volume. However, the total caffeine amount is actually lower than regular coffee. This is because espresso is served in a small amount. Espresso is used as a base for various drinks, including latte.

How to Make Espresso
Espresso is typically made by using an espresso machine. You need a specialized machine in order to generate the necessary pressure to drive the water through the tamped ground coffee. There are fully manual models that are loved by dedicated enthusiasts. But an electrical machine with at least a 15-bar pressure pump is easier to use and already able to deliver good espresso.

First of all, water treatment is a very important first step. The water should be neither too hard nor too soft. It should be filtered, but it should not be distilled if you don’t want to damage the boiler. Now fill the reservoir of the espresso machine with the water. Next, turn on the machine and let the machine boil the water.

Put a sufficient amount of ground coffee into the portafilter. You should use finely ground coffee. Tamp them until they clump loosely and look powdery while still feeling gritty when rubbed. Afterwards, put the portafilter to the grouphead and start brewing. Usually, we use 2 fluid ounces or 30 grams of water for a shot of espresso.

Well, there are instant espresso products as well. The instant coffee comes as powder or granules. Simply mix a spoon of the coffee with some hot water. This is indeed very convenient and practical, but the flavor is not as good as the real thing. Not too bad if you just need a quick espresso shot.

What is Latte?
Latte has become a very popular coffee drink in the United States and also in many countries around the world. This is probably because of the sweet, mellow flavor. Latte, also known as café latte or caffelatte, is made by mixing espresso with steamed milk. Although classic latte is served hot, many popular variants may come as cold or iced beverages.

There are several minor variations on Latte. It is also known as Café Au Lait or Café Con Leche, depending on whether the coffee shop is channeling French or Spanish coffee drinks. They are basically the same, espresso with steamed milk, though the amounts may slightly differ.

Note that the term “latte” has also been used to refer to several non-coffee drinks that use steamed milk. They use different bases, such as matcha, masala chai, mate, turmeric, soy milk, or almond milk. To avoid any confusion when talking to someone who isn’t a coffee enthusiast, try to refer to the coffee drink specifically by “caffe latte”.

Characteristics of Latte
Latte usually has a thin layer of milk foam on the top. However, this is not obligatory; this is more of an optional addition. The milk foam allows the barista to create a latte art. However, you may ask your latte to have no milk foam. Without the milk foam, it is officially known as “flat white”.

The color of latte vs espresso is brown, but it may vary from light brown to dark brown. It depends on how much coffee that you use for the drink. It also has a smooth, somewhat silky texture that comes from the milk.

Latte has a smooth, sweet, and mellow flavor. It still has noticeable coffee flavor, but it has been toned down by the milk. It no longer tastes extremely bitter or acid. Due to the reduced bitterness and acidity, this drink is suitable for people who like coffee but can’t stand the full strength.

How to Make Latte
To make a simple serving of latte, you just need some espresso and steamed milk. You can read the steps above to make your own espresso. Meanwhile, for the steamed milk, you can actually use any milk, although 2% milk is often more preferred due to the balanced flavor and texture.

Usually, latte is served in a 240-ml cup or glass. It uses either one shot or two shots of espresso, but you may use more shots if you want extra caffeine. Pour the espresso first, then add the steamed milk until the cup is almost full. Finally, you can add a thin layer (about 12 mm thick) of foamed milk on the top if you prefer.

The original latte is not sweetened. However, in the United States, latte is often heavily sweetened with at least 3% sugar. So, if you want to avoid excessive sugar intake, making your own latte without sugar is a great idea.

Espresso vs Latte

EspressoLatte
- Made by forcing pressurized water through a pack of finely ground coffee- Made by adding steamed milk onto espresso
- Often used as a base for other coffee drinks- Uses espresso as the base
- Rich, strong, and bold flavor- Sweet, smooth, and mellow with a toned down coffee flavor
- May be bitter and acidic- Not really bitter or acidic
- Suitable for people who want to taste the full strength of a varietal or blend- Suitable for people who enjoy coffee with a lower strength

Conclusion
Espresso is a preparation method which uses pressurized water to extract finely ground coffee. Espresso has a rich, strong, and bold flavor. This coffee is suitable for coffee lovers who want to taste the full strength of a varietal or blend. On the other hand, latte is a coffee drink made from espresso and steamed milk. Latte is sweet, smooth, and mellow with a toned down coffee flavor. It is great for people who enjoy coffee with a lower strength.

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