The world of milk-infused espresso drinks is an endless territory to explore. If you’re keen on a creamy dose of caffeine, you probably opt for a latte day in and day out. Why not switch things up with something even creamier and richer like the Breve? We’ll explain the differences between Breve vs Latte, so you’ll know what’s in your order.
What is a Breve?
The Breve is a variation of the latte – a hot espresso-based drink mixed with half and half instead of milk. It’s made with one to two shots of espresso and steamed half and half. Half and half is a combination of whole milk and cream with a 10-12% fat content, making the Breve creamier and heavier.
The Breve is an American version of the latte. The name means short or concise in Italian, which is an accurate description of the preparation method. Breve’s beginnings are linked to the introduction of the latte in the US.
How do you pronounce Breve?
Since it’s an Italian word, you might wonder how to pronounce breve correctly. Avoid stammering it in front of your barista; simply pronounce it as “brev-ay”. Don’t get confused; it’s often referred to as Cafe Breve or Breve Latte.
What is a Latte?
Latte is an espresso-based drink made with espresso and steamed milk. You can get it with all types of milk, from plant-based to whole milk. The original recipe calls for a shot or two of espresso and steamed milk of choice, and it’s often topped with milk froth and some latte art.
The latte originated in Italy a short time after the invention of the espresso but gained more popularity in the 1950s. It got the name after the Italian reference cafe a latte which means coffee with milk. Today it’s one of the most popular milk-infused espresso drinks.
What’s the Difference Between Breve vs Latte?
The distinct difference between Breve vs latte lies in the type of milk used in the process. The Breve is an American version of the latte where the milk is switched for half and half. This leads to modified texture, taste, and caloric value.
|Served hot||Served hot|
1/2 steamed half and half
1/4 half and half froth
3/4 steamed whole milk
Topped with milk froth
Stronger coffee flavor
Slight hint of caramel
Less coffee flavor
|Lighter in color. Half & half foam head is thicker.||Thinner layer of foam on the top. Homogenous color of espresso with milk.|
|High fat content and high calories.||High amount of calories.|
The critical difference between the two drinks is that half and half is used for the Breve instead of milk. It consists of ¼ espresso, ½ steamed half and half, ¼ half and half froth. The latte is made with ¼ espresso, ¾ steamed whole milk, topped with milk froth.
The half and half makes the Breve creamy, while the steaming burns some of the sugars in the milk giving it a slight caramel hint. It also has a more pungent coffee taste. The latte is milky and slightly sweet due to the high milk content. It has a very mild coffee flavor.
The Breve is easy to recognize – the thickness of the half and half separates cream and espresso in layers. It’s light and looks more like a dry cappuccino. The latte is homogenous; the milk is mixed with the espresso and has a thinner foam layer than the Breve. Both drinks are served hot.
The Breve is an absolute winner when it comes to higher calorie content. One Breve has almost triple the calories of a latte. The half and half contain up to 12% fat, which is where most of the calories come from. For comparison, the whole milk used in lattes has only 3.5% fat.
12 oz Breve (1)
- Calories : 420 cals
- Fat: 36 grams
- Carbs: 15 grams
12 oz Latte (2)
- Calories : 150 cals
- Fat: 6 grams
- Carbs: 15 grams
How Do You Make A Breve?
Breve is not a standard coffee order for many, so your favorite coffee shop might not offer it. Why not try and make it yourself? As the name says, the process is short, simple and the ingredients are probably in your pantry.
- Espresso: 2 shots
- Half and half: 4 oz (or 6 oz if you like it creamier)
- Water (enough for your espresso machine)
- Start with half and half straight from the fridge*. Fill your frothing pitcher with 4 to 6 oz of half and half.
- Place your espresso machine's steam wand just below the surface, and turn the valve. You'll hear a slight hissing and tiny bubbles will start forming.**
- Turn off the steamer before it reaches 150°F (if you have a thermometer) or just before the pitcher becomes too hot to handle.
- Set it aside to let the half and half cool so that the foam will stiffen.
- Meanwhile, brew a double shot using your favorite coffee beans and place it in a mug.
- Take the steamed half and half, and hold the foam aside with a spoon and pour over espresso. This allows a free flow of half and half. (If you want a milder coffee, you can prepare up to 6 oz of steamed half and half.)
- At the very end, push the foam out of the pitcher with your spoon - don't scoop it!
- The half and half is thick, so it will create separate layers of foam and coffee. Your Breve is ready to be enjoyed!
* For the Breve, you'll need to chill the half and half. Cold half and half is essential. If it's been standing on your countertop at room temperature, it’s not going to foam correctly.
** Use this guide to learn to how to steam milk.
In Summary – Breve vs Latte
The differences between Breve vs latte come from the substitution of milk with half and half. The Breve uses half and half, making it creamier, richer, and sweeter tasting while still holding a strong coffee flavor.
The latte is the traditional milk and espresso drink made with whole milk. It’s less creamy, more homogenous looking, and less caloric.
Breve vs Latte FAQs
Breve milk is essentially half and half – the milk used for preparing Breve coffee. If you ask for espresso with breve milk, your barista will use half and half. Some coffee shop chains like Starbucks use Breve as a reference to half and half, not coffee. Be precise when ordering, or you can end up with a cup of steamed half and half.
Both drinks are different. The Breve is more of a dessert drink that some might find heavy. It’s packed with calories, so it’s not diet-friendly, but it’s tasty and creamy. Lattes have fewer calories, can be made with plant-based kinds of milk or flavored with some syrup.
Some sources will claim Breve is okay on a keto diet while others will tell you to stay away. The keto diet focuses on burning fat for energy, and the Breve has a lot of it. Half and half also has a low carb content (about 1 g per tablespoon). Regular milk has sugars and carbs, but the half and half used in Breve is only 50% milk. If you’re on Keto and want to use Breve in your cup of joe, use it sparingly. But most importantly, take note of its nutritional content and decide if it’s right for you.
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