Do Lattes Have Coffee? (it’s not what you think)

Once you dive into the world of coffee, the number of drinks and variations can easily overwhelm you. The different brews, roasts, steamed, or iced drinks will have your taste buds on edge each time. When it comes to coffee and milk combinations, the latte takes the lead. But coffee enthusiasts often bash latte drinkers for not drinking real coffee. So let’s find out do lattes have coffee.

Topics Explored

  1. What is a traditional latte?
  2. Do they have coffee?
  3. What’s the difference between a latte & coffee?
  4. What are examples of lattes without coffee?
  5. Variations of lattes with coffee
  6. FAQ

What is a Traditional Latte?

A traditional latte combines a freshly brewed shot of espresso and steamed milk in a 1:2 ratio.

It comes in cups of 10 to 12 ounces, with a microfoam top and a slight caramel hint rounding out the strong qualities of espresso.

8 oz Latte
An 8 oz latte

The way we consume lattes today is considered an American invention dating back to the 1980s. But the roots take us back to Italy in the 1800s when people started making a coffee with milk for those who couldn’t bear the intensity of the espresso.

No, Don’t Order a Latte in Italy

Hitting a coffee bar in Italy and ordering a latte will have both you and your barista puzzled. In Italy, ordering a latte gets you a glass of cold milk. Make sure to order caffe latte for the real deal.


Do Lattes Have Coffee?

While the original version contains espresso, some modern takes on latte don’t include coffee. The term ‘Latte’ nowadays is used for any brew containing steamed milk.

Using the name of a popular drink like the latte helps chain coffee shops make a lesser know drink seem more ‘identifiable’.

Pulling Shot
Pulling espresso shot

What’s the Difference Between a Latte and Coffee?

Latte and coffee are both great drinks but completely different and easy to tell apart. The original latte is a drink made using solely espresso and steamed milk.

Coffee, on the other hand, is any kind of coffee beans, ground, and pulled through a variety of methods – drip coffee, espresso machine, Moka pot, a french press, etc.


What are Examples of Lattes Without Coffee?

You might be surprised to find out that some of the popular lattes are actually without coffee. Many people are confused, thinking that matcha lattes are regular lattes with some matcha added. Find out what’s in your latte below.

Chai Latte

Chai Latte

Chai latte is a version of the Indian Masala Chai. The name comes from the Hindi word Chai meaning tea(1).

It’s made by brewing black tea in milk with a blend of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and peppercorn. It gained popularity in Western culture in the 1990s.

Matcha Latte

Matcha Latte

Matcha is a unique green tea and superfood beaming with health benefits and rich green color. It originated in China and is originally made with water.

For matcha latte, the matcha powder is whisked with a few tablespoons of water and then topped with steamed milk.

Turmeric Latte

Tumeric Latte

Turmeric latte is often referred to as ‘golden milk’ for its health benefits and appearance. It originates in India as a folk remedy used for treating cold and sore throat.

It’s made by mixing turmeric with frothed milk and a pinch of black pepper.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice latte is the ultimate fall drink. Even though it got popularized by Starbucks, some versions don’t include coffee so that both caffeine intolerant adults and children can enjoy it.

Mix a cup of pumpkin puree with 1 quart of milk, add spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and a sweetener of choice. For a caffeine kick, you can also add matcha.

London Fog Latte

London Fog Latte

London Fog tea latte is an updated version of the classic Earl Grey tea. It’s made using black tea infused with lavender and bergamot as a base and mixed with steamed milk and a sweetener of your choice.

This twist on what’s considered an after-meal tea and the common latte is delicious as it is comforting. The London Fog Latte can be served hot or iced.


Variations of Lattes with Coffee

Good news for all the coffee lovers – lattes with coffee are still dominating the menus. Lattes with coffee can also be flavored and come in different sizes. Let’s see which lattes can provide you with that caffeine kick.

Piccolo latte with coffee
Piccolo Latte

1. Spanish Latte

The Spanish latte originated in the USA as a variation of previously known drinks with drip coffee and condensed milk.

Spanish latte is made with an espresso shot, steamed milk, and condensed milk. It’s sweeter and creamier than a regular latte, and you can also get it iced.

2. Piccolo Latte

The legend claims that Piccolo latte originated in Sydney when baristas started making small lattes to check how different roasts taste with milk(2). Unfortunately, today it’s hard to find in most coffee shops.

It’s made with a shot of espresso, two parts steamed milk, and topped with a layer of silky foam, served in a 6 oz cup.

3. Flavored-Lattes

Flavored lattes are a staple in chain coffee shops. The most popular flavors include Vanilla, Hazelnut, and Cinnamon, but Coconut, Toffee, and Chocolate are also often prepared.

They’re made with espresso, steamed milk, the syrup of choice, plus some toppings like caramelized hazelnuts, chocolate chips, or cinnamon.


Parting Thoughts: Do Lattes Have Coffee?

Do Lattes Have Coffee

So, in the end, do lattes have coffee? Lattes can come in a variety of versions, so there’s not a universal answer. Lattes made traditionally come with at least one to two shots of espresso.

Drinks made with steamed milk are often named and marketed as lattes to sound more familiar. Not all lattes have coffee, but only those made with espresso.


FAQ

Is a latte stronger than coffee?

Lattes can be stronger. A shot of espresso has the potency of a 12 oz brewed coffee. When a latte is made with one shot, it has the same strength as a 12 oz cup of brewed coffee(3). However, if you use two or more shots of espresso, it compares to drinking two or more cups of brewed coffee.

Do lattes have a lot of caffeine?

Lattes with coffee have caffeine due to the espresso, but the amount varies depending on the number of shots. Lattes without coffee can contain caffeine when made with black tea, matcha, or chocolate. However, lattes pack less caffeine punch than other espresso-based drinks like macchiato or cortado.

Are lattes healthier than coffee?

Some lattes can pack a punch of nutrients and therefore be considered healthier than coffee. Turmeric lattes, for example, are marketed as health tonics along with matcha latte. However, they do contain more fat from the milk and eventually sugar. Both coffee and latte can be healthy when not consumed excessively.

Verified Sources

Wondering where your info comes from? We totally understand. Hey Joe only obtains our information from reputable sources. Contents from this article are sourced from the following publications:

  1. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masala_chai
  2. Perfect Daily Grind: https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/03/what-is-a-piccolo-latte-how-do-i-make-it/
  3. Toomers Coffee: https://www.toomerscoffee.com/which-has-more-of-a-kick-a-latte-or-cup-of-coffee/