Latte Vs Coffee: Which Brew Tastes Best + Key Differences

Ah, coffee! This versatile and energizing drink can be made in a variety of ways. One of the most popular is the latte. With a whole array of syrups to change its flavor, and of course the signature art on top, there’s a lot to attract. 

But how is it different from a regular old cup of coffee, and what do you need to make them? This guide on brewed coffee vs. latte has all the answers! 

The biggest similarity between regular coffee and latte is the basic ingredients needed; milk and coffee.

The main difference is the method used to create the drink, which influences the final taste.

Header

Coffee 

Latte 

Ingredients  

Just two simple ingredients:

  • Boiling water 
  • Roasted coffee grounds 

Three key ingredients: 

  • Single or double espresso shot
  • Steamed milk
  • A light layer of foam 

Hot or Cold 

Coffee is typically served hot, but iced coffee is served in most coffee shops over summer

Lattes are served hot or cold and iced lattes are one of the most popular summer ice coffee options.

Method 

Brewing amazing coffee is simple:

Pour or drip boiling water through coffee grinds. 

Lattes are a bit more complex:

Pour steamed milk over an espresso shot (or two shots) and top with foam.

Caffeine content 

A strong coffee has 70-100mg of caffeine. 

The caffeine content varies depending on the roast level of the coffee bean. Blonde or light roast has a more caffeine than dark roast coffee bean.  

A regular latte has 100-120mg because the espresso coffee is stronger and therefore has more caffeine.

Again, the espresso caffeine content will vary depending on whether you use lighter or darker roast coffee beans. 

Calories

A regular black coffee has 0 calories.

Added whole milk is 30-50 calories, and sugar will add more on top.

A latte coffee has 150-200 calories.

The calories mostly come from the steamed milk.

Taste 

Black coffee is bitter and slightly acidic. 

Milk, creamer, or sugar are often added to sweeten the coffee drink.

Lattes are sweeter and creamier than drip coffee.

This is because it has more milk compared to other coffee drinks.

Time to prepare 

Regular coffee drinks are quick and easy - it only takes a few minutes to make a regular cup of coffee.  

Lattes are fairly quick - one espresso takes between 20 - 30 seconds, and the milk is steamed for 30 - 40 seconds. 

Variations 

Sugar, milk, and flavored syrups can be added to alter the taste. 

Sugar and flavored syrups can be added to alter the taste. Chocolate shavings may also be added on top. 

Artistic expression 

There's no real room for artistic expression with your regular cup of coffee. 

Fancy designs can be created by artistically pouring the milk. 

  • Latte Vs Regular Coffee
    Latte is creamier and sweeter than regular brewed coffee because of the high volume of steamed milk. It also requires a slightly fancier method to make.
  • Iced Coffee Vs Iced Latte
    Iced coffee is made by pouring a regular brewed coffee over ice. An iced latte coffee is made with one shot of espresso, cold milk and no foam, so it isn't as creamy as a regular latte.
  • Chai Latte Vs Coffee
    Chai lattes are made with black tea instead of coffee grinds, and mixed with herbs and spices. Coffee is not usually served with spices, but it could be fun to experiment with some (ginger or star anise work well).
ice milk coffee

What Is Coffee? (Overview + How Is It Made?) 

The word ‘coffee’ is used to cover a variety of drinks, which are all made using roasted and finely ground coffee beans. 

These brown coffee beans begin life as plant seeds which are transformed into the classic morning drink we know and love.

Brewed coffee is made by mixing coffee grinds and boiling water. 

Most people also choose to add sugar, milk, or coffee creamer to lessen the bitter coffee flavor, and there are a variety of other additions designed to sweeten the taste. 

The caffeine content in the roasted coffee beans, makes it a perfect stimulant, and many people enjoy coffee drinks in the morning to perk themselves up. 

It is possible to make a decaffeinated version of your favorite coffee drinks using special decaf beans. Just ask your local coffee shop barista for this option and they should be able to help.

coffee grains

There are a few different methods used for making coffee grounds into your favorite brown nectar. If you order a simple, basic cup of black coffee, the process used is likely to be either drip coffee or French press.

Drip coffee is popular due to its cheap and easy methodology of allowing hot water to flow through the grounds and drip down. That's why more coffee shops have drip coffee as the cheapest option.  

Origins

It’s not known for certain exactly who first brewed coffee as we know it today. The coffee forests were first found in Ethiopia, and by the 15th century, coffee had spread to the Arabian peninsula. It was here that brewing coffee became really popular, and where it was first cultivated and traded before it took over the rest of the world. 


What Is A Latte? (Overview + How They Are Made)

Every coffee shop boasts a range of espresso drinks, and all the coffee recipes basically have the same ingredients- a shot of espresso and foamed milk. The latte is probably the most popular espresso drink around, and you can order it from any coffee shop.

The latte, like many espresso drinks, has Italian origins. 'Caffe latte' means milk with coffee in Italian, however if you just ask for a 'latte' in Italy you'll be served a cup of cold milk!

Variations of the latte coffee can be found all around Europe. The French call it the cafe au lait, the Spanish cafe con leche, and it's sometimes confused with a flat white (even though it has more coffee). However, the 'latte' as we most often know it is the Americanized version which is just espresso and steamed milk, with added milk foam. 

A modern latte is made with:

  • ⅓ espresso coffee 
  •  ⅔ steamed milk
  • small layer of foam 

The bold shot of espresso gives a noticeable hit of caffeine, but the steamed milk balances out the flavor to give this coffee drink a pretty mild taste. Even with a double shots of espresso it's still easy to drink, though obviously there is more caffeine. 

It's considered one of the best espresso coffee options because it works well with a range of different flavors and you'll usually find at least a few options in your local coffee shop.

Popular latte coffee options include:

  • caramel latte
  • oat milk latte
  • vanilla latte 
  • chai latte
  • Cinnamon dolce iced coffee latte
  • Honey oatmilk iced coffee latte

The layer of foam which tops the drink is often used by baristas to create latte art. Latte art is created by pouring the milk to create patterns on the top of the espresso coffee. Hearts, swans, and ferns are among the most popular designs.  

Origins

Mixing milk with coffee has been a common occurrence across Europe for centuries. While the terminology for caffe latte came from Italy along with the crucial ingredient of the espresso shot, their version of the drink is a little different from the method used commonly across the US. 


How To Make Coffees & Lattes At Home 

Regular coffee and cafe lattes can be made at home. Here is how to make amazing coffee and lattes if you don’t have a coffee machine. 

Brewing Coffee 

To start brewing pour over coffee (drip coffee made without an espresso machine) you will need: 

  • A dripper  
  • A filter 
  • A carafe 
  • A spoon 
  • Roasted coffee grounds  
  • Cold water (which is then heated) 
  • Milk and sugar, as desired 
  1. 1
    First, boil 20oz of water and set up your dripper on top of the carafe. 
  2. 2
    Add the filter to the dripper and put your ground coffee in the filter. You will need around 30g of coffee grounds, depending on how strong you like your coffee. 
  3. 3
    Pour the hot water over the coffee grounds, being sure to cover all areas evenly. Wait for the water to drip through to the carafe. 
  4. 4
    Pour into a cup, add milk and sugar as desired, and enjoy! 

Making A Latte 

To make a latte at home without an espresso machine, you will need: 

  • A French press or cafetiere 
  • A milk frother, or a second cafetiere 
  • A spoon 
  • A jug 
  • Milk 
  • Hot water 
  • Finely ground roasted coffee beans 
  • Syrup, as desired 
  1. 1
    Using a cafetiere with finely ground beans can help you make a good espresso substitution. Add the grounds to your cafetiere, add boiled water and let it brew for a few minutes. Then, press the plunger slowly and pour a small amount of coffee into a cup. 
  2. 2
    Warm your milk, either in a microwave or on a stove. Use a milk frother until the milk is as frothy as you like, with some foam on top. Alternately, check out this helpful video to learn how to use a French press to make your steamed latte milk:
  1. 3
    Pour the milk over the coffee slowly to achieve a nice consistency. If you’re feeling brave, you could even attempt some fancy latte swirls as you pour. Add syrup as desired, and enjoy! 

You can make both coffee and lattes with milk alternatives. Oat milk has a lovely creaminess that works great in lattes and coffee alike, plus it’s much better for the environment than cow's milk and even almond milk. While you may wish to try soy milk or coconut milk, too, some have found that these milk alternatives don’t quite match up.  


Frequent Coffee & Latte Questions 

Is iced coffee or an iced latte better from Dunkin Donuts?  

This will depend on your personal preferences. Dunkin Donuts uses the same methods as other restaurants to make their iced coffee drinks, so which is better will be a subjective opinion. 

Is a latte stronger than regular coffee?

Lattes have slightly more caffeine because they are made with an espresso shot (or double shot of espresso), but they aren't much stronger than a regular coffee. However, regular brewed coffee can sometimes taste stronger because it has less milk content than a latte. 


Conclusion

There are slight differences in ingredients which separate the two drinks, most notably that a latte has espresso which makes a stronger coffee drink. However, when it comes to coffee vs lattes the key difference is the brewing methods. 

There's no right of wrong answer here and it all comes down to preference, but what we can all agree is that coffees and lattes are great ways to start your day!