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 coffee vs. latte has all the answers! 

The word ‘coffee’ is used to cover a variety of drinks, which are all made using roasted and ground coffee beans. These brown beans begin life as coffee plant seeds. They can be mixed with hot water to create the classic morning drink we all know and love.

Some people choose to add sugar and milk/cream, or alternatives, to lessen the bitter flavor. Because of the caffeine content in coffee beans, many people drink coffee as a stimulant. 

There are a few standard methods used to turn coffee grounds into our favorite brown nectar. Should 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.  

coffee grains
Origins

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


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

A latte, or a caffe latte, is a drink made with ⅓ espresso coffee and ⅔ steamed milk, with a small layer of foam on top. Latte art is very popular and is created by pouring the milk to create patterns on the top of the coffee. Hearts, swans, and ferns are among the most popular designs.  

'Caffe latte' means milk with coffee in Italian, where this drink is a famous specialty. Variations of this way of serving coffee can be found all around Europe; however, the 'latte' as we most often know it is an Americanized version of these beverages, and ordering just a ‘latte’ in Italy could see you served a cup of plain milk! 

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. 


What Are The Differences Between Coffees & Lattes? 

The biggest similarity between coffee and latte is the basic ingredients needed. The major difference is the method used to create each drink and the taste of the final product. 

Header

Coffee 

Latte 

Ingredients  

Hot water and ground coffee 

Single or double espresso shot, steamed milk, and a small layer of foam 

Hot or Cold 

Usually served hot, can be poured over ice and served cold. 

Lattes are usually hot, can also be served cold with a different method.  

Method 

Hot water is poured over, pushed through, or dripped through ground coffee. 

Steamed milk is poured over an espresso shot with foam added on top. 

Caffeine content 

Caffeine content will depend on the coffee beans used - blonde or light roast has a higher caffeine content than dark roast.  

While espresso is stronger than drip coffee, the smaller portion means the caffeine content is similar, if not less, in lattes. 

Taste 

On its own, black coffee is bitter and slightly acidic. 

Due to the high percentage of milk, lattes are creamier and sweeter than drip coffee.  

Time to prepare 

Quick and easy - only takes a few minutes to make a regular cup of coffee.  

Fairly quick - the 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 

Little 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 coffee and requires a slightly fancier method to make.
  • Iced Coffee Vs Iced Latte
    Iced coffee can be made by pouring a normally brewed coffee over ice, but an iced latte is made with cold milk and no foam, unlike a regular latte.
  • Chai Latte Vs Coffee
    Chai lattes are made with black tea instead of ground coffee mixed with herbs and spices. Coffee is not regularly served with spices, but it could be fun to experiment with some, such as ginger or star anise!
class with ice cubes

How To Make Coffees & Lattes At Home 

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

Coffee 

To make pour over coffee (drip coffee made without a machine) you will need: 

  • A dripper  
  • A filter 
  • A carafe 
  • A spoon 
  • Ground coffee beans 
  • Hot water 
  • 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! 

Latte 

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

  • A French press 
  • A milk frother, or a second French press 
  • A spoon 
  • A jug 
  • Milk 
  • Hot water 
  • Finely ground coffee beans 
  • Syrup, as desired 
  1. 1
    Using a French press with finely ground beans can help you make a good espresso substitution. Add the grounds to your French press, add boiled water and let it brew for a few minutes. Then, press the plunger slowly and pour a small amount of the 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.  


People Also Ask (FAQs)

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 coffees, so which is better will be a subjective opinion. 

Is a latte stronger than regular coffee?

Lattes are not stronger than regular coffee due to the high milk ratio.


Conclusion

While they are alike in ingredients, the process makes all the difference when it comes to coffee vs. lattes. Whatever your preference, coffees and lattes are great ways to start your day!