Who doesn’t enjoy the perfect latte? The question is, do you have to go out to Starbucks or that fancy little artisan (and expensive) coffee shop to find the latte of your dreams or can you make one at home? Well, there’s good news and bad. Let’s start with the good.
Yes, of course you can make a great latte at home. You just need three things; a good quality coffee, an espresso maker, and lastly, a milk frother. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that you do have to lay out a little bit of cash. But, hey, it isn’t a lot and you’ll find the lovely creamy latte (or cafe latte to give it its correct name) you make at home will cost you far less per cup than if you visit the local coffee shop.
Returning to the question we posed in the title of this article; yes, you do need a milk frother to make a latte at home. But that’s not all you need. Let’s take a closer look at those three things you need to make a great latte at home.
Good quality coffee
When we’re looking for coffee machines or milk frothers it’s hard to not get carried away by all the reviews which say something like ‘It makes the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.’ This is very misleading. You could have the best coffee machine in the world, one like Starbucks uses, but it doesn’t matter how good or expensive the machine is, if you use cheap rubbish coffee beans the cup of coffee it makes will be awful. Which is why it’s important to always use the best quality coffee you can. Or at least one you’ve used before and like the taste of.
You can use any way of brewing your coffee to use in your latte but to get the real taste of latte you need to use an espresso base. Espresso is used in most frothy coffees and an espresso maker such as an electric maker, moka pot or AeroPress will give you the right brew to use in your latte.
Milk frother for making latte
You can’t make a latte without foamy milk. And you can’t make good quality foam without a milk frother.
The key is to use the right milk frother. Without it, there is virtually no way for you to make a latte on your own. This is because a milk frother is an absolute necessity when it comes to creating the foam that you need for a latte. This is something that’s very easy to do with the right frother, yet virtually impossible to do through any other means.
Are all milk frothers basically the same?
If you’re thinking that you can simply buy the first milk frother you come across online and make the perfect latte, you might be a bit disappointed. Most milk frothers are capable of getting the job done, but like anything else, some are better than others. In order to keep things simple, we’re going to refrain from talking about the milk frothers that are sometimes built into barista style coffee machines.
For the purposes of this particular article, we’ll stick to either a handheld milk frother or those that can be plugged in and used independently of any coffee machine, in other words electric milk frothers. However, there are several different types of frother and if you want to learn more about the different kinds of milk frother and how to use them you should read our guide.
Types of milk frothers
As previously mentioned, we’ll keep it simple here and just talk about the two most popular types of milk frother.
The first is the handheld version. This looks like a mini kitchen whisk. It has a plastic body or handle which houses batteries, a stainless-steel stem and a small whisk head. These devices are very light, typically 90-130g, and are surprisingly powerful.
And, just as the name implies, this type of frother is held in your hands in order to create just the right amount of froth. You can see the basics of using a handheld milk frother in the video below.
If you’re looking for something that is compact and gives you the ultimate level of control, this is a good option. Better yet, you can find a number of handheld milk frothers for a rather economical price, at less than £15 ($20) these frothers won’t break the bank and are very effective.
An electric milk frother looks like a small kettle. It plugs into a wall outlet and its operation could not be easier. You simply pour the milk in, turn it on and let it work its magic. You don’t have as much control over this as you do the handheld version, obviously.
That said, it’s perfect if you are constantly pressed for time and you’re looking for a way to make a really good latte without having to hover over it in order to do so. You only have to run this type of frother 1 to 2 minutes and before you know it, you have the froth that you want to create your latte. After you turn the machine off, you simply add it to the coffee of your choosing.
These types of appliances don’t take up much space and are easy to use. Just like the handheld version, you can find some at the more economical end of the spectrum as well as more expensive versions such as those made by Severin.
Press the pause button
Let’s recap. The three things you need to make a great latte at home are:
- Good quality coffee.
- Espresso maker.
- Milk frother.
However, there is one more component you need. And that of course is milk.
What kind of milk should you use in a latte?
What happens if you buy what you think is going to be the right milk frother and then it doesn’t perform as expected the first time you use it? It might not be a problem with the frother itself, but instead a problem with the milk.
It’s very important that you only use full fat milk (or vegan barista blend milk) when you are making a latte. Low fat and no fat options simply don’t create the froth that is needed for a latte. Using low fat or no fat milk in a frother is a waste of time because you’re not going to get the finished product that you were expecting.
In fact, it’s not much different than making coffee and then simply adding milk straight from the fridge. You really want to use full fat milk in order to create a similar product that you would expect to get from a barista.
Latte at home recipe
There are so many different types of latte you can make at home. You can find some on our milk frother recipes page. But here’s a simple and delicious example:
Translated from Italian, ‘cafe latte’ means coffee (cafe) and milk (latte). And basically there isn’t much more to it. In most coffee houses in the UK and USA ‘cafe latte’ and ‘latte’ are the same drink but if you should ask for just ‘latte’ in an Italian cafe you’ll probably end up with a glass of milk.
Though there are many different flavoured and varieties of latte, fundamentally every latte is made the same way and consists of one third espresso and two thirds steamed or warm milk with foam (note the main difference between cappuccino and latte is that cappuccino has more foam).
Recipe for making latte at home
- 2 shots of espresso (2 ounces / 60ml).
- 10 fluid ounces (300ml) of whole milk (or vegan alternative).
1 – Brew the espresso.
2 – Pour the espresso into a cup.
3 – Heat the milk in the microwave or saucepan (ensure it’s hot, not boiling 65 degrees is about right).
4 – Use a handheld milk frother to foam the milk (this should take around 30 seconds).
5 – Pour the milk onto the espresso (use a spatula or spoon to hold back the foam).
6 – Spoon a layer of foam onto the top of the drink.
And that’s it. You can make different types of latte by simply adding flavoured syrup before you pour in the milk.
Note: If you’re using an electric milk frother it will heat and foam the milk for you (steps 3 and 4).
Does it take a lot of practice to make a good latte at home?
The good news is that it really doesn’t. Granted, you might not be able to make the elaborate latte designs that some baristas make, at least not at first. That said, the designs that you see at coffee shops don’t affect the taste of the latte.
If you’re simply looking for a latte you can make on your own that tastes good, you don’t have to worry about taking a crash course as a barista in order to do so. All you really need is a good quality coffee, an espresso maker, a milk frother of decent quality and full fat milk. Brew your coffee and froth your milk. From there, pour the coffee in a cup and add the froth on top. Before you know it, you have the perfect latte and you didn’t even have to go outside your house in order to get it.
Lattes taste great, but there’s more to them than that. They can be the difference between getting your day started off on the right foot or wishing you’d stayed in bed all day long.
That said, it’s not always convenient to go to a barista in order to get one. This is especially true if you don’t really live close to a coffee shop or you’re not planning on going out that day.
By the same token, going out to get a latte every morning can get expensive fairly quickly. The truth is, you’ll end up saving a lot of money by buying your own milk frother and making it yourself. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to experiment with different coffees.
Furthermore, you could even add things like cinnamon or nutmeg after you pour the froth in order to give your latte a specific flavour. It all comes down to creating the latte at home that’s perfect for you.
This week’s best-selling milk frothers
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