Difference between Espresso and Latte

In the menu of any American restaurant you will find, among other coffee drinks, espresso and latte. Everybody knows the two types of coffee are connected somehow, but in what way exactly? We will explore the differences between the two popular coffee beverages in the following article.


Espresso vs Latte
An espresso pad

Espresso is usually made from the same coffee beans the regular café Americano is made. However, most of the time, in making espresso, the “stronger” Arabica sort of coffee is used. Darker beans are also preferable to lighter ones, because the former give a more profound flavor. Beans for espresso are usually ground in a finer way than for a regular coffee because they have to be ready for the special espresso brewing technique.

Actually, theoretically espresso can be made in a pot on a heated stove, but the proper technique requires an espresso machine.

The process of preparing espresso is relatively simple:

Espresso pucks contain densely compressed ground coffee. Under high pressure, hot, but not boiling water (around 200 degrees Fahrenheit) is pushed through a puck, and, as a result, a small amount of drink is produced. We call this drink “espresso.” An espresso machine takes care of the proper temperature of water, amount of pressure, and the right time the process has to be performed (between 25 and 30 seconds, to make sure the water blends well with the coffee).

Café latte as served in Oslo

There are many coffee drinks that have milk as a necessary ingredient. Latte (Italian for “milk”) is one of them. Unlike in making the other popular milk-contained coffee drink – cappuccino, milk for café latte is not frothed, but is merely steamed. In making latte, they do not aim to create much foam as in the cappuccino case; so any type of milk would work for latte.

The process of preparing café latte:

Latte requires 2:1 milk/ espresso ratio. Milk is heated with a steam wand to approximately 160 degrees Fahrenheit and added into a cup of espresso. Milk foam that resulted in the heating process is added on top of the mixture. There is a tradition to make art foam for decoration on top of the mixture.

Comparison chart

Espresso Latte
Milk is never poured into espresso A coffee drink with milk as a necessary ingredient
Is a base for Latte Is based on espresso
Is served in smaller cups Is served in bigger cups

Espresso vs Latte

What is the difference between espresso and latte?

  • Espresso is a black coffee drink. Milk or cream is never added into espresso. Latte, on the other hand, requires milk as a necessary ingredient.

    An espresso in a classic porcelain espresso cup
  • Espresso is a base for a cup of café latte. Conversely, latte cannot be made without espresso.

    Soy milk latte with latte art
    Soy milk latte with latte art
  • The standard serving cup of café espresso is about an ounce and a half, which corresponds to a one shot of a drink. There is a double espresso, sometimes called “doppio” (translates from Italian as “double”); it is about 2.5 ounces. On the other hand, there is no unified standard for a cup of café latte. However, due to the milk added into espresso, the amount of the resulting drink is significantly bigger than that of espresso. It is usually about 4-6 ounces.