Drinking espresso-based beverages is more popular than ever. Arguably, the most popular espresso-based drink is the latte.
The Italian name Latte sounds fancy, but the drink is quite simple, a latte is just two ingredients, espresso and milk. Feeding this habit can be expensive when you are purchasing a beverage, or two, a day. Depending on your frequency, investing in an espresso machine can save you some serious dough. After finding your perfect espresso machine, you need to master the steps to crafting your lattes at home, were happy to help.
Tips to Get Started:
- If you dont always have your machine running, turn it on and give it around 20 minutes to heat up. While it is heating, you can prep your next steps.
- Start with cold milk or milk alternative. Pour your milk into your steam pitcher. You will need about 3-4 ounces less than what your entire beverage will be. So if you are drinking an 8 oz latte. You would pour 4-5 ounces of cold milk or milk alternative.
- Purge the steam wand before steaming. This will heat the wand and get rid of any excess water.
Once your machine is heated, you are ready to start. If you are creating a hot latte, you want to steam the milk before you pull your espresso shot.
Steam the milk
Mastering your milk technique takes time; however; we have found that with practice most folks can create good milk within a few days and great milk within a couple of weeks.
Microfoam is the key to a caf quality latte. Microfoam is created when the bubbles in the milk are so small you cant see them. Aim for steamed milk that has a uniform texture and glossy shine. You want to stay away from large bubbles when possible.
Follow these steps for the perfect latte milk
- Keep the pitcher straight.
- Partially submerge the tip of the steam wand half-way between the center and side of the pitcher at a 45-degree angle.
- Start by slowly introducing air in the milk to create a vortex and a "psst, psst, psst" sound until the pitcher and milk are room temperature. This is where you will get most of your bubbles.
- When the milk reaches room temperature, submerge the tip fully and keep the cyclone going in the pitcher. This is where you create your microfoam. (Forgetting this step will cause large, aggressive bubbles)
- Your milk is ready when the pitcher is hot to the touch. You dont want to heat your milk hotter than 160 degrees, or you risk scalding the milk which changes the flavor and texture.
- Immediately wipe the wand and purge.
- Gently swirl the milk and give the pitcher a couple of taps against the counter to remove any large bubbles.
Pull your shot
You always want to pull your shot after you prep your milk because you dont want your shot(s) to turn.
Espresso uses a very finely ground coffee. Check out our blog on espresso grind to perfect it. Once you become more experienced with making espresso drinks, you can experiment with the grind of your coffee to get the exact flavor you like. But for now aim to fill the portafilter with 14 18 grams of espresso-ground coffee for a double-shot. Remember to grind the espresso beans in a burr grinder for added freshness, and to result in a more consistent grind.
Tamp the espresso
- Level the grounds. Put the measured coffee into the portafilter.
- Apply about 15-30 pounds of even pressure to the portafilter and grounds.
- Insert the portafilter and pull the shot.
- Allow your shot to come to 1 -2 oz.
- Check your timer. The ideal brewing time for your espresso is between 20 30 seconds. Following these guidelines will help ensure your shot is pulled properly, but remember to play around with your grind to perfect your espresso shots.
Mixing your drink
- Now that you have your milk steamed and your shot pulled its time to make your latte. Swirl your milk to reincorporate the foam with the milk
- Pour your espresso shot(s) in your cup.
- Slowly pour your steamed milk over the espresso in your cup to incorporate it into a Latte
Your latte is ready, or mix in chocolate and make it a mocha.
Let us know how you like to drink you lattes by leaving a comment below, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.