Strong espresso coffee is an Italian tradition enjoyed around the world. Perhaps the most popular of the coffee concoctions that use espresso is the latte. Lattes are made from espresso and steamed milk. Lattes can be very expensive to buy every day, but you can make them at home with a simple setup called AeroPress. If you really love lattes, you can also buy an espresso machine with a milk frother. There are different ways to Make a Latte.
Making a Latte with an Espresso Machine
Grind the coffee. Espresso uses a very finely ground coffee. The coffee grounds should be about the size of the grains of table salt. The coffee grounds will clump and stick together when they are the correct size.
- 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.
- Grind the espresso beans in a burr grinder for added freshness and control. Burr grinders will let you control how fine or coarse your espresso grounds turn out, and will result in a more consistent grind.
Prepare the milk.
For a single, small latte you will need about 6 ounces of milk. A good rule to follow is that you will need 6 ounces of milk per ounce of brewed espresso.
- Nonfat milk is the easiest to make foam but doesn't taste as decadent as milk with more fat.
- Two percent milk produces foam nicely, while adding a little bit of creaminess to your drink.
- Whole milk is the hardest milk to foam, but makes a more flavorful latte due to its higher fat content.
Steam the milk.
Pour your desired amount of milk into a metal pitcher. Insert the steam wand diagonally into the milk, resting it just below the surface. This will create the froth necessary for a good latte by allowing air to get into the mix along with the steam.
- Grasp the handle of the pitcher with a towel to prevent your hand from getting scorched as the pitcher heats up.
- Open up the steam hatch by turning the appropriate knob on your espresso machine. This is often a dial you need to twist.
- Using a thermometer, steam milk until it reaches a temperature between 150ºF and 155ºF. Be careful not to steam the milk above 170ºF or it will scorch.
- Aim for small, light bubbles (called microfoam) instead of big, soapy bubbles. The foam should have lightness without sacrificing the body.
Measure the coffee for your latte.
Each espresso shot will need to have a specific amount of coffee. Most lattes are made using a double shot of espresso, which means two shots.
- For each shot of espresso measure out 18-21 grams of ground coffee. You can do this by putting the espresso machine's portafilter on a kitchen scale.
- Zero the machine with the empty portafilter on it.
- Carefully add 18-21 grams of coffee per espresso shot.
Tamp the coffee.
This is when you compress the ground espresso into the machine's portafilter using an espresso tamper. This looks like a small weight with a little handle on top.
- To tamp the coffee, grasp the tamp handle with your fingers. Position your hand, elbow, and forearm directly above the portafilter and push down.
- Tamp down using an even twisting motion. Apply between 30 lbs of pressure for an ideal tamp.
- Press down on a bathroom or kitchen scale to get a sense of how hard you'll have to press on the portafilter.
- Tamping will create a “puck” of coffee. This must be evenly compressed so the espresso will brew evenly.
Make the espresso shots.
Lock the portafilter into the group head on the espresso machine. Press the brewing button on the machine to start making the shots.
- A perfect shot has a dark to medium brown with a minimum body and a small amount of cream (crema) or foam on its surface.
- A shot is brewed in about 30 seconds, but this will depend on both your grind and your machine.
- Taking too long to brew the espresso may result in bitterness, whereas not taking enough time will result in losing some of the flavor.
Pour the steamed milk over the espresso.
The froth will pour smoothly and blend with the espresso cream.
- When pouring, use a spoon to regulate the flow of the foam. Make sure no foam enters the drink until you are about 1/4 in. from the top, where you can remove your spoon.
- The result should be a nice creamy brown drink base with a thin frothy top.
- Now is the time to make a latte art if you're adventurous. This is entirely optional.