Latte is a coffee-house drink of espresso and steamed milk, frequently topped with a design made of frothy milk.

No Ordinary Cup o’ Joe

People have combined milk with coffee for centuries. Consider cafe au lait and cafe con leche. In New York City, a call for “coffee, regular” curiously enough means you want coffee with milk or cream and sugar. In Italian, latte means simply milk. The term meaning coffee and milk appeared on West Coast coffee house menus in the 1950s. In the next several decades, thanks in part to the proliferation of chain operations such as Starbucks and Peet’s, the simple concoction has become a standard-issue item on coffee house menus everywhere.

Sweet and Flavored

Iced lattes are made with cold milk rather than steamed, and usually are sweetened and flavored with syrups and blended with ice. Modern baristas infinitely riff on the formula, creating the likes of pumpkin spice, eggnog, gingerbread, butterscotch, and Nutella lattes.

What’s the Difference Between a Latte, a Cappucino, and a Macchiato?

A cappucino tops the latte with a thick layer of foamed milk. A macchiatto increases the amount of milk and foam and decreases the amount of espresso. As a rule, macchiattos add espresso to the milk, whereas lattes add milk to the espresso.

Oh, What a Beautiful Cup!

Lattes most often come in coffee cups with a handle. In Seattle in the 1980s, baristas began applying artistic designs of finely-textured microfoam to the top of lattes in the cup. Some of the most talented practitioners create amazing cups at the city’s Moore Coffee Shops. Latte art has since become a common practice in nearly every independent coffee house.


Restaurants With This Dish

Sea level as seen from the outside
Sea Level Bakery + Coffee


Cup of rich, creamed espresso with a cat-head design on top, made of cream
Moore Coffee


A white coffee cup with a foam design on a latte
Black Oak Coffee Roasters


Croissant Sandwich at Sparrow Bakery in Bend, OR
Sparrow Bakery


Spearhead Coffee


Breakfast sandwich on a jalapeno bagel holds egg, Cheddar, and turkey plus pesto mayo, tomato, and sprouts
Little Garden Cafe



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