Are Lattes Hot or Cold? The Answer May Surprise You

Mike C
Written By Mike C

I've been writing about coffee and espresso machines for 3 years. My goal is to provide you with helpful content that you can trust based on my own personal experiences, information from manufacturers, and tips and tricks I've gathered from other coffee and espresso machine users.

I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Are Lattes Hot or Cold? The Answer May Surprise You

You’re probably familiar with lattes as a deliciously frothy coffee drink. But did you know you can actually serve lattes in hot or cold varieties? It’s especially easy to get frustrated if you order a latte and receive a drink with the wrong temperature.

While these two drinks may share the same name, they couldn’t be any more different. Both use slightly different ingredients to offer a delicious taste. In this article, I’ll explain whether lattes are hot or cold and how you can make each delicious drink.

Are Lattes Hot or Cold?

Lattes can be hot or cold. Hot lattes are generally considered the standard variety, but it’s easy to order an iced latte at most cafes by simply asking for the alteration when you order. Both latte variants are extremely popular for a simple reason: they’re delicious!

What Are Lattes?

Lattes are a traditional hot coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. They’re extremely popular due to their mild and smooth flavor, and as a result, lattes are easy to order at cafes all around the world.

They are based on an Italian coffee called caffè latte, which translates to “coffee with milk.” The drink has a long history in Italy and uses hot milk instead of steamed milk. With the advent of the espresso machine, frothy lattes were invented.

nespresso latte
Latte made with Nespresso machine

The variety of hot lattes we know and love was only popularized in the 1980s as coffee shops became increasingly prevalent.

Much like their hot counterparts, cold lattes were also invented after the espresso machine. They were predated by iced coffees, which have a history spanning back to the 1800s. Iced lattes eventually became very popular as a refreshing drink.

Whether they’re served hot or cold, it’s easy to enjoy a latte. It’s safe to say that both types are equally delicious in their ways.

How Are Hot Lattes Made?

Hot lattes have two ingredients: hot espresso and steamed milk. The rich coffee is topped with a light, frothed milk foam. Before making any hot lattes at home, getting an espresso machine with a milk frother attachment is essential.

Prepare to Make the Latte

Before starting, grab your choice of dairy milk or non dairy milk alternative, like oat milk or almond milk, and your preferred brand of espresso coffee grounds. You’ll also need to prepare the right mixture for your latte. Lattes are usually made with a cup of milk and one or two shots of espresso.

Next, you should grab your cup and warm it up in advance to keep your latte hot. A great way to accomplish this is to put water in your mug and heat it in the microwave, provided the mug or cup you’re using is microwave-safe. Alternatively, you can use a mug with temperature control. My favorite is the Ember Mug.

How Are Hot Lattes Made
Hot Latte

Make the Steamed Milk

Finally, you’re ready to start making the latte itself. To start, you should measure out your cup of milk and insert the steam wand of your espresso machine just below the surface of the milk. Then, turn the frother on and allow the milk to steam until it’s warm, with frothy and small bubbles on the surface.

Make the Espresso

After steaming the milk, you’ll need to grab your espresso grounds and scoop them into the filter, gently tamping them down until they’re firmly and evenly packed. Generally, you should aim to fill the filter with a centimeter or two of space left below the edge.

If you have a kitchen scale, you can be more precise and measure 20g of grounds per espresso shot. Next, reinsert the filter into your espresso machine and start the brewer. Place your empty, warm glass below the filter. Your espresso machine will start to pour the espresso into the mug.

Enjoy Your Hot Latte

After the espresso finishes brewing, pour the steamed milk over the espresso while holding the foam back with a spoon. Finally, scoop the foam onto the top of your latte. Once the latte is finished, it’s generally served at a temperature between 145 and 165°F.

The ideal temperature for drinking a hot latte is around 160°F, towards the middle of the temperature range.

How Are Iced Lattes Made?

Much like hot lattes, cold lattes use espresso and milk. Unlike the traditional option, however, they also include a bit of ice. This small addition goes a long way in making iced lattes a refreshing option.

Prepare to Make the Latte

Before making your latte, you’ll need to prepare by gathering a few ingredients: your choice of espresso grounds and your favorite milk or milk alternative. You’ll also need to have a working espresso machine on hand.

Prepare to Make the Iced Latte
Hot and Iced Lattes

Make the Espresso

Once you have your ingredients on hand, the next step is to prepare your espresso. To make an iced latte, you prepare your espresso the same way as the hot alternative. Add espresso grounds to the filter and tamp them until they’re tightly packed.

When the grounds are firmly and evenly packed into the filter, insert the filter into the espresso machine and brew two shots of espresso by setting your espresso machine to brewing mode. Wait for the espresso machine to finish pouring your espresso.

Add Cold Milk

In contrast to hot lattes made with steamed milk, iced lattes use cold milk. This makes the drink refreshing and icy without losing its creaminess by melting the ice. Of course, if you want foamed milk, you can always chill steamed milk, use a hand frother, or shake the cold milk in a bottle. Pour the cup of milk into the espresso and mix.

Enjoy Your Iced Latte

Finally, prepare your cold latte. Add any desired sweetener or flavored syrup to your iced latte and stir thoroughly. Then, fill a cup with your desired amount of ice and pour the chilled latte over the ice. Top with whipped cream for an extra treat. Once you finish, you’ll have a perfectly icy and delicious latte.

Make Your Own Delicious Latte

Now that you know the steps to make hot and iced lattes, the only thing left to do is start. You don’t have to go to the coffee shop to have your favorite drink. Once you have an espresso machine and gather the essential ingredients, making cafe-quality lattes at home is simple.

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