Is a latte hot or cold? Find out the ideal temperature and the 3 key differences between a hot latte and an iced latte. Coffee drinkers can also learn how to make a delicious latte at home, either hot or cold with expert tips from a former barista!
☕ What is a latte?
Traditionally a latte is a hot drink made with one or two espresso shots from an espresso machine. The espresso is poured into a tall glass called a latte glass. Next milk is steamed and then poured over the hot coffee in the glass. A thin layer of foam appears at the top thanks to the hot milk. Lattes can be sweetened with sugar, honey, maple syrup, and sweetener, or flavored with flavored syrups.
The type of milk you use can play a major role in how well your latte turns out. Lattes are usually made with whole milk as that is the best milk for steaming. The bubbles made in the foam are small and silky, and you can easily create latte art as you pour it over the espresso. Alternatively, you can steam or froth other kinds of milk like semi-skimmed, almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and soy milk depending on your personal preference. The best alternative kinds of milk for making a perfect latte are labeled “barista”. My favorite is Oatly. No affiliate link, it’s just delicious and so creamy!
The ratio of espresso to milk and foam is usually 1/5 espresso, 3/5 milk, and 1/5 foam at the top.
❓ Is a latte hot or cold?
Good question! If you go into your favorite coffee shop and say “Can I please have a latte?” they will make you a warm latte. However, there are such things as cold lattes, where they pour the hot espresso over ice cubes and top it up with cold milk. In this case, you would ask for an iced latte, which is just perfect for a hot day!
🔥 How to make a hot latte
1. Begin by making espresso. If you’re making this from the comfort of your own home without an espresso machine, try my French Press Espresso recipe. It is really just a strong coffee made with coffee beans and 1/3 of the usual amount of hot water in a french press. It’s perfect for any espresso drinks you want to make at home. If you only have instant coffee on hand you can mix 1 teaspoon of instant coffee with 2 shots (60ml) of hot water.
2. Add the espresso to a glass: Add one shot or a double shot of espresso to a latte glass or mug.
3. Sweeten and flavor (optional): Mix in any sweeteners or flavored syrup until dissolved.
4. Heat the milk: Now for the milk. If you have a steam wand, steam the milk until it is warm and has silky, small bubbles. It should be quite shiny when you swirl it around. No steamer? No problem! I use a milk frother at home. It doesn’t quite get the right texture but it’s pretty close. For this method, you’ll need to warm the milk up first, either in a microwave or in a pot on the stove. Next, froth the milk. I find that frothing it in a small just gives the best results and makes it easier to pour.
5. Pour and serve: When the milk is ready, pour it over the espresso. The milk foam should come out with the milk, however, if you’re using alternative milk (particularly almond milk. rice milk, or coconut milk) it can sometimes get stuck in the jug. In this case, use a spoon to scoop it out and place it on top of the latte.
🧊 How to make an iced latte
1. Add ice: Begin by filling a tall glass with ice cubes.
2. Make espresso: Next, make espresso coffee either with an espresso machine, moka pot, or you can try my French Press Espresso recipe. It’s perfect for any espresso-based drink! In a pinch, you can mix a teaspoon of instant coffee with 60ml (2 shots) of hot water. You can also use strong, cold coffee like cold brew.
3. Pour espresso over ice: Pour one or two shots of espresso over the ice followed by any sweetener or flavored syrups. I recommend avoiding granulated sugars and sweeteners as they don’t dissolve well, however, simple syrup, sugar-free simple syrup, strawberry syrup, or sugar-free strawberry syrup work really well for this cold drink.
4. Pour in the milk. You can froth the cold milk with a milk frother to create a more latte-like texture. It’s best to use cold milk as opposed to steamed milk for iced lattes because steamed milk will melt the ice and you’ll have a watery iced latte which isn’t very tasty.
5. Stir and enjoy: Use a long spoon or straw to stir the cold latte and enjoy!
🗝️ 3 Key differences between a hot latte and an iced latte
The main difference between a regular latte and an iced latte is that iced lattes have (you guessed it!) ice in them.
2. Milk temperature
Hot lattes are made with steamed milk and iced lattes use cold milk straight from the fridge instead.
3. Types of sweeteners and sugars
A hot latte can be easily sweetened with regular granulated sugar or sweetener. However, they don’t dissolve easily in iced lattes and can leave a grainy texture so it’s best to use liquid sweeteners and syrups in this case. Note: regular lattes can also use liquid sweeteners and syrups.
🌡️ What is the perfect temperature for milk when making a hot latte?
The best temperature for steamed latte milk is between 155°F – 165°F (68°C-74°C). This is the right temperature for creating fine, smooth, silky bubbles which makes that creamy, velvety texture. Lower temperatures make less foam, and high temperatures will make too much, and it won’t be silky smooth.
When I worked at a local coffee shop, some customers would ask for an extra-hot latte if they found the temperature of the milk not warm enough in a normal cafe latte. For this hot version, I would over-steam the milk to a higher temperature. It would usually make too much foam and the milk would lose some of the natural sweetness that it has at the standard temperature.
🥛 Should I use steamed milk or frothed milk?
The best way to make a hot latte is by using steamed milk. It creates the perfect texture of fine, silky bubbles for making latte art, and it tastes creamier as it is a little thicker than regular hot milk.
On the other hand, if you’re at home and don’t have access to a milk steam wand, a milk frother is the next best thing. This works for both hot milk and colder milk if you’re making an iced latte. It can create smooth foam similar to a steam wand. It’s also great for making a greek frappe!
⭐ Are Starbucks lattes hot or cold?
Starbucks lattes can either be made hot or cold. Their hot lattes are made the traditional way with espresso and steamed milk. Their cold lattes on the other hand are made by pouring espresso over ice and topping it with cold milk. Starbucks offers a variety of flavors depending on the type of coffee you enjoy. Anything from a standard, unsweetened coffee flavor, to vanilla, cinnamon, caramel, or a mocha.
🤔 Coffee vs. Latte: what’s the difference?
Coffee is either made with espresso topped up with hot water or straight brewed coffee. You can add a splash of cream or milk, and something to sweeten it if desired. A latte is an espresso topped with steamed milk. There is no hot water added to a latte.
🤷♀️ Iced coffee vs. Iced latte: what’s the difference?
We now know that an iced latte is espresso poured over ice and topped up with milk. Iced coffee on the other hand is espresso or cold coffee poured over ice and topped up with cold water. You can also add a splash of milk if desired.
😋 More posts for coffee lovers:
- Almond Milk Latte
- Iced Strawberry Latte
- 20 Valentine’s Day Latte Ideas
- Latte vs. Frappe (10 differences and how to make them)
- Greek Frappe Recipe
Have you tried a making hot or cold latte? I’d love to know <3 Tag me (@makehealthyrecipes) on Facebook and Instagram, Pin it on Pinterest, and please leave a star rating review below! Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list (top right of this page) for sparkly new recipes in your inbox.