If we told you to name the most popular coffee order in the country, what would you say? Coffee with milk and sugar, perhaps? Maybe iced coffee? No, cold brew. Wait, scratch that, nitro brew.
If any of those drinks came to mind, you're wrong. According to the Specialty Coffee Association and Square, a credit card processing service, the coffee drink that was ordered the most between June 2017 and June 2018 was, in fact, the traditional latte. Americans drank over 67 million lattes during that time frame. Now that is impressive!
While the latte may not seem like the most riveting coffee choice, it is one of the most versatile drinks, with its ability to adopt a lot of different flavors and customizations. That kind of flexibility applies greatly to American coffee drinkers, who typically request two add-ons to their coffee order. Here's the 4-1-1 on the popular beverage.
What is a latte, and how is it made?
For those who don't already know, a latte is a creamy espresso drink. In fact, it's creamier than its other espresso-laden counterparts, such as the cappuccino and the macchiato. There's a reason for that—most of the warm drink is made up of steamed milk. That piping hot milk is poured over top a shot of espresso and then topped with milk foam, which is typically traced into beautiful art—most commonly a heart or the intricate leaf-like rosetta.
What's the history of the latte?
The latte is several centuries old, having origins in Italy. The drink's full name is "caffé latte," which quite literally means milk coffee. In western countries, however, the caffé part is dropped. Pro tip: make sure to say the drink's full name in Italy, otherwise, you may just end up with a warm glass of milk. A bit disappointing, no?
Is there a difference between a cappuccino and a latte?
Yes, there is definitely a difference! The cappuccino is the latte's fraternal twin, if you will. While both warm drinks consist of just one shot of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam—in that exact order, might we add—the difference is subtle, yet it completely alters the texture of the drink. A cappuccino is prepared with less milk but much more milk foam, which gives it that desired frothy finish. A latte, on the other hand, is much creamier and smoother because it has more of the steamed milk in it.
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What are some of the craziest latte flavors?
Basically, anything that is sweet or herbal can be infused into a latte. Do we even need to make mention of the pumpkin spice latte, more commonly dubbed the "PSL?" Salted caramel, lavender, and lemon can be latte flavors, too. There was even a unicorn latte invented by the Brooklyn-based coffee shop The End.
It's possible that after reading this article, you may feel inclined to change your coffee order to a customized latte. Just make sure you have at least $5 ready to go in your wallet—in the U.S., the average latte costs $4.16.