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A latte

A latte (from the Italian caffè latte, meaning "coffee [and] milk") is a type of coffee drink made with hot milk.


[edit] Origin

In Italian, latte (IPA[ˈlat̪t̪e], anglicised as IPA: /ˈlɑːteɪ/) is simply the word for milk. What in English-speaking countries is now called a latte is shorthand for "caffelatte" or "caffellatte" ("caffè e latte").[1][2][3][4] The long Italian form literally means "coffee and milk", similar to the French café au lait, the Spanish café con leche and the Portuguese café com leite. Caffelatte is today part of the defined international coffee menu, which also includes cappuccino and espresso.

It has been argued[weasel words] that the origin of the espresso-based caffe latte in America comes from Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California—created by then owner Lino Meiorin in 1959. As the sign inside states: "Caffe Latte Invented Here - While Seattle may have made this drink famous, It was invented here at the Caffe Mediterraneum in the late 1950’s". Lino Meiorin, one of the owners, was the first Italian-trained barista in the Bay Area. Customers were not used to the strong flavor of a traditional Italian cappuccino and would ask Lino for more milk. Speaking in Italian, Lino would tell the barista to put more latte (milk) in their cup. Eventually he put a larger drink on the menu with the same amount of espresso but more steamed milk, and called it a caffe latte. It was originally served in a bowl, but switched to a pint beer glass. Today lattes are often served in a wide mouth cup in order to show off hearts, rosettas and other latte art designs.” [5] However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary the term caffè latte was first used in English in 1847 (as caffe latto), and in 1867 as caffè latte by William Dean Howells in his essay "Italian Journeys". [6]

Extensive write-up in Kenneth Davids' Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying.[7] "At least until recently, ordering a "latte" in Italy got you a puzzled look and a hot glass of milk. The American-style caffe latte did not exist in Italian caffes, except perhaps in a few places dominated by American tourists...Obviously breakfast drinks of this kind have existed in Europe for generations, but the caffe version of this drink is an American invention...."

[edit] Current use

Steamed milk, one of the primary ingredients of a latte.

In Italy, caffe latte is almost always prepared at home, for breakfast only. The coffee is brewed with a stovetop Moka and poured into a cup containing heated milk. (The Moka does not produce true espresso, but rather a double-strength coffee. Also, unlike the international latte drink, the milk in the Italian original is not foamed.)

Outside Italy, a latte is typically prepared with approximately one third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk, with a layer of foamed milk approximately 5 mm (¼ inch) thick on the top. The drink is similar to a cappuccino, the difference being that a cappuccino consists of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foam. A variant on the latte is the flat white, which is served in a smaller ceramic cup with the creamy steamed milk poured over a single-shot of espresso, holding back the lighter froth at the top.

[edit] Serving styles

  • In some establishments, lattes are served in a glass on a saucer with a napkin which can be used to hold the (sometimes hot) glass.
  • A latte is sometimes served in a bowl.
  • The complicated pricing schemes offered by some establishments have led to the practice of ghetto latte (sometimes called bootleg latte), whereby some customers use the free milk and other condiments to convert a cheaper, plain espresso into an expensive latte.[8]
  • In Asia and North America, lattes have been combined with Asian teas. Coffee and tea shops now offer hot or iced latte versions of chai, matcha (Japanese powdered green tea), and Royal milk tea.
  • Other flavorings can be added to the latte to suit the taste of the drinker. Vanilla, chocolate, and caramel are all popular variants.
  • In South Africa a red latte is made with rooibos tea.

[edit] References

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