Are Lattes Hot Or Cold? Which Is Better?

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Lattes, a beloved staple in the coffee community, have long captivated enthusiasts with their creamy texture and rich espresso foundation.

A common question among aficionados is whether lattes are traditionally served hot or if they can also be enjoyed cold.

Well, Lattes can be enjoyed both hot and cold.

Traditionally originating from Italy as a hot beverage, the latte has evolved globally to include iced or cold variations, catering to personal preferences and seasonal desires.

In this post we dive into the versatile world of lattes, exploring their origins, preparation methods, and how they cater to both temperature preferences, ensuring every sip is a delightful experience.

The Origin of Lattes

The latte, with its creamy blend of espresso and steamed milk, has roots deeply embedded in Italian coffee culture.

Originally enjoyed as a warm morning beverage, the latte’s journey from Italy to the rest of the world has seen it transform and adapt to a variety of tastes.

As it crossed borders, the traditional hot latte was joined by its cooler cousin, the iced latte, reflecting the diverse preferences of coffee lovers everywhere.

This evolution showcases the latte’s versatility, making it a beloved choice whether you’re craving the comforting warmth of the classic version or the refreshing chill of an iced variation.

Through this journey, lattes have become a canvas for creativity and personalization, embodying the spirit of innovation that characterizes the global coffee scene.

Hot Lattes

What Makes a Traditional Hot Latte?

A traditional hot latte is a comforting blend of bold espresso and steamed milk, topped with a light layer of frothy milk.

This classic coffee drink starts with a strong espresso base, which is then harmoniously combined with milk that has been heated and aerated to create a creamy texture.

The result is a smooth, warm beverage that’s both invigorating and soothing.

Ideal Serving Temperature

The perfect hot latte strikes a balance between too hot and just right.

Ideally, hot lattes should be served at a temperature that allows you to appreciate their warmth without scalding your taste buds.

This sweet spot is typically between 150°F to 165°F (65°C to 74°C).

The milk’s natural sweetness is enhanced at this range, and the espresso’s rich flavors are perfectly highlighted.

Benefits of a Hot Latte

On a chilly day, there’s nothing quite like wrapping your hands around a warm mug of latte.

The heat from the drink can warm you up from the inside out, providing a cozy comfort that’s hard to beat.

Beyond the physical warmth, the ritual of enjoying a hot latte can be a moment of calm in a busy day, offering a chance to pause and rejuvenate.

Plus, the combination of caffeine and the soothing warmth can help to sharpen your focus and keep you feeling alert.

Cold Lattes

A Refreshing Twist on a Classic

Cold lattes, or iced lattes, offer a cool take on the traditional espresso and milk combination.

Unlike their hot counterparts, cold lattes are designed to beat the heat, providing a refreshing caffeine kick.

They’re made by pouring freshly brewed espresso over ice, followed by cold milk, resulting in a chilled, invigorating beverage.

This version of the latte is perfect for those warm days when you’re looking for something to cool you down without sacrificing your coffee fix.

Crafting the Perfect Cold Latte

Making a cold latte diverges from the hot latte mainly in temperature and texture.

Instead of steaming the milk, cold or room-temperature milk is used to maintain the drink’s chilled quality.

Ice is a crucial component, added to the glass first to ensure the espresso cools down immediately upon contact, preserving its bold flavor without being diluted.

This method keeps the latte cold and refreshing from the first sip to the last.

Why Cold Lattes Shine in the Summer

Cold lattes have a special appeal during the warmer months, offering a much-needed respite from the heat.

They’re not just about staying cool; they’re also about enjoying your coffee in a way that fits the season.

The chilled version of the latte is lighter on the palate, making it an ideal choice for outdoor activities or as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

Plus, the versatility of cold lattes means you can experiment with flavors and milk alternatives to create a personalized drink that’s as unique as your summer adventures.

Hot vs. Cold Lattes: The Differences

Preparation Methods Unveiled

The journey of a latte from espresso machine to cup varies significantly between hot and cold versions.

For a hot latte, the process involves brewing a strong shot of espresso and then carefully steaming milk until it’s frothy and creamy.

This steamed milk is then poured into the espresso, creating a warm, blended coffee drink.

On the flip side, cold lattes start with the same espresso base but take a chilly turn with the addition of ice and cold milk, bypassing the steaming process entirely.

This method keeps the drink cool and refreshing, a stark contrast to its warm counterpart.

Taste and Texture Transformed by Temperature

Temperature plays a pivotal role in shaping the taste and texture of a latte.

Hot lattes offer a comforting warmth that enhances the espresso’s rich flavors, allowing the creamy texture of the steamed milk to shine through.

The heat elevates the natural sweetness of the milk, creating a harmonious blend of coffee and creaminess.

Cold lattes, however, bring out a different character in the espresso.

The cold milk and ice introduce a crispness to the drink, making it more refreshing while slightly muting the espresso’s intensity.

The texture is smoother and less frothy, providing a lighter coffee experience.

Choosing Between Hot and Cold

Deciding between a hot or cold latte often comes down to personal taste and the time of year.

Some coffee lovers crave the warmth and comfort of a hot latte, especially during the cooler months or when in need of a cozy pick-me-up.

Others might prefer the refreshing coolness of an iced latte to combat the heat of summer days or to enjoy a less intense coffee flavor.

Seasonal changes and individual preferences guide this choice, making lattes a versatile option for coffee enthusiasts year-round.

Health Benefits of Lattes

We covered this briefly earlier but let’s quickly take a closer look at how lattes can be a beneficial addition to your diet:

Caffeine Content

The espresso in lattes provides caffeine, a natural stimulant that can enhance mental alertness and concentration.

Moderate caffeine intake, such as that found in a latte, has been associated with reduced risk of certain diseases, including Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to consume caffeine in moderation, as excessive intake can lead to restlessness and disrupted sleep patterns.

Nutritional Value of Milk

The milk in lattes contributes essential nutrients, including calcium, which is vital for bone health.

Milk is also a good source of protein, supporting muscle repair and growth.

Additionally, it provides vitamins B2 and B12, important for energy metabolism and maintaining healthy red blood cells, respectively.

Choosing low-fat or skim milk can reduce calorie intake while still providing these nutritional benefits.

Mood Improvement

Beyond the physical health benefits, the ritual of enjoying a latte can also have a positive impact on your mood.

The combination of caffeine’s stimulating effects and the comfort of a warm beverage can contribute to a sense of well-being and relaxation.


Coffee itself is rich in antioxidants, which protect your cells against damage from free radicals.

Regular consumption of antioxidant-rich foods and beverages, like lattes, can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases.

How to Make Your Perfect Latte at Home

Brewing the Perfect Espresso Base

Whether you’re in the mood for a hot or cold latte, it all starts with a solid espresso base.

If you have an espresso machine, great! Use it to pull a rich, dark shot of espresso.

If not, don’t worry.

A stovetop Moka pot or even a strong brew from a French press can substitute nicely.

Aim for a coffee that’s bold and robust, as it needs to stand up to the milk without getting lost.

Remember, the quality of your coffee beans matters a lot here, so choose them wisely.

Steaming and Frothing Milk for a Hot Latte

For those craving the warmth of a hot latte, getting your milk texture right is key.

If you have a steam wand, use it to steam your milk until it’s hot and has formed a smooth, silky foam.

No steam wand? A microwave and a manual milk frother can work in a pinch.

Heat your milk briefly in the microwave, then froth until you achieve that creamy consistency.

The goal is to create a velvety blend that pours smoothly into your espresso, crowning it with a gentle foam cap.

Creating a Refreshing Cold Latte

For a cold latte, skip the steam and reach for the ice.

Fill a tall glass with ice cubes, then pour over your freshly brewed espresso.

Next, add cold milk to the mix.

You can froth the milk slightly if you like a bit of texture, or leave it smooth for a more traditional iced latte experience.

The key here is to ensure your espresso is strong enough to not get diluted by the ice and milk.

Stir well, and enjoy the cool, refreshing taste of your homemade iced latte.

Customizing Your Latte

Flavor Additions and Sweeteners

Turning your latte into a personal treat is all about the extras.

For a start, consider looking at some flavored syrups.

Vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, and even pumpkin spice can transform your latte into a delightful experience.

If you prefer your sweetness with a bit more subtlety, honey, maple syrup, or a dash of raw sugar can do the trick.

Remember, the key is to start with a little and adjust according to your taste.

This way, you can enjoy the perfect balance of espresso, milk, and sweetness.

Milk Alternatives for Everyone

Lattes are wonderfully versatile, and that includes catering to those who prefer or need to avoid dairy.

Almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, and coconut milk are fantastic alternatives that not only make your latte vegan-friendly but also introduce new layers of flavor.

Oat milk, for instance, adds a creamy texture and a slight sweetness, while almond milk brings a nutty undertone.

If you’re experimenting with plant-based kinds of milk, look for the “barista” versions.

They’re specially formulated to froth and blend just like traditional dairy, ensuring your latte is just as luxurious.

Understanding the Difference: Latte vs. Coffee

The world of coffee is vast and varied, with each beverage offering its unique taste and experience.

Among these, lattes and traditional coffee stand out for their popularity and distinct characteristics.

Let’s dive into what sets these two favorites apart.

Basis of Brew

The foundation of a latte is espresso, a concentrated coffee made by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water through finely-ground coffee beans.

This process creates a rich, bold flavor that serves as the base for the latte.

In contrast, traditional coffee, often referred to as drip coffee, is made by brewing ground coffee beans with hot water, resulting in a lighter, more fluid drink.

The brewing method significantly influences the flavor intensity and texture, making espresso-based lattes richer and creamier than their coffee counterparts.

Milk Matters

A defining feature of a latte is the addition of steamed milk and a layer of milk foam, which softens the espresso’s robust flavor and adds a creamy texture.

The ratio of espresso to milk in a latte is typically 1:3, with a small layer of foam on top.

Traditional coffee, however, is usually served black or with a splash of milk or cream added according to the drinker’s preference, without the characteristic foam or significant milk volume found in lattes.

Flavor and Customization

Lattes offer a canvas for a variety of flavor additions, from vanilla and caramel to pumpkin spice, allowing for a personalized coffee experience.

The steamed milk blends seamlessly with flavored syrups or powders, creating a harmonious and indulgent drink.

Traditional coffee, while it can also be flavored with syrups or creamers, tends to have a more straightforward profile, with a focus on the coffee’s natural flavors and aromas.

Serving Style

Lattes are typically served in taller glasses or mugs to accommodate the layers of espresso, milk, and foam, often showcasing latte art on the foam’s surface.

Traditional coffee is usually served in a standard coffee cup or mug, with less emphasis on presentation and more on the coffee itself.

Caffeine Content

Due to the concentrated nature of espresso, lattes tend to have a higher caffeine content per ounce than drip coffee.

However, because lattes also contain a significant amount of milk, the overall caffeine content of a standard-sized drink may be lower than that of a similar-sized cup of traditional coffee.

A latte, typically made with one shot of espresso, contains about 63-65 milligrams of caffeine.

In contrast, an 8-ounce cup of traditional drip coffee packs a more robust caffeine punch, with approximately 95 milligrams of caffeine.

Grind Size and Extraction Time

For a latte, the espresso requires a very fine grind size.

This finer grind is crucial because it increases the surface area in contact with water, allowing for a more intense extraction of flavors within a short period, typically 25 to 30 seconds.

This quick, high-pressure extraction results in the rich, concentrated espresso shot that forms the base of a latte.

In contrast, traditional coffee uses a medium to coarse grind, depending on the brewing method (drip, pour-over, French press, etc.).

The extraction time is longer, ranging from a few minutes up to four or five, allowing for a gradual draw of flavor from the grounds.

Water Temperature and Pressure

Espresso, the heart of a latte, is brewed under high pressure, usually around 9 bars, with water temperatures between 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C).

This high-pressure forces water through the tightly packed, finely ground coffee, creating a shot of espresso that is bold and flavorful, with a layer of crema on top.

Traditional coffee brewing methods, such as drip or pour-over, do not utilize such high pressure.

Instead, they rely on gravity to pass water through the grounds at a lower temperature, typically also around 195°F to 205°F, similar to espresso but without the pressure.

This results in a lighter, more nuanced flavor profile compared to the intense and concentrated nature of espresso.

What’s The Difference Between Lattes And Cappuccinos?

The main difference between lattes and cappuccinos lies in their milk content and texture, which influences their overall taste and presentation.

A latte consists of a larger proportion of steamed milk to espresso, typically in a 3:1 ratio, topped with a light layer of milk foam, resulting in a creamier, smoother beverage with a subtle coffee flavor.

On the other hand, a cappuccino maintains a 1:1:1 ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, leading to a stronger espresso flavor with a rich, frothy texture.

The distinct layers of a cappuccino, with equal parts of each component, make it more robust and textured compared to the latte’s more blended and milk-forward profile.

Are Starbucks Lattes Hot Or Cold?

Starbucks lattes can be enjoyed both hot and cold, catering to a wide range of customer preferences and seasonal desires.

The traditional Starbucks latte is served hot, combining freshly brewed espresso with steamed milk and a light layer of foam, perfect for those seeking warmth and comfort.

However, for those who prefer a cooler beverage, especially during the warmer months, Starbucks also offers iced lattes.

These are prepared by pouring espresso over ice and then adding cold milk, resulting in a refreshing drink that retains the rich coffee flavor.

Are Café Lattes Or To-Go Lattes Better?

The debate between café lattes and to-go lattes boils down to personal preference and the experience one is seeking.

Café lattes, enjoyed in the ambiance of a coffee shop, offer not just a drink but a whole experience; the aroma of fresh coffee, the sound of milk being steamed, and the opportunity to see skilled baristas at work add to the enjoyment of your latte.

This setting often enhances the flavor and overall enjoyment of the drink, making it a preferred choice for those who value the coffee shop atmosphere as part of their coffee experience.

On the other hand, to-go lattes provide convenience and flexibility, allowing coffee lovers to enjoy their favorite beverage on the move.

While the taste can still be excellent, the experience is more about the convenience of enjoying a quality latte in the midst of a busy day.

Ultimately, whether café lattes or to-go lattes are better depends on what the individual values more: the immersive experience of a café or the convenience of a to-go option.

Should You Order Extra-Hot Lattes?

Ordering extra-hot lattes comes down to how quickly you intend to drink your coffee.

While some people prefer their lattes extra hot for a warmer, more comforting experience, especially in colder weather, it’s important to consider that excessively high temperatures can affect the milk’s natural sweetness and overall flavor profile, potentially leading to a burnt taste.

Additionally, very hot temperatures can diminish the quality of the espresso’s delicate flavors.

If you’re someone who enjoys savoring their latte slowly, an extra-hot latte might stay warm for longer, but if you value the subtle flavors of espresso and the creamy texture of well-steamed milk, sticking to the recommended serving temperature might provide a more balanced and enjoyable taste experience.

Keeping Your Latte Hot for Longer

Enjoying a latte at its perfect temperature is part of the coffee experience.

Here are some tips to ensure your latte stays warm and inviting for as long as possible:

  • Preheat Your Cup: Before pouring your latte, fill your cup with hot water for a minute. This will help maintain the latte’s temperature once you pour it in.
  • Use a Thermal Mug: If you’re on the go, pour your latte into a thermal mug. These mugs are designed to keep beverages hot for hours, preserving the warmth and flavor of your latte.
  • Limit Air Exposure: Keep the lid on your latte cup or mug. The less air exposure your latte has, the slower it will cool down.
  • Wrap It Up: If you don’t have a thermal mug, wrapping your latte cup in a napkin or a sleeve can provide a bit of insulation, keeping your latte warmer for longer.
  • Avoid Pouring Too Much Milk: The more milk you add to your espresso, the quicker it will cool down. Try to stick to the ideal latte ratio to keep it warm.
  • Use a Metal Spoon: Placing a metal spoon in your cup absorbs some of the heat and distributes it evenly throughout the drink, keeping it warmer overall.

Perfect Food Pairings with Your Latte

Enjoying a latte is not just about savoring the rich, creamy coffee itself but also about the delightful foods you can pair with it.

Here are some foods that complement a latte beautifully, enhancing your coffee experience:

  • Croissants: The buttery, flaky texture of a fresh croissant pairs wonderfully with the smoothness of a latte, making for a classic breakfast or snack combo.
  • Biscotti: These Italian almond biscuits are made for dipping into your latte. Their crunchy texture and nutty flavor contrast nicely with the creamy coffee.
  • Chocolate Cake: The richness of chocolate cake and the creamy latte balance each other perfectly, especially if you enjoy a bit of sweetness with your coffee.
  • Fruit Tarts: A fruit tart with its sweet and slightly tart flavor complements the milky latte, offering a refreshing bite alongside your warm beverage.
  • Quiche: For a more savory option, the egginess and flaky pastry of quiche can be a delightful contrast to the smooth, velvety latte.
  • Granola and Yogurt: If you’re looking for a healthier pairing, the crunch of granola and the tang of yogurt alongside a latte can kickstart your morning with varied textures and flavors.
  • Cheese Scones: The slight saltiness of cheese scones brings out the latte’s sweetness, making for a satisfying, savory snack.


Lattes are a versatile coffee choice, perfectly catering to both hot and cold beverage preferences.

Whether you’re craving the comforting warmth of a traditional hot latte or the refreshing chill of an iced version, there’s a latte for every mood and season.

We encourage you to embrace the art of latte making at home, experimenting with different flavors, milks, and techniques to craft your ideal cup.

Embracing the diversity of lattes not only enhances your coffee experience but also allows you to discover new favorites right in your own kitchen.


What is a cold latte called?

A cold latte is commonly referred to as an “iced latte.”

This refreshing version is made by pouring espresso over ice and adding cold milk, perfect for those warmer days or when you’re in the mood for a chilled coffee beverage.

Can a latte be too hot?

Yes, a latte can be too hot if the milk is steamed beyond the optimal temperature range, typically between 150°F to 165°F (65°C to 74°C).

Overheating the milk can result in a burnt taste and may also diminish the natural sweetness of the milk, affecting the overall flavor balance of the latte.

Which is stronger, latte or cappuccino?

In terms of coffee flavor intensity, a cappuccino is generally stronger than a latte.

This is because cappuccinos have a higher ratio of espresso to milk compared to lattes, resulting in a bolder coffee taste.

Cappuccinos also features a thick layer of foam, which adds to the richness of the drink.

What kind of milk is used in lattes?

Traditionally, whole milk is used in lattes to create a creamy, rich texture and to produce the best microform.

However, lattes can be made with various types of milk, including skim, 2%, and non-dairy alternatives like almond, soy, oat, and coconut milk, depending on personal preference and dietary needs.

Is an espresso machine required to make a latte?

While an espresso machine is a traditional tool for making a latte, it is not strictly required.

You can still create a latte-like beverage at home using alternative methods to brew a strong coffee base.

Tools like a Moka pot, Aeropress, or even a French press can produce coffee with a strength and concentration similar to espresso.

The key is to achieve a rich, bold coffee flavor that can stand up to the milk.

For the milk component, you can heat and froth milk using a stovetop method, microwave, or a handheld milk frother to mimic the creamy texture of steamed milk.

While these methods may not replicate the exact characteristics of an espresso-based latte, they can come close and still deliver a delicious, latte-inspired drink.

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Jacob Harris

Jacob is a coffee enthusiast who turned his passion into a career. As the owner and editor of Karma Coffee Cafe, he shares his extensive knowledge and recommendations, captivating fellow coffee lovers.

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