What Is A Breve Coffee? What It Is And How To Make It

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Breve Coffee is a luxurious twist on traditional espresso drinks that has been tantalizing taste buds for years.

Breve Coffee, known for its rich and creamy texture, is a unique concoction that blends the boldness of espresso with the smoothness of half-and-half.

This delightful beverage has a fascinating history, originating as an American variation of the classic Italian latte. ‘

Its distinct composition and indulgent flavor profile have made it a beloved choice among coffee aficionados.

Let’s dive into the topic a bit deeper and we’ll also show how to make a delicious Breve coffee at home!

The Unique Ingredients of Breve Coffee

Breve Coffee stands out in the world of espresso-based drinks, thanks to its two key components: espresso and half-and-half.

Let’s explore what makes these ingredients so special and how they set Breve Coffee apart from other traditional coffee beverages.

Espresso in Breve Coffee

The foundation of any Breve Coffee is a robust shot (or two) of espresso.

This concentrated coffee is known for its deep, rich flavor and is the heart of the drink.

Espresso in Breve Coffee isn’t just about the caffeine kick; it’s about providing a strong, flavorful base that complements the creaminess of the other key ingredient.

The quality of the espresso is crucial – a well-brewed shot should have a balance of bitterness, acidity, and sweetness, often topped with a golden layer of crema that adds smoothness to the drink.

Half-and-Half: The Key Differentiator

What truly sets Breve Coffee apart is the use of half-and-half, a blend of equal parts whole milk and heavy cream.

This combination brings a luxurious creaminess and a subtle sweetness that you won’t find in regular milk.

When steamed and added to espresso, half-and-half creates a rich, velvety texture that elevates the coffee experience.

It’s thicker and more indulgent than milk, making each sip of Breve Coffee a delightful treat.

How to Make Breve Coffee

Creating a perfect cup of Breve Coffee is an art that combines simplicity with a touch of luxury.

Let’s break down the process into easy-to-follow steps, ensuring you can enjoy this creamy delight right in your kitchen.

Equipment Needed

To start, you’ll need a few basic tools:

  • Espresso Machine: This is essential for brewing a strong and flavorful espresso base.
  • Steam Wand or Milk Frother: For heating and frothing the half-and-half to creamy perfection.
  • Coffee Grinder: If you’re using whole beans, a grinder will ensure the freshest espresso shot.
  • Measuring Tools: A scale or measuring spoons for coffee and a measuring cup for half-and-half.
  • Coffee Cup: Choose your favorite cup to serve this delicious beverage.

Step-by-Step Brewing Process

  1. Grind the Coffee Beans: Aim for a fine espresso grind. You’ll need about 18-20 grams for a double shot.
  2. Brew the Espresso: Pack the ground coffee into the espresso machine’s portafilter and brew a double shot of espresso directly into your cup.
  3. Steam the Half-and-Half: Pour half-and-half into a pitcher. Use the steam wand to heat it until it’s hot and frothy, but not boiling. Aim for a silky texture.
  4. Combine and Pour: Gently pour the steamed half-and-half into the cup with the espresso. Do this slowly to maintain a good mix of espresso and cream.

Tips for the Perfect Breve

  • Quality Ingredients: Use high-quality espresso beans and fresh half-and-half for the best flavor.
  • Temperature Control: Be careful not to overheat the half-and-half. It should be warm and frothy, not scalding.
  • Proportion Balance: Maintain a good balance between espresso and half-and-half. A 1:1 ratio is a good starting point.
  • Practice Your Pour: Pouring slowly and steadily helps to create a smooth blend of espresso and cream.
  • Clean Equipment: Always start with a clean espresso machine and steam wand to ensure the best taste.

Best Espresso Machines for Making Breve Coffee

When it comes to brewing the perfect Breve Coffee, the choice of espresso machine can make a significant difference.

While traditional espresso machines are ideal, alternatives like the French Press and Moka Pot can also be used effectively.

Let’s delve into the best options for making this creamy delight.

Traditional Espresso Machines

High-End Automatic Machines

For those seeking convenience and precision, high-end automatic espresso machines are a great choice.

They offer consistent pressure and temperature control, essential for extracting the perfect espresso shot.

Brands like Breville, DeLonghi, and Jura are known for their quality and ease of use.

Semi-Automatic Machines

For more control over the brewing process, a semi-automatic machine is ideal.

These machines allow you to grind your beans, tamp the coffee, and control the shot extraction time.

The Rancilio Silvia and Gaggia Classic are popular choices among coffee enthusiasts.

Using a French Press

While a French Press doesn’t make true espresso, it can brew a strong coffee that works well for a Breve.

The key is to use a fine grind and a longer steep time to get a richer and more concentrated brew.

This method is great for those who don’t have an espresso machine but still crave the intensity of a Breve.

Utilizing a Moka Pot

The Moka Pot, often referred to as a stovetop espresso maker, is another excellent alternative.

It produces a concentrated coffee similar to espresso.

While the pressure achieved in a Moka Pot is not as high as in an espresso machine, it still makes a strong base for your Breve.

Brands like Bialetti are renowned for their quality Moka Pots.

Best Ways to Froth Half-and-Half for Breve Coffee

Frothing half-and-half to achieve the perfect texture for Breve Coffee is an art in itself.

Unlike regular milk, half-and-half contains more fat, which requires a slightly different approach to frothing.

Here are some of the best ways to get that rich, creamy froth that makes a Breve so delightful.

Using a Steam Wand

If you have an espresso machine with a steam wand, it’s the ideal tool for frothing half-and-half.

Start by filling a metal pitcher about one-third full with cold half-and-half. Submerge the steam wand just below the surface and turn it on.

Keep the wand near the surface to incorporate air and create foam.

As the half-and-half warms and expands, lower the pitcher gradually to heat it evenly without creating large bubbles.

The goal is to achieve a smooth, velvety texture without overheating.

Handheld Milk Frothers

These are convenient and easy to use for frothing half-and-half.

Simply pour the half-and-half into a cup, insert the frother, and turn it on.

Move the frother up and down until you achieve the desired level of froth.

This method is great for those who don’t have an espresso machine with a steam wand.

Stovetop Method

If you don’t have any specialized equipment, you can heat the half-and-half on the stove and use a manual whisk.

Heat the half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium heat, but be careful not to boil it.

Once it’s warm, use a whisk to vigorously whip it until frothy.

This method requires a bit more effort but can still produce a decent froth.

Microwave Technique

For a quick and easy method, fill a jar halfway with half-and-half, seal the lid tightly, and shake it vigorously for about 30 seconds.

Remove the lid and microwave the jar for a few seconds.

This will stabilize the foam, making it ready to spoon over your espresso.

What Size Glass Is A Breve Served In?

A Breve Coffee is traditionally served in a smaller-sized glass, typically ranging from 4 to 6 ounces.

This size is chosen to maintain the perfect balance between the rich, bold espresso and the creamy half-and-half.

The most common choice is a 4.5-ounce glass, often referred to as a Gibraltar glass or a cortado glass.

This specific size is ideal as it allows for an equal ratio of espresso to half-and-half, ensuring each sip is a harmonious blend of strong coffee and velvety creaminess.

The choice of a smaller glass also aligns with the meaning of “breve” in Italian, which translates to “short,” reflecting the concentrated and rich nature of the drink.

Customizing Your Breve Coffee

Let’s explore how you can add a personal touch to this luxurious coffee.

Adding Flavors


A dash of vanilla syrup can transform your Breve into a sweet, aromatic delight.

Vanilla complements the creamy texture, adding a subtle, fragrant sweetness.


For a richer, more decadent experience, swirl in some caramel.

It pairs beautifully with the bold espresso and creamy half-and-half, creating a dessert-like treat.

Other Flavors

Don’t stop at vanilla and caramel; the possibilities are endless.

Hazelnut, chocolate, cinnamon, or even seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice can elevate your Breve Coffee experience.

Adjusting Espresso and Cream Ratios

Stronger Coffee Flavor

If you prefer a more robust coffee taste, increase the amount of espresso in your Breve.

Adding an extra shot can intensify the coffee’s presence, balancing the creaminess.

Creamier Texture

For those who love the luxurious texture of Breve, adjusting the ratio to include more half-and-half can make your drink even creamier.

This adjustment is perfect for a smoother, richer coffee experience.

Iced Breve Variations

Classic Iced Breve

Cool down with an Iced Breve.

Simply pour your espresso over ice and add chilled half-and-half.

This version is refreshing while still maintaining the creamy richness of a traditional Breve.

Flavored Iced Breve

Incorporate your favorite syrups into the iced version for a delightful summer treat.

Vanilla, caramel, or chocolate syrups work wonderfully in an Iced Breve.

Blended Iced Breve

For a frosty twist, blend your Iced Breve with ice in a blender.

This creates a smooth, frappe-like beverage, perfect for hot days or when you’re craving something extra indulgent.

Breve vs. Other Coffee Drinks

Breve Coffee, with its unique blend of espresso and half-and-half, stands out in the coffee world.

Let’s compare it with other popular coffee drinks like Latte, Cappuccino, and Flat White to understand its distinct qualities.

Comparison with Latte, Cappuccino, and Flat White

  • Latte: A classic latte combines espresso with steamed milk and a light foam layer. It’s milder and milkier than a Breve, which is creamier and richer due to the half-and-half.
  • Cappuccino: Known for its equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and frothy milk foam, a cappuccino offers a stronger coffee flavor and a lighter texture than a Breve. The foam in a cappuccino is airier, while the Breve’s half-and-half adds a velvety touch.
  • Flat White: Originating from Australia/New Zealand, Flat White is similar to a latte but with a higher coffee-to-milk ratio and microfoam. It’s smoother and stronger in coffee flavor than a latte but less creamy and rich than a Breve.

Flavor Profile Differences

  • Breve Coffee is characterized by its rich, creamy texture and a balanced blend of bold espresso and the slight sweetness of half-and-half. It’s a luxurious drink with a velvety mouthfeel.
  • Lattes offer a more subdued espresso flavor, with the milk softening the coffee’s bitterness, making it a great choice for those who prefer a milder taste.
  • Cappuccinos have a more pronounced coffee flavor, with the foam adding a light and airy quality. They are less creamy than Breves but offer a delightful texture.
  • Flat Whites, with their higher coffee concentration, provide a robust espresso flavor complemented by the smoothness of steamed milk, making them a favorite for coffee enthusiasts who enjoy a strong but smooth taste.

Nutritional Considerations

  • Breve Coffee tends to be higher in calories and fat due to the half-and-half. It’s a more indulgent option, perfect for those looking for a richer, more satiating drink.
  • Lattes, Cappuccinos, and Flat Whites are generally lower in calories, especially when made with low-fat or plant-based milk. They are suitable for those who are calorie-conscious but still want to enjoy a creamy coffee drink.

Health and Nutritional Aspects

We’ve already touched on this briefly but let’s dive a bit further into the nutritional aspects of Breve Coffee.

Breve Coffee, with its signature half-and-half, is richer in calories and fat compared to traditional milk-based coffees.

This higher calorie count, primarily from fats in the cream, means it can be more indulgent, making it a treat rather than an everyday choice for those mindful of their calorie intake.

However, it’s not all about the calories; Breve Coffee can be a source of quick energy and satiety due to its fat content, which might be beneficial for those not restricted by calorie-based diets.

On the flip side, if you’re watching your cholesterol or following a heart-healthy diet, the high-fat content in Breve Coffee might be a drawback.

As with any indulgent food or drink, enjoying Breve Coffee in moderation is key to balancing pleasure with health.

How Many Calories Are In A Breve?

When discussing the specific calorie count of Breve Coffee, it’s essential to understand that this can vary based on the size of the drink and the exact ratio of espresso to half-and-half.

However, to give you a general idea, let’s consider a standard serving size.

A typical Breve Coffee, made with a double shot of espresso and about 8 ounces (240 ml) of half-and-half, can contain approximately 300 to 450 calories.

This estimate is based on the fact that half-and-half contains about 315 to 350 calories per 8 ounces, depending on the brand and fat content.

The espresso itself adds negligible calories.

It’s important to note that if you add flavored syrups or sweeteners, the calorie count will increase.

For example, adding just one tablespoon of vanilla syrup can add 20 calories or more, depending on the syrup’s sugar content.

In comparison, a standard latte of the same size made with whole milk contains about 150 to 200 calories, significantly less than a Breve Coffee.

The key difference in calorie content comes from the fat content in half-and-half, which is much higher than in whole milk.

For those who are calorie-conscious or managing specific dietary needs, it’s crucial to consider these numbers when enjoying Breve Coffee.

While it’s a delicious and indulgent treat, its higher calorie content makes it more suitable for occasional enjoyment rather than a daily habit.

Vegan and Dairy-Free Alternatives to Breve Coffee

For those who follow a vegan lifestyle or are lactose intolerant, enjoying a traditional Breve Coffee can be challenging due to its dairy content.

However, the good news is that several vegan and dairy-free alternatives can mimic the creamy texture and rich flavor of a classic Breve.

Let’s explore some of these options:

Coconut Cream and Almond Milk Blend

A combination of coconut cream and almond milk can be a great alternative to half-and-half.

Coconut cream provides thickness and richness, while almond milk adds a nutty flavor and helps in achieving the desired consistency.

This blend can be steamed and frothed just like traditional half-and-half for a creamy and indulgent vegan Breve.

Soy and Cashew Milk Blend

Soy milk is known for its high protein content and ability to froth well, making it a good base for a dairy-free Breve.

Mixing it with cashew milk, which is naturally creamy and sweet, can create a texture and flavor profile similar to half-and-half.

This blend is also a good source of nutrients and can be a healthier alternative.

Oat Milk

For those who prefer a simpler solution, oat milk can be a great single-ingredient substitute.

It’s naturally creamy and has a neutral flavor that doesn’t overpower the espresso.

Oat milk also froths well, making it suitable for creating the velvety texture characteristic of a Breve.

Barista-Grade Non-Dairy Creamers

There are several barista-grade non-dairy creamers available on the market specifically designed to replicate the texture and frothing qualities of dairy cream.

These products are usually made from a blend of plant-based milks and thickeners to achieve the desired creaminess.

Breve Coffee in Coffee Shops

Ordering a Breve Coffee at your favorite coffee chain can be a delightful experience, especially when you know exactly how to ask for it and what customizations are available.

At most popular coffee shops, including big names like Starbucks or local cafes, you can simply request a “Breve” and the barista will understand that you’re looking for a coffee made with half-and-half instead of regular milk.

If you’re at a place that doesn’t list Breve on the menu, you can order a latte and ask for it to be made with half-and-half.

For a personal touch, feel free to add flavors like vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut syrup.

Some shops even offer sugar-free syrups if you’re watching your sugar intake.

When it comes to price, Breves can be slightly more expensive than standard lattes due to the cost of half-and-half compared to milk.

The price might also increase with added flavors or extra shots of espresso.

However, the rich and creamy experience of a well-made Breve Coffee often justifies the extra pennies.

Remember, prices can vary from one coffee shop to another, so it’s always a good idea to check the menu or ask the barista about any additional costs for customizations.


Breve Coffee stands out with its unique blend of bold espresso and creamy half-and-half, offering a luxurious twist to traditional coffee drinks.

Its rich texture and indulgent flavor profile make it a special treat for coffee lovers.

Whether you’re a seasoned barista or a curious coffee enthusiast, Breve Coffee is worth exploring.

We encourage you to either try it at your local coffee shop or experiment with making it at home.


What’s the difference between a latte and a breve?

The main difference between a latte and a breve lies in the dairy used.

A latte is made with espresso and steamed milk, typically resulting in a lighter, milkier coffee.

In contrast, a breve is made with espresso and steamed half-and-half (a mix of milk and cream), giving it a richer, creamier texture and a more indulgent flavor.

Is a breve healthier than a latte?

Health-wise, a breve is higher in calories and fat due to the half-and-half, compared to a latte made with milk.

While it offers a richer taste, it may not be the healthier choice for those monitoring calorie and fat intake.

However, it can provide more satiety and energy due to its higher fat content.

What makes a coffee a breve?

A coffee is considered a breve when it is made with espresso and steamed half-and-half instead of regular milk.

This combination gives the breve its characteristic rich and creamy texture, setting it apart from other espresso-based drinks.

What does breve mean at Starbucks?

At Starbucks, ordering a drink “breve” means replacing the standard milk with half-and-half.

You can request any espresso-based drink to be made breve, which will give it a creamier and richer taste.

Why do people drink breve?

People drink breve for its luxurious texture and rich flavor.

The combination of espresso with the creamy half-and-half creates a more indulgent and satisfying coffee experience, making it a popular choice for those who enjoy a richer coffee drink.

Why is it called a breve?

The term “breve” in Italian means “short” or “brief,” which is thought to refer to the small, concentrated nature of the drink.

It’s a fitting name for a coffee that delivers a rich and robust flavor in a small serving.

Is Breve coffee strong?

Yes, breve coffee is strong in terms of flavor.

It contains espresso, which is a concentrated form of coffee, providing a robust and bold taste.

The richness of the half-and-half complements the strength of the espresso, making breve a strong and flavorful coffee option.

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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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