How to Make the Perfect Latte
A latte is a mixture of espresso and steamed milk that results in a drink that is flavorful and warm, but is not quite as strong as a straight shot of espresso. Making a great latte involves several steps that, when followed, result in a rich, creamy drink.
What you will need:
Step One: Pull a shot of espresso
The base for any great latte is a perfect shot of espresso. Pulling a shot involves the entire process of making an espresso drink, from grinding to pouring and everything in between. Follow these steps to pull a shot of espresso:
- Grind the espresso beans. To make certain that your espresso shot is always its freshest, only grind enough beans to fill the portafilter.
- Dose the espresso grounds. Dosing is merely the action of allowing the grounds to fall into the waiting portafilter by pulling a lever.
- Tamp the dose of grounds. Packing the espresso grounds tightly ensures that the shot of espresso will be strong and not watered down.
- Extract the espresso. Insert the portafilter into the commercial espresso machine and allow the water to flow through the pellet of grounds and into a small glass or creamer.
Step Two: Steam the Milk
Steamed milk adds a creamy texture to the espresso and makes up most of the latte drink since its flavor is so much milder than the espresso. To properly steam milk, follow these steps:
- Fill a pitcher with milk. Since steamed milk expands very little, you can fill a frothing pitcher with the amount of milk that you would like to add into the drink.
- Submerge the steam wand. It is undesirable to have bubbles in steamed milk, so make certain to put the steam wand two-thirds of the way into the pitcher.
- Use a steam thermometer. Steamed milk is at its ideal temperature around 150°F, so make certain to insert a steam thermometer into the milk to track its heating progress.
Step Three: Pour the Drink
This is the part where milk meets espresso to create a great latte. Though the two ingredients are meant to mix, there is some art to pouring them so there is optimal mixing. Follow the steps below to finish off the drink:
- Pour the espresso. If you used a creamer with a spout to hold the shot of espresso, it will be easy to pour the espresso into a latte cup, but if you pulled into a glass, make certain to fully tip the glass immediately into the drink so none of the espresso runs down the side of the glass.
- Pour the steamed milk. Dump the milk into the espresso so it mixes well. Foam can be used to top a latte drink, but the milk must be foamed after the steamed milk has been mixed with the espresso. Foamed milk mixed with the espresso will result in an unappealing mixture of milk and espresso. If you accidentally foamed a bit of the steamed milk, you can prevent it from getting in the drink by placing the dull end of a chef’s knife across the top of the pitcher as you pour to prevent the bubbles from getting into the drink.
- Serve the drink. Traditionally, lattes do not have garnishes and should be served as is, but it is acceptable to add a little whipped cream on top if a customer requests it.
Commercial Espresso Machines
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