If you are tired of paying a fortune for a latte in a coffee shop then you can easily learn how to make a latte at home without using a coffee machine and it will taste as good but will cost a fraction of the price you normally pay.
When you order a coffee in Costa or Starbucks or Café Nero the machinery they use looks like an alien spaceship. Buttons and knobs and dials all over the place all frantically being pushed and twiddled and turned to magically create the Latte that you pay £3 or more for.
It’s no surprise that when you look at the thousands of pounds worth of equipment that they use you are thinking there is no way you could make a latte at home anywhere close to what you get in a coffee shop.
The good news is that you absolutely can make a latte at home with what you have at home right now and you definitely do not need a coffee machine to do it.
The more of an investment you are prepared to make, the better tasting your latte will be but you can get started straight away without spending anything.
There are 3 things that make up a good latte. Coffee quality, the process of making or brewing the coffee and the milk.
We will take a look at each one in detail and then finally show you how to bring them all together to create the perfect latte at home.
What is a Latte?
A latte is a coffee drink that is made up of espresso coffee and heated, frothed milk.
Technically you should add 4 parts milk to 1 part espresso so however much coffee you end up with you should add about 4 times as much milk to get your latte.
The reality is that when you are making a latte at home you can ignore all of that and make it as strong or as weak as you like by increasing the amount of milk for a milder taste or adding less milk for a stronger flavour.
You also don’t need “espresso” from a coffee machine, you can use whatever coffee you want.
The best coffee to use for a Latte
Believe it or not, the coffee they use in the main high street coffee shops is not very good quality coffee.
Have a look at the beans the next time you are in Starbucks or Costa and you will see how dark they are.
The darker the beans, the more they have been roasted and the more coffee beans get roasted the less flavour you can expect.
Learn more about light and dark roast coffee in this article
It doesn’t mean they are bad, it just means that you can easily buy coffee of the same or better quality than you get in a coffee shop without breaking the bank.
You will also notice that when you order a latte in a coffee shop they always grind whole coffee beans freshly just before making your latte.
That’s because coffee always tastes better if you grind the beans just before you make a coffee.
If you want to get as close to what you get in a coffee shop then buy whole coffee beans and grind them yourself before making your latte.
It’s certainly not required but it will give you the best flavour. You can get a coffee grinder for as little as a tenner that will grind your beans ready for brewing.
Here are some of the best cheap coffee grinders:
If you don’t want the hassle of buying and grinding coffee beans then the next best thing is to buy pre-ground coffee where the job has already been done for you and you are good to go.
Here are a few pre-ground coffee’s to consider that you can pick up in a decent larger size supermarket
If you don’t want to mess about with brewing your coffee at all and you have a jar of instant coffee in your cupboard then you can always use that if you want. When you use the preparation method below, it will work but with instant coffee, you always compromise on flavour.
This article explains why instant coffee should be a last resort when it comes to making a latte at home:
Once you have chosen the type of coffee you are going to use its time to make the coffee before the milk gets added.
Making the coffee
Latte’s in coffee shops are made with espresso coffee and espresso is strong so you want to start with a strong coffee before the milk is added.
If you have decided to go down the road of using instant coffee then you need to make a strong one.
Normally when you make coffee with instant coffee you add a heaped teaspoon of coffee to a cup and fill it up mostly with water before adding milk.
Because you are going to be adding a lot more milk to make a latte at home with instant coffee, use the same amount of instant coffee as you normally would but only a small amount of water. Just use enough water so that the coffee has dissolved and it’s a nice thick liquid.
That’s it if you are using instant coffee, you can now skip to the milk part.
If you have decided to either grind coffee beans yourself or use pre-ground coffee then you will need to use some kind of coffee maker to brew your coffee in.
You can, of course, use a coffee machine but this article is specifically for people that do not have a coffee machine at home and don’t want to buy one in order to make a latte at home.
With ground coffee there are a few choices that don’t involve spending loads of money on a coffee machine:
Stovetop espresso maker. These are sometimes called a Moka pot and were the preferred method to brew strong coffee long before coffee machines were invented.
They are very inexpensive and if you don’t want to spend the money on a coffee machine you plug into the mains then this is the best alternative to get a coffee ready to be turned into a latte.
Cafetiere. You may already have a cafetière at the back of a cupboard somewhere and you had no idea you could use one to brew coffee and turn the coffee in lattes. You can!
If you don’t already have a cafetière then this is also another excellent low-cost way to brew a coffee ready to be turned into a latte.
Aeropress. This device has taken the world by storm over the last decade or so and is another excellent way to brew ground coffee quickly and easily without using a coffee machine.
Whichever method you use, the key thing is to make sure the coffee is nice and strong and then you can move on to the milk preparation.
How to make milk for a latte
Start with the same type of milk they use in coffee shops and that is whole milk or “full fat” as we like to call it.
If you don’t ask for semi-skimmed milk or skimmed milk when you order a latte in a coffee shop they will automatically give you full-fat milk by default.
And the reason for that is simple, it tastes best when mixed with coffee. Semi-skimmed is ok as well if that is what you prefer but we would not recommend using skimmed milk because it does nothing for the flavour of your coffee.
Once you have chosen the type of milk you will use it then needs to be heated and frothed.
Lattes have a lot less froth or foam than a cappuccino. For a latte you only want a thin layer of foam to create that authentic coffee shop look so it’s easy to get what you want without spending any money on a milk frother.
All you need is a jar with a lid from your cupboard. Fill it up halfway and screw the lid on. Give it a good shake for about 20-30 seconds in the same way you see a bartender shaking a cocktail.
Once you see a nice bit of froth building up, take the lid off and its ready for heating. Take the lid off and put it in the microwave for about 1 ½ minutes.
If you want to use a more professional method of frothing but you want to keep it manual you can have a look at the Bodum milk frother. It’s super simple to use, creates thick froth with minimum effort and then it goes straight into the microwave to heat the milk.
If you want to froth and heat your milk without any effort at all then you can opt for an electric milk frother that will froth your milk and heat it up to the correct temperature with the press of just one button.
If you opt to use a cafetière to brew your coffee you can froth the milk up in that but don’t put it straight in the microwave. Pour the milk into a suitable microwaveable container and heat for 1 ½ minutes.
If you have a thermometer then try and get the temperature of the milk as close to 65 degrees Celcius as possible as that’s the perfect temperature for milk for lattes.
Add the milk to your latte
Once you have your strongly brewed coffee and your heated frothed milk, it’s time to combine the two together to create your home-made latte.
Ideally, you want to add 4 times as much milk as you have coffee. A nice size for a latte is about 250ml which is a good-sized mug so if you start with about 50ml of strong coffee you can measure out about 200ml of milk before you froth and heat.
The beauty of making a latte at home is that you can tailor it to exactly how you like it.
If you like it a bit stronger then add about 150ml of milk. If you like it milder make it 250ml.
Pour the milk into the coffee with a spoon to hold back the froth. After a few tries, you will recognise the shade of brown that you like for the coffee and you can stop pouring the milk at that point.
Top it off with a thin layer of froth and you have the perfect latte made at home without a coffee machine.