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Spanish Latte: Everything You Need To Know

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By Daniel Bruce

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You don’t have to go to Spain to enjoy a Spanish latte.

In fact, with a bit of know-how and the right ingredients, you can make your own at home.

But to get it right, it’s essential to understand how a Spanish latte differs from the more familiar Italian caffè latte.

What sets it apart, and why do the different methods and ingredients make an extra coffee?

Spanish Latte latte in spain

Read on to learn all about the Spanish latte!

What is A Spanish Latte?

The people of Spain love their coffee and drink it daily. Even children drink coffee in Spain, like in many European countries.

Of course, the coffee culture in Spain is very much its own thing. Just like Vietnamese coffee takes a French staple and makes it unique, Spanish coffee differs from even the preferred coffee drinks in the rest of Europe.

Take the Spanish latte itself. Also known as a café con Leche, the Spanish version of coffee with milk differs from what you get in France, Italy, Germany, or Austria.

And the Cafe con Leche or Spanish latte isn’t the only version of coffee with milk that Spain prizes.

Cafe Cortado

A café cortado features espresso and milk, like a latte.

Unlike the Spanish version of a latte, the cortado features a 1:1 ratio of steamed milk to cut the bitterness of the Spanish coffee. That’s why the name; “cortado” means “cut.”

In Cuba, this is also known as a cortadito.

Cafe Bombon

The café bonbon is a treat for people who like their coffee sweet. Like Vietnamese coffee, the café bombon consists of brewed Spanish espresso and sweetened condensed milk.

The resulting mixture is sweet and almost syrupy in consistency and solid and rich at the same time.

Let’s dig deeper into the Spanish latte known as café con Leche and what makes it so distinct from other lattes in the world.

1. Spanish Latte VS Regular Latte

A Spanish latte is a little bit different from the regular version. Just about every culture understands coffee with milk, and each version is a little bit different from the others in some way.

Café con Leche is made with espresso, milk, and often a little sugar (though this isn’t strictly required).

The standard addition of sugar sets it apart from the classic caffè latte right from the start. Even though some people don’t add sugar to their Spanish latte, the fact that it’s almost the default makes it different.

Another aspect that sets the Cafe con Leche apart as a distinctly Spanish latte is the proportions of coffee and milk.

The caffè latte usually has more milk than a cappuccino, making it the preferred choice for children in Italy.

A cafe con Leche usually has equal parts scalded milk and strong coffee, making it closer to a cappuccino.

But there’s a fundamental difference there, too: most Spanish latte recipes don’t have milk foam, only hot milk. The slightly sweeter flavor and the lack of frothed milk make all the difference.

2. Spanish Latte Recipe

Fortunately, you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to get your hands on a Spanish latte. It’s easy to make a Spanish latte at home, and if you’re a coffee fan already, you probably already have everything you’ll need.

Ultimately, it would be best to have strong coffee, preferably espresso and scalded milk, and there are many ways to make that happen. You can make the famed Spanish latte with the right ingredients and tools or even try an iced Spanish latte to beat the heat.

What You’ll Need

Before you get down to making a Spanish latte at home, you need to assemble some ingredients and equipment.

1. Coffee beans: Traditionally, coffee beans in Spain and much of Europe undergo a particular form of coffee processing called torrefacto. This process involves putting a thin sugar glaze over the beans before roasting and grinding them. The process imparts a unique flavor to the coffee. If you can’t find this style of coffee, you can use dark roast espresso beans to get close and replace the sweetness with sugar or sweetened condensed milk.

2. Milk: While you technically can use any milk you want, from almond milk to skim to heavy cream, the traditional dairy for a Spanish latte is whole milk. Whole milk provides a creamy texture without being overwhelming, and it also has the right balance of sugars and fats to get the ideal result when you heat it. If you need a dairy-free option, coconut milk is probably the closest. However, you can certainly use almond, oat, or any other regular milk option with a nice, creamy texture for making your Spanish latte.

dual lattes

3. Water: You’ll need water to brew your coffee! As with most brewing methods, filtered water is ideal for your Spanish latte. Especially if you have hard water, make sure you filter it.

Now that you have all the information you need, try the Spanish latte at home and experience its unique flavors!

How to Make a Delicious Spanish Latte at Home

Sugar (Optional)

If you don’t like your coffee sweet at all, you can leave out the sugar. However, for an authentic Spanish latte experience, a small amount of sugar is usually added. Demerara or unrefined sugar is the most traditional option, but you can also use condensed milk instead.


Moka pot (stovetop espresso maker)

The traditional method uses a Moka pot to make an authentic Spanish latte. This allows you to make strong coffee without needing a large espresso machine. You can use an espresso machine or a French press if you don’t have a Moka pot.

Coffee Cups

Unlike typical lattes, Spanish lattes are served in smaller cups, similar to a French demitasse cup. The smaller size adds to the unique experience of enjoying a Spanish latte.

Container for Heating Milk

You have a few options to heat your milk for the latte. If you have an espresso machine, you can use the steam nozzle to heat the milk. However, you should avoid creating textured or frothy milk for a Spanish latte. Instead, use a small saucepan on your stove or a microwave-safe container to heat the milk without making foam.

Stovetop or Microwave

Unless you have an espresso machine, you’ll need to heat the milk using either a stovetop or microwave method. Both methods work well but monitor the milk closely to prevent it from boiling.

How to Make a Spanish Latte

Once you have ready all your ingredients and equipment, follow these simple steps to make a delicious Spanish latte at home.

cortado latte

1. Prepare your espresso shots: Pull as many photos as you need for your desired servings if you have an espresso machine. Alternatively, if you’re using a stovetop espresso maker, follow the manufacturer’s guide to brew 1-2 espresso shots.

2. Heat your milk: If using the stove, pour the milk into a saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat. Be careful not to let it boil. Using an espresso machine, use the milk frother, ensuring not to create a foamy texture. For the microwave method, heat the milk in a microwave-safe container at one-minute intervals until thoroughly hot but not boiling.

3. Add sugar to your cups (optional): If you prefer a sweeter latte, add a teaspoon of sugar to each cup before pouring the espresso shots.

By following these simple steps, you can enjoy a delightful Spanish latte in the comfort of your own home. Experiment with options like condensed milk instead of sugar to find your preferred flavor profile.

Perfecting a Spanish Latte

When it comes to Spanish lattes, the key is in the espresso. Two espresso shots are needed for a larger serving to achieve the perfect balance. However, just one espresso per cup is sufficient for the classic version. Be sure to stir the espresso and sugar together to ensure all the flavors meld together harmoniously.

Adding the Milk

For those who have used a steam wand to heat their milk, some foamed milk may be at the top. To prevent an overflow of foam, use a bar spoon to hold it back as you pour the milk into your cups. Alternatively, run the scalded milk into each cup if you opted for the stovetop or microwave method. It’s essential to balance hot milk and strong coffee to achieve the authentic Spanish latte experience.

coffee in a spanish cup

Making an Iced Spanish Latte

Fear not if you’re not a fan of hot beverages or simply prefer a refreshing option during the warmer months! You can quickly transform your Spanish latte into a delightful iced version with just a few adjustments:

1. Use cold milk instead of steamed milk.

2. Opt for a chilled glass rather than a traditional coffee cup.

3. Add ice cubes to keep it cool.

To create this delectable iced drink, brew your espresso shot as you usually would and pour it into your chilled glass with a teaspoon of sugar. Dissolve the sugar, then add cold milk and ice cubes. Voilà! You now have a delightful iced Spanish latte to enjoy and beat the heat.

Whether you prefer hot or cold Spanish latte, these tips and tricks will ensure a satisfying and authentic experience.

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