A latte maker is an appliance that makes a coffee beverage that traditionally contains half coffee and half steamed milk. The most common style of latte maker also makes espresso and cappuccino. Some latte makers have a chamber into which milk and a pre-packaged mix are poured, a button is pressed and an instant latte drink is made. Other latte maker models have pods that contain the entire latte mix and only require that water be added to create the beverage. Aside from the instant and pod styles, a latte maker generally consists of an espresso brewing unit and a steam wand that scalds and foams milk.
Latte makers are used in restaurants, coffee shops and home kitchens. Models range in price from relatively inexpensive to thousands of dollars. Single-serving styles are available along with versions that can brew up to six cups at a time. Separate appliances for steaming and foaming milk are also available.
The method by which a latte is prepared largely depends upon the country or region in which the recipe and method are based. For instance, a traditional Italian latte is prepared with half scalded milk and half strong coffee. The hot milk is placed in the cup and topped with the hot coffee. In most other European countries and the United States, the steamed milk and coffee concoction is topped with foamed milk. In Australia and the United Kingdom, a latte is called a flat white and is a single shot of espresso topped with a single dollop of steamed milk.
Traditional lattes contain nothing but coffee and milk. Espresso is the most common roast used in lattes as its bold flavor plays well off the delicate taste of the steamed or foamed milk. Any type of coffee can be used, but a strong roast or blend is commonly recommended.
Coffee shops often offer a wide range of lattes that are flavored with syrups. Some of the most popular syrups requested in lattes include caramel, vanilla, hazelnut and cinnamon. These establishments also typically offer the customer a choice of non-fat, low-fat or whole milk as well as a soy option for their latte beverage.
Although some coffee connoisseurs claim lattes can only contain coffee and milk, many versions of lattes are offered by some coffee shops. One of the more popular alternates to coffee-based lattes is Chai, or tea mixed with a variety of Indian herbs and spices. Other alternative bases include mate, a South American infused drink made from dried leaves, or matcha, a green tea that is usually ground into powder from dried leaves.