What Is a Vanilla Latte?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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A latte is a coffee drink that consists of a mixture of frothy milk and espresso. Espresso is a form of coffee made by using a machine to force hot water into ground coffee beans, which gives them a stronger, more concentrated flavor. The combination of frothy steamed milk and espresso is named after the Italian word for milk, latte. Although traditional lattes consist of simply milk and espresso, variations are often made with the use of flavoring powders or syrups. A vanilla latte is a common variation of the drink and consists of a combination of milk, espresso, and vanilla extract, powder, or syrup, to add a sweet taste.

The process of making a vanilla latte typically begins by brewing the espresso base of the drink with the use of an espresso maker, a machine that dispenses hot water through the ground coffee beans with a higher pressure than basic drip coffee makers use. If high pressure is not used, the coffee portion of the latte will not have the distinctive strong flavor. The exact type of coffee beans do not tend to matter much because espresso is the product of the specific type of high pressure brewing method, rather than being the result of a specific type of coffee bean.


Once the espresso portion of a vanilla latte is prepared, the next step is generally making the frothy milk portion. Milk is steamed over a low heat just until it is warmed through. To make the milk frothy, a device known as a frother may be used to gently whip the steamed milk until it produces a foam. The process may also be done by hand with the use of a whisk. Some versions of a latte call for mixing steamed milk into the espresso and topping it separately with foamed milk, while other versions may use the foamed milk as the mixer.

A basic latte may be turned into a vanilla latte with the addition of a form of vanilla flavoring. Latte vanilla flavorings are usually available in a variety of forms. For a more concentrated flavor, vanilla extract may be mixed into the espresso and frothy milk. Another common option for vanilla lattes is the use of vanilla syrup, a combination of sugar, water, and vanilla beans that are boiled together until they form a thick liquid. Commercial vanilla flavored powders that are specifically designed for coffee-based drinks may also be used to add a sweet vanilla flavor to the latte.


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