Caffè latte, or latte for short, is an Italian espresso drink made with steamed milk—“latte” is Italian for milk. A caffè latte is one-third espresso (typically one or two shots) and two-thirds steamed milk, topped with a layer of foam. Popularized in the United States, lattes are often served in a large cup and sometimes feature latte art or decorations made using milk microfoam. In Italy, a similarly decorated drink is known as a latte macchiato (stained milk). \n\nVariations of the caffè latte include the mocha latte (a latte with chocolate syrup) and the iced latte (iced coffee with milk). The name “latte” also applies to non-coffee drinks that feature steamed milk, such as the chai latte (spiced black tea with milk foam) and [matcha](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-matcha) latte (powdered green tea with milk foam).\nAlthough its name is Italian, the caffè latte may be an American invention. Lino Meiorin, an Italian-trained barista in Berkeley, California, claimed to have invented the latte in the 1950s in response to customers who found his Italian [cappuccinos](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/cappuccino-coffee-guide) too strong. However, it is unlikely that Meiorin was the first to add a generous amount of milk to espresso or call such a drink a caffè latte. \n\nAccording to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the term “caffè latte” dates back to 1867 in William Dean Howells’s essay *Italian Journeys*. The coffee with milk that Howells enjoyed on a steamship from Trieste to Venice was nothing like the lattes found today at specialty coffee shops since it was before the invention of the modern espresso machine. What Howells drank was likely similar to café au lait: equal parts brewed coffee and hot milk. Many Italians enjoy café au lait for breakfast, using coffee brewed in a moka pot and plenty of steamed milk without added foam. \n\nSimply put, a cappuccino contains less milk than a latte. Both drinks start with a single or double shot of espresso, to which steamed milk is added. A cappuccino typically contains around 25 milliliters of espresso and 100 milliliters of steam-foamed milk to fit perfectly in a 160-milliliter (5.4-ounce) cup. Lattes are served in a much larger cup—at least 8 ounces, meaning they contain at least twice the amount of milk.\nHere's how to make a coffee shop-worthy latte using an espresso machine:\n\n1. __Refrigerate the milk__. Cold milk foams better than warm milk, so fill a stainless steel frothing pitcher about halfway with whole milk (or barista-style almond milk, [oat milk](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-make-oat-milk), or coconut milk) and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.\n2. __Grind the coffee beans__. The best espresso comes from freshly ground coffee beans, preferably ground with a burr grinder, which produces more uniform particles than a blade grinder. Baristas will typically grind the beans directly into the portafilter for the freshest coffee possible.\n3. __Tamp the grounds__. The next step is tamping. A tamper is a small, flat round weight with a handle, kind of like a stamp. You use the tamper to press the coffee grounds into an even disc. Tamping will ensure that the portafilter can go into and come out of the machine properly and maximize the water's contact with the coffee. Don't press too hard, or the disc will become compacted. Apply light pressure, and release with a slight twist.\n4. __Make the coffee__. Gently slide the filter basket into the machine and turn the handle to lock it into place. Have an espresso cup ready underneath the portafilter. Depending on the design of your espresso machine, you'll need to flick a switch or press a button, and the coffee will stream out into the cup. \n5. __Prepare the cup__. Warm up a large latte cup by pouring boiling water into the cup. \n6. __Steam the milk__. Your machine will have built-up steam that you can now release using the steaming wand. Take the milk out of the fridge and insert the wand into the center of the frothing pitcher. Keeping the wand submerged, release steam until the milk is frothy and 150 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the wand near the top of the milk initially, and gradually lower it deeper into the milk as the milk increases in volume.\n7. __Prepare the latte__. Pour the hot water out of your latte cup. Add the espresso to the latte cup and top with frothed milk. Add sugar or other flavorings as desired.\nBecome a better chef with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Gordon Ramsay, Gabriela Cámara, Chef Thomas Keller, Dominique Ansel, Yotam Ottolenghi, Alice Waters, and more.\nLearn how to make a professional-quality caffè latte using an espresso machine.