The road to a perfect latte starts with milk and not the espresso. Now before you think to yourself, I don't know what I am talking about, hear me out. If the milk is the wrong temperature, type, made the wrong way, or comes from a bad source, it changes the quality of a latte dramatically. When we think about espresso, it is well known that the process of preparing the shot is extremely important. The correct grind setting, making sure it's fresh, the weight, and the extraction time are all important factors. The one variable factor is where you get your beans from. This is a matter of preference on the roaster and the bean. Milk however has limited options.
Let's talk about the 3 of the most popular options, Whole milk, Oat, and Almond. Sorry Ripple, soy, and coconut, I'll get you next time. Where you get your milk from determines the quality. There is a clear difference between really good, high-quality milk and the average option. The texture, flavor, and nutrients are all different and quality milk enhances the flavor. Using organic milk and that is as fresh possible is important and on its own, you can taste the difference. When the milk is heated up, each type needs to be heated to a different temperature, and if done so incorrectly, will scold or diminish the flavor of the milk. Add flavor to some bad milk and you have a latte mess. Take these tips and the next time you are in a cafe, ask them a bit about the milk they use and which brand or farm it's from. If you find something that you like, then you can search for more cafe's that use it.
Rarely on the menu, the ristretto will become more popular in the next five years as we search for ways to customize our coffee experience. A more balanced and flavorful option, the ristretto, known as a cafe serre in French, is a shorter shot that uses about half the water that a regular espresso shot does. Ristrettos are stronger in flavor, tend to be sweeter and have less caffeine. These are amazing with flat white or a flavored latte. Next time you are at your favorite cafe, ask for one, and taste the difference.
The Latte. A coffee shop favorite that brings so much joy from the first sip to the last drop. Yet do you know what a latte is? A latte means milk in Italian. If you were in any cafe in Italy and asked for a latte, they would serve you a nice glass of warm milk, and you would be confused. The latte as we know it in the US, milk with an espresso shot or two, is more of an American adaptation. Italians call this a caffe latte. Caffe meaning coffee, and latte meaning milk. Americans assume the coffee is included because warm milk in the US is best served with cookies or honey.
Now that we are in the middle of the iced coffee season, I felt its time to help give you a few tips on how to make your iced coffee taste better.
First, start with placing the ice cubes inside your cup or glass using cold milk or water before adding the espresso. Doing this for at least 30 seconds helps cool it down, preventing the ice from melting, causing your drink to be watery. Home espresso machines can take longer from start to finish, allowing more time for your milk or water to cool down. After you pull your espresso shot, swirling cools it down.
Another creative way to solve this is to use a shaker. Take the shot and pour it in the shaker with some ice, close it up and "shake shake shake" for about 10 seconds to cool the shot down enough, then add it to your iced beverage. I have also seen others add the ice, milk (or water), and the espresso all together in the shaker. This method is a matter of personal preference, just note that the iced drink will come out frothy.
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