How To Select The Best Coffee For Latte

I like a good cup of coffee as much as the next person, but what I truly enjoy in is a delicate foamy latte. And I like making latte at home for my guests and myself, but I learned the hard way that stiff foam on the top of a flawless latte and fantastic flavor don’t happen by accident.

They are the result of three things: your skill, the quality of the milk and the choice of the coffee. 

While the first requirement is a matter of effort and experience, the second and the third depend on how well-informed you are. In this article, I’ll show you how to choose the best coffee for latte, but also give you a few hints on choosing the milk and making a fabulous latte, so keep on reading.

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Do You Really Know What Latte Is?

What is latte

Before I continue to what you came here to read, it is important to make one thing clear, and that is what latte is. A café latte, or “latte” for short, is a drink based on espresso combined with steamed milk and micro-foam. Many people enjoy café latte more than other types of coffee because it is much sweeter than a regular espresso because of the added steamed milk. 

How Is Café Latte Prepared?

On paper, the preparation of café latte looks like a piece of cake, but it is far more delicate than that. The simplest way to explain the preparation is with these three steps:

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    Extract one shot of espresso into a cup
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    Add steamed milk
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    Put about one inch of micro-foam on top of the milk

Having a great latte machine at your home gets you one step closer to the best cup of latte you can make. 

Now, Here’s The Secret To Choosing The Best Coffee For Latte

Choose coffee for latte

Basically, you can make a latte with any type of coffee, but you know better than that. For good latte, you need good espresso, and for good espresso, you need great coffee beans that are usually labeled as Italian, espresso, very dark roast or full city.

The high-quality espresso coffee beans are usually a mixture of various Brazilian Arabica beans, some dry-processed and some washed. These blends often include high grown Central American coffee beans for a cleaner acidity or African coffees for enzymatic fruitiness.

Dry-processed coffees are better if you like the attractive crema on top of your latte, while wet processed add more aroma qualities.

As I mentioned, espresso can be made of basically any bean, but Robusta beans are too strong for my flavor, and they add a weird earthy taste and very sharp flavor to coffee. If that is your cup of tea (or latte), you will be pleased to know that Robusta beans produce more crema and increases the body of the coffee.

As you have probably realized it all comes down to your preference, so here are some additional tips that might help you make the call:

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    For more body and sweetness use Indonesian coffees like Sumatra or Sulawesi. These coffees carry a risk of your espresso being too earthy and sharp if you don’t roast them properly.
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    For sweeter and aromatic flavors turn to Central American beans. If a coffee blend contains more than 25% of these coffees, it can result in less body and crema.
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    For earthy aggressive bite and pungency choose dry-processed Ethiopian coffee. This coffee should also be kept under 25% in a blend, to avoid too aggressive presence.
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    For spicy pungency in your latte use Yemeni coffee. Yemeni coffee adds wineyness and fine crema.
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    For extreme bite Monsooned coffee, Aged coffee or Robusta. These coffees have the taste you can either love or hate – there is no middle ground. Although they increase crema, they should be kept under 20%, or even better, 15% in a blend, because they add a certain funky taste most people don’t enjoy in.

The Role Of The Milk

Milk for latte

As I mentioned at the beginning, milk also plays a huge role in the quality and the taste of the coffee latte, especially because a good latte depends on the foam. There is a whole science behind choosing the type of milk for a latte because different farms produce milk with different grades of sweetness, and different protein and fat content. This very much depends on the condition the cows are kept in, what they eat and how the milk is treated after the collection.

Milk with high levels of protein, butterfat, and sugar is the best for texture. Milk that is not homogenized and that comes from free-range farming is also associated with better quality and more successful latte.

It is imperative to know that not all milk types require the same amount of steaming time and that too high temperature can lead to scalding and ruin your latte. This means you should never steam your milk past 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Since not all milk has the same molecular structure, the steaming temperature must be adapted to the type of milk.

The fat molecules in milk can stabilize the formation of the foam because they surround the air from the steam and entrap it in a bubble. Because of this, milk with high-fat content results in more stable foam, but only in temperatures lower than room temperature. On the other hand, milk with lower fat content leads to more stable foam at high temperatures.

As you see, each component of the milk has its unique contribution to the flavor of the latte and the texture of the foam.

And Since You're Already Making A Latte, Why Wouldn't You Make Some Latte Art?

The art for latte

I don't know about you, but I'm always thrilled when I drink my latte in a coffee shop, and a waiter brings me a cup with some fabulous latte art, even when it is something simple as a heart. That’s why I decided to give it a shot at my house, and I love it.

With the help of the almighty Google and tips from some of my baristas friends, I’ve learned four elements of latte art, which I’m going to share with you:

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    Height: The high-dive pour will be the best backdrop for excellent latte art.
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    Position: Almost every basic design requires pouring the milk consistently into the center of the cup.
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    Flow: The amount of milk you pour is also a significant contributor to the beauty of the cup. It is also significant to pour the milk slowly and keep the pitcher close to the coffee.
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    Control: This is by far the most difficult element of latte art. The more complicated the shapes you are designing are, the more control over the milk pouring you need to have.

With this guide, I wanted to show you not only the best types of coffee you need to use to prepare the perfect latte but also to give you some hints about the other elements leading to the most ideal cup of this drink. Hopefully, this will make your mornings better, and also impress your guests in the future.

Paula Hughes
 

I’m Paula, and I’m absolutely in love with food blogs. I’m a foodie at heart but being the mother of two small boys, it’s not always easy to keep up with fancy dinners… so I rely on the support of other blogging moms like me to help along the way. Contact me at [email protected]

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