Do All Lattes Have Espresso (Can You Make It Without Espresso?)

Last updated on July 28th, 2022 at 06:22 pm

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The average person today would not function in the morning without that morning cup of Joe? In fact, most people have developed a very particular taste and like their coffee a specific way. This has led to the growth of the industry, with giant commercial coffee houses popping up all over the world.

A latte is one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world today. Nothing beats that strong coffee aroma with the delicious steamy frothy milk. Most people get their latte’s from a coffee shop unless you’re one of the lucky ones who can afford to shell out the big bucks for a fancy barista-level latte espresso machine at home.

But do all lattes have espresso, and can you make one without espresso? 

All lattes do have espresso so by definition, a latte is made using espresso and milk. If you remove the espresso from the latte, it’s no longer a latte.

Do All Lattes Have Espresso (Can You Make It Without Espresso?)

So, for example, if you want to skip the espresso, your drink will be called something else. So if you order a vanilla latte without the espresso, that’s basically a vanilla steamer. If you want a white mocha without the espresso, that will be a white-hot chocolate drink. 

If you purchase an iced pumpkin spice latte without espresso, cold milk with pumpkin sauce will be cold milk.

Alternatively, you can order an espresso with decaf espresso if you want to skip the caffeine altogether. This will give you the coffee flavor without the caffeine. Or you can get tea lattes instead, such as chai tea latte, matcha latte, or green tea latte. 

You can even order the London fog, which is basically earl gray tea steeped in water and topped with steamed milk and vanilla syrup.

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What’s The Difference Between A Latte & Other Coffee Drinks?

There’s not much difference between a latte and a cappuccino. As we’ve stated before, a latte is a coffee drink made using espresso, milk foam, and steamed milk. A cappuccino is quite similar; the only difference is the percentage of foamed milk compared to steamed milk.

On the other hand, a macchiato has no steamed milk, but a little cap of milk foam is added to the espresso. A cafe au lait only has war steamed milk added to the coffee or espresso but no milk foam.

So the significant difference between most coffee drinks is the ratio of warm milk and milk foam added into the coffee or espresso.

What Is The Difference Between Espresso And Coffee?

At the core, espresso and coffee are not different things. Generally, espresso is a type of coffee; the difference is in the brewing method.

To get espresso, you’ll need to brew the coffee using high water pressure and finely ground beans to make a small, concentrated shot of coffee. In Italy, darkly roasted beans are the most popular; however, any kind of coffee bean from any origin and at any roast level can be used to make espresso.

One of the espresso’s key characteristics, aside from its concentrated flavor and more syrupy body, is the top layer of foam known as the crema. The crema is a by-product of the high-pressure extraction process.

As we’ve stated before, you can combine milk or water with espresso to make other espresso-based drinks, such as a cappuccino, latte, macchiato, americano, and more.

How To Make A Latte Without An Espresso Machine

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an espresso machine to make an espresso. So if you don’t have a machine to steam your milk or compress your espresso, don’t despair. While a machine will make things much easier, you can still enjoy a fresh latte in the comfort of your own home.

But it will take a bit of planning and some hard work. You’ll need a bit more than your regular coffee pot to make a barista-level espresso latte at home. We advise investing in a few tools to make the brewing process a little bit easier.

Essentially you’ll need:

  • A way to make your espresso
  • A way to steam your milk
  • A way to froth your milk

But before we begin, what is the difference between steamed milk and frothed milk?

Knowing the difference between the types of milk makes a huge difference in the texture of your coffee. You can’t just mix frothed milk with espresso and call it a day. While it might taste good, it’s definitely not a latte.

So what’s the difference? Frothed milk is basically a by-product of aerated heated, steamed milk. Steamed milk is basically milk that is heated.

How To Make Steamed Milk

As we’ve established, steamed milk is basically heated milk. But you need to heat it just enough so that air bubbles can form with scalding or changing the taste of the milk. You can use your microwave for this process, but the best method would be to use a stovetop because you’ll have more control over the heat on the stove.

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Milk
  • Small pot
  • Thermometer


Step One: Pour the milk into your pot and place it on the stovetop.

Step Two: Place the thermometer into the pot so you can monitor the temperature. Alternatively, you can have your thermometer on hand to periodically check the temperature.

Step Three: Turn on the heat to medium-low and heat the milk. You’ll need to hit a specific temperature to steam it:

  • For dairy-based Milk, aim for 150ºF (65ºC).
  • For soy milk aim for 140ºF (60ºC).
  • For almond milk, aim for 130ºF (54ºC).

Step Four: Remember to stir the milk occasionally to prevent it from boiling. Once you hit the temperature, you need to remove the milk and pour it directly into your espresso or coffee.

How To Make Frothed Milk

Frothing The Milk Using A French Press

If you want to froth your milk, you have a few options. For example, if you own a French glass press, all you need to do is heat the milk up in the microwave for a minute and a half, and you have yourself a freshly frothed cup of milk.

Or you can purchase a milk frother and frothing pitcher, which won’t cost you much compared to the money you’d have to spend on a fancy espresso machine.

To froth the milk with a french press, you’ll need the following:

  • Cold milk
  • Microwaveable beaker of aFrench press with a glass
  • Microwave

Remember that the right temperature and air are the keys to creating fluffy milk foam. If you want to mimic the type of foam you’ll get using your espresso machine or frothing wand, you can use your French press’s pump to aerate the milk before heating it,


  • Step One: Fill up about ⅓ of your French press glass with milk.
  • Step Two: For aeration, pump the plunger for at least twenty seconds or until the milk doubles in volume.
  • Step Three: Remove the lid and plunger and ensure no plastic or metal parts are left.
  • Step Four: Put the glass in the microwave for about 30 to 45 seconds or until the foam rises to the top. Avoid allowing the foam to spill over.
  • Step Five: Remove the glass from the microwave and pour your milk foam into your coffee.

Frothing The Milk Using A Wand And Pitcher

If you’re a regular latte drinker, we recommend purchasing a frothing wand and a pitcher. They usually cost around $30, so this is a pretty affordable investment. The benefit of a frothing wand and pitcher is that it makes the process slightly faster and easier.

Things you’ll need:

  • Steamed milk
  • Frothing wand
  • Frothing pitcher or small saucepan


Step One: Pour some steamed milk into the frothing pitcher

Step Two: Insert the frothing wand about halfway into the milk, ensure that you have enough space for the foam to expand in the pitcher. At times it can triple in size.

Step Three: Switch on the frothing wand and slowly move the wand around in a gentle motion. Continue to lower and raise the wand at an angle for at least 45 seconds or until the pitcher is full of foam.

Just make sure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions before using your wand. Instructions may differ according to the brand you buy.

Frothing Milk Using A Mason Or Glass Jar

Sometimes that espresso craving hits when you don’t have any fancy equipment around. The best way to get some frothed milk is to use a mason or glass jar, although your foam might be a little coarser.

Things you’ll need:

  • Milk
  • Mason jar
  • Microwave


Step One: Fill ⅓ of the mason jar and seal the jar tightly.

Step Two: Shake the mason jar well until the milk doubles in volume.

Step Three: Take off the lid and put the jar in the microwave.

Step Four: Heat the milk for a maximum of 45 seconds. The foam should fill up the remainder of the jar. Just make sure that it won’t bubble over.

Step Five: Remove the jar and pour the milk into your coffee.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that all lattes have espresso. If you want an espresso drink without the espresso, you can either have it with decaf or without any caffeine at all. However, if you take the espresso out of the latte, it won’t be an espresso at all.  

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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