The versatility of coffee knows no bounds. From cappuccinos to macchiatos, we have discovered seemingly innumerable methods to enjoy a great cup of joe. One delicious coffee recipe is called the Spanish Latte.
Is a Spanish Latte the same as Café Con Leche?
Like lattes from locales like Italy or France, a Spanish latte, or café con leche, is coffee mixed with hot, usually scalded, milk. As the name implies, this drink originated in Spain, but it is now equally popular across Latin America, the Philippines, and certain parts of Florida. There are multiple variations to create a Spanish latte.
How is a Spanish Latte Different Than a Normal Latte?
Usually enjoyed with breakfast, a Spanish latte differs from other lattes because it is made by combining strong coffee (usually espresso) with scalded milk. Other forms of lattes merely use steamed or foamed milk. A Spanish latte is often prepared sweeter than a normal latte by adding some sugar, but not as sweet as a latte with flavored syrup added to it.
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How do you Make a Spanish Latte?
A great Spanish latte begins with quality ingredients.
Water: One ingredient most people don’t think about is the water they use to make the espresso. You need a good-tasting water to make a great Spanish latte, so if your tap water has a strange taste or a high concentration of minerals, you can use filtered or bottled water for your espresso instead. Our Guide to Making the Best Water for Coffee gives you a few easy steps to making cafe quality water at home!
Coffee: If you don’t have espresso, a high-quality, fresh, dark-roasted coffee such as a French roast is preferable. Make sure the coffee beans you use are finely ground. The best Spanish lattes are made with Spanish espresso.
Milk: You can use any type of milk for a Spanish coffee, even those that are dairy-free. In Spain, café con leche aficionados tend to use whole milk, but 2% will still make a fantastic Spanish latte as well. Lattes generally include “textured” milk, meaning the milk is frothed before being poured over the coffee.
To make a genuine Spanish latte, you will need an espresso machine or, for a cheaper option, a stove-top espresso-maker, or Moka pot. If using a Moka pot, fill the bottom compartment with cold water and the top with your finely ground coffee beans. Place your Moka pot over heat until the water rises into the top compartment. When air begins to rush out, this indicates that the coffee may be removed from the heat. Do not wait too long to do this as the coffee can burn. A Moka pot usually makes enough espresso for one large Spanish latte or two smaller cups.
Next, heat your milk. This can be done in a pan on the stove or even a cup in the microwave. A coffee machine with a steam nozzle is a convenient way to heat your milk as well. Make sure that you do not let your milk boil, but only scald. Froth your milk with a frother to give it some texture.
When both the coffee and milk are ready, it’s time to mix them! A traditional Spanish latte is equal portions of coffee and milk, a ratio of 1:1, combined. You may choose to sweeten your latte if you so desire. If you choose to add sugar, place the sugar in the bottom of your cup before adding the espresso and stir to blend, lastly adding the frothed, “textured” milk on top.
What does a Spanish Latte Taste like?
Because of the one-to-one ratio of milk to coffee, a Spanish latte has a delightfully creamy texture and slightly sweet taste. A Spanish latte is generally sweeter than a regular latte due to the addition of sugar. Many coffee-drinkers enjoy the texture of the frothed milk on top of the latte, and the high ratio of milk to coffee decreases the bitter taste more concentrated coffee exudes.
How many Calories does a Spanish Latte have?
The amount of calories your Spanish latte has depends on how much and what type of sweetener you prefer as well as what kind of milk you decide to use. A typical Spanish latte with no sweetener added and made with whole milk is usually around 140 calories.
What’s the difference between a Havana Latte vs. a Spanish Latte?
A Havana latte (also sometimes called a Cuban latte) is very similar to a Spanish latte. One exception is made for the type of milk; in a Havana latte you still use regular milk, but add condensed milk as well. Condensed milk is dairy milk that has had somewhere around 60% of the water removed. If sugar has been added, this product is called sweetened condensed milk. Condensed milk can be canned and last for years if left unopened.
To make a Havana Latte, add sweetened (or unsweetened, depending on preference) condensed milk to your latte cup. Pour the espresso directly over the condensed milk and give the contents a quick stir. Lastly, heat regular milk, use a frother to create texture, and pour this textured milk over the top of your espresso mixture.
Spanish Latte Recipe
Want to try a Spanish latte in the comfort of your own home? Here’s a simple recipe you can follow.
What You Need:
- A stove-top espresso maker/Moka pot
- Milk frother
- 1 tablespoon quality espresso
- 1-3 teaspoons sugar
- ¾ cup milk
Note: this recipe is for a 3-cup espresso pot. If using a 6-cup pot, double the ingredients. A 3-cup espresso pot produces 6 ounces of espresso.
- Fill the bottom of the espresso pot with water (fill to just below valve).
- Place filter in pot and add 1 tablespoon espresso to top compartment.
- Connect top and bottom compartments and place over heating element.
- Heat over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until espresso has pushed through the filter and filled the top of the espresso pot.
- Remove from heat as soon as top pot is full, before espresso boils and burns.
Milk and Sugar
- While espresso is heating, place sugar in latte cups.
- Pour milk into measuring cup and microwave for 90 seconds. If you choose to warm milk on the stovetop, start milk on low when you start heating the espresso.
- When espresso is done, pour over sugar in latte cups and stir to dissolve.
- Froth milk until volume is doubled and pour over coffee mixture. Stir until well combined. Serve hot.
Havana Latte Recipe
If you’re interested in trying Spanish latte’s cousin, the Havana latte, here’s an easy recipe.
What You Need:
- Stove-top espresso maker / Moka pot
- Milk frother
- 1 tablespoon espresso
- 1 ounce sweetened condensed milk
- 6 ounces scalded milk
- Follow steps 1 through 5 for making espresso in recipe above.
- Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Texture the milk using your frother/French Press
- Add sweetened condensed milk to latte cups.
- Pour the espresso directly over the sweetened condensed milk and stir.
- Pour milk over coffee mixture.
Iced Spanish Latte Recipe
If you still want to enjoy your Spanish latte during the siestas of the warm summer months, you can alter the recipe to an iced Spanish latte. Using the same ingredients as the above recipes, you simply alter the order in which you add them. Place ice in your glass, then add the coffee on top. (Be careful not to pour hot coffee directly on a cold glass, because it could shatter.) Add the sugar (or condensed milk) then top it off with milk. There’s no real need to heat or texture the milk since you are adding it directly to ice.
Alcoholic Spanish Latte Recipe
Forget Irish coffee, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try an alcoholic spanish latte milkshake.
What You Need:
- 1 ½ cups coffee ice cream
- ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 ounce Kahlua
- Whipped cream
- Combine ice cream, condensed milk, milk, and Kahlua in blender.
- Blend at medium speed until just combined to avoid over-blending.
- Pour into chilled glass and top with whipped cream if desired.
Enjoy a Spanish Latte Today
Coffee spans forms, cultures, and continents. Different methods of enjoying coffee have included the addition of milk for centuries. The Spanish latte mixes heated milk with an equal amount of coffee to create a frothy, creamy liquid that still retains the coffee flavor we all love. Try out one of these recipes to see why Spanish lattes are appreciated across the globe.
Did you like our overview of the Spanish latte? Click here to check out our look at the Flat White!
Maybe a macchiato is more your speed? Click here to read about the differences between a macchiato and a latte!