Perhaps you’ve been in a coffee shop, café or even a restaurant, peering at the beverage menu, and you’ve come across the item Spanish latte only to wonder what it is. Even if you’re familiar with what a latte is, it doesn’t mean you know this particular concoction. While it's not exactly clear when this drink was first invented, it did gain a lot of appeal in Spain - which is where you could attribute its name to. This drink is also called café con leche which means latte in Spanish and is not only tasty but offers some versatility if you so choose. Let's take a deep dive into what a Spanish latte is, how to make one at home and how you can dress it up and add variations if you want.
What Is a Spanish Latte?
So, let's get right to the chase and discuss what a Spanish latte is and how it differs from a standard latte. The café con leche, which is a café latte in Spanish, is a drink that is typically enjoyed at breakfast in Spain, but that’s not to say you can’t have it at other times of the day.
The drink is made from scalded or hot milk and strong coffee such as espresso. This differs from a standard latte in that classic lattes use foamed or steamed milk - not scalded milk. It’s a small difference but it does affect the flavor and how you make the beverage.
Unsure of what scaled milk is? It's a technique that requires bringing the milk to almost boiling or 83 degrees Celsius and then you cool it back down to room temperature.
Another thing that sets the Spanish latte apart from standard lattes is that it tends to be sweeter. Sugar is added to the Spanish latte - but not a flavored syrup. This keeps it sweet but simple. It allows you to taste the espresso of coffee since it isn’t being drowned out by artificial flavors.
All in all, a Spanish latte is a very sophisticated and elegant take on lattes and while it is popular to enjoy it in the morning, there are no rules, and you can have it at any time of the day.
What Ingredients are Needed to Make It at Home?
As for what ingredients you need to make a Spanish latte, it is very simple. To make the basic drink, you will need milk, sugar or condensed milk, water and strong coffee – preferably espresso. Experts recommend that you focus on high-quality coffee as this will determine just how good the latte tastes. If you’re using poor quality coffee, it will negatively affect the final flavor.
How to Make a Spanish Latte at Home
Now that you’ve got all the necessary ingredients, it’s time to make a Spanish latte. The good news is that you don’t need any specific equipment or tools to make this one. Granted, tools and gadgets can speed up the process, but they aren’t necessary.
Spanish latte Instructions:
1.Scald 100g of milk (2% milk is usually best). Scalding means you heat it almost enough to the boiling point, but do not let it boil. You also want to let it cool back down to room temperature before pouring it on the coffee.
2.Once the milk has been scalded, remove it from the burner and then make a cup of espresso or strong coffee - whatever you plan on using.
3. Pour the scalded milk on top of the coffee - there is no need to make it foamy.
4. Add a spoonful of condensed milk or sugar to sweeten it. You can add more or less depending on your tastes.
5.Start sipping your fabulous creation.
Another tip for scalding the milk is that it can be done on the stove in a small saucepan or the microwave. You just have to be careful that you don’t go too far and end up boiling the milk.
How About an Iced Version of a Spanish Latte?
So, what happens in the middle of summer on a hot day where the last thing you want is a hot beverage? Maybe you’re still craving the flavor of a Spanish latte but want something cooling and refreshing instead. Simply find an iced Spanish latte recipe and you'll be able to give the drink the summer shakeup it needs.
For the iced version, you'll use all the same ingredients (condensed milk or sugar, espresso coffee and milk) but the difference will be that you serve it over a glass filled with ice. Keep in mind that because the ice will melt as you drink it, the flavor can start to be watered down. To combat this issue, be sure to make the espresso nice and strong so it can handle that extra bit of water.
Special Gadgets Worth Picking Up If You Plan on Making It Often
While it’s true you don’t need any specific kitchen gadgets or tools to make Spanish coffees, if you plan on making them regularly, some items can help the process. It will make things faster and easier, plus it can improve the flavor.
The first thing is an at-home espresso maker. There is nothing better than fresh espresso in a Spanish latte – it beats a standard strong coffee any day. Espresso machines are incredibly quick to use and will deliver professional results each time. They do have their downfalls though in that they are usually quite large, so they take up a lot of space. They can also be tedious to clean, and they can be very expensive.
Other more affordable options can be to use a Moka pot on the stove, the French Press or an AeroPress device wherein you're pressing down a plunger which then forces coffee through a filter using air pressure. These are all a bit more work, but you’ll still get professional results at a fraction of the cost.
If you have a single cup coffee brewing machine such as the popular Keurig style machine, try purchasing espresso K-cups for that bold flavor.
If you don't have the time and patience for scalding the milk, you can always use frothed milk instead. This can be done by putting milk in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and then shaking it for 30-60 seconds or purchasing a handheld electric frother. There are also countertop frothers that will froth and heat the milk at the same time, which can be a fabulous gadget to invest in.
How to Spice Up the Spanish Latte – What You Can Add to It
One of the best ways to infuse your Spanish latte with flavor is to add ingredients to the scaled milk. You can add vanilla bean, warm cozy spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamon, or even a little alcohol such as rum or Kahlua.
You can then top off the latte with ground cinnamon, chocolate syrup, chocolate shavings or flakes, a fresh vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick or anything else that catches your attention.
Adding garnishes makes the drink special and can also be ideal when you’re hosting guests. They will feel as though they are at a fancy restaurant. Just imagine having a fancy hot or iced latte to give your guests as they arrive; it elevates the standard coffee in a big way.
It can also be nice to invest in some beautiful, oversized mugs/cups to serve the latte in. There’s just something so great about a unique mug, since it makes the drink that much more special.
Similar Drinks to Try If You Like Spanish Lattes
If you’re a fan of Spanish lattes, then there’s a good chance you would like many of the other popular latte variations out there. This gives you more to try in coffee houses and restaurants, and more recipes you can master at home.
A few of the more popular lattes worth trying include:
- Caramel latte
- Vanilla latte
- Mocha latte
- Chai latte
- Pumpkin spice latte
- Hazelnut latte
- White chocolate latte
- Hazelnut latte
As mentioned above, you can also add alcohol to lattes and make it more of an after-dinner drink. These can be perfect for cold winter evenings. If it’s summer, simply switch to an iced latte. If you're craving the spiked version of a latte, give these a try:
- Bailey's Irish Cream
- Tia Maria
- Flavored vodka (vanilla or cinnamon)
- Orange liqueur
- Spiced rum
Again, it comes down to the flavor profile you enjoy and a little bit of experimenting.
That Spanish Latte May Become Your New Go-To Drink in 2022
Now that you’ve explored what a Spanish latte is, where it comes from, how it differs from a standard latte, how easy it is to make it at home and how you can dress it up further, it may just become your go-to drink in 2022. Remember, it’s relatively versatile and tastes just as good hot as it does cold, so it’s a year-round winner.