The rich taste of a caramel latte makes it unlike any other coffeehouse beverage. Learning how to make a caramel latte at home can save money and time, but it does require a few skills.
To make a caramel latte, a person must pull shots of espresso, steam milk, create froth, and add caramel to the drink. Sometimes caramel lattes are topped with whipped cream and drizzled with syrup for a special touch.
Below we will learn how to make a 12 ounce caramel latte.
Steaming the Milk
First, you must decide what type of milk you prefer to use. At most coffee shops, 2% or whole milk is the standard, but you can use any type of milk for a latte, even soy milk. Using soy milk makes a soy caramel latte, using skim milk makes a skinny caramel latte, and using half-and-half makes a breve caramel latte.
Once you have chosen the kind of milk you want to use, pour about 10 ounces of the milk into a stainless steel steaming pitcher, and insert a food thermometer into the milk. Next, place the steaming wand tip just under the surface of the milk. Turn the dial counterclockwise as far as it can go to begin heating the milk.
To create froth, gently begin raising the steaming wand tip until it rests just above the surface of the milk to create froth. Continue raising the wand tip as the froth rises. A light hissing sound is the key to making the perfect froth, and the froth ideally should have the consistency of shaving cream.
For a caramel latte, only a small amount of froth is necessary, just a spoonful or two, so once enough froth is made (usually a few seconds of the hissing noise), you can lower the wand deeper into the milk until the milk reaches 150-160 degrees.
By turning the dial off (clockwise) between these temperatures, this allows the milk enough room to rise to 170 degrees or drop to 140 degrees, both acceptable temperatures for a latte. Always wipe the steaming wand with a clean, damp cloth immediately after steaming milk. Allow the milk to settle from the froth while adding flavor and pulling espresso shots.
Adding Desired Flavors
Next, add about one to two ounces of caramel sauce (richer) or syrup to your favorite coffee mug or tumbler. A great brand of flavoring is Torani, which many coffeehouses use, and most specialty food stores sell these in a smaller size.
Just before pulling the shots of espresso, pour the steamed milk into the cup with the caramel syrup, using a spoon to hold back the froth, saving about two inches of space for the shots and froth.
Pulling the Shots of Espresso
To achieve the best-tasting shots, grind the espresso beans just before pulling them. Load fresh grinds into the portafilter handle until heaping, and tamp level before inserting into the espresso machine. Time the shots to be sure to pull shots between 16-26, preferably between 18-23.
Immediately after pulling satisfactory shot(s), pour one (weaker) or two (stronger) into the cup filled with steamed milk to save the shots from becoming bitter. The espresso has only ten seconds before it begins losing flavor and increasing in bitterness.
Finishing Touches and Tips
After pouring the espresso into the mug or cup, stir well to evenly melt and distribute the caramel sauce. Add one or two spoonfuls of froth or if you prefer, top with whipped cream instead. Enjoy your great-tasting caramel latte.