How to Make a Vanilla Latte

Creating Your Own Homemade Latte with a Splash of Flavor

What could be more classic than the flavor vanilla? What makes the vanilla latte one of the most popular drinks at coffeehouses? Its universal appeal and complimentary taste with the milk and espresso.

If you love going to a local coffee shop and ordering a vanilla latte, you might want to consider staying home and making one yourself. Sure, it might take a couple of initial purchases to set your drink-making in motion, but it will ultimately cost you less money as well as save time each morning from stopping by the coffee shop to pick up a vanilla latte.

Here are the steps to making a 12 ounce vanilla latte.

Vanilla Latte

Steaming the Milk

The majority of coffeehouses use either 2 percent or whole milk for vanilla lattes, but you can use any type of milk for your latte. If you choose skim milk, it will be a skinny latte, and if you use half-and-half, you will make a breve latte. Soy milk may also be used, which is called a soy latte.

Pour about 10 ounces of your choice of milk into a stainless steel steaming pitcher with a food thermometer. Next, place the steaming wand tip at the surface of the milk. Turn the dial counterclockwise to begin heating the milk, raising the steaming wand tip just above the surface of the milk to create froth. Your key to making the perfect froth is to listen for a light hissing sound, which will result in froth that is the consistency of shaving cream.

Because lattes only require a small amount of froth, you can insert the steaming wand further into the milk to finish heating the milk once you have made enough froth for one to two spoonfuls. Watch the thermometer carefully, and turn the steamer off once the milk has reached 150-160 degrees. This will allow the milk some room to rise to 170 degrees or drop to 140 degrees, depending on your preference in temperature. Do not allow the milk to exceed 180 degrees because the milk will burn. Be sure to wipe the steaming wand with a clean, damp cloth immediately after steaming milk.


Time for some Flavor!

What would a vanilla latte be without the vanilla? A perfectly respectable latte, but the vanilla makes all the difference. Choose your favorite cup or mug and add one ounce of vanilla syrup or more depending on your preferred level of sweetness. Many coffeehouses use Torani brand flavors, which are available at most specialty food stores in a smaller size.

When you are ready to pull a shot of espresso, pour the steamed milk into the cup with the vanilla syrup, using a spoon to hold back the froth. Fill the cup or mug, saving about two inches of space for the shots and froth.

Pulling the Shots of Espresso

To experience the freshest and best-tasting espresso, grind the espresso beans just before pulling the shots. Next, load the fresh grinds into the portafilter handle, and tamp level before inserting into the espresso machine. Use a timer or the built-in timer on the machine to be sure the shots pull between 16-26, preferably between 18-23 seconds.

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Immediately after pulling one (or two for a stronger coffee flavor) shots of espresso, pour it into the cup filled with steamed milk to save the shot because the espresso has a 10 second window before it begins losing flavor and increasing in bitterness.

After pouring the espresso into the mug or cup, stir to combine the vanilla, milk, and espresso. Add one or two spoonfuls of froth (or top with whipped cream if preferred). Enjoy your homemade vanilla latte at home!

If you had difficulty the first time, keep in mind that making coffeehouse-style beverages is as much an art as it is a science, and it requires practice and patience. Keep trying, and you’ll soon be your own personal barista. Also, be careful when working with hot equipment!

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