What is Breve Coffee? Here’s What You Need to Know

Breve Coffee

Are you looking for something decadent and sinful for your coffee break? If you’re brave enough, you might want to try breve coffee, a creamy take on your regular espresso-based cappuccino.

It’s the perfect one for when you need a richer and fluffier milky espresso drink.

What is breve coffee?

Breve coffee is similar to cappuccino. It contains one or two shots of espresso plus steamed and frothed milk, except the kind of milk used in it is thicker and creamier. Breve coffee uses half-and-half milk (called breve), which is a blend of whole milk and light cream.

Like most coffee-related terms, breve is an Italian word. It means brief, little, or short. Nobody knows where it got its name, but it could have earned its name because of the half-and-half cream used.

Unlike low-fat milk, half-and-half milk doesn’t grow as much when steamed; hence, it’s shorter.

How do you pronounce breve coffee?

This drink is sometimes called a breve coffee, breve latte, caffè breve, or café breve. But what does “breve” mean, and how do you even pronounce it?

Its pronunciations vary, but in Northern America, it’s commonly (and correctly) pronounced “bréve” (breh-veh), with the stress on the first syllable. It’s sometimes pronounced “breh-vay” or even “bray-vay.”

Calorie and caffeine content

What difference does the half-and-half milk make? It makes the espresso drink richer, more viscous, and more frothy, without being overpowering as when you use cream alone. However, that means it’s not as healthful as when you drink a standard latte or cappuccino made with whole milk.

It goes without saying that a cup of breve coffee contains more calories compared to a standard espresso drink, given the type of milk used in it. Breve milk contains 10 to 12% fat, so while it’s creamier, it also has more calories compared to whole milk, which contains 3.25% fat.

In general, one serving of half-and-half milk contains around 298 calories, while the same amount of whole milk contains 149 calories. So if you’re ordering a cup of breve coffee instead of your regular latte or cappuccino, your drink may contain as much as twice the amount of calories.

For this reason, I recommend that you only drink breve coffee on special occasions, especially if you’re looking for healthy coffee options. In some coffee places, they add high-fructose corn syrup to sweeten the drink, so it can be a bad idea for those who are trying to watch their weight.

As for the caffeine content, it varies according to the number of espresso shots used to prepare the drink. When a single espresso shot is used, a cup of breve coffee contains about 75 mg of caffeine.

How to make a cup of breve coffee

If you want to whip up a cup of breve coffee from your own kitchen, you need to have an espresso machine. But don’t put the milk directly into the espresso machine. We’ll discuss how to do it properly so read on. Here are a few tips so that you can prepare your own breve coffee like an expert barista.

How to Prepare a Breve Latte

1. Use about 60 mL of half-and-half. You can adjust the ratio of half-and-half to espresso to suit your taste. Make sure that the half-and-half you’re going to use is fresh out of the fridge. You want to make sure that it’s cold enough – if it’s not at the right temperature, it won’t foam perfectly.

2. When steaming the milk, you can use a culinary temperature gauge to check the heat. Make sure not to go over 160 °F (71 °C) because when you exceed that, the half-and-half will not taste as good.

Here’s a tip: when you use your steaming wand to prepare the half-and-half foam, you’ll get a good result if you don’t put the steam wand all the way to the bottom of your milk container.

Position the wand just beneath the surface of the half-and-half, and tilt it a bit to the side so you’ll get a nice foamy layer on top of your steamed milk when you’re done. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with suds and a bubbly steamed half-and-half.

When you turn on the steam wand, you should hear a subtle hissing sound. The heat will raise the volume of the half-and-half, but you shouldn’t be seeing large bubbles.

3. Switch off the heat source before it approaches 160 °F – a little above 140 °F (60 °C) will be a good point to turn off the heat. The half-and-half will continue to cook for a bit before it starts to cool down. (Don’t forget to wipe off the steam wand with a damp cloth!)

4. Pull a double shot of espresso for your breve coffee as usual. Make sure the cup you’re using to pull the espresso has already been warmed.

5.  Pour the half-and-half into your espresso cup as slowly and as gently as possible. This will allow the steamed half-and-half to settle and blend nicely with the espresso. Once you’ve poured the steamed portion of the half-and-half, give the jug a little jiggle and gently pour the foam on top of your cup.

If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can use a stove-top Moka pot to prepare your espresso.

While it’s hard to prepare the frothy half-and-half layer of your breve latte without a steamer, you can still warm it using a microwave or a stove. Use a whisker tool to whip the half-and-half into a foam.  

You might not get the thick, velvety consistency of a half-and-half steamed using a machine, but you’ll still get the sweet and rich flavor of a standard caffe breve.

Alternative Ingredients

You can use plant-based alternatives for the half-and-half, but if you want to maintain the texture of a dairy-based breve, I recommend using cashew milk or full-fat coconut milk.

These are sweeter and a little thicker compared to other plant-based milk, so it could give you the same frothy feeling as a half-and-half.

Want your breve a little sweeter? Try adding flavored syrup or any sweetener like stevia or sucralose to adjust the taste to your liking. For added flavor, you can also try sprinkling cinnamon or cocoa powder on top of the foam