Does a latte have more caffeine than ordinary coffee?

Cafe Latte Art
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Generally, no. Latte does not have more caffeine than ordinary coffee. Latte is just coffee with milk. Adding milk to your espresso or coffee will not change how much caffeine is in the beverage.

What is a Latte?

Picture it now, a beautiful Italian morning made better by the latte in your hand. You sip it slowly while lounging outside the café in a city courtyard. The foamy milk melts on your tongue as you enjoy your breakfast. But what exactly is that latte you’re drinking? It’s noticeably different than coffee and might even make you feel more jittery.

Lattes are made with espresso, not drip coffee. There is a big difference that can even affect how much caffeine is in your drink. Espresso is a more concentrated form of coffee made by pushing pressurized water through the same coffee beans used to make drip coffee.

The beans are finely ground and packed together before being soaked by an espresso machine. It will have the same flavor profile as coffee but a thicker, fuller texture. Espresso can be drunk straight or diluted to make drinks like the latte. There are many drinks made with espresso beyond the latte, including:

  • Americanos
  • Cappuccinos
  • Macchiatos
  • Ristrettos
  • Red Eyes

The word “latte” translates to “milk” in Italian. In America, ordering a latte will get you a beverage made of espresso topped with steamed milk. If you seek to order a latte in a European country like Italy, you must order a “café a latte” or “coffee with milk.” Otherwise, you’ll just get a glass of milk!

The combination of coffee and milk has been around as long as Europeans have been drinking coffee, over 400 years. Milk and sugar were first added to coffee to mellow its intense bitterness. The habit has stuck around ever since.

What has more caffeine, espresso or drip coffee?

Because of espresso’s higher concentration, it has more caffeine than the same amount of typical drip coffee. However, in many cases, a latte will have less caffeine when compared to a coffee. Let’s look at a standard 8 oz latte vs an 8 oz drip coffee.

The coffee will have somewhere around 90 to 100 mg of caffeine while the latte will have approximately 75 mg. Drinking diluted espresso in latte form dilutes the caffeine resulting in a less caffeinated beverage when compared to standard coffee.

This isn’t always the case though. Many lattes, especially those ordered in larger sizes such as 12 or 16 oz can have as many as 3 espresso shots in them. You can expect that each shot will add an additional 75 mg. This means a 12 oz double espresso latte will have about 30 mg more caffeine than a 12 oz drip coffee.

There are other factors that affect the caffeine content such as the roast level or variety of beans. It’s a common misconception that dark roast coffee has more caffeine than light and medium roasts, but this is false.

The roasting process actually removes some of the caffeine but only slightly. The most important factor is the variety of beans and the brewing process. There are 4 main types of coffee beans:

  • Arabica
  • Excelsa
  • Liberica
  • Robusta

Does milk affect caffeine content?

Adding milk to your espresso will have no effect on the level of caffeine. The milk will dilute the drink so that there is less caffeine per oz but there will be no change to the total amount of caffeine in the drink. Adding milk to the espresso and other coffee drinks is to balance the bitterness of the drink and dilute the espresso.

Europeans have been adding milk to their coffee for centuries, but they can’t take total credit for the idea. The first recorded time someone combined milk and coffee was when a Dutch ambassador learned about milk and tea in China sometime around 1660.

Adding milk to tea was a common practice by the Chinese elites of the Qing Dynasty. Tea has a similar bitter, tannic flavor profile that is also tamed by the water and fat content of milk.

Honey was another popular addition to coffee. The sweet flavor aided milk in subduing the bitterness of coffee. Eventually, it was replaced by sugar as European colonialists established sugar farms in the Americas. Honey, other sweeteners, and milk alternatives have seen a resurgence amongst modern coffee drinkers. Like milk, none of these products will change the caffeine levels in your favorite coffee.

Caffeine and lattes

Knowing how much caffeine is in your drink and how much caffeine you should be consuming are tricky questions. The FDA suggests no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day. Remember that a typical shot of espresso has somewhere around 75 mg of caffeine.

At that level, it should be more than easy to stay within a healthy limit. But don’t forget that many lattes might have more than just a single espresso shot! There are tons of other equally great drinks made with espresso.

Next time you’re looking for a new morning beverage try an Americano, a simple combination of espresso and water, or a cappuccino. If you’re looking for a drink that really packs a punch, try a red eye. A caffeinated coffee drink made by adding a shot of espresso to a drip coffee.

For those who aren’t big coffee fans but want to get into espresso, a dirty chai latte is always a crowd pleaser. It’s made by powering up a chai latte with an extra shot of espresso. All of these drinks can be made iced as well, giving you a way to shake up your usual order in the warmer months.

In conclusion, adding milk to your espresso or coffee will not change how much caffeine is in the beverage. Remember to keep your caffeine intake at a healthy point and don’t be afraid to add milk to your coffee if you prefer it.

Drinking coffee should be a fun part of your day, not just a method of inhaling caffeine. Experiment with the different drinks and other ways of taking your coffee and don’t forget to enjoy!