A piccolo latte, also known as piccolo coffee or simply piccolo, is a type of espresso-based beverage. Piccolo is the Italian word for “small,” so you can expect your piccolo latte to come in a small size, about 3 to 4 oz or 90ml. Most commonly, this beverage is served in a demitasse glass.
Like a regular latte, piccolo lattes contain milk and espresso. However, regular lattes tend to have a 1:1 ratio of espresso to milk, whereas piccolo lattes contain a 1:3 proportion.
Rumored to originate in Sydney, Australia, this coffee drink allows you to have small doses of caffeine throughout the day without overdoing it and giving yourself the jitters or a caffeine crash.
A piccolo coffee includes the unique use of a Ristretto shot of espresso. It is topped with steamed milk and a thin layer of frothed milk for a bold, smooth espresso flavor with a hint of sweetness.
Piccolo Latte versus Cortado
Frequently, piccolo lattes need to be clarified with another espresso drink, cortados, when ordering coffee. The two drinks are similar due to their use of the Ristretto shot. However, they differ in size and milk-to-espresso ratio.
The primary difference between the two drinks is espresso to milk ratio. A piccolo latte uses one Ristretto shot of espresso, about .5 oz, with 1.5 to 2 oz of milk for a 2.5 to 3 oz drink. Cortados commonly use two Ristretto shots of espresso, about 1 oz, with 1 oz of milk.
The use of milk in these espresso drinks cuts any remaining acidity from the espresso and mellows out the flavor. As a result, you can expect your cortado to have a more intense coffee taste compared to a piccolo latte which is more likely to be mild and slightly sweet.
What is a Ristretto shot?
Ristretto means “short” in Italian. A Ristretto shot involves brewing an espresso shot with half the amount of water that is usually used. This more concentrated brew offers a smaller shot, about .5 oz or 15-20 ml, compared with the standard espresso shot size of about 1 oz. This brewing method gives the espresso a much more robust flavor.
A Ristretto shot of espresso is considered one of the highest-quality types of espresso shot. The more potent concentration of espresso offers a smooth and full-bodied taste without the acidity that can usually be found in espresso shots.
How to Brew a Piccolo Latte at Home?
You’ll need a 90 ml glass for your drink. You can use a demitasse cup or an espresso glass similar to those found in Italy.
If your espresso machine can’t make a Ristretto shot, make a regular espresso shot and then split it in two. This method can give you the correct portions but won’t have as strong a flavor.
Heat 1.5 to 2 oz of milk to 65 degrees Celsius or 149 degrees Fahrenheit in a small pitcher. Pour your milk over your espresso.
You can add a final layer of foam over your piccolo latte for a little extra texture and flavor. This also gives you the opportunity to get creative and make latte art for your piccolo latte.
How to order a Piccolo Latte?
Piccolo lattes are harder to find in coffee shops and can often be confused with other similar beverages like cortados. Though some coffee shops are branching out from the standard latte, cappuccino, and flat whites, you may have to request this beverage at your local coffee shop specifically. Most smaller coffee shops are happy to make special orders if it’s not too busy.
What does a Piccolo Latte taste like?
The use of the Ristretto shot creates a strong, smooth, and bold coffee flavor that lacks the usual acidity associated with espresso. This flavor is mellowed slightly by the steamed milk adding a sweetness and creaminess to enhance the espresso flavor. The mild flavor is comparable to a regular latte.
Nutritional Info of a Piccolo Latte
A piccolo latte usually contains a single Ristretto shot of espresso, which is about .5 oz of liquid and has 63 mg of caffeine with approximately two calories.
It also contains 1.5 to 2 oz of milk which comes to about 24 calories for a total of 26 calories per piccolo latte. If your coffee shop uses a brand of milk that adds sugar, as is common in American coffee shops, or you prefer a milk substitute, your calories may vary. Most likely your piccolo latte will remain under 100 calories.
This can be compared to a regular latte which has about 190 calories.
Piccolo lattes are a lesser-known variety of coffee drinks that many believe originated in Sydney, Australia. The word “piccolo” means small in Italian and is the perfect description for this beverage.
Piccolo lattes are small espresso-based drinks, usually about 3-4 oz or roughly 90 ml. They contain a more robust variety of espresso known as a Ristretto shot with 3 to 4 times more milk than espresso compared to the traditional 1:1 ratio in a regular latte.
Piccolo lattes have a slightly lower caffeine level than traditional espresso and offer minimal calories due to their small size.
Your piccolo latte will have a bold, rich coffee flavor mellowed slightly by the milk and can act as a quick fix throughout the day without the overwhelming rush of sugar or espresso from larger beverages allowing consumers to have more coffees throughout the day.