Chai Latte Vs. Coffee (What’s The Difference?)

Last Updated on February 20, 2022 by John Moretti

The popularity of coffee seems to have skyrocketed on social media over the last few years. New flavors and special designs have made it so that everyone can find their unique taste. However, many people are still wary of the effects of caffeine and look for alternatives. Flavored teas and exotic spices have provided us with more options to satiate our need for coffee! 

The main difference between chai latte and coffee is that chai does not contain any coffee. Chai is made from black tea with different spices and steamed milk to give it the same froth as a coffee latte. The tea and spices are brewed without espresso, but there is still caffeine in the black tea.

Monitoring your caffeine intake is not a bad idea, and finding an alternative will make this step easier. There are so many different spices that can be used to brew chai latte to give it a unique taste. Cinnamon, vanilla pods, and licorice are all popular flavors that will provide you with an excuse to try something new!

What Is Chai Latte?

A common misconception in the coffee community is that chai is just a spicy coffee. The word ‘chai’ literally translates to tea. The confusing part is the word ‘latte’. This is inaccurate because chai does not contain espresso, thus, it cannot be a latte. Chai latte originated in India and is also known as Masala chai. This tea was originally used in alternative medicine in South Asia before being popularized in Britain in the 1800s. 


The original chai was made simply by steeping the black tea in hot water with milk, sugar, and ginger. This tea was most popular in the royal courts of India about 7 000 years ago. Today it is prepared more creatively as its popularity has increased and spread across the Western world. Different spices have been experimented with and can cater to different crowds.

These spices vary and are up to personal taste. Some cafes will give you options for a sweeter or spicier taste. Ginger, cumin, and cardamom will make the tea spicy, while cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla will give the tea a much sweeter taste.  These variations mean that this drink is not targeted to any specific age group because of its unique taste. 

What Is Coffee?

Chai Latte vs. Coffee

Coffee is a staple for most people to start their day. A delicious boost of energy that can be enjoyed in so many different forms. I am sure we all know what coffee is, but it is worth noting the specifics to make a fair comparison.

Coffee is made from ground roasted coffee beans. These beans are collected from coffee plants. Raw coffee has an acidic and bitter taste, but its benefits are what make this beverage so popular. 

The high level of caffeine found in coffee beans makes it a stimulant. This means it will keep you awake and energized as you start your day or when your energy levels are low. However, many people do not realize that their caffeine dependence is an addiction. Caffeine is very easy to become addicted to and can lead people to suffer from withdrawal.

The coffee industry has come up with ways to diminish caffeine addiction with the introduction of decaffeinated coffee and lighter roasts without the stimulation of caffeine from dark coffee. Many different coffee drinks can be made with espresso ranging from a simple cappuccino to more complex ones like Irish coffee or a macchiato.

Coffee is no longer considered an adult beverage. It does not have to be bitter and acidic, and now there are iced coffee options with caramel, syrup, and chocolate to make it more exciting.

Which Beverage Is Better?

Chai Latte vs. Coffee

A 2014 article by National Geographic stated that the most consumed beverage in the world is tea, followed closely by coffee! This proves that these two beverages are trendy and their variety of flavors catering to all sorts of people simply adds to their appeal.

However, they are two very different drinks, and some prefer one over the other for a particular reason. These reasons can persuade you to try the one you have not tried yet!

With regard to the cost of these beverages, it is dependent on several factors. A more complex drink will cost more than a simple one. A plain cup of coffee made from ground coffee beans ($1.85) will certainly cost less than a macchiato ($3.75). The same is true for tea: a plain chai latte at Starbucks is much cheaper ($3.65) than a dirty chai ($4.75) which has added spices and a shot of espresso. 


It is always exciting to experiment with different beverages before finding the one that makes your morning great. Put your biases aside, find a local coffee shop with an extensive beverage list and start taste testing. I usually prefer coffee over tea but with chai latte, but I was overwhelmed by the strong flavors with all the spices used to make chai latte.

Chai latte tastes very different from regular green or white tea because of the steamed milk and spices. This difference was evident to me because tea usually has a very calming effect. 

This shows that this comparison comes down to personal taste and what you want out of your beverage. If you are looking for a boost of energy, something with high caffeine would be preferable. However, if you are looking for something more relaxing but still tasty, a chai latte will be your new favorite drink!