Dirty Coffee Vs. Latté (A Comparison)

Last Updated on April 29, 2022 by John Moretti

Espresso drinks are more confusing than any other type of coffee genre. There are so many espresso drinks on the menu these days, and more seem to be popping up all the time. Two of the most popular espresso drinks right now are the classic Latté and the modern Dirty Coffee. What are these drinks, and how do they compare with one another?

The Dirty Coffee is prepared with two shots of espresso combined with the same amount of ice-cold milk. The hot coffee and cold milk create a unique taste and texture experience. The Latté is made with two shots of espresso and a large amount of steamed milk. The Latte is smooth and easy to drink. 

Modern espresso-based drinks can be so difficult to understand simply because there are so many variations of each drink variety. If you enjoy espresso and milk drinks, you are likely to enjoy both the Latté ad the Dirty Coffee, but understanding the ins and outs of these beverages is important for making the best order for your day. Let’s explore both of these popular espresso-based drinks. 

The Dirty Coffee

Photo of two dirty coffee while being made

The world of espresso drinks is so confusing because there are so many variations of each type of drink. For this reason, we will keep the descriptions, methods, and recipes of each drink mentioned here simple and easy to understand. Let’s begin with the Dirty Coffee.

The Dirty Coffee is a modern espresso-based drink that is still largely unknown by most coffee drinkers. This drink may sound strange, and the brand-new nature of the beverage has many questioning the drink, but the Dirty Coffee is set to become a modern classic.

This drink is delicious and unique and offers a new espresso-drinking experience not found with any other espresso and milk beverage. 

The Dirty Coffee gets its name from the way the drink looks when it is prepared. This drink is simple and only requires two ingredients: a double shot of strong espresso and ice-cold milk. 

To create a Dirty Coffee, a barista pulls a double-shot of strong espresso and pours it over a small clear glass of very cold milk. When the hot espresso is poured over the thick, cold milk, it taints the pure white color of the milk with brown espresso. 

This causes streaks of espresso to be visible down the side of the glass as the drink combines and creates a “dirty” aesthetic that provides the drink with its name. 

The Dirty Coffee offers a unique drinking experience as the hot espresso and the cold milk combines in the mouth for a delightfully interesting mouthfeel and texture. This beverage is usually served in a very small glass, with about as much milk as espresso in the glass. The drink is about the size of a Macchiato but more intense and much more interesting. 

The Latté

Photo of two cups of latte beside the two teaspoon

The Latté is a staple in the world of espresso drinks. There is almost no coffee drink more famous than the Latté, and fewer drinks with more variations than this one. However, the Latté is formed from the same two basic ingredients as the Dirty Coffee. 

This drink is created by combining two shots of espresso with a relatively large amount of milk compared to other espresso-based drinks. However, the way the milk is treated before mixing it with the espresso and how it is combined into the drink is what defines a Latté. 

 The milk used for this drink is steamed using the espresso machine steam wand until it has a dense, creamy, smooth texture. This milk is not foamed, but it is textured and steamed. This iconic milk type is what sets the Latté apart from all other coffee drinks. 

The Latté is typically prepared with two shots of espresso and textured milk, poured together into a tall glass or mug. This is a large drink that is very milk-forward, yet it is still strong and can be intense due to the two shots of espresso.

Photo of latte pouring milk for latte art

The milk in a Latté is often used to create Latté art by the barista pouring the drink, which adds to the aesthetic of the beverage. 

This drink is thick, creamy, smooth, easy to drink, and delicious. Everyone who enjoys espresso and milk drinks love a good Latté when it is well prepared. 

How Do These Drinks Compare?

Photo of dirty coffee with ice in a clear glass

Comparing the Dirty Coffee and the Latté is somewhat challenging because these two drinks are so different from one another. 

The Latté is a large, creamy, thick drink that is served hot with steamed milk that has a smooth texture. This drink has good coffee flavor and strength but is relatively mild-tasting compared to most espresso-based drinks. 

The Dirty Coffee is a small drink that is very strong due to the small amount of milk added to strong shots of espresso. However, the intensity of the espresso is highly mitigated by the rich smoothness of the ice-cold milk. 

This drink is small, but it packs a punch of interesting flavor and mouthfeel as the cold milk combined with the hot espresso. The sweet milk compliments the strong espresso well, but this drink is not for everyone. 

Anyone who enjoys espresso drinks such as the Cappuccino or the Flat White is sure to enjoy a well-made Latté as well. This drink is strong and rich but very easy to drink. 

Which Drink To Order

Photo of milk and espresso  being poured in a clear glass

Which of these two drinks you should order is entirely based on what you enjoy from a cup of coffee. 

If your preferences are larger, easy-drinking brews with strong coffee flavor without the intensity of short coffee drinks, then the Latté is likely to tick the boxes for you. If you prefer small espresso and milk drinks that are intense and interesting, then the Dirty Coffee is a great option. 

Both drinks combine two shots of espresso with milk, but how the milk is prepared beforehand separates the two beverages. The cold milk and hot espresso create a unique drink in the Dirty Coffee, while the steamed milk and espresso create the iconic smooth Latté. 

To best know which is the right option for you, take the time to taste and experience both coffee drinks to understand which flavors and textures suit you best. 


The Dirty Coffee and the Latté and two of the best espresso-based coffee and milk drinks on the menu at modern coffee shops. They are unique drinks in their own ways, but they are both delicious, and every coffee lover should experience them both. 

Take the time to taste both drinks to determine which you prefer, and you are in for a taste and flavor experience unlike any other in the world of coffee!