French Vanilla Coffee Vs. Latté (A Comparison)

Last Updated on May 25, 2022 by John Moretti

The Latté is among the most popular coffee beverages internationally and has a very clearly defined recipe. French Vanilla coffee does not have a recipe that is as clearly defined as the Latté, but these two drinks are often confused with one another. What are the important differences between French Vanilla coffee and Latté?

French Vanilla coffee is any coffee made with vanilla flavor. French Vanilla coffee varies widely from black coffee to rich drinks with milk and cream. A Latté is an espresso-based drink made with a double espresso and textured milk prepared with a steam wand. The Latté is a coffee-forward drink.   

Defining the Latté is a somewhat straightforward task, but defining French Vanilla coffee is significantly more complicated. Both drinks have multiple variations, but the Latté is a much more defined beverage than French Vanilla coffee. Nevertheless, let’s explore both of these coffee drinks and find out how they compare with one another. 

a red  and white cups and saucers with coffee

French Vanilla Coffee

French Vanilla coffee is among the most confusing terms used in the already confusing world of coffee. This term seems to be used somewhat ambiguously in most instances, but there are definitions that we can apply to the term to make things a little clearer.

The term “French Vanilla” is used to describe a coffee beverage that is flavored with vanilla. The vanilla flavor may be provided by fresh vanilla pods, vanilla extract, vanilla syrups, vanilla flavoring, or even vanilla flavored coffee beans. 

Apart from the vanilla flavor, there is no other clear definition of French Vanilla coffee. This type of beverage can be prepared in any number of ways, and it has been reimagined by many different coffee chains, coffee shops, and home baristas throughout its existence. 

two white cups and saucers with coffee a a yellow flower

The most generally accepted version of French Vanilla coffee is a larger coffee beverage prepared with brewed coffee and a foamed mixture of milk, cream, and condensed milk that is heavily flavored with vanilla and very sweetened. 

This recipe is the most commonly found version of French Vanilla coffee in large chain coffee shops such as Starbucks and Tim Horton’s. However, there exist many variations of French Vanilla coffee, including coffee drinks.

Some other common variations are French Vanilla Lattés and Cappuccinos, as well as black coffee flavored with vanilla, brewed coffee mixed with vanilla-flavored creamer, regular coffee with vanilla-flavored milk, and many others. 

The term “French Vanilla” is a broad, blanket term used to describe any coffee that is flavored with vanilla in some way, which is why the term is so confusing. 

The truth is, if you enjoy vanilla-flavored coffee drinks, take the time to find a coffee shop near you that makes such a beverage in the way that you prefer, and you will never be disappointed with another “French Vanilla” coffee again. 

The Latté 

a white liquid being poured on a white cup

The Latté is a coffee beverage that is much more clearly defined than French Vanilla coffee, even though it comes in a wide array of variations. However, the Latté is a favorite in world coffee culture for a good reason.

The general definition of a Latté is a coffee drink that is prepared with two shots of espresso combined with rich, textured, steamed milk. The milk is what defines the Latté, as this milk is steamed with a steam wand until it is silky, sweet, hot, and textured. 

This Latté milk is used for creating Latté art when the drink is poured and gives the drink a delightfully smooth mouthfeel. The Latté is a strong drink due to the double shot of espresso, which makes it a very coffee-forward beverage. 

However, the Latté is usually prepared with a relatively large amount of milk which drastically softens the drink and removes any harsh flavors from the strong espresso. This makes the Latté a very easy-to-drink beverage and leaves room for many variations. 

The amount of milk used in a Latté differs from place to place, which means that the size of the drink is different depending on where you go, but the basic recipe is usually the same everywhere. 

The Latté can be altered by adding various sweeteners, syrups, flavors, and flavored powders to give the drink a unique flavor or seasonal flavor characteristics. 

The strong coffee flavor and versatility of the Latté have made it one of the most popular drinks anywhere, and it is available in some form in almost every coffee establishment in the world. 

How Do French Vanilla and Latte Coffee Drinks Compare?

Every variation of French Vanilla coffee is very vanilla-forward. This drink is not intended to have a strong coffee flavor and therefore is not made with strong coffee and is often made with instant coffee or a very small amount of coffee. 

The Latté, however, is a strong coffee drink and is always made with two shots of strong espresso. This means that regardless of how much milk is added to the beverage, the Latté is always a coffee-forward drink that is intended to be a strong coffee drink made gentler by the addition of textured milk. 

These two drinks are very different from each other; however, French Vanilla flavor can be added to a Latté to give the drink a distinctive vanilla flavor without altering the strength of the drink. 

The fact that these drinks can be combined is why the differences can be confusing, but a Latté with vanilla flavoring does not a French Vanilla coffee make. French Vanilla coffee is purpose-made to be a vanilla-flavored beverage, while the Latté is a coffee-forward drink. 

Which Drink Should You Order?

The Latté and French Vanilla coffee are both delicious beverages, and if you are the type of person who enjoys coffee and milk drinks, then they are likely to suit your preferences well. So, which drink should you order?

If you enjoy strong coffee, espresso, or if you are a person who is particular about their coffee, then the Latté is a better option for you.

If your preferred coffee drinks are sweet, flavored, exciting, and interesting, then French Vanilla coffee may be a better option for your own preferences. However, always remember that French Vanilla coffee differs drastically from place to place, so be sure that what you order is to your liking. 


French Vanilla coffee is a term that is used to describe any coffee that is flavored with vanilla. It could be black coffee brewed with vanilla beans, or it could be a large, milky drink flavored with sweet vanilla syrup. 

The Latté is a more refined and better-defined coffee beverage made with two shots of espresso and steamed milk. Whatever your preferences, there is a version of these drinks that suits your style. Take the time to find it, and you will never be disappointed with your coffee again!