Last Updated on September 21, 2023 by Barry Gray
You might be wondering what a Spanish latte is. If so, keep reading. I will give you all the ins and outs of this famous coffee.
A Spanish Latte is a whole-milk coffee drink made with an espresso shot. It is often enjoyed with breakfast, but it is a coffee drink you can enjoy anytime. The correct name for the Spanish Latte is Cafe con Leche. You then need to add condensed milk to the coffee, making it very sweet.
Although called a Spanish coffee, it is a beloved coffee used worldwide.
It is trendy in Dubai, North America, and the Philippines. As coffee becomes increasingly popular, the demand for different mixes, flavors, and tastes increases, which is fun for coffee lovers.
Making It At Home
The great thing about most coffees is the ability to make them at home. You don’t need an entire espresso machine; a sturdy Moka pot or instant roasted Coffee is inexpensive. My Moka makes a mean espresso-like drink if handled correctly.
But here’s the great thing. Making a Spanish Latte at home is easier than you think. Actually, you have probably almost made one already without even knowing about it.
The Spanish Latte Simplified
You only need a few ingredients to make a Spanish Latte: espresso, milk, or milk alternative, condensed milk and water. That’s pretty much it. See, I told you it was easy.
Water, Is It Such A Big Deal
Now, before I go on, let’s get one thing straight. Many people talk about which water to use to make the best coffee, and Spanish coffee is no different.
If you want the best-tasting coffee, filtered or bottled water is often recommended. This is entirely up to you. I’ve used tap water for years and survived, plus I have had many a great cup of coffee while using tap water!
When I go camping and make some excellent rustic cowboy coffee, I take bottled water for obvious reasons, which is a paradox because cowboy coffee is something you make rudimentarily with what you have, but logic is at play.
I know there is hype about which water to use, so here’s a bit more detail:
Some water areas are better than others. Some people have great-tasting water coming right out of their tap; I class myself in this category. Others, not so much. If your water is not great, the coffee will be awful. A lot of water supplies are tainted with impurities. I’ve seen regular coffee looking like swamp water, dead and dark. You know what I mean.
Let’s get more technical about water; if you are not technically minded, skip this and read the next part.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing water for coffee:
The Technical Perspective
- Total dissolved solids (TDS): TDS measures the minerals dissolved in water. The ideal TDS level for coffee is between 150 and 300 parts per million (ppm). Water with a higher TDS level will make coffee taste bitter, while water with a lower TDS level will make coffee taste flat.
- pH: The pH of water is a measure of how acidic or alkaline it is. The ideal pH for coffee is between 6.5 and 7.5. Water with a lower pH will make coffee taste sour, while water with a higher pH will make coffee taste bitter.
- Chlorine: Chlorine is a common disinfectant added to water to kill bacteria. However, chlorine can also make coffee taste bitter. If your water contains chlorine, you can filter it to remove the chlorine. There are plenty of affordable filters available to do just that. Or you can splurge a little and get a filter that works for you all day.
- Hardness: Hardness measures the calcium and magnesium content in water. Hard water can make coffee taste bitter and leave a build-up of scale in your coffee maker. If your water is hard, you can filter it to remove the calcium and magnesium.
The Every-Day Perspective Of Water
If you are still trying to decide what type of water to use for your Spanish Latte, it is always best to err on the side of caution and use filtered water.
Filtered water will remove impurities and give you the best possible cup of coffee.
Now that’s all out of the way, let’s get on with exploring how we make a Spanish Latte.
It Starts with the Espresso
Look for a dark roast with a nice kick and a depth of flavor. If you use condensed milk in your Spanish coffee, the darker roast will rise above the sweetness you are looking for.
You don’t have to use condensed milk, although that then turns it more into a regular Latte. You can still use whole milk. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can also use milk substitutes.
Here are a few brands of dark roast espresso that you can use in a Spanish coffee:
- Illy Espresso: Illy is made with 100% Arabica beans and has a rich, full-bodied flavor. It does well with several processes, like Moka pots or Pour Over. I have also used it in my French Press.
- Lavazza Espresso Classico: Lavazza is made with both Arabic and Robusta beans. If you need clarification on the difference, check out our article on Arabic and Robusta beans.
- Gaggia Classic Espresso: Another favorite, this time the focus is on Arabica beans, and the mellow loveliness blends beautifully with the milk in this coffee.
- Nespresso Ristretto: We have a good blend of Arabic and Robusta beans; the mixed results in an intense, enjoyable espresso that tastes perfect in Spanish coffee.
- Starbucks Espresso Roast: Who is to argue with Starbucks? Well, not me, for sure, so this would also work well.
When selecting an espresso for Spanish coffee, it’s crucial to consider your personal preferences. Opt for a dark roast espresso if you enjoy a strong and bold flavor. However, if you prefer a smoother and more balanced taste, use a medium roast espresso. Additionally, the presence of Arabica in the blend will result in a mellower flavor.
No matter which espresso you choose, make sure it is fresh and high-quality. Freshly roasted coffee beans will produce the best flavor.
Using My Moka To Make Espresso
My hardy Moka pot is a real trooper when trying out various coffees; I recommend getting one if you don’t have one.
Now, I do know you cannot strictly make a full-on espresso with a Moka pot. However, it does get close, and it’s going to be good enough for your Spanish Latte.
The Moka is easy enough to use, and it’s only constructed from three parts.
The base is the bottom part of the Moka pot, where the water is heated. A small hole in the bottom allows the water to flow into the next chamber. The base, or bottom, is where you will put your water.
The funnel is the middle part of the Moka pot, where the coffee grounds are placed. It has a perforated bottom allows the water to flow through the coffee grounds and into the top chamber. Many coffees fit well into the funnel, for example, the Illy coffee I mentioned earlier. I use that one a lot and get good results every time.
The top chamber is the top part of the Moka pot and is where the brewed coffee collects. Its spout allows the coffee to be poured into a cup.
When the Moka pot is heated, the water in the base boils and turns to steam. The steam then forces its way up through the funnel and into the top chamber, passing through the coffee grounds. The coffee grounds then extract their flavor into the water, creating a robust and concentrated coffee.
I use mine on a gas stove, and I have a unique grid that fits onto the gas port to keep the pot steady, as it is pretty tiny. Once the coffee is made, you have a great espresso shot to do with as you wish.
Moka pots are a popular way to make coffee at home because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. They are also a great way to make espresso-style coffee without buying an espresso machine.
Whole milk is the milk to use for authentic Spanish coffee, but times have changed, and some people prefer to cut the calories. So you can use skimmed milk or other milk alternative if you like.
You heat your milk, pour the heated milk into your espresso, and stir in well using a ratio of 1:1, then foam your milk to make a frothy topper.
The goal is to achieve a consistency similar to cream rather than a cement-like foam, which is challenging to handle. That is where the condensed milk makes a difference.
Condensed milk will manage to add that creamy layer to the coffee. I also find it makes a Spanish Latte somewhat smoother than other forms. Also, it’s more of a slightly dialed back version of Vietnamese coffee with the only difference being the amount of condensed milk being used.
Hand-Held Milk Frothers Are A Life-Saver
Milk hand-held frothers are not too expensive and can come in handy. I’ve made some lovely Irish coffees, for example, using a hand frother.
Your milk should be scalded, not boiled. That means just warmed through.
That is your Spanish coffee done in a few easy steps.
How About A Boozy Spanish Coffee?
You can play around with the coffee; add sugar for sweetness or condensed milk for a new taste. You don’t need a lot you don’t want to over-sweeten your drink.
You can also add alcohol if you wish. Kahlua, whiskey, or rum adds a whole new dimension. Once you have made the coffee, pour your foamed milk on top, add your liquor shot, then squirt some whipped cream with chocolate sprinkles. I’ve also used crunchy caramel chunks.
As you can tell, the only limit is your imagination.
A Cold Spanish Latte
If you want iced Spanish coffee, use the same methods above, but chill the milk and the espresso and add a sprig of mint. Again, it’s very easy to do and yet the end result is fantastic.
I would certainly prefer to make an iced version rather than a cold brew. But then, that’s partly because I’m quite impatient and there are times when I’m just unable to wait 24 hours for a coffee to be ready.
A Recap About a Spanish Latte
I find a Spanish Latte to be intriguing, so here’s a quick recap of the main points about this fantastic coffee.
- You need to make an espresso as the base.
- Use milk and condensed milk to finish the job.
- Make sure the milk is scalded for it to be authentic.
- Use filtered water to get the best espresso.
- You can make a cold version by chilling the milk.
- It’s quite sweet thanks to the condensed milk.
If you want a coffee that tastes more dense and creamier, then this is the one for you.
A Spanish Latte uses scalded milk, espresso and water. You can have it either hot, or make an iced version by chilling the milk and the espresso.
For me, the key is to focus on the beans used and get to know the flavors you prefer when it comes to a Latte. I say this because the milk will change the flavor of the coffee, and it will take the edge off the bitterness.
I highly suggest trying different ways of brewing coffee from around the world. You never know what you will encounter next, and that’s one of the most amazing things about coffee in general.