What Is A Breve Coffee?

8 min read JAN 13, 2024

Here, at Lifeboost we take pride in offering a range of delicious and healthy coffee options. We are also passionate about exploring the variety of coffees available. Today we want to delve into the world of Breve coffee.

Given your coffee journey you are probably already skilled at brewing your cup. However amidst the abundance of lattes, cappuccinos and espressos the Breve often remains a mystery to many. So let's join together as we uncover the secrets behind this lesser-known but equally enticing coffee creation and discover how it contributes to the tapestry of coffee culture.

What Is A Breve?

A breve, a breve latte, or a cafe breve is a delightful coffee beverage made with espresso and steamed half-and-half instead of milk. It offers a unique twist to traditional espresso-based drinks.

To create this indulgent concoction, begin by expertly combining one or two espresso shots with a luxurious blend of half-and-half—a perfect marriage of whole milk and heavy cream. If you’re wondering which espresso is best for making a breve, you can try our Lifeboost Espresso Coffee.

This velvety mixture can be conveniently found pre-mixed in a bottle or carton or effortlessly prepared at home by combining equal parts cream and milk.

The harmonious result is a lusciously creamy and decadent brew that strikingly balances the sweetness of the half-and-half with the boldness of the espresso. Although the name "breve" is derived from the Italian word for "short," don't be misled into thinking it is limited to a small cappuccino cup. Each coffee shop boasts its unique rendition of the Breve, some opting for a smooth, velvety foam akin to a latte. In contrast, others prefer a thicker, frothier texture resembling a cappuccino. The key remains the same regardless of the method: pouring the half-and-half over the espresso.

The Breve is an American innovation inspired by the timeless Italian caffè latte. While many indulge in a creamy breve as their morning coffee, it is often savored as an evening delight or a dessert-like treat.

What Is The Difference Between A Latte And A Breve?

A latte breve is a smooth and velvety coffee beverage that closely resembles a traditional cafe latte. What sets it apart from other espresso-based drinks is steamed half-and-half instead of milk or foam.

This luscious and creamy concoction offers a truly indulgent coffee experience, boasting a decadent sweetness that requires no additional sugar. It is the perfect choice for those seeking a luxurious and satisfying drink, providing a rich and delightful treat for the palate.

The Cafe Latte

When preparing cafe lattes, various methods depend on who you ask. Typically, espresso with double shot is extracted and combined with a pour of velvety steamed milk, not frothy milk. The choice of milk can vary, including options like oat, almond, soy, or cow's milk, depending on personal preference. The crucial element is steaming the milk perfectly, resulting in a smooth and luxurious texture. The ultimate goal is an exceptionally fine microfoam, perfect for crafting intricate latte art such as swans or rosettas, delicately floating in the rich golden espresso.

The Caffe Breve

A caffè breve, on the other hand, requires an equal combination of whole milk and rich cream. This milky and creamy component is vital.

You can steam or foam it to your liking using a steam wand. Whether you prefer a velvety smooth layer or a thick layer of foam on top is entirely up to you.
Additionally, you can add a single or double shot of espresso—once again, the decision is yours.

However, having this precise blend of espresso, whole milk, and cream is imperative to truly savor this brew's authentic flavor.

Reducing the amount of half-and-half or creating a milk and cream blend with less than 10% fat will not suffice. Creaminess is of utmost importance here.

What Does Breve Mean At Starbucks?

Starbucks, the café known for its iconic takeaway cups adorned with hieroglyphs, can present quite a challenge when ordering. Comedian Kevin Hart even dedicated a hilarious 8-minute bit to this very topic. But what exactly is a breve at Starbucks?

If you were to simply order "a breve" at Starbucks, and by chance, the usually friendly barista is having an off day, you might find yourself with a cup of steamed creamy milk. That's it! This frothy delight is typically served in a cup adorned with the letter 'B,' as 'B' is the shorthand for the drink's name.
At Starbucks, you can transform nearly any coffee beverage into a breve. Whether it's a mocha, macchiato, or even an iced latte with espresso and half-and-half, they've made Breve more of a modification than a standalone drink in their unique dialect.

If you specifically request a breve café latte, cappuccino, or simply these drinks with half-and-half, you'll be served a breve latte. It's essentially the same as the coffee drinks discussed in this article.

Most other coffee shops, especially the specialty third-wave ones, will understand what you mean when you ask for a breve.

How To Make A Breve At Home

A true breve comprises two essential elements: espresso coffee and steamed half-and-half. The strength of each component is crucial, making it imperative to include both in their entirety. It is essential to use authentic espresso brewed on an espresso machine, preferably a double shot. Furthermore, the half-and-half should have a minimum fat content of 10%. Cutting corners on either of these components may result in a flavorful beverage, but it falls short of the essence of a bona fide breve.

The Espresso

Crafting a café breve at home relies heavily on the espresso machine. Without a well-extracted espresso, it lacks the necessary robustness to balance the sweetness of the half-and-half. Unlike other beverages, a strong filter brew won't suffice; genuine espresso is necessary.

To create a double shot of espresso for a breve, follow a 1:2 ratio. For instance, if you use 20 grams of ground coffee, you'll yield a 40-gram (around 40ml) double shot. The extraction process should take approximately 30 seconds through your portafilter. Adjust your grind accordingly: finer if it flows too quickly, coarser if it flows too slowly.

This ratio ensures a perfect blend of strength and extraction, capturing all the nuanced flavors of the coffee while maintaining a satisfying intensity, never diluted.

When selecting the ideal coffee roast for a breve, medium to dark roasts are the reigning champions. These roasts are easier for the espresso machine to extract, resulting in a bolder, more full-bodied shot. Medium and dark roasts effortlessly cut through the half-and-half, unlike light roasts, better suited for black coffee or occasionally steamed milk. Embrace the richness of darker roasts for a delightful breve experience.

Best Picks for making espresso shots - Lifeboost Espresso, Lifeboost Medium Roast Coffee, Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee.

The Half-And-Half

Now, let's delve into the world of half-and-half! You have two options: purchasing it from the store or crafting your own at home. If you choose the latter, combine equal parts of cream and whole milk, aiming for a mixture with a fat content of around 10-15%.

Treat it as you would milk for a cafe latte when it comes to steaming the half-and-half. I prefer it to possess a creamy and velvety texture. However, exercise caution not to overheat it beyond 60°C, as it may scorch and develop a custard-like consistency.

Pay close attention to the gentle hissing sound from the steam wand and observe the mesmerizing whirlpool motion in the cup as you create the foam.
With precision, pour the steamed half-and-half over the espresso. Allow your artistic flair to shine through with some captivating latte art, and relish in a cafe breve's delightful and indulgent experience.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use light-roast coffee for a cafe breve?

Light roasts are more suitable for black coffee or hot drinks with steamed milk, such as lattes. Opt for medium to dark roasts like the Lifeboost Espresso coffee for a cafe breve - they offer a bolder and more full-bodied shot that pairs better with the half-and-half.

Can I make my half-and-half at home?

Absolutely! Simply combine equal parts of cream and whole milk, aiming for a mixture with a fat content of around 10-15%. You can then use it as you would any store-bought version.

What is the optimal temperature for steaming half-and-half?

Avoid overheating it beyond 60°C, as it may scorch and develop a custard-like consistency. Aim for a temperature between 55-60°C - paying close attention to the gentle hissing sound emanating from the steam wand and observing the mesmerizing whirlpool motion in the cup - to achieve that velvety texture.

At what temperature should I pour the steamed half-and-half over the espresso?

For a cafe breve, aim for a slightly lower pouring temperature between 50-55°C. This will help maintain the strength of the espresso shot and blend with the half-and-half for a creamy finish.

Can I use almond milk instead of half-and-half?

Almond milk is a great non-dairy alternative if you want a lighter version of the cafe breve. However, it won't provide as much richness and creaminess as half-and-half would. Add a teaspoon of honey or some other sweetener to the espresso shot before pouring in the steamed almond milk to get the most out of your almond milk cafe breve. It will help bring out its nutty flavor and create a more rounded cup.

What is the best way to garnish a cafe breve?

A sprinkle of cocoa powder, cinnamon, or nutmeg can give the Cafe Breve a subtle sweetness and aroma. Alternatively, you can opt for more creative garnishes, such as topping with an espresso cookie or a dollop of whipped cream. However, keep in mind that these additions should be minimal to ensure that the espresso flavors and half-and-half remain dominant.

How many ounces is a typical cafe breve?

A typical cafe breve usually contains 6 ounces of liquid. This can vary depending on how much espresso and half-and-half are used to make the drink and any additional ingredients that may be added. Generally, you should aim for a 1:1 ratio between the two main components for an optimal cup.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Medium Roast.


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