What Is The Best Temperature For A Latte? Hot Or Cold?

7 min read NOV 12, 2023

For any coffee fan, a latte isn’t something new. You must have tasted it at some point. However, have you ever stopped and questioned what exactly is a latte made of? What’s the best temperature to enjoy a latte? Is it supposed to be hot or cold? Is the usual latte different from a Starbucks latte?

We have answered all these questions and more in today’s post. Scroll below to learn the nitty-gritty of America’s most beloved espresso-based drink!

What Makes A Latte?

Generally, a latte has three layers. First comes the bottom layer of a single or double shot of espresso. Then, the espresso is mixed with several ounces of steamed milk. Finally, the drink has a topmost layer of foam on which sits the classic latte art. The typical ratio for espresso to milk in a latte is 1:3.

The same mixture of espresso and milk creates many other coffee beverages, such as cappuccino or mocha. However, the quantity of ingredients in each drink (ratio of espresso to milk) is what brings the difference.

For instance, a cappuccino uses a ratio of 1:2, while a mocha contains around ⅖ espresso and ⅕ steamed milk which gives a pretty low ratio of milk to coffee.

Are Lattes Supposed To Be Hot Or Cold?

Now comes the burning question, are lattes hot or cold? Well, there's no hard and fast rule about that. But if we look at it from a traditional point of view, lattes are served hot. Then came the many variations of latte over the years, and today, lattes are served both hot and cold. Cold lattes are called iced lattes, a staple at almost every coffee corner worldwide.

The standard way to prepare a latte is by mixing espresso with steamed milk. And since both ingredients are hot, it results in a hot latte. Hence, you can say that the standard lattes are served hot. Moreover, different latte versions from different countries are hot too.

For example, the Italian latte, a.k.a. Caffé Latte, simply means "coffee and milk." It is made with strong black coffee and warm milk. On the other hand, the American Latte, created after the Second World War in the US, was served hot too. Hence, historically, lattes are supposed to be hot beverages.

As for cold latte, the trend really took off with popular coffeehouse brands like Starbucks introducing their own version of iced latte drinks. A cold latte, or iced latte, is made with espresso and cold milk poured over ice. Some baristas make it by stirring espresso with ice, then topping it with cold foam. And today, many coffee drinkers (including us) consider it the best way to enjoy a latte.

The bottom line is that lattes can be both hot and cold. It ultimately depends on your preference. Don't worry about the flavor and quality, too, because both versions taste exceptionally delicious.

What Is The Perfect Latte Temperature?

The perfect latte temperature varies depending on the type of latte you're making.

Hot Latte Temperature

Getting the temperature right is most important when it comes to hot lattes. A temperature higher, and your latte might taste burnt. And if the temperature falls below the recommended range, it might taste watered down and unpleasant.

The ideal temperature for a hot latte is between 150°F and 165°F. And this is what most professional brewers and baristas stick by.
We’d also like to clear one thing. A latte that drops below 150°F doesn’t mean it is a “cold latte” now. Cold latte is a totally different drink and we’ll get into that later.

Apart from the temperature of the drink itself, the temperature of the espresso and milk are also equally important. In fact, only when you get the temperature of these ingredients right can you get the perfect latte temperature.

Ideal Espresso Temperature In A Latte

In a nutshell, espresso is strong black coffee brewed by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. Hence, the water temperature can either make or break the flavor of your espresso shot.

The ideal espresso brewing temperature is 190°F to 200°F. The higher the water temperature, the more flavorful compounds it will extract from your coffee beans. Hot water temperature will also give your espresso its signature bitter taste. Contrastingly, low water temperatures will result in mellower espresso shots.

Some experienced baristas go up to 205°F for brewing espresso. However, this is the upper limit; you should avoid it if you're still a newbie. That's because even a tad higher can spoil the flavor and quality of your espresso.

Ideal Milk Temperature In A Latte

The lactose in milk starts to break down and release sugar at around 140°F. Hence, this is when milk tastes the sweetest. And because of this very reason, most baristas steam their milk between 135°F and 150°F for a hot latte.

Beyond 150°F, the milk will boil, which is not ideal for a latte. And anything higher than 160°F means your milk will curdle or burn.

Getting the right milk temperature is even more important for making latte art. Dairy milk should be heated until 140°F to 150°F, while the ideal temperature for alternative or non-dairy milk is between 130°F and 160°F.

Iced Latte Temperature

Things are much easier with Iced lattes because there's no such thing as the perfect iced latte temperature. It only depends on your preference and preparation method. While some like their iced lattes very chilled with extra ice cubes, some prefer it just cool with cold milk.

Try this recipe if you belong to the latter group or are sensitive to frozen drinks. Add eight ice cubes with cooled milk and espresso to a glass. Stir and enjoy. The result will be cool enough to beat the summer heat but not too cold to shock your teeth!

Flavored Latte Temperature

Wait, what are flavored lattes? It's exactly as it sounds; a latte that's been flavored, usually with syrups. Some of the most popular latte flavors are Vanilla, Pumpkin Spice, Mocha, and Caramel.

Flavored lattes can be either hot or cold. And the same temperature recommendation applies here.

The ideal temperature for hot flavored lattes is 150°F and 165°F, while cold flavored lattes can be too cold or slightly warm depending on your preference.

Are Starbucks Lattes Hot Or Cold?

For those wondering, Is the usual latte different from a Starbucks latte? The answer is no. The basis of a usual latte and a Starbucks latte (a.k.a. Caffé Latte) is the same, i.e., milk and espresso. However, the difference in flavor is brought about by using in-house specialty coffee beans and the craft of a Starbucks barista.

Like any other regular latte, Starbucks Lattes can be hot and cold. But the best thing about a latte in the iconic twin-tailed siren cup is its flavor variations. Depending on your location and season, you can find a plethora of latte flavors at Starbucks. Some of the most popular ones apart from the classic Caffé Latte are Cinnamon Dolce Latte, Caffe Mocha, Blonde Vanilla Latte, Pistachio Latte, and Caramel Brulee Latte.

Are Café Lattes Or To-Go Lattes Better?

At cafes, your Café latte will most likely be served in a porcelain mug. These mugs are thick and hold heat well. Once poured into the cup, you can enjoy a warmed latte for the next several minutes.

As for to-go lattes, you're likely to be served in a paper cup. Unfortunately, whether your barista has doubled or tripled the cup, to-go lattes don't remain hot for a long time.

Now, if you're going to gulp the entire latte once you reach your car, well and good. But if you want to carry your drink around as you go about your day, pouring your latte into an insulated mug is best. Better yet, request the barista to pour the drink directly into your mug.

Should You Order Extra-Hot Lattes?

That completely depends on you. Extra hot lattes mean they'll remain hot for longer. However, note that you'll have to sacrifice a little quality and flavor for the heat.

Tips For Keeping Your Latte Hot

  • Preheat you cup by placing it in hot water before pouring your latte into it.
  • Add a thick layer of foam on top to keep the below drink insulated.
  • Order your to-go latte with an extra shot of espresso.
  • Use a travel mug.
  • Keep your lid closed.
  • Try to brew your espresso and milk simultaneously.


Do you need an espresso machine to make a latte?

No, you don’t necessarily need an espresso machine to make a latte. However, it does speed up the process and result in a better tasting coffee.

Do lattes taste better, hot or cold?

That's subjective. For us, nothing tastes better than a cup of hot latte on a cold wintry day. An iced or cold latte tastes best during summer to beat the heat.

What's the difference between a hot and cold latte?

The difference between a hot and cold latte is that a hot latte is espresso with steamed milk and foam on top, while the latter is espresso with ice and cold milk. Sometimes, a cold latte comes with cold foam on top.

What is the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?

The difference between a latte and a cappuccino is that a latte has more milk, while a cappuccino has more foam. Besides, the ingredients are layered in a cappuccino, while the milk and espresso are mixed together in a latte.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Blonde Espresso.


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