Brewhaha: That Sweet, Sweet Foam
Having spoken about the most commonly drunk coffee, the humble espresso, we can move on to some more creative ways to make your morning coffee. In this week’s blog we will be discussing coffees that require the use of steamed milk. Popular ones, like cappuccinos and lattes, will be explored, as well as some more exotic beverages that you may not have heard of. Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a newbie, we hope that you are inspired to try some of the many ways in which you can make coffee.
Many people in Ireland and the UK are used to drinking coffee with milk in large cups from Costa or Starbucks. Despite this being the norm here, that is not the case in Italy. An average coffee is even smaller than the smallest cup size in Irish or British cafés. This is one of the many cultural differences between the two nations. However, that is not to say that it is impossible to have a lovely cappuccino while on holiday in Italy.
A perfect, traditional Italian cappuccino takes skill and precision to get right. As with an Americano, one or two shots of espresso is required as its base. The milk is heated and frothed using the steam wand attached to a coffee machine. The result is light and airy milk. A proper cappuccino should be equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk foam. They have become popular in Ireland and the United States in the last 25 years or so, but have been enjoyed in Italy for a long time. They are generally drunk in the morning, perhaps with a sweet pastry. Italians rarely have them later in the day and never after dinner. They are sometimes even given to children, as they are considered mostly milk!
The latte is another caffeinated beverage that is very popular in Ireland. In café chains you can purchase them flavoured with caramel or pumpkin spice. However, in Italy lattes are made with one or two shots of espresso, like cappuccinos, but differ in that they contain a lot more milk. The espresso shot(s) are combined with the steamed milk to create a less espresso-y tasting but velvety coffee, with a layer of steamed milk on top. Make sure to order a “caffè latte” when in Italy, because requesting a “latte” will only get you a glass of milk!
The macchiato is quite rarely seen in Ireland. It is often referred to as a “stained coffee” because of the very small amount of milk in it. The macchiato is essentially an espresso with a small layer of steamed milk, which serves to moderate the taste of the coffee with some sweetness. It also differs greatly from the latte in terms of its size. It is much smaller than most other drinks, except perhaps the espresso, and is perfect with breakfast or on the go.
If your taste lies more with milky coffees, the latte macchiato is worth a try. It is, quite literally, diametrically opposite to the macchiato. Instead of the coffee being stained with milk, the milk is stained with coffee. The latte macchiato is different from a normal latte because the coffee and milk are less blended, creating a layered appearance. The coffee is poured through the layer of foamed milk on the top to achieve this layering, whereas the milk is poured on top of the espresso shot in a latte. Though a seemingly tiny deviation, their tastes are distinctly different.
The marocchino is another variation of coffee with milk and foam. This slightly more indulgent coffee would, no doubt, go down well on any occasion. The use of chocolate sets this beverage apart from the others. Although it is not entirely dissimilar to the commonly found mocha, the marrocchino is, in fact, different. A shot of espresso is topped with cocoa powder and milk froth. The difference between the mocha and maracchino can be found in its size, as it is far smaller. It was first created in Alessandria, Piedmont, and in some other regions, like Alba. Nutella is used to make this beverage a little bit more indulgent!
If you prefer your coffee a little bit on the lighter side, you might want to try a caffè breve. This coffee is made in exactly the same way as a latte, except you don’t use normal full-fat milk. This Americanised version of the classic Italian drink provides a fluffier and more creamy coffee. Instead of using milk on top of the shot of espresso, a mixture of heavy cream and milk is used. This is commonly known as ‘half and half’ in America, though you wouldn’t really find it here in Ireland. The use of half and half increases the volume of the froth, making a lighter coffee.
A variation of the caffè latte is the Portuguese galão. It is made using a shot of espresso and foamed milk. Served in a tall glass, it is made up of one quarter coffee and three quarters milk, making it a very light brown colour. It is much sweeter than a latte on account of the large volume of milk, although it is one of the most popular caffeinated drinks in Portugal and can be found in any café there. Though you probably won’t find the galão on any menu in Ireland, it is an interesting and different coffee recipe that you might like to try at home.
There are so many variations of coffee in general, but there are particularly interesting ways to make coffee with frothed milk. Whether you prefer sweet or strong, chocolate-y or milky, coffee made with steamed milk has it all. We hope that you try out some of these coffees yourself, god knows we need something new to do during these house-bound times!
Our la Brasilera coffees are the perfect place to start: https://quaffolla.com/collections/la-brasilera-italian-coffee