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Is a Latte Stronger Than Coffee?

Some people drink coffee for the intense flavors and variety but there’s no denying that most drink it for the caffeine content. In fact, some people purposely seek out coffee with extremely high caffeine content or they monitor their intake throughout the day for various reasons. That is why we are looking at is a latte stronger than a coffee. 

You might be thinking, “but those are the same thing…” however, they are different drinks and do actually contain different levels of caffeine.

A latte is usually made with milk and espresso, whereas a coffee is water and coffee. So the short answer is, it depends on how many espresso shots, the coffee you are using, and how much ground coffee you use. We look into this more in-depth below.

For this article, we are basing the content on a standard latte and a standard coffee, no variations. 

Related: Which Is Stronger Latte or Flat White?



What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that is found in multiple food types and drinks. There are numerous studies that show its effect on brain activity, sleep, performance, and health risks. Caffeine is not something that is added to coffee, it is a part of the coffee bean/plant, which is then released throughout its journey from seed to cup.

Due to its addictive properties, many people find themselves needing multiple cups of coffee a day to function properly. So much so, that they even become caffeine dependent, develop insomnia, and would go through an intense withdrawal stage if they ever wanted to cut it out. 

According this research paper (1), 90% of adults in North America consume caffeine on a daily basis. Usually caffeine takes around 15-30 minutes to start taking effect and can last in the body’s system for a number of hours. 

Factors Affecting Caffeine Content

There are some aspects that can affect how much caffeine is in your coffee. Some of the main ones can include:

  • Coffee Bean – Robusta beans have a higher caffeine level than Arabica beans.
  • Roast – This is correct to some level, the caffeine levels change due to the mass of the beans, which is effected by roasting. So towards the grinding stage of preparing coffee, the roast can affect the caffeine content.
  • Brewing Method – If the coffee grounds are submerged in water for longer period of time, there will be a higher level of caffeine.
  • Grind Size – The smaller the grind size, the more caffeine you will get.
  • Temperature – Higher temperatures extract more caffeine when making coffee.

What Is a Latte?

A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. It generally has a generous layer of foam on top. There are many variations of the latte including iced, and then vanilla, soy, and other popular options.

As the name suggests, the latte was first invented in Italy, before spreading to other European countries as well as America. In Italy, it is called “caffè latte.” In America, it might be called “latte” or “coffee latte.” There are some similarities between all these terms though – they usually refer to a mixture of espresso and steamed milk.

Latte’s popularity stems from the fact that there are many different variations on how you can make your perfect drink.

Related: What is a Latte?

How Is a Latte Made?

Espresso: Espresso is a stronger and more caffeinated version of coffee. It has an intense flavor and thick consistency, which makes it perfect for lattes because it mixes well with other ingredients such as milk and syrups. This is prepared through an espresso machine where water and pressure extract the coffee at high-temperatures.

Milk: Milk is one of the main ingredients of a latte, it is around 80% milk, 10% espresso, 10% foam. The milk is steamed using a steam wand on an espresso machine OR using at home milk frothers. 

What Is Coffee?

When we refer to ‘coffee’ it is meaning hot water and coffee combined as a drink, rather than the general term coffee that is used to blanket every type of coffee drink imaginable. Coffee is generally made through brewing methods such as drip, pour over, and some high-level coffee machines.

You will get hot water mixing with coffee grounds to extract the coffee, giving you a larger cup. Depending the method, temperature, extraction time, and coffee used, this could be a really weak watery drink or a strong and bold cup. 

You might be thinking “isn’t that just an Americano?” The answer is no.

An Americano is made by brewing an espresso shot and diluting it with water, not through brewing methods that coffee is made from.

How Is Coffee Made?

Coffee can be made using a number of brewing methods including drip coffee, pour over coffee, and from a coffee machine. The coffee grounds are usually placed in a filter or carafe where boiling water, at the precise temperature, is poured over the coffee for the water to pass through or to steep and pass slowly. This allows the extraction to take place between the water and coffee. 

The filtered liquid is then your coffee drink.

How Much Caffeine Is in a Latte?

A latte can contain between 50mg to 350mg depending on where you get it from. Generally speaking, you would be looking at around 150mg for a large latte with no added shots. 

If you added extra shots of espresso then the caffeine amount would increase. Equally, if the coffee shop you order from uses coffee with higher caffeine, then you could have around 225mg in your cup. 

How Much Caffeine Is in a Coffee?

One cup of coffee can contain between 60-150mg of caffeine. This would depend on the brewing method and the extraction process. Drip coffee that takes a longer time, would potentially have a higher level of caffeine.

Is a Latte Stronger Than Coffee – Caffeine

A latte is stronger than a coffee when considering a large size drink. The espresso in a latte contains around 65mg of caffeine which is doubled when making a large, therefore containing roughly 150mg of caffeine. Whereas coffee contains between 50-160mg of caffeine, but each cup is generally in the middle of that number at around 80mg of caffeine.

If you compared a small latte with a regular cup of coffee, the regular cup might have more caffeine. As a single shot is only 65mg but the coffee would likely contain around 80mg. 

It is hard to say for certain on the number for caffeine in coffee, as there are too many factors that can influence it. Especially as most of them are under human control and can be prone to misjudgments and errors.



Is a Latte Stronger Than Coffee – Taste

Coffee is stronger than a latte when it comes to taste. As a latte is mized with milks and other sweeteners, it generally loses its coffee flavor altogether. With coffee, you will get the raw taste of the coffee bean, with no other factors affecting it.

So if you came here to find out which one is stronger for taste, then coffee is for you… or not for you if you don’t want the stronger taste.

Related article: What is a Breve?

The Final Sip

Is a latte stronger than a coffee? When comparing 2 large standard drinks, yes it is stronger, however, as you start changing sizes and other aspects of brewing, the caffeine content can change to make one stronger than the other.


Reference

(1) Heckman, M.A., Weil, J. and De Mejia, E.G. (2010), Caffeine (1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine) in Foods: A Comprehensive Review on Consumption, Functionality, Safety, and Regulatory Matters. Journal of Food Science, 75: R77-R87. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01561.x

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