Café Latte: Warm, Sweet and Good

Nothing says ‘a big hug’ ‘deliciousness’ and ‘let’s play’ like a big cuppa of café latte – the loving play of coffee and milk – and the good news, it doesn’t have to coffee always, says Manmeet Singh, Director F&B, The Park Kolkata.

By Madhulika Dash

Ask any Barista, which is the coffee that proved the adage ‘ a lot can happen over coffee’ true – and they will, without losing a breath say Café Latte. Such is the acceptability of this easy drink that it is the ‘posterboy’ that has launched many a cafés – and worldwide it is the unspoken grammar to a promise of great coffee. Why? Because of all the coffee versions – traditional or modern – it is this coffee milk play that allows scope for creativity.

And by creativity, says beverage expert and coffee connoisseur, Manmeet Singh Director F&B, The Park Kolkata, “I don’t just mean latte art that has popularised the concept of having a smilie, heart, a rosetta or a fern leaf on the coffee, but also the non-coffee drinks that it has popularised.”

Come to think of it, the close to World War 2 end innovation has single-handedly been the concept that has introduced many new perspectives like the bespoke Matcha Latte to the globe-trotting Turmeric Latte.

What gives latte such versatility, after all it too is a play of coffee, milk and milk forth in 1:2:1 ratio?

Latte, adds Singh, “is Italian for milk. In fact, the café latte we all know and love today is an American evolution on the traditional latte that originated as the drink of the rich and famous in 1700. 

Then it went by the name of coffee and milk – and was loved not because of the love for coffee but coffee was an added flavour to a cup of full creaColcem milk. Remember, it was an era where blends were unheard of – and coffee was freshly roasted, boiled and taken with chunks of sugar or a sweet cookie. It was still a bitter drink by itself, but when added in small quantity to milk – full cream milk especially – it may the pairing an enjoyable experience.”

It was the concept of ‘Coffee in Milk’ that eventually evolved as Café Latte in Italy with Coffee Houses and Espresso bars mushrooming in the city.

Interestingly, it is the milk factor, continues the coffee expert, “and its ability to take and enhance the taste of a new ingredient that makes it one of the most versatile drink – not only in the coffee world but in the beverage world as well. The other reason of course is the standardised recipe that can be adopted for all kinds of new flavours.”

A good latte is made with one part of flavourant or additive, two parts of full cream milk and milk foam which is created at 73 degree Celsius. In case of Café Latte it is coffee, in Turmeric latte, it is the juice of fresh turmeric and so on.

The important thing to remember is to always use the best quality products or ingredients since it would hold the key to great tasting latte and, says Singh, who uses a 100% Arabica (Dolce Aroma) for making his café latte, and turmeric fingerlings instead of powder for the turmeric latte, freshly brewed tea using tea leaf instead of tea bags. He even makes his batch of fresh sweet potato or pumpkin mash for a sweeter variations latte to ensure that there is no compromise on the taste. The other aspect of a latte is the milk, says the beverage specialist, “full cream works better because it foams really well and that ensures that additional flavours like a dash of caramel, hazelnut or even cinnamon, clove and other spices sit on top giving the drink the required flavour profile.”

In fact, the role of a good foam isn’t limited to creating these flavour layers in a drink or even sustain the latte art for a good amount of time, the foam when done right adds immense flavour to the cup as it enhances the flavouring note of the coffee, turmeric or tea added.

The best way to judge whether your foam is right, says Singh, “is to tap the milk jug after creating the foam so evenly-sized milk bubbles are formed. This would also give the velvety appearance to the milk, which helps in latte art.” 

In fact, ends the expert, “how well you have heated the milk and the texture of foam are the only two things that can defines an amazing latte to an average one.”