Maple Latte

How to make a latte without a machine

Learn to make a latte without a machine!

Skip expensive coffee shop lattes and make them at home! With this easy recipe I will show you how to make a latte at home without any fancy machine or tools needed!

First, we’ll learn how to make a basic latte recipe and then to create any delicious lattes you want! Vanilla latte, pumpkin spice latte, mocha latte! It’s simple and you can use any type of milk. I use oat milk to make mine dairy free.

Homemade Oatmilk latte with french press frothed milk
Milk frothed with a french press

I love having a good homemade dairy free latte in the morning. Sometimes I treat myself and stop to get a latte from a coffee shop. However, this is not a sustainable practice for me because… Honestly I’m frugal and I often like to stay home.

Which is why I have spent countless hours figuring out how to make the perfect latte at home without an espresso machine.

Maple Latte

What is a latte?

The term “latte” is the shortened form of “caffe latte” which is Italian for coffee with milk. So it’s a coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk and a thin layer of frothed milk on top which is called a microfoam

As an option you can have it sweetened with your choice of flavoured syrup. My favourite way to sweeten it is with maple syrup or a bit of honey because then it’s refined sugar free!

To differentiate between a latte vs a cappuccino lets compare the ratios of espresso vs steamed milk and foam. A latte consists of ⅓ espresso and ⅔ steamed milk with a thin layer of foam. While a cappuccino is made up of equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk foam (⅓ each). And for clarity’s sake, a macchiato is simply espresso with a thick layer of foam on top (no steamed milk).

A proper latte has some micro foam. Which I find easiest to replicate with a French press. My next best option is a jar with a lid.

Homemade Latte

Ingredients needed to make a latte at home

Milk: Barista blend oat milk, coconut milk, soy milk or for a dairy option use whole milk.

Espresso substitute: Coffee brewed at double strength or a homemade espresso substitute (no machine required). 

Optional sweetener: Maple syrup, vanilla simple syrup, honey or sugar mixed in with your milk.

Tools Needed

You will need a jar with a lid or a French press to make frothy milk. And for the espresso, a way to boil water or make brewed coffee.

A small strainer to strain your homemade espresso. And a small saucepan or a heat proof container to heat your milk in.

Coffee Beans

What type of coffee beans and grind should I use?

In America, espresso is generally made with an Arabica or Robusta bean, that is a dark roast coffee bean and is finely ground. Remember an espresso is a drink and not a specific type of bean or grind. Regular coffee beans or ground coffee work to make your espresso shots.

It’s really all about preference. If you light a less strong taste go for a light roast. If you want a bold dark taste, use a dark roast. I know some people like using instant coffee for creating an espresso substitute because it’s simple to use for coffee drinks.

What Type of Milk Should I use?

If you aren’t lactose intolerant like me, I would use whole milk to make a standard latte. For a non-dairy milk I find oat milk froths the best. And it also pairs well with coffee since it’s fatty and creamy. Milk alternatives don’t render as much milk foam. Having better foam makes it easier to try some latte art.

How to make an espresso substitute or strong coffee

I have read many articles on how to make lattes without a machine. And not one tells you the quantity of coffee grounds it actually takes to make “strongly brewed coffee”.

Don’t worry I have 2 methods for you to try, double strength coffee and an espresso substitute. Both are equivalent to double shots of espresso. And they have measurements so you can have a coffee shop treat in your own home.

Some different ways people recommend getting your caffeine is with a moka pot or on aero press. While they are good options, they both require extra equipment you may not have on hand. And a moka pot has a bit of a learning curve.

How to Make Espresso without a machine

Method 1: Espresso Shot Substitute

To make an espresso substitute use pre ground coffee or grind your coffee beans on a medium grind setting. Then using a small cup that holds at least 1/2 cup of water.

  • Measure 2 ½ tablespoons of grounds into cup.
  • Bring the water to a boil and make sure to let it sit for about 20 seconds before using (will prevent burning your coffee). 
  • Pour ½ cup of hot water over the grounds and let them steep for 4-5 minutes. Stir once during the steeping process. Cover with a saucer to keep heat in.
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer let sit for a bit to let any coffee grounds settle
  • Pour it into the bottom of your latte mug, be careful to not pour the last bit of thick liquid into your cup.
How to make an espresso substitute

Method 2: Strong-Brewed Coffee

All espresso drinks need a good strong taste, and you can achieve this with your coffee machine. Simply brew it twice as strong as what you normally would. I use 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds for one cup of brewed coffee.

  • Use 2 tablespoons of grounds to make 1 cup of coffee.
  • So if I add 1 cup of water to my coffee maker I add 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds and then brew it.

This is also the ratio I use to make iced coffee which is a perfect way to use up any extra coffee you make. Simply chill it in the fridge, pour over ice and add some oat milk and maple syrup. Or use it make an iced latte by adding in more milk.

How to steam your milk

I like to use the stovetop or the microwave to heat my milk. Warm milk until it is just about to or starts to steam lightly. Never bring it to a boil since overheating your milk can denature it. Causing it to not hold froth and even taste funny.

Stovetop: 

Place your milk in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Cook it over medium heat until heated and starting to steam. Gently stir throughout to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Microwave: 

Pour your milk into a glass container like a mug or a mason jar. Microwave for about 1.5 minutes. I microwave mine for 1 minute, then stir or swirl the milk in the jar and put it back in for 30 seconds. This prevents the milk from overheating and denaturing.

After heating it froth your milk by using a French press or a jar.

How to Froth Milk without a machine

The easiest way to froth milk without any fancy tools is to use a jar with a lid. I find the best way is to use a french press or a pump frother. A jar creates enough froth but the bubbles are larger. While a press creates a lot of foam and nice small bubbles. You can use a medium sized bowl and a whisk, a blender, a handheld frother or a handheld mixer to make frothy milk. For more information on frothing milk read this article.

I like to use about 3/4 to 1 cup of milk to froth milk without a steam wand.

French press: 

After heating your milk, add to the pitcher and press the plunger up and down. Plunge for about 30-60 seconds or until your milk has roughly doubled in size. The pour spout on the press pitcher makes trying latte art easier.

Frothed milk with a french press

Mason Jar: 

Pour milk into a glass jar, close with a lid and shake vigourously for 30-60 seconds. This will create a nice amount of foam to sit on top your latte. I use the same jar to heat my milk in the microwave that I shake it in. If the milk is too hot, use a tea towel to hold the jar while you shake it.

Frothed Milk in a Mason Jar

How to make a latte without a machine

  • Prepare strong coffee or espresso substitute 
  • While coffee or espresso is brewing, heat milk of choice
  • Froth milk by shaking vigorously in a jar with a lid for 30ish seconds. Or you can pour the milk into the French press and pump the plunger up and down for 30-60 seconds until milk has doubled in size.
  • Pour espresso substitute or strong coffee into a mug, then pour the frothed milk on top. Foam rises to top creating a perfect homemade latte.
  • Add a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg to the top of your latte to make it extra special.

Flavoured Homemade Lattes

In order to sweeten a latte, you need to add 1-2 tablespoons of syrup to your milk before heating and frothing it. If you like a sweeter latte use more like 3-4 tablespoons. I’ve included a few easy recipes for you to try out with your homemade lattes!

Vanilla Latte: Add 2 tablespoons of honey and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Or add about 2 tablespoons of vanilla syrup to your milk before steaming it.

Maple Latte: Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to your milk before heating.

Mocha latte: In order to make a mocha latte without a machine, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup to 1 cup oat milk. Steam and make sure to whisk in the cocoa powder and syrup.

Dairy Free Tea Lattes

A tea latte is made with tea bags steeped in hot water and steamed milk and a thin layer of milk foam. I know some coffee lovers may not drink tea lattes, but I adore them. Here are some of my favourite dairy free tea lattes:

Make a Latte Without a Machine

It's so easy to make a latte at home without any equipment. This one is dairy free and can be made using whole milk if you desire.
Prep Time6 mins
Author: Linda Spatig

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oat milk or any type
  • 1/2 cup double strength coffee or 1/3 cup espresso substitute* full instructions in notes or post
  • 2-4 TBSP honey or syrup optional sweetner

Instructions

Prep Espresso

  • Prepare strong coffee by brewing 1 cup water with 2 TBSP coffee grounds in your coffee maker; or prepare espresso substitute by adding 2 1/2 TBSP grounds to a cup and steeping with 1/3 hot water 4-5 min. then strain.

Heat & Froth Milk

  • While coffee or espresso is brewing, heat milk of choice on the stovetop until steaming or in the microwave 1 min. 30 sec. If adding sweetener add syrup or honey to your milk now.
  • Froth milk by shaking vigorously in a jar with a lid for 30ish seconds. Or you can pour the milk into the French press and pump the plunger up and down for 30-60 seconds until the milk has doubled in size.

Make Latte

  • Pour espresso substitute or strong coffee into a mug, then pour the frothed milk on top. Foam rises to top creating a perfect homemade latte.
  • Add a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg to the top of your latte to make it extra special.

Video

Notes

Espresso Substitute: Measure 2 ½ tablespoons of grounds into cup. Bring the water to a boil and let it sit for about 20 seconds before using (will prevent burning your coffee). Pour 1/3 cup of hot water over the grounds and let them steep for 4-5 minutes. Stir once during the steeping process. Cover with a saucer to keep heat in. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pour into your mug but don’t pour the bottom thick liquid into your mug.
Double Strength Coffee: Use 2 tablespoons of grounds to make 1 cup of coffee. Add 1 cup of water to coffee maker and 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds and then brew it.
Stovetop: Place milk in a small saucepan on stovetop. Cook it over medium heat until heated and just starting to steam. Gently stir throughout to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Microwave: Pour your milk into a glass container like a mug or a mason jar. Microwave for about 1.5 minutes. Microwave 1 minute, then stir or swirl the milk in the jar and put it back in for 30 seconds. This prevents the milk from overheating and denaturing. 
French Press: After heating your milk, add to the pitcher and press the plunger up and down. Plunge for about 30-60 seconds or until your milk has roughly doubled in size.
Mason Jar: Pour milk into a glass jar, close with a lid and shake vigourously for 30-60 seconds. This will create a nice amount of foam to sit on top your latte.

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