A Breve Coffee Is Like A Thicker, Richer Latte

The coffee realm contains so much worth exploring. We all know the common types of espresso drinks, and many less common ones that have been popularized by Starbucks. But there is a whole world beyond that.

For example, consider one of the most popular and loved espresso drinks: the latte. Did you know there is a drink similar to this that may be even more suitable to your tastes? The next time you step up to the counter at your local coffee shop (or wander into a cafe in Italy) try asking them for a breve.

Trying out different drinks helps you learn more about coffee and get better acquainted with your own preferences.

What is a breve coffee?

A breve is similar to what we know as a traditional latte. The latte contains espresso and steamed milk with a layer of milk foam on top. The breve is the same, but it uses steamed half-and-half cream instead of milk.

Half and half cream in a glass dairy bottle
In a breve, half-and-half replaces the milk that would have gone into your latte.

In Italian, the word breve means short or brief, which accurately describes the drink. It is simple like a latte, but the half-and-half brings a little something extra.

When ordering, the drink also goes by the names “latte breve” or “cafe breve.” The next time you are at a coffee shop, instead of going for your usual latte, try this one out. Who knows? It may become one of your favorites.

How to to pronounce breve?

The pronunciation of certain words can actually discourage us from trying new things. We’ve all been there before—we either butcher the word or we’re simply too scared to order something, simply because of the name.

Foreign words are often mispronounced, but for the sake of accuracy and respect for the language you should always try your best to pronounce it correctly.

The word “breve” is pronounced breh-veh rather than what most people usually say, which is breeve.

Now that you know the proper pronunciation of the word, nothing’s stopping you from ordering this hidden gem of a drink.

Difference between a latte and a breve

You may be wondering if it really tastes that different. It’s true, the drinks are very similar in ingredients. They are both espresso-based drinks made with some sort of dairy. A latte is usually an espresso added to steamed milk, with a layer of foamed milk at the surface. A breve is made with half-and-half instead of milk.

Half-and-half is essentially half whole milk and half heavy cream. Breves can be made with different types of milk, but the heavy cream addition is what sets this drink apart from the latte. Heavy cream has a much higher fat content than regular milk, which gives the cafe breve a creamier mouthfeel. The half-and-half also froths up to create a nice layer of silky foam on top.

Aerial view of a breve coffee
You can have just as much latte art fun with a breve as you can with a latte.

A breve is usually unsweetened, which allows the coffee’s natural flavors to shine. Breves can be unsweetened, but many people choose to add flavored syrups. The breve has a natural hint of sweetness due to the half-and-half, even though there are no added sugars.

How to make breve coffee

Now that you know what a breve coffee is, you may want to make it at home. Since it is relatively simple, it’s a great drink to attempt in your own kitchen.

What you’ll need

Making a breve does not require much, just the basic ingredients for quality espresso and a high-quality half-and-half. Some specific things that you may need are:

  • finely ground coffee beans, using a blend of your choice
  • high-quality half-and-half
  • espresso maker
  • milk frothing jug
  • frothing tool
  • coffee mug or latte mug

You can use whatever method you like to make your espresso, but we find that high-quality ingredients make this simple recipe shine.

Step-by-step instructions to make a breve coffee

A breve latte usually contains two shots of espresso, but you can adjust to your own liking. We find that a strong espresso complements the creamy richness of the half-and-half.

Espresso brewing to make a breve coffee
As always, start with the highest quality espresso you can.
  1. Foam your half-and-half using your tool of choice. A steam wand works great to heat up and froth the liquid at the same time. Heat until the side of your frothing jog is hot to touch, or use a thermometer to check the temperature. If you do not have a steam wand, an electric milk frother or even a small whisk could work.
  2. Pour the steamed half-and-half into your coffee mug, making sure to not pour the foam in yet.
  3. Pour the shot of espresso in slowly, making sure not to destroy the nice creamy layer of half-and-half. The creamy layer will mix subtly with the espresso and give you a nice faded coffee color at the top of your cup.
  4. Spoon the half-and-half foam and place it gently at the top of your cup.
Barista pouring half-and-half into a coffee cup to make a breve
The steamed half-and-half in a breve has slightly more body and sweetness than the milk in a latte.

Traditional breve lattes do not have any added sugar, but if you prefer a sweeter taste you can try different variations, different dairy products, and flavors.

Enjoy this simple creamy coffee drink!