The piccolo latte is a small coffee beverage originating in Australia, made with a shot of espresso and a small amount of steamed milk. It offers a bolder coffee flavor and is served in a small glass or cup. The piccolo's history is contested between Melbourne and Sydney. It is different from a cortado in terms of milk quantity, with the piccolo having more milk. To make a piccolo latte, prepare a ristretto shot and steam milk, then combine the two. The piccolo latte is a popular choice for those who prefer a concentrated and flavorful coffee experience without the larger volume of a regular latte.
A piccolo latte is a type of coffee beverage that originated in Australia. It is a small version of a latte, typically served in a small glass or ceramic cup. The word "piccolo" means "small" in Italian, which describes the size of the drink.
To make a piccolo latte, a shot of espresso is combined with a small amount of steamed milk. The ratio of espresso to milk is usually 1:2 or 1:3, resulting in a stronger coffee flavor than a traditional latte. The milk used in a piccolo latte is typically microfoamed, which means it has a velvety texture with small bubbles.
Due to its smaller size and stronger coffee-to-milk ratio, a piccolo latte is often favored by those who prefer a bolder coffee taste without the larger volume of a regular latte. It is also appreciated for its presentation, as the layers of espresso and milk create an aesthetically pleasing drink.
The origin of the Piccolo latte
The history of piccolos is intriguing, as it reveals their unexpected origins and the passionate debate surrounding their creation. Despite the Italian name, piccolo lattes actually emerged in Australia. Melbourne and Sydney have long been engaged in a fierce rivalry, each claiming to be the birthplace of the beloved piccolo coffee drink.
According to both cities, baristas played a crucial role in the development of the piccolo. Constantly sampling their coffee roasts throughout the day, they found the piccolo-size portion more suitable for tasting than consuming full-sized lattes. This preference eventually led to the inclusion of piccolo coffees on local coffee shop menus in both Melbourne and Sydney, around a decade ago.
Since then, the piccolo has gained immense popularity across Australia, transcending its local origins. It has successfully traveled beyond the country's borders, making its way onto menus in coffee shops around the globe, including bustling cities like New York and London.
What’s the Difference Between a Piccolo and a Cortado?
The piccolo and cortado are both small espresso-based drinks, but they differ in terms of milk quantity and cup size. A piccolo is served in a four-ounce glass and contains about two-thirds of milk to a single shot of espresso. On the other hand, a cortado is made with two shots of espresso and an equal amount of milk. The name "cortado" comes from the Spanish word for "chopped," indicating that the drink is essentially cut in half with equal parts espresso and milk. If you prefer a balanced and milder beverage, the piccolo is a good choice, while the cortado offers a stronger espresso flavor.
How Do You Make A Piccolo Latte?
To make a piccolo latte at home, you will need the following ingredients and steps:
- Prepare a Ristretto shot: A Ristretto shot is a concentrated espresso shot made with a finer grind and less water than a regular espresso. If you have an espresso machine, grind fresh coffee beans finely and extract a shorter shot than usual. The ideal amount is around 15-20 ml of liquid.
- Steam the milk: Take a small amount of milk, preferably whole milk, and pour it into a milk steaming pitcher. Position the steam wand of your espresso machine just below the surface of the milk, then activate the steam to create a foamy texture. Heat the milk to around 55-65°C (135-165°F), ensuring it is not too hot. Alternatively, if you don't have an espresso machine, you can use the NanoFoamer to achieve rich, smooth microfoam milk at home.
- Combine the Ristretto shot and milk: Pour the prepared Ristretto shot into a small glass or cup. Slowly pour the steamed milk into the glass, allowing it to mix with the espresso shot. The traditional ratio for a piccolo latte is typically one part espresso to two parts milk, but you can adjust the proportions to suit your taste.
- Serve and enjoy: The piccolo latte is typically served in a small glass or cup, similar to a shot glass. It's meant to be enjoyed as a small, concentrated beverage. Sip and savor the rich flavors of the espresso and velvety milk.
Remember, making a piccolo latte coffee requires some skill with an espresso machine and steam wand. If you don't have access to these tools, you can try improvising with a stovetop Moka pot or a French press to make a strong coffee base, then heat and foam the milk separately using a stovetop jug like the FlowTip Jug and a NanoFoamer.
A Good Choice
So, what's the big deal? They may be small in size, but don't underestimate their impact! The piccolo latte offers a delightful blend of ristretto and milk, without leaving you feeling excessively full or bloated. This makes it perfect for coffee enthusiasts who enjoy multiple cups of their beloved caffeinated drink. Whether you crave a swift post-meal coffee boost or prefer to sip on various beverages throughout the day without feeling overly satisfied each time, the piccolo latte is an excellent choice.