Is a Latte Sweet?: How to Adjust Latte Sweetness

When we hear the word sweet we usually think of sweeteners like sugar or other sweeteners. However, sweetness is a far more complex subject. There are so many other things that influence the sweetness of a latte.

So, the short answer is a traditional latte is not sweet in the way that a hot chocolate is sweet. It does, however, have a natural sweetness due to the milk, coffee beans, and preparation method that we use to make the drink. Yet, we often make it sweeter by adding syrups and other ingredients.

What is a Latte?

I guess there is no use in going further if you don’t have any idea what a latte is, now, is there?

A latte is a very popular espresso-based coffee drink. In fact, it is one of my favorite coffee drinks. Basically, a latte consists of espresso, and steamed milk with a touch of milk foam on top.

Many baristas finish off the drink with some latte art in the light layer of foam on top of the drink. However, it is no longer just lattes that get decorated with latte art. In fact, recently I went to a coffee shop where I ordered a latte and my companions ordered a cappuccino and a flat white. Both the cappuccino and the flat white got some pretty latte art on top whereas my latte had no such pretty pictures on it.

Is a Latte Sweet?

Now, to the real question of this post. Is a latte sweet? The answer depends on what you deem sweet. 

A traditional latte is inherently sweeter than, for example, a cappuccino. The reason is that a latte contains more milk, making it a bit sweeter. However, it is definitely not sweet enough on its own to satisfy the needs of a sweet tooth. But some variations on the normal latte that we know completely change the game by giving the drink a sweeter taste. The preparation method, and, of course, the ingredients also influence the sweetness of the drink.

Sweetness Influencers

Here is a list of some of the things that influence the sweetness of a latte:

  1. Type of milk
  2. Kind of coffee beans
  3. Roast level
  4. Brewing process
  5. Amount of espresso
  6. Flavored syrups
  7. Whipped cream
  8. Other seasonal toppings

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these variations to see how they influence the sweetness of a latte.

Type of Milk

The kind of milk that you use has a subtle influence on how sweet your latte is. For example, when it comes to dairy milk, whole milk tastes a bit sweeter than skim milk because of the lower fat content.

Similarly, plant-based milk also has different levels of sweetness. For instance, coconut milk and oat milk tend to be a bit sweeter as compared to soy milk and almond milk.

Almond milk in a box on a wooden surface.

However, there are also sweetened varieties of these kinds of milk available that will, of course, influence the sweetness because of the added sugar.

Yet, as I mentioned, the influence is subtle. Using a naturally sweeter type of milk will just add a touch of sweetness to your drink. It will most definitely not satisfy the needs of a sweet tooth.

Kind of Coffee Beans

The kind of coffee beans also has an influence on the natural sweetness of the drink. Where the beans are grown, at what altitude, the level of ripeness of the cherries, and the roasting process all have an impact on how sweet the coffee ends up being.

Roast Level

We already talked about the roasting process, but the level of roasting at which the process is stopped also has an influence on sweetness.

For example, Starbucks’s blonde espresso roast is a bit sweeter than their signature espresso roast.

Coffee beans and grounds on wood.

Brewing Process

Of course, the brewing process that you use also has an influence on the end result. The water ratio, temperature, timing, etc. all play their part in the flavor profile of the final cup of coffee.

Amount of Espresso

Because espresso by itself is not really a sweet treat, adding some extra shots of espresso will make your drink a little less sweet. Of course, the opposite is also true. If you use a single shot of espresso instead of a double shot of espresso, you will have a naturally sweeter drink.

Espresso shot being pulled.

Flavored Syrups

As coffee enthusiasts, we like to experiment with different recipes for coffee. Most often these recipes involve the addition of syrup to our coffee.

This means that by making a flavored latte, you will most likely end up with a sweeter latte.

Of course, the amount of syrup and the kind of syrup is a very important factor when it comes to the level of sweetness. Not all syrups are the same level of sweetness.

Whipped Cream

When it comes to fancy coffee recipes, one of the most commonly added ingredients is whipped cream. It does not only contribute to the already velvety texture of the drink, it also adds a bit of sweetness by nature.

There are, of course also sweetened versions, which add even more sweetness to our drinks.

Other Seasonal Toppings

There are many popular seasonal variations on a latte that commercial coffee shops such as Starbucks have every year. For example, Starbucks’ caramel brulée latte has some caramel brulée toppings which, in addition to the other ingredients, contribute to the sweet flavor of the drink.

Caramel brulee latte from the top.

The 50 Best Latte Flavors that You Have to Try

1. Pistachio Latte

Pistachio lattes take lattes to a whole new nutty level. It is a rich coffee drink that never disappoints.

You can get my pistachio latte recipe here.

Pistachio latte in white mug

2. Pumpkin Spice Latte

A pumpkin spice latte is a great way to get into the feeling of the holidays. So, when you hear those sleigh bells, you simply have to try this amazing recipe.

You can get my pumpkin spice latte recipe here.

Pumpkin spice latte in a white cup

See the full list of latte flavors here

How to sweeten a latte.

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