What Is A Piccolo Latte? Baristas Detailed Guide

The piccolo latte is not a well-known coffee drink shrouded in mystery. Not many coffee houses make it, and it is commonly misunderstood. However, it can be an excellent addition to coffee shop menus as it involves robust espresso with smooth milk.

Piccolo means small in Italian, and a piccolo latte is a drink served in 3 to 4 ounces/ 85 to 114 ml glasses. It is one part ristretto to two parts milk with a soft foam layer on top. There are 40 to 60 ml of milk to one 20 to 30 ml shot of espresso. The espresso has steamed, stretched milk that blends well with the coffee.

As most people would not have heard of piccolo latte, let’s examine how they are made, how they taste, and how you would drink it.

What Is A Piccolo Latte

How Do You Make A Piccolo Latte?

Consider the following ingredients you need to make a piccolo latte at home:

  • 1 Ristretto shot
  • Steamed milk
  • Frothed milk
  • Sweetener such as sugar, honey, agave syrup, if you like your coffee sweet

1. To make a piccolo latte, you begin by grinding freshly roasted beans before tamping on an even surface.

2. Place the portafilter securely into the group head and before you begin your shot, place your cup underneath. If you are making a one-shot, hit the one-shot button on your machine and let it do its magic.

3. The shot should drop from the spout at about eight to ten seconds. The flow should resemble warm honey.

4. Some machines have milk texturing options to get the right amount of microfoam and texture this drink needs. However, manually, pour cold milk into the pitcher up to the bottom of the spout.

5. Purge the steam wand to clean it and clear out any condensation before you begin. Place the steam wand about half an inch into the milk and open the steam valve to draw air from underneath the milk’s surface. It should create a good whirlpool.

6. Lower the jug after a few seconds to introduce air to the surface of the milk; if you hear it screeching, lower the pitcher further. Again, it’s essential to focus on texture before thinking about temperature.

7. Aim for 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 to 65 degrees Celsius. One indicator that you have achieved the correct temperature is when the jug becomes too hot to touch.

8. For non-dairy, it’s best to keep temperatures below 130 degrees Fahrenheit or 55 degrees Celsius as the milk can separate or curdle. What you want is a velvety and smooth texture.

9. Swirl the jug to distribute the air and evenly mix in the microfoam. When you are done, purge the steam wand to clear residue milk inside the wand and wipe it with a damp cloth.

10. Pour the milk into the espresso with a layer of microfoam on top, and your piccolo latte is ready to drink.

Which Coffee Beans Are Best For This Recipe?

A piccolo latte is somewhat strong in taste, so to make it at home, it’s best to use dark-roasted coffee beans, as these have the best flavor notes for milk-based beverages.

Sweet and fruity coffee beans are best for pour-over coffee but not the piccolo latte.

Espresso and regular coffee beans come from Arabica and Robusta coffee trees. Espresso coffee beans are excellent for this coffee as they differ from regular coffee beans.

However, espresso beans are darker, while coffee beans come in all roasts.

What Does Piccolo Taste Like?

What Does Piccolo Taste Like?

A piccolo latte is a ristretto shot of coffee pulled into an 85 to 114 ml glass and then topped with steamed milk, and the result is a small yet strong beverage with a robust coffee flavor.

The milk gives it a rich and creamy taste. People often compare this drink to a cortado; however, the single-shot piccolo is more delicate, sweeter, and less intense.

The cortado has a more prominent espresso flavor, and it isn’t as sweet as there is less milk in the cup.

This drink is often misunderstood; people expect it to be as strong as a cortado. The espresso in a piccolo can be mistaken for poor extraction, especially if you are an avid cortado drinker.

If you expect a particular strength from a piccolo, this can create problems if you don’t know the difference.

Piccolo latte isn’t a popular coffee beverage in the US or internationally as not many people know about it, and few baristas know how to make it.

It often gets confused with other milk-based drinks. However, this beverage should be well known, and it shouldn’t be expected to taste like other drinks.

If you haven’t tried a piccolo before, there is no time like now to try it and get used to its flavors. If you happen to own an espresso maker, give it a try; if not, talk to a barista and suggest a piccolo recipe. This drink needs to be discussed more and enjoyed in its own right.

How Do You Drink Piccolo?

Typically, baristas serve piccolos in an 85 to 114 ml glass; this is simply a way to display the different layers of coffee and milk.

However, you can also drink a Piccolo in a demitasse cup containing 90 ml of coffee. You will see these cups in most coffee houses around the globe, and they are typically used to serve a macchiato or cortado.

The best time to drink a piccolo is after a meal or with a dessert, and because it’s so small, you won’t be too full. It’s also not so caffeinated that it will keep you up all evening.

A piccolo isn’t from Italy, so it doesn’t come with any rituals attached to Italian coffee drinking.

The beverage was invented in Sydney, Australia. Baristas and roasters tested their brews with milk, and as they wanted to avoid consuming lots of milk, they added very little milk to each cup.

This enabled them to try different mixes and prevent the usual dairy bloating.

What Is Piccolo Coffee In Italy?

Piccolo means small in Italian, but it isn’t anything like a small latte, and it isn’t from Italy.

The piccolo latte was invented in Sydney, Australia, by baristas that wanted to use milk sparingly and so came up with the piccolo latte.

Piccolo coffees in Italy are few and between. However, the Australian coffee culture has taken to the piccolo more than any other.

What Is The Caffeine Content Of A Piccolo Latte?

Piccolo latte tastes much like espresso; the higher the quality of the beans, the better the flavor of the piccolo. A small to medium piccolo contains roughly 80 to 100 mg of caffeine, while a double piccolo contains 120 to 130 mg.

How Many Calories In A Piccolo Latte?

A piccolo latte contains between 15 and 54 calories. The calories depend on the milk you want to use. Whole milk will deliver a fuller and creamier coffee. Consider the following

table for the number of calories in a piccolo latte using milk and milk alternatives:


  • Whole milk 54
  • Non-fat milk 39
  • 2% fat milk 45
  • Almond milk 15
  • Oat milk 45
  • Soy milk 36

One of the best parts of brewing coffee at home is that you are free to use whatever ingredients you prefer and make your coffee as strong as you like.

Why Are Piccolo Lattes Hard To Find?

You may have noticed that piccolo lattes don’t feature as widely as the classic Americano, latte, and cappuccinos.

One of the reasons for the drink’s lack of popularity outside of Australia is customers’ confusion about what the drink is.

Other drinks similar to the piccolo latte are macchiato and cortado; the definition of these drinks can be confusing, making consumers unsure of what they are ordering.

As a result, people tend to order lattes and cappuccinos as they know what those drinks are and what to expect.

Piccolos are rarely seen on European menus. However, the issue is not with the drink itself; few individuals know what and how to make it.

The sooner people openly talk about the drink and enjoy it, the sooner they find a place in coffee shops.

The piccolo is often confused with other drinks like cortados, lattes, macchiatos, etc. The piccolo may have a latte in its name, but lattes are significantly larger.

However, each drink delivers distinctive textures and flavors. The cortado has a bolder espresso flavor and is less sweet than a piccolo.

A macchiato is similar to a cappuccino, whereby just a few spoons of milk accompany the espresso, whereas a piccolo is a blended milk and espresso drink.

Final Thoughts

Piccolo lattes are delicious and creamy, and they should be discussed and created more. Traditional piccolo lattes are made with whole milk, but as you can see, it’s just as easy to make the little beverage with any milk alternative. If you have a coffee machine at home, why not try to make it for yourself.

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