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What Is a Breve Coffee?

Lattes are popular worldwide for their classic pairing of milk and coffee, but a lesser-known variation of this iconic coffee drink is an Italian drink called breve. If you like a little cream in your coffee but you’re ready to sip something new, a breve coffee is the perfect new drink for you to try. 

A breve coffee is an espresso coffee drink that has been mixed with steamed half-and-half. This results in a smooth, strong coffee drink with a creamy mouthfeel. The steamed half-and-half helps cut the espresso’s bitterness and allows it to be sipped easily without adding sugar. 

Breve can be made at home or ordered in most coffee shops. Keep reading to learn more about breve coffee and how it’s made. 

What Is a Breve Coffee?

Unlike other Italian-based coffee drinks, the breve coffee is an espresso drink that has American influences. Half-and-half, or whole cream mixed in fifty-fifty proportions with whole milk, is an American invention that came around during the late 1960s. 

Breve Coffee Meaning

The word breve means “short” in Italian, and refers to the fact that less half-and-half is needed to create a breve coffee than the amount of milk needed for a latte. Breve coffees also don’t develop as high of a crown of foam when steamed as other drinks and don’t froth easily. 

Because of its creamy texture but reduced calories compared to whole cream, half-and-half became a popular household item for adding to coffee and other drinks. In espresso drinks like breve, half-and-half became a richer substitute for milk that adds a smooth texture and a mellow taste to the coffee. 

Breve Coffee Pronunciation

An Italian word, the correct way to pronounce breve is breh-vey.  If you are scared to order one because you don’t know how to say the word, listen to this youtube video for help!

calories in a breve coffee blue saucer

Is a Breve Better Than a Latte?

Is a breve better than a latte? It depends on who you ask. It’s all down to the drinker’s personal preferences. A breve coffee isn’t better than a latte, it’s just different. 

What Is the Difference Between a Latte and a Breve?

There are a few major differences between breve and latte whether you make the drink yourself at home or order it in a coffee shop. Here are the biggest differences between a breve and a latte: 

  • Dairy: The biggest difference between a breve and a latte is the dairy used since both drinks use espresso. A latte uses steamed milk, while a breve uses steamed half-and-half instead.
  • Frothiness: Breve coffees don’t froth up like lattes, so you shouldn’t expect a thick layer of foam on your drink if you order a breve. This makes breve coffees a good choice for espresso drinkers who like cream in their coffee but not the foamy mouthfeel of lattes and cappuccinos.
  • Calories: Since half-and-half is higher in fat and calories than milk, a breve is a heavier coffee drink than a latte.  

Outside of the dairy used, which drink tastes better will depend on what coffee you make it with. Espresso drinks that are made with high-quality coffee will taste better than those that are made with instant coffee, stale coffee, or an inferior brand. 

It’s also important that the breve coffee is made correctly. If you don’t know how to make a breve, you can negatively impact the final flavor of the drink. 

How Many Calories are in a Breve Coffee?

The calories depend on what size drink you get.  The calories in a breve come from the half-and-half, so the larger the drink, the more half-and-half it contains.  8 ounces of half and half contain about 316 calories, so the calories can stack up fast the larger the drink you order. 

If you’re looking for an espresso drink with fewer calories, try a cortado which is made with milk instead of half and half.

breve coffee calories barista

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How to Make a Breve Coffee

Breve coffee may not seem like a complicated beverage to master since it only has two ingredients, but it’s actually easy to mess it up. The high fat content in half-and-half makes it more likely to curdle if it isn’t incorporated into the espresso correctly. 

To make a delicious breve coffee, follow these instructions

  • Use an espresso steaming wand to heat up your half-and-half. This device helps the half-and-half come up to the temperature you need. Don’t worry if the half-and-half doesn’t froth as much as milk does with a steaming wand. This lack of foam is normal for the heavier dairy in half-and-half.
  • Bring your half-and-half up to temperature. Use a thermometer to get the liquid to around 140F. 
  • Pour steamed half-and-half into the bottom of your cup. The amount is to taste, though you’ll want to double your usual amount for a double shot of espresso.
  • Pour espresso shots gently over the cup of half-and-half. The thickness of the half-and-half should allow the espresso to briefly sit on top of it before the two liquids begin to mix.
  • Serve hot. If the breve has been made correctly, it should create a lovely ombre effect from cream to espresso around the edges of the cup. 

Breve coffee isn’t difficult to make, but it does require some specialized equipment such as an espresso machine with a steaming wand

Breve Is a Great Way to Uplift Your Latte

If you want to add a little indulgence to your regular latte, a breve is a great way to take it to the next level. While this drink is a little more rich than a latte, it’s well worth the extra cream for a smooth start to your day.  If you’re a coffee lover, you may want to start off your day with a breve and end it with a decadent dessert affogato coffee.

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