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Cafe Breve is marked by texture and mouthfeel that are thoroughly enjoyable. This indulgent drink is very popular and often a common request at coffee shops.
Though its name suggests foreign origins, Cafe Breve is a thoroughly American drink. That’s one reason it’s also called the American latte. There are plenty of other names as well, like breve coffee, breve latte, and other similar variations.
Whatever you call it, the beverage has a texture distinct enough stand on its own. This guide for beginners will open up the secrets of Cafe Breve. Plus, there’s a recipe to make the breve right at home with an espresso machine.
So what sets this American latte apart from a regular latte? Rather than using regular milk, the breve makes use of Half and Half. That brings a touch of decadence to this brew. The calorie content shoots through the roof thanks to the fat introduced by using Half and Half.
There’s a good reason for this unusual pick for milk. The microfoam is thicker and richer, and the texture is pure bliss. There’s no denying that the breve is extremely enjoyable. Even if you watch your calories hawkishly, this guilty pleasure will put up a tough fight.
Before we go further, let’s hold up and work on our pronunciation. Depending on who you ask, the word is taken from either Spanish or Italian. In either language, the word means “short” or “brief”. There isn’t anything short or brief about the breve, but there is no point in discussing the authenticity of the translation.
If you know either Italian or Spanish, take your pick of pronunciation. For those of us who don’t know either language, the pronunciation is “breh veh”. If you prefer something simpler, just go with “bray vay”.
There is no clear understanding of where the breve was born. So there is no origin story for this superhero. It has maintained a steady presence and support and certainly can’t be considered a novelty or fad.
At its heart, this is still a latte. Therefore, its journey starts with an espresso shot. Being strong and bold is the very essence of an espresso. However, my suggestion is to go extra bold on the espresso. Or use a double shot.
Half and Half is going to make the espresso taste milder. If that is our jam, a single shot of espresso will be enough. However, if you want the flavor of coffee (and the kick), my suggestion is to use a double shot of espresso.
When brewing espresso (or any coffee for that matter) it’s best to grind the coffee right before you brew it. Dark roast coffee tends to have a heavier body and bolder flavor. I suggest picking a dark roast, a French roast, or perhaps an Italian roast to brew the espresso. You can start brewing, but don’t pull the shot until the milk is frothed.
If you don’t have one of the best espresso machine on the market it is not an issue, Moka Pot coffee can work as well.
You may want to check out this video to see the whole process to prepare a Cafe Breve
You’ll need 7-8 oz of Half and Half per serving of the Cafe Breve. This is the key element and basis of texture for the beverage. Those looking for a non-dairy alternative can try cashew milk or full-fat coconut milk. To be honest, none of these is a true replacement and won’t match the texture provided by the half and half.
Our job now is to froth the milk – and that’s easier said than done. Half and Half doesn’t lend itself that easily to frothing. It won’t double in volume like regular milk does, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the microfoam. As soon as you see the foam being consistent, it’s time to stop.
Start by heating the Half and Half. The ideal temperature here is 145-150 °F. Use a kitchen thermometer or make a good guess. Whatever you choose, make sure the milk does not boil. If it boils, it won’t lend itself well to frothing.
The best choice here is to use an automatic milk frother or a handheld frother wand. The espresso machine’s steamer or frothing wand is good too. The Breville BES840XL Espresso Machine will do the job and won’t break the bank. For regular milk, manual options like pump frother or the French press work very well. However, they’re not the best pick for half and half. You can still do it, but it’s way too much of an effort.
Now’s the time to pull that shot (or two shots) of espresso. Once the espresso is ready, slowly pour the frothed milk into the cup. The half and half is so rich that it cuts through the espresso completely. It’s best to pour it from the sides. You can move it a bit to mix things up. However, there won’t be any impressive latte art to show here.
The drink is indulgent enough, so it usually doesn’t need any additives. If you want something extra, the best choice is to sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the coffee.
For those who want more additives and flavor, well, go wild! You can add syrups of your choice to the cafe breve. It can handle them easily and you can enjoy your breve in the flavor you want.
It’s important to watch your calories here. Delicious as it is, this is not a coffee to be enjoyed often. Half and Half easily has 4-5 times more fat than regular milk. If you choose to add sugar or syrups, the only path for the calorie counter is up. So yeah, keep the breve as a special treat, and don’t forget to exercise those calories away.