Beginner’s Guide To Piccolo Latte

You can walk in any coffee shop in this world, and you’ll see in the menu these well-known milky drinks: cappuccino, cafe latte, flat white, and macchiato. There is no coffee shop without one of these.

But what about all of those great alternatives less known like the piccolo latte? What is this mysterious drink, and why is serving it a great choice? Let’s find out!

piccolo latte (1)

What is the piccolo latte?

The word “piccolo” comes from Italian and means small. This doesn’t mean that piccolo is just a small latte, it’s more like a medium drink with lots of self-esteem.

Although piccolo latte became a popular drink in Australia around 2010, in the rest of the world it’s less known.

This is a beverage that contains one part ristretto (15-20 ml of coffee) and about 100 ml of steamed milk. It is a medium size (around 120 ml/4 oz), a bit like a baby latte, but still holds its own personality.

Usually it’s served in a glass cup with a pretty latte art.

On the other hand ristretto makes all the magic in the drink. It gives a creamy flavor, and blending it with delicate steamed milk will result in a super tasty drink.

So, having this little caffeinated piccolo latte in the menus is an excellent choice.

Piccolo latte VS cortado VS macchiato

What are the main differences between a piccolo latte and other drinks, like a cortado or a macchiato?

Every single drink/recipe has something particular and unique. If we are discussing about piccolo and cortado, these two drinks have nothing in common, aside from containing milk.

The ratio of coffee to milk in the piccolo latte is 1:5, while in the cortado is 1:1. Both of them are served in glasses, but the amount of milk is distinctive.

Also, piccolo latte is made with ristretto (15-20 ml of coffee), while cortado is made with regular espresso (25 ml of coffee).

What about macchiato? This one is a very tiny coffee with a little bit of milk and has the smallest ratio of coffee to milk (1:0.5). This indicates that one espresso (25 ml) is mixing with just 10 ml of milk.

You’ll find espresso macchiato made with just a dollop of milk froth so sometimes the ratio will be even smaller.

At the same time, the piccolo latte remains the drink with the highest ratio of coffee to milk from small beverages.

If we want to compare all the milky drinks, we can rank them from the smallest amount of milk to the largest, like so:

  • Macchiato – 10 ml of steamed milk
  • Cortado – 25-30 ml steamed milk with a small layer of foamed milk.
  • Piccolo – 100 ml of milk with a small layer of foamed milk.
  • Cappuccino – 125-130 ml of milk with a thick layer of foamed milk.
  • Flat White –  125 ml of steamed milk with a fine layer of foamed milk.
  • Cafe Latte – 210 ml of steamed milk with a fine layer of foamed milk.

All of them can be prepared with espresso (even piccolo) if you keep the right milk to coffee ratio.

piccolo latte (2)

Why is it so hard to find it in the coffee shops menus?

Piccolo latte is not as well known as a cappuccino or latte.

This is because few people understand the difference between so many drinks, and most of the coffee shop owners prefer to keep it easy and safe for everyone.

A lot of coffee shops prefer to expose the most wanted beverages in the menus. It turns more profit and folks get what they want, but they don’t really get the chance to explore.

The same thing is happening with the cortado. Most folks don’t know the difference between piccolo, cortado, or macchiato. Seeing how many drinks there are it’s understandable to lose track of all of them, and maybe even confuse them if you’re not a die-hard fan.

Still, if you ever see a piccolo latte on the menu ( you might have to look for it) give it a try since it might just be your new favorite.

How to make a piccolo latte at home

If you haven’t tried a piccolo before, maybe it’s time to prepare it right at home. It is quite easy with an espresso machine and some high-grade coffee beans. 

As with every coffee having a good bean means you’ll have a good cup of coffee, if you prepare it right.

First, make sure your coffee is ground for espresso – very finely. You’ll need to add 7-9 grams/0.24-0.31 oz of ground coffee for one ristretto shot, and let that shot run for about 15 ml/0.5 oz. 

The ristretto should extract directly into the glass you’ll be serving the piccolo latte in, which should be 100-110 ml/3.5-4 oz (this is the volume of the final drink, not the ristretto). 

Steam some milk. Exactly how much is up to you, as long as you can obtain about 85 ml/ 2.7 oz of steamed milk (by volume, not weight).

Make sure you have a small layer of foamed milk on top. Any sort of milk (dairy or vegan) will do just fine here.

Gently pour the milk into the glass. You will see immediately how the milk is setting, and that’s the beauty of serving this in a glass.

If you want to make some latte art go right ahead but be warned that this cup is kind of small so it might not end up the best, unless you’re talented.

You can always go to any coffee shop and ask for a piccolo latte and study the barista while they’re making it, for some extra tips on how to make your own at home.

If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?