Is There Milk in a Latte?

Written by: Kelly Donovan

Whether for health or lifestyle reasons, when avoiding dairy, you need to know where you might find dairy. For coffee lovers, that means the coffee shop as many drinks contain milk.

Lattes do contain dairy, usually 2% milk unless you request otherwise. You can ask your barista to use almond, coconut, oat, soy, or whole milk instead.

Now that you know if there is milk in a latte, keep reading to learn whether milk is necessary and your options.

What’s in a Latte?

A latte, which means ‘milk’ in Italian, has two basic ingredients: espresso and milk. 

These are the same ingredients as in many other coffee drinks. What makes a latte different is how it’s prepared.

When you order a latte, you get a delicious mix of espresso, steamed milk, and any flavors you asked for.

  • 1 parts espresso
  • 2 parts steamed milk
  • Small foam layer
  • Flavored syrups (upon request)

A good latte is made up of more steamed milk and milk foam than espresso.

This creates a creamy drink that also contains that all-important caffeine. 

Most coffee shops and cafes will use 2% milk unless you ask for something else. The alternatives vary from location to location, but there are always dairy-free options.

Closeup image of two small cups of hot latte coffee with latte a

What Are the Dairy-Free Options?

To make a latte without dairy, you must substitute 2% or whole milk with dairy-free milk. Starbucks offers a wide selection of alternatives.

Other cafes might have fewer options, but they should at least have one or two.

  • Soy
  • Coconut
  • Almond
  • Oat

While taste is subjective, oat milk is often considered one of the best alternatives for lattes. This is the case when you make lattes at home, as it froths easily.

The other alternatives are also great options but can be harder to get the same frothy quality as with dairy milk. Each alternative has its own nutritional benefits for you to enjoy.

Can You Make a Latte Without Milk?

You can’t get a latte at a cafe without some form of milk, dairy or not. But what about at home, where you’re free to experiment?

There's a way to make a latte-like drink without milk.

If you want to make a latte without milk, you only need freshly brewed coffee, xantham gum, and a blender.

Start by brewing the coffee. You’ll need at least a pot, roughly a liter. Then measure out ¼ teaspoon of the xantham gum. 

Mix the coffee and the gum and blend.

Blending will make the mixture frothy like a latte. Since there is no milk, it will taste more strongly like coffee, but the texture will be relatively close. 

This video from WIRED shows how to make latte without milk or an espresso machine.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know lattes from coffee shops contain some form of milk, you can avoid or alter them as needed.

Luckily you don’t need to rely on making the drink yourself if you want a dairy-free latte.

About the Author

Kelly Donovan is a freelance writer. She enjoys helping people reach their wellness goals by educating them about how food plays a role in their health.