What is a Breve? How is it different to a latte?

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Are you tired of the same old latte or cappuccino routine? Do you want to shake things up and try something new? Let me introduce you to the world of cafe breve – the creamier, richer cousin of your beloved lattes.

If you love adding cream to your coffee, then a cafe breve might just be your new best friend. A cafe breve is an espresso-based drink that is made with steamed half-and-half instead of milk.

So, what does a cafe Breve taste like? Is it stronger than a latte?  How is it different from other coffee beverages? Join us as we delve into the world of the cafe breve.

What is a breve?

A cafe breve is an espresso-based drink that is made with steamed half-and-half or cream instead of milk, giving it a richer and creamier flavor. It is similar to a latte, but with a creamier texture and a slightly sweeter taste.

A breve is also known as cafe breve, or a latte breve. Breve is the Italian word for short or brief. This word refers to the breve being a smaller drink compared to the Italian latte. However, contrary to what the name suggests, this drink did not originate in Italy. 


The origin of cafe breve is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated in the United States. Some sources suggest that it was first created by Italian-American baristas who were experimenting with different ways to prepare espresso-based drinks. The use of half-and-half or cream in coffee drinks is more common in the United States than in Italy, where milk is typically used instead. 


The breve is similar to a latte but it uses half-and-half instead of regular milk. The cafe breve combines a single or double espresso shot and steamed half-and-half. The use of half-and-half gives the cafe breve a much creamier texture. Some versions of the breve froth the half-and-half to make the drink foamier like a cappuccino. So, what does a breve taste like?


The café breve has a rich, creamy, and slightly sweet taste due to the steamed half-and-half used in its preparation. The espresso in the drink also provides a strong coffee flavor and aroma. However, the exact taste can vary depending on whether the drink is prepared with a single or double espresso shot.

This drink is usually unsweetened, but some coffee shops will add a dash of vanilla or chocolate syrup for those who want something sweeter.


While the traditional recipe for café breve calls for espresso and steamed half-and-half, there are a few variations that can be used to customize the drink according to personal preference:

  1. Flavored Syrups: To add a little extra sweetness or flavor, some people like to add flavored syrups such as vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut to their café breve.
  2. Milk Alternatives: If you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative to the traditional half-and-half, you can use a non-dairy half-and-half alternative such as the Califia Better Half. However, keep in mind that the taste and texture of the drink may be a bit different.
  3. Spices: You can also add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cocoa powder to your café breve for a little extra flavor.
  4. Iced Café Breve: For a refreshing twist, you can prepare your café breve over ice, and add a splash of milk or cream for extra creaminess.
  5. Shot of Flavor: Another variation is to add a shot of flavored liqueur like Baileys, Kahlua, or Amaretto to your café breve. This can add a little bit of extra sweetness and complexity to the drink.

Calorie content

It’s worth noting that cafe breves are generally high in fat and calories, and consuming them regularly may not be suitable for those watching their calorie intake.

The calorie content of a cafe breve can vary depending on the amount of half-and-half used and the size of the drink. Generally, an 8-ounce cafe breve can contain around 240 calories, with most of the calories coming from the half-and-half. In comparison, an 8-ounce latte has around 110 calories. 

While this may not sound as bad, the calorie content can rapidly increase with the serving size. Traditionally, the cafe breve is supposed to be a small drink, between 4-8 ounces. However, nowadays, breves are served in sizes as big as 16 oz cups. This would mean your drink has 480 calories! 

Breve vs Latte

The main difference between a latte and a breve is the type of milk used. A latte is made with espresso and steamed milk, while a breve is made with espresso and half-and-half. Let’s take a deeper look at the differences. 

Ingredients: A latte is made with espresso, steamed milk, and a small layer of foam. A breve is made with espresso and half-and-half (a blend of whole milk and heavy cream).

Type of milk: Lattes are typically made with whole, skim, or non-dairy milk alternatives such as almond or oat milk. Breves, on the other hand, are made with half-and-half, which has a higher fat content than regular milk.

Espresso to milk ratio: Lattes have a higher milk to espresso ratio, typically consisting of 1-2 shots of espresso and 8-12 ounces of steamed milk. Breves, on the other hand, have a lower milk to espresso ratio, usually consisting of 1-2 shots of espresso and 4-6 ounces of half-and-half.

Serving size: Lattes are typically served in larger cups than breves, with a typical serving size of 8-16 ounces. Breves are usually served in smaller cups, with a serving size of 4-8 ounces.

Calorie content: Even though the serving size is generally smaller, breves are still higher in calories and fat than lattes due to the use of half-and-half.

Taste: Lattes have a milder taste due to the higher milk content, which can sometimes overpower the taste of the espresso. Breves, on the other hand, have a richer and creamier taste due to the use of half-and-half.

Texture: Lattes have a smooth and velvety texture due to the steamed milk. Breves, on the other hand, have a thicker and creamier texture.

The Starbucks Breve

If you order a breve at Starbucks, you will just receive a cup with steamed half-and-half. Starbucks does not have a specific menu item called a “breve”. They use the word breve to describe a variation for other drinks. 

To order a breve at Starbucks, you can ask for a “latte breve” or a “breve latte.” But, it does not end there. Starbucks allows you to make any kind of drink a “breve”. This just means they will replace the regular milk with half-and-half. For example, you could order a grande breve iced vanilla latte or a breve flat white.

How to Make a Breve at Home



  1. 1. Brew 2 shots of espresso using an espresso machine or Moka pot. If you don’t have an espresso maker, you can use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee instead.
  2. 2. Heat 1/2 cup of half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to scorch the milk or let it come to a boil.
  3. 3. Once the half-and-half is hot, use a frother or a whisk to create a creamy foam. The foam should be thick and velvety.
  4. 4. Pour the hot espresso into a mug, followed by the frothed half-and-half. If desired, add sweetener to taste.
  5. 5. Stir the drink gently to combine the espresso and half-and-half. Enjoy your homemade cafe breve!


Is a breve keto-friendly?

Half-and-half, which is the key ingredient in a breve, is a dairy product that contains a moderate amount of carbohydrates. One tablespoon of half-and-half contains around 0.6 grams of carbohydrates, which means that a 12-ounce breve made with half-and-half can contain around 6-12 grams of carbs, depending on the specific recipe.

For people following a very low-carb or ketogenic diet, a breve may not be the best choice as it can contribute a significant amount of carbohydrates to their daily intake. 

Is a breve sugar-free?

A breve is typically made with half-and-half, which does not contain added sugar. However, if you order a breve at a coffee shop or café, it’s possible that the drink may contain added sugar or sweeteners, such as flavored syrups.

To ensure that your breve is sugar-free, you can request that the drink be made without any added sweeteners or syrups. You can also try using a sugar-free sweetener if desired.

Do you need an espresso machine to make a breve?

While an espresso machine is typically used to make the espresso component of a breve, you don’t necessarily need an espresso machine to make the drink. You can use strong brewed coffee as a substitute for espresso.

To make a breve without an espresso machine, you can brew strong coffee using a French press, pour-over coffee maker, or any other brewing method. Then, you can heat the half-and-half in a saucepan and froth it using a frother or a whisk. Finally, combine the hot coffee and frothed half-and-half in a mug, and enjoy your homemade breve.

It’s worth noting that while using strong brewed coffee instead of espresso can produce a similar flavor profile, the texture and consistency of the drink may be slightly different. Additionally, using coffee instead of espresso may affect the strength and intensity of the drink.

How many calories are in a breve?

The number of calories in a cafe breve can vary depending on the serving size and the specific ingredients used.

Here are some estimates of the calorie content of different serving sizes of cafe breve, using typical ingredients:

  • 8 oz (small/short): Approximately 170-240 calories
  • 12 oz (medium/tall): Approximately 250-360 calories
  • 16 oz (large/grande): Approximately 340-480 calories

It’s important to note that these estimates are rough and can vary based on the specific ingredients and preparation methods used. For example, using cream instead of half and half can significantly increase the calorie content of the drink. Additionally, some cafes may use different ratios of espresso to milk, which can affect the calorie count.

Is a breve the same as a cappuccino?

No, a breve is not the same as a cappuccino.

A breve is a type of coffee drink made with espresso and steamed half-and-half instead of milk. It is similar to a latte, but with half-and-half instead of milk. The result is a creamy, rich, and slightly sweet drink.

A cappuccino, on the other hand, is a traditional Italian coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of frothed milk on top. It typically has a strong espresso flavor, a velvety texture, and a frothy top layer. It is usually served in a smaller cup than a latte or a breve.

Is a breve the same as a latte?

A breve and a latte are similar in that they are both espresso-based drinks that include steamed milk. However, there are some key differences between the two.

A latte is typically made with espresso and steamed milk, with a small amount of milk foam on top. The milk used in a latte is typically either whole milk or a non-dairy milk substitute. The ratio of milk to espresso in a latte is usually around 3:1 or 4:1, with more milk than espresso.

A breve, on the other hand, is made with espresso and steamed half and half (or sometimes cream), which gives it a richer and creamier flavor and texture than a latte. The ratio of milk to espresso in a breve is typically closer to 1:1 or 2:1, with less milk than espresso.

Can you make a dairy-free breve?

There are several half-and-half milk alternatives that can be used to make a dairy free cafe breve. Our favorite option is the Califia Better Half which is a coconut cream and almond milk blend. It has a slightly sweet coconut flavor, which can work well with the espresso in the drink. Also, this a much healthier option with only 15 calories per ounce vs. 39 in regular half-and-half.

Other options include oat creamer which is offered by a few different brands such as Silk and Califia. Cashew cream can also be a great option. However, we have not found a brand that offers this product, so this is going to be a small DIY project. 

In conclusion, Cafe Breve is a delicious and satisfying beverage that has gained popularity in recent years. This creamy coffee drink provides the perfect balance of sweetness and boldness that coffee lovers crave. Its versatility allows it to be enjoyed in a variety of ways, whether you prefer it hot or cold, sweet or not. Whether you’re looking to switch up your morning coffee routine or try something new, Cafe Breve is definitely worth a try. So head to your local cafe and order a Cafe Breve to enjoy the rich and creamy goodness of this delightful beverage.

If you want to learn more about different types of coffee drinks, go check our article about 30 types of coffee drinks.

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