What is a Breve Coffee? All You Need to Know About Breve Coffee Drinks

by Mama Loves A Drink

What is a breve coffee? Is it the same as a breve latte? Find out in this essential guide to breve drinks.

Breve coffee is one of the most mysterious items you find on a coffee menu.

If you are an avid coffee drinker, chances are you know what a latte is, you probably know all about mocha and the more advanced an even explain with ease the difference between a latte and a flat white.

But a breve?

The issue with breve coffee is that its name is not self-explanatory.

‘Breve’ in Italian means ‘brief, short’: does it mean a breve coffee is like an espresso? Not at all!

A breve coffee or breve milk is an espresso-based drink made with half and half.

What is half and half, you ask? No fear: in this guide, we will look at that too!

Can’t make it now? Pin it for later!

Glass of breve with text: what is a breve coffee, with recipe!

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What is a breve coffee?

A breve coffee or breve milk, as it is also called, is an espresso-based drink with half and half.

Espresso, as you most likely know, is a coffee brewing method that uses pressure to create a strong and punchy, full-bodied coffee brew. It usually has a bolder taste and less acidic than your regular drip coffee.

Half and half is a milk-based drink made of 50% whole milk and 50% heavy cream.

It is a drink mostly found in the US and it is sold in milk cartons. You find it in the fridge/dairy section of the grocery store and you keep it in the fridge.

Breve vs latte: What’s the difference between a breve and a latte?

Breve is therefore a variation of a latte, made with half and half instead of milk.

The main difference between the two beverages is in the ingredients used and, therefore, in taste, texture and calories count / fat content.

Taste-wise, half and half taste like creamier milk so the difference is there, but it is subtle.

In terms of texture, half and half is again creamier than standard milk, so you get a thicker, richer texture than with standard milk.

The main difference between breve and latte however is in the fat content.

Half and half has up to 12% fat: In comparison, whole milk contains about 3% fat so unless you opt for a low-fat option, your breve will be significantly more caloric than your standard latte.

A breve is also naturally a little sweeter than a regular latte made with whole milk due to the fat content. You may want to hold back on adding too much additional sugar or sweetener until you’ve tasted it.

For an extra luxurious treat, you can add flavoured syrups to your breve coffee, just as you would with a latte – but just watch that growing calorie count!

How much coffee is in a breve?

Since the word ‘breve’ refers to the use of half and half instead of milk, there is not a standard answer to the right amount of espresso for a breve.

You can basically make any drink a breve, just by substituting milk with half and half.

This way, you get:

  • Breve coffee: espresso with half and half, up to 1/1 proportions
  • Breve latte: your standard latte, with one or two shots of espresso and milky top up, but served with half and half instead of standard milk. The proportions of a latte vary according to taste and barista, usually up to 1 part coffee and 3 parts of milk.

How to make your own half and half

If half and half is not readily available where you are, you can easily make your own.

  • Half a half is a combination of whole milk and heavy cream/whipping cream.
  • To make it, you mix 3 parts of whole milk and 1 part of cream, then use as you would your standard milk.

If you only have light cream, the proportion would be 1/2 whole milk and 1/2 light cream to get the right consistency.

How to serve a breve coffee

You can serve your drink of choice as you would serve its milky equivalent.

For breve coffee, we love using rounded glasses, that showcase the dark and inviting color of your concoction; for breve latte, glass mugs with handles are pretty and appropriate.

However, standard latte mugs also work well.

How to make breve coffee at home

You can make breve at home simply mixing your favourite espresso drink with half and half.

For the best results, we recommend using a latte machine: if you get a good one, it will deliver an espresso base just as you like it and it will allow you to warm up your half and half and foam your breve to perfection!

Your espresso machine can take simple pods or capsules (such as K-cups or Nespresso), coffee grounds or the most advanced and incredible Italian espresso machines will take you from coffee bean to espresso shot in just a few steps.

Steps to prepare the perfect breve latte

  1. For the best foam, only remove your half and half from the fridge right before you want to heat it (this is when milk proteins are most stable – room temperature you will not get the same fluffy results).
  2. Pour half and half into your milk steaming pitcher and place the steaming wand half way in. Wait for a hissing sound then cut the steam when you hit about 145°F/63°C – it will continue to warm after you remove the wand to fit the ideal serving temperature about 160°F/71°F
  3. Alternatively, your half and half can be frothed in an Aerocinno if your using a fully automated Nespresso machine – careful on your quantities as it will really foam up!
  4. While your half and half is setting, make your espresso shots (single or double) or on a Nespresso you can pull a lungo.
  5. Use a spoon to hold back your silky foam while filling your cup with steamed milk.
  6. Use the spoon to gently pull in your foamy finish.
  7. Slowly pour in your espresso shot and watch it slowly seep into the wonderfully textured foam for your perfectly prepared breve latte.

How to order a breve at Starbucks

We all know they love there lingo at Starbucks – but this one is a buyer beware! If you are ordering a breve at Starbucks, “breve” on its own simply means half and half; ordering a breve will get you smooth, warm, fluffy half and half – on it’s own!

That may be fine if you want something a little richer than a babycinno, but if you want some espresso added, you need to specifically order a “cafe breve” for a strong breve coffee or a “breve latte” for a long milky finish.

Just about any other coffee house in the US will understand perfectly well that you want your breve served WITH the espresso!!

Can you have a breve cold?

Yes! Just like an iced latte or iced coffee, you can have your breve as a chilled drink. You will simply be substituting the whole milk element for half and half.

How to pronounce breve

Last but not least – are you saying it right?

Ah, the jargon of ordering coffee – only made more complicated by words that are tricky to pronounce!

The correct pronunciation for Breve sounds like “breh-veh”.


We hope this has helped clear up the mystery behind breve – will you be adding it to your regular tasting menu, or saving it up for a super special treat?

Love coffee? Find all our favourite coffee recipes and jargon-busting explainations in our Coffee Connoisseur section!

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