What is a Breve? Why You Have to Try This Latte Variation

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If you drink your coffee with steamed milk or dairy, there’s a good chance that you’ve been drinking cappuccinos, lattes, flat whites, or macchiatos regularly. These drinks all come with espresso, steamed milk, and are topped with foam, each with different ratios.

But have you heard of the more elusive breve?

If your first thought was ‘What is a breve?’, you aren’t the only one. The Starbucks breve latte can seem like a confusing concoction, especially if you aren’t sure how it is made.

But we’re here to clear up the confusion. We are going to tell you exactly what a breve is, its components, as well as how you can make one at home. If you’re always on the lookout for new drinks, you’re going to love giving this one a try!

What is a Breve?

what is a breve

The breve definition is a good place to start. Instead of milk, a breve is made with steamed half-and-half. It is an American variant of the classic Italian latte. Like other coffee beverages, this drink is also topped with milk foam.

What about its taste and texture? Well, breve half-and-half is what makes it special. Because of the higher fat content of the half-and-half, breves have a fluffier and creamier feel than your standard latte. It is also much richer and sweeter, so many people skip adding sweeteners to their breve.

Not sure how to order this drink from a coffee shop? You can simply call it a breve or one of its other names. These include cafe breve, breve coffee, or latte breve. If your barista isn’t sure, simply order a latte but tell them to use half-and-half instead of milk.

This beverage is much creamier than a latte or cappuccino and feels indulgent without going over the top. It is also much more flavorful and complex than a basic coffee, making it the perfect choice for adventurous palettes.

What about the proportions? It’s pretty simple; equal parts brewed espresso and steamed half-and-half. Top off your cup with a good layer of that silky foam, and you have a breve. Breves also make much more foam than plain milk because it contains more fats.

The drink originated in America, giving the Italian latte a unique spin. The thick and fluffy foam makes breves much creamier and more decadent than most other coffees. The word breve is Italian and means short or small, which describes the drink perfectly as it is small and can be made very easily.

Is there non-dairy breve milk? You can try making a vegan breve by substituting the half-and-half with a combination of equal parts non-dairy milk (almond or soy milk), coconut cream or vegan coffee creamer. However, the taste and texture will differ from a classic breve.

Breves are often served as dessert drinks because of how rich and heavy they are. However, many people choose to drink it as their morning coffee. 

Want an ideal breakfast? We recommend a breve crepes and coffee combo. Light and airy crepes make the perfect companion to this rich and luxurious coffee and the two balance each out perfectly.

While it is often drunk without adding any sweeteners, you can add sugar or Splenda according to your tastes. Some people even prefer it flavored with syrups like toffee, hazelnut, salted caramel, cinnamon dolce, and even raspberry!

Breve vs Latte

Breve vs Latte

A latte is often considered the more popular and well-known of the two drinks. With all the flavor varieties, lattes are endlessly customizable and are universally loved.

Although the two drinks seem similar, a major difference between a breve and a latte is in the type of dairy used. A latte is made from espresso and steamed whole milk. On the other hand, a breve is made from espresso and steamed half-and-half instead of milk.

And what is half-and-half?

It is a mixture of equal parts whole milk and light cream. It generally contains about 10 to 12% fat, so it is the perfect form of dairy if you wanted a nice and creamy coffee beverage.

And how does this affect the taste of your coffee? Half-and-half can’t be whipped, but it adds a whole extra dose of richness and creaminess to your coffee. [Here is a list of the best milk frothers you can buy today].

Because of this, your coffee will seem sweeter too. When steamed, it gets much fluffier and thicker than plain milk, giving more body to the coffee and a silkier, heavier foam.

So to recap lattes are made with regular whole milk and are thinner and lighter in texture. Breves are made with half-and-half, so they are thicker and much richer in comparison.

How to Make a Breve at Home

You don’t need to go to Starbucks to enjoy a good breve! Instead, make it at home and enjoy this indulgent drink as a pick me up after a hard day. 

If you have a coffee bar with the necessary equipment like a quality espresso machine, this will be much easier, but we’ll show you how to substitute things for your convenience.

What You Need:

  • 2 ounces espresso or freshly brewed strong black coffee
  • 2-3 ounces of half-and-half (or your non-dairy version)
  • A whisk or frother


  • Sweetener
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Syrups of your choice

Step by Step Guide:

  1. Make some espresso or brew some coffee. If you have an espresso machine, use it to pull two shots of espresso. If not, brew some strong black coffee.

    If you’re in a pinch you can use an automatic drip coffee maker, but we suggest using a Moka pot, percolator, or French press.
  2. Pour 2 ounces of coffee or espresso into your cup.
  3. Steam your half-and-half. If you don’t have half-and-half, combine equal parts of whole milk and heavy cream.

    You can use the steaming wand from an espresso machine. Otherwise, heat up some milk in the microwave or on the stove until very hot and use a frother or whisk.
  4. Once the half-and-half is silky and there is a decent amount of foam on top, pour the steamed dairy into your cup of coffee or espresso, holding back the foam.
  5. Use a spoon to pour or scoop the foam on top of the coffee.
  6. At this stage, you can add your sweetener or syrup if desired. You can also sprinkle a little powdered cinnamon over the foam if you want.

Your breve is ready and you can pair it with cookies, or a good coffee cake to complete the experience!

Other Breve Drinks

You don’t have to drink your breve the same way all the time. Using this drink as the foundation, you can make or order variants that are just as decadent but more exciting!

A good example is the white mocha breve, which is the typical breve but with an ounce of melted white chocolate or white chocolate syrup added to it. You can also add peppermint syrup for a Christmas-y breve or pumpkin spice syrup to infuse it with fall vibes.

Trying to beat the heat? Use cold brew instead of espresso and pour your breve over ice. 

You can also add a couple of pumps of caramel sauce or cinnamon dolce and blend your breve with ice for a thick and relaxing iced breve. The possibilities are endless so you can even come up with your custom flavor combinations!

More Questions?

Below you’ll find answers to questions we get asked the most about breves and how to make them.

01. What is a Dutch Bros Breve?

This is like a cappuccino but with half-and-half replacing the milk. Together with chocolate and vanilla flavors, it makes for an unforgettable drink.

02. What Does a Breve Taste Like?

A breve tastes a lot like a regular latte, but it is much richer and more flavorful. It is also a lot sweeter and dessert-like because of the cream in the dairy.

03. Are Breves Hot or Cold?

Although breves are most often made as a hot beverage, they can be served cold as well. To do so, blend with ice or serve it poured over a glass full of ice.

04. What are Breve Style Drinks?

These are any kind of coffees that use half-and-half instead of milk. You can get breve style mochas, cappuccinos, macchiatos, etc.

05. Which is Healthier- Breve or Latte?

Because of the half-and-half, breves contain more cholesterol. As a result, they are rather unhealthy. For a ‘skinny’ drink, order a regular latte with skim milk and use Splenda or go sugar-free.

In Summary

Now that you know all about this fancy and decadent drink, next time someone asks you if you want a breve, your reaction won’t be ‘what’s a breve?’ Instead, you will be able to order one easily, adding your own spin and flavors to customize your drink. 

We strongly recommend trying a breve─ it might just end up being your favorite drink!

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