The piccolo latte is a strange and mysterious beverage. This small milk beverage can be difficult to come by and is often misunderstood by consumers.
With its punchy espresso and silky milk, it can, on the other hand, be an excellent addition to coffee shop menus. Customers enjoy it because it is a delicious alternative to traditional coffee options.
We’re going to take a look at the world of the piccolo latte today. Please join us in learning more about what it is, where to find it, and how to create it.
WHAT IS A PICCOLO LATTE, AND HOW DO I MAKE ONE?
Piccolo translates to small in Italian, but this drink is much more than a small latte in size.
In coffee shops, the piccolo latte (or piccolo as commonly referred to on menus) is a small milk beverage typically served in a 3–4 oz/85–114 ml glass.
Saa esti, the owner of Ona Coffee and World Barista Champion 2015, describes it as “one part espresso and two parts steamed milk with a layer of silky foam on top,” according to the World Barista Championships website.
According to the author, the measurements are defined as “a shot of espresso, around 20–30 ml, with 40–60 ml of milk,” according to the author.
It is finished by spraying a small amount of foam on top of the single espresso shot, which allows it to blend seamlessly with the coffee.
In other words, the espresso flavor can shine through without being overpowering. In the words of Ceiran Trigg, Director of Ancestors Coffee in Norwich, UK, the piccolo is a “well-balanced espresso/milk-based drink” that should be tried.
WHY IT MIGHT BE DIFFICULT TO FIND THE PICCOLO
Is a piccolo on the menu at your local coffee shop something you’ve heard of? They may not be as popular as the classic cappuccinos and lattes, but they are still available.
According to Keiran, one possible reason for the piccolo’s lack of popularity in the United Kingdom is “consumers’ confusion about what the drink is.” Consequently, he believes that “a large number of coffee shops would serve cortados instead of piccolos and vice versa.”
Because piccolos, cortados, and other milk drinks can be difficult to distinguish from one another, customers may not know what they’re getting when they place an order at a restaurant.
However, Keiran continues, “I believe that people are more comfortable sticking to the most popular drinks, such as lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites,” because these beverages are well-known and generally consistent in their quality.
According to Frederik Schitz, owner of True Intent Coffee in Copenhagen, Piccolos are rarely found on menus in the Scandinavian country.
In Denmark, “if you serve a piccolo to a Dane, he or she will probably call it a cortado,” he explains, adding that the cortado is a more popular drink in larger cities.
A piccolo can still be found in some places, despite the confusion over the term. Stevie Hutton, the proprietor of the 44 Poets coffee shop in the United Kingdom, has traveled extensively throughout Asia and claims that her establishment is “generally the only place I see piccolo latte on the menu everywhere I go.”
With Asia “still adhering to Italian constructs of cappuccino, latte, piccolo, and so on. As a general rule, no flat whites and other cultures drink,” Stevie hypothesizes that language may be at play.
The problem isn’t with the drink itself; rather, it’s because so few people are aware of what it is and how to make it. Because the piccolo is becoming increasingly popular, it will find a place in coffee shops as more people try it.
THE PICCOLO LATTE, IN COMPARISON WITH OTHER MILK DRINKS
The piccolo is frequently confused with other beverages such as lattes, cortados, macchiatos, and more. On the other hand, each drink has its distinct flavors and textures.
Although the piccolo has the word “latte” in its name, don’t be fooled by its appearance.
A latte is significantly larger than a piccolo: although the size varies depending on the coffee shop, a standard latte is approximately 8 oz/230 ml, whereas a piccolo is 3–4 oz/85–114 ml.
The consistency of the milk is similar. Steamed, stretched milk is used in both drinks, which allows the espresso to blend smoothly with the milk.
However, Saa explains that the piccolo is “significantly more espresso-driven than typical lattes; it’s punchier, with more flavor.”
It’s fair to say that a cappuccino is quite different from a piccolo, even though recipes for both are available.
As the first reference point, a cappuccino is a larger beverage, typically served in a 5–6 oz/142–170 ml glass.
It is customary for more air to be used in the milk steaming for cappuccinos, which results in a dryer and frothier texture when poured on top of the espresso.
The more aerated milk does not blend with the espresso in the same way that the piccolo does, resulting in more distinct layers of flavor rather than a seamless blend.
Consumers can taste the robust espresso flavor in both a cappuccino and a piccolo, though they do so in slightly different ways.
The dry milk in a cappuccino softens the bitterness of the espresso, which the consumer consumes when they reach the very bottom of the cup.
Because of the espresso to milk ratio, the piccolo still packs a punch, but the stretched milk blends with the espresso, resulting in a distinct yet bold flavor.
White as a sheet
The flat white has quickly gained popularity as a coffee shop staple. The single or double shot option is available for cappuccinos and lattes.
Still, flat whites are almost always made with a double shot instead of the single-shot option available for the piccolo.
This double shot is served in a 5–6 oz/142–170 ml glass and is topped with steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam on the surface.
In a flat white, the consistency of the milk is similar to that of a piccolo, which results in a well-blended drink.
While the double shot of espresso in a flat white is slightly smaller and has a similar milk consistency to the piccolo, it produces a significantly stronger espresso flavor than the piccolo.
The macchiato and the piccolo are small drinks typically served with a single shot of espresso in their respective cups. Everything depends on how the milk is made. Steamed milk is essential.
For a dry and frothy texture, the macchiato is “marked” with milk similar to the cappuccino but has been steamed with more air than the cappuccino.
Only a few teaspoons of milk are added to the espresso to accompany it and take the edge off the bitterness. Compared to the blended milk and espresso of a piccolo, this is a more sophisticated experience.
PICCOLO LATTE VS. CORTADO: Which is better?
The cortado is crucial in defining the piccolo as a musical instrument. In most cases, they are mistaken for one another.
They are both small milk beverages served in glasses of approximately the same size and with steamed, stretched milk and a small amount of foam on top.
What does this have to do with the flavor of a cortado? The piccolo, a single shot, is more delicate, less intense, and sweeter.
The cortado has a stronger espresso flavor and is less sweet than the macchiato because there is less milk in the cup.
“There’s a significant difference in strength,” Ceiran points out, noting that if consumers aren’t aware of the difference, it can lead to issues with products.
If you’re anticipating a certain amount of strength [from the piccolo], and it doubles up on you unexpectedly, it’s not a pleasant experience.’ This could be misinterpreted as a lack of extraction in the espresso.”
Aside from that, Keiran claims that if you’re used to drinking a cortado and are served a piccolo, the piccolo will taste “weak and not intense enough.”
Therefore, consumers must understand the differences between these two beverages to know what to expect.
BEST PRACTICES FOR PREPARING A DELICIOUS PICCOLO
The most important question is: how are you planning on making your piccolo? Of course, as is always the case, the exact recipe is a matter of personal preference – but here are some pointers to get you started.
To make a piccolo, take a shot of espresso (between 20 and 30 ml) and extract the liquid.
Milk should be steamed to a temperature of 60°C/140°F, allowing enough air into it to create some microfoam but ensuring that it is stretched and silky.
When pouring the milk onto the espresso, do so at a slight angle and with a little height, allowing the milk to mix well with the espresso before finishing with the rest of the milk.
Next, pour the milk onto the espresso at a slight angle and with a little height, allowing the milk to mix well with the espresso.
Finally, allow a small amount of space on top for a thin layer of foam to finish it off.
Saa personally recommends selecting a cup of coffee that has “notes of chocolate, hazelnut, or caramel” in it. He advises against drinking fruity coffees because “they tend to be sour when made with such a small amount of milk.”
Don’t be afraid to play around with different flavors to find the one that suits you best.
If you’ve never tried a piccolo before, now might be a good time to give it a shot. First, do you have an espresso machine in your home? Then, you’re all set to go.
If this is the case, speak with your barista and ask them to try the piccolo recipe that you were given. From there, you can go from there. The more that the piccolo is discussed and enjoyed in its own right, the more likely it will appear on coffee shop menus.
There are many different milk and espresso drinks to sample, each with its distinct flavor profile. Even so, the smooth yet punchy piccolo latte deserves to be given a little attention.