Latte vs. Skinny Latte: What’s The Difference?

Here, we dive deeper into a key question about coffee and milk drinks: the latte vs. skinny latte.

Latte Vs. Skinny Latte
Latte has more steamed milk compared to a cappuccino

If you’re new to the coffee shop world, all the terms and jargon can get confusing. One of the mainstay drinks of the café word is the latte, and it can have any number of variations.

A skinny latte is a latte with nonfat or skim milk.

We will explain more.

Latte Vs. Skinny Latte: The Low Down

At the most basic, a latte has three components: espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The latte has more steamed milk than a cappuccino, which has about half milk and half foam.

For people who like their espresso drinks with a more milky flavor, a latte is a good option–and it also allows you to enjoy your drink longer than a cappuccino or some of the other espresso drinks.

A skinny latte takes its name from the milk choice. You can make a latte with any milk you want; some people like to use half-and-half, some people like to use soy milk, some people keep it classic with whole milk. A skinny latte uses nonfat or skim milk.

In flavored lattes, the flavor usually comes from a syrup–and a skinny latte usually has sugar-free syrup instead of the classic sugar-based flavor.

What Skinny Lattes and Lattes Have In Common

A latte is a latte from the perspective of your friendly neighborhood barista. Like the classic latte, a skinny latte has espresso (one, two, or more shots depending on the size of the drink and your preferences), steamed milk, and a little bit of milk foam. 

Both drinks also come with the ability to customize: you can add flavors or sweeteners of your choice, you can choose no foam or extra foam, you can add whipped cream, and so on. At the end of the day, the skinny latte is a type of latte rather than something entirely different.

But there are some key differences.

Latte Vs. Skinny Latte: The Differences

skinny latte on top of  the desk with notebook and cellphone
The type of milk used in skinny lattes are nonfat or skim milk

The key difference between a skinny latte and a regular or standard caffe latte is the type of milk used. Skinny lattes use nonfat or skim milk, while the standard caffe latte uses whole or 2% milk.

There are some reasons for the tradition that lattes are made with whole milk: whole milk was much easier and cheaper for cafés and coffee shops to keep on hand for a long time. In addition, whole milk has the benefit of making very stable, very dense foam that holds up much better than nonfat milk foam does.

In addition, most coffee shops that serve lattes offer flavors you can add to them to increase your enjoyment. Standard or traditional flavored lattes are usually made with sugar-based syrups, while skinny lattes tend to use sugar-free syrups as a default, though of course, you can request the regular syrup if you want it.

Here is a quick breakdown of the key features and differences between skinny latte and latte:

Skinny LatteCaffe Latte
Made with skim or nonfat milkMade with whole or 2% milk
Sugar-free by default, even if flavoredFlavors usually have sugar unless specified
71 calories, 0.2g fat per 8 ounces serving136 calories, 7g fat per 8 ounces serving

So knowing the differences, how to make your choice?

What’s Better About A Latte?

A standard latte is a very satisfying drink for people who prefer their espresso with a milky, rich flavor. Whole milk creates a velvety foam that lingers while you drink, and the overall texture and flavor of the drink complement the espresso well. A standard latte is a balanced drink that gives a smooth, softened espresso experience.

What’s Better About A Skinny Latte?

A skinny latte has fewer calories and less fat compared to the standard latte. Since it’s made with nonfat milk, it tends to highlight the flavor of the espresso more intensely since the foam tends to dissolve more quickly, and the lack of fat in the milk doesn’t smooth or suppress the intense espresso flavor. 

Who Should Choose A Latte?

creamy latte on top of a wooden table
If you like the flavor of full-fat milk, then caffe latte is the option for you

If you’re not counting calories, or just like the flavor of full-fat milk, the standard latte or caffe latte is the option for you. Whole milk gives you a richer flavor and does more to soften the edges of espresso, which is part of why it is the traditional milk of choice for making a latte. If you’re looking for a bit of taste of luxury, the standard latte is the option for you.

Who Should Choose A Skinny Latte?

If you’re keeping an eye on your calorie and fat intake, then the skinny latte is the better choice for you. It’s also a good choice if you want a more robust espresso flavor or are not interested in the foam on top.

A skinny latte is a good choice for health-conscious coffee addicts and those who do want the softening influence of milk but still want a strong espresso flavor in their drink.

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