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Macaroni and cheese, fish and chips, cookies and cream, or chips and salsa. Some foods were just made to go together! The same goes for coffee and milk. It might be something simple like just putting a splash of milk in a cup of freshly brewed coffee or something a bit fancier like a French style café au lait. Or it could be enjoying one of the most popular coffee drinks in America – the cafe latte! 

History of National Latte Day

Dating as far back as 17th century Italy, the practice of mixing delicious coffee with steaming hot milk is one that has gained popularity over the years. The term “caffe latte” literally translates to mean “coffee with milk” in Italian, but this beloved and popular drink is far more than that!

The introduction of espresso in the early 1900s was obviously an important contribution to the latte drinks of today, forming their foundation. Then, with automated options for steaming milk, the latte really came into its own.

In modern times, the cafe latte (now just shortened to “latte”) seems to have been around since the 1950s, with an introduction claimed by a coffee shop in Berkeley, California. But the latte didn’t really become popular until the late 1980s and early 1990s when it hit the mainstream. This was through the second wave of coffee shops that took off in the United States, with specialty coffee shops like Starbucks, Peet’s and Caribou that were responsible for bringing forward a new way to enjoy coffee.

Today, the latte is arguably the most popular milk-based coffee beverage in the US and in many other places around the world as well. And now, National Latte Day is here to celebrate the delectable, delightful joy that comes from this amazing little coffee drink!

National Latte Day Timeline

17th century

Lattes make an appearance in Italy

Called “caffe latte”, the term in Italian literally means “coffee with milk”. [1]

1950s

Lino Meiorin starts making lattes

Meiorin is an Italian-trained barista working in Berkeley, CA who makes lattes for customers who find cappuccinos to be too strong. [2]

1980s-90s

Latte art makes a beginning

At second wave coffee shops in the US, latte art pictures begin appearing on cups of coffee.

2003

Coffee Fest latte art competition is held

The first latte art competition sponsored by Coffee Fest takes place in Seattle. [3]

2003

Pumpkin Spice Latte is introduced

Starbucks first releases what will eventually become a trendy phenomenon with the PSL. [4]

How to Celebrate National Latte Day

Coffee is such a part of the daily activities of many people that it sometimes can simply be overlooked. National Latte Day offers a distinct opportunity to take some time to stop and pay a bit of attention to this lovely little drink that has become part of the fabric of American culture. Consider some of these interesting ideas for getting involved with celebrating the day:

Head Out to a Coffee Shop for a Latte

For those who don’t drink a latte every day on a regular basis, National Latte Day is the perfect time to enjoy a latte as a special occasion, or perhaps even try one for the first time! Of course, for those millions of people who tend to drink a latte every day, perhaps this would be a time to make that latte just a little more special by adding a flavor to it, like cinnamon syrup or peppermint.

Those who are thinking of trying something new in honor of National Latte Day may want to consider getting a little bit creative. Since the invention of the latte, the drink has evolved in unique ways that satisfy the tastes of those who are looking for something a bit beyond the standard. For instance, green tea matcha lattes, chai lattes, iced lattes, red tea lattes (cinnamon rooibos), turmeric lattes and so many others have been introduced by those who want to live on the edge!

Not sure what to try? Ask the barista to come up with some fun and interesting version of a latte in honor of the day. They will probably be delighted at the opportunity to be creative!

Get a Special Discount for National Latte Day

Don’t forget to remind the barista at the coffee shop that it’s National Latte Day! It may just be that the coffee shop will have extra special deals or discounts they offer to their customers in honor of this special occasion. Starbucks and many other chains have been known to give away discounts or even free coffee drinks in honor of National Coffee Day so perhaps there will be some added benefits for National Latte Day this year as well!  It never hurts to ask. 

Share a Latte with Someone

Celebrations are so much better when they are shared! Take National Latte Day as an opportunity to bring a delicious latte to a friend, family member or coworker who would appreciate it. Grab a couple of lattes on the way to work to share with a coworker or office mate. Or suggest a meeting with a colleague at a coffee shop and be sure to order them a latte and pick up the tab.

For those who don’t happen to be in the same room –or the same town– as the person they want to share a little latte with, perhaps take this opportunity to gift them with an electronic gift card that they can use to order up a latte at their favorite coffee spot. Or, even better, have a special latte delivered to them using an online coffee shop and delivery service such as Uber Eats, DoorDash or another local service. It will be a delightful surprise in celebration of the day!

Give the Barista a Big Thank You

In celebration of National Latte Day, let the barista know how much they are appreciated. Thank them for being the one who tirelessly provides those caffeine filled cafe latte drinks day after day to the customers who need and love them. Perhaps an extra big tip would be in order in honor of the special occasion!

Try Making Lattes at Home

Perhaps National Latte Day is just the motivation that’s needed to purchase a new espresso machine to make lattes at home. Or, dust off the one that’s been sitting on the counter or in the closet. Grind some fresh beans to extract some tasty espresso. Then get some whole milk or milk alternative, steam it up, and pour it into the espresso. For an extra amount of fun on this day, perhaps even try practicing some latte art! 

National Latte Day FAQs

What is a latte?

Traditionally made with espresso and steamed milk, a latte is a hot coffee drink that has a thin layer of foam on top.[1]

How to make a latte at home?

To make a latte at home, use an espresso machine. Or, heat milk and make foam using a hand frother, then mix with espresso and serve. [2]

How to make a chai tea latte?

A chai tea latte is made the same as a regular latte but using spiced tea instead of espresso. [3]

When did latte art start?

Latte art got its beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s in US coffee shops.[4]

Do lattes have foam?

Lattes have a large amount of steamed milk and a light layer of foam on top. [5]

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