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Breve?! Hmm… What Is A Breve Coffee?



Sasha Pavlovich

 ·  10 March 2023

Some days, a hamburger is good enough. Other days, only a filet mignon will suffice. The next time you need a little luxury in your coffee cup, reach for a cafe breve.

This drink made with espresso and half-and-half is the Cadillac of espresso drinks. It is a combination of espresso and steamed half-and-half. The richness of the cream creates a silky-smooth drink to soothe the soul. But, if you’re trying to stick to a low-calorie diet, you might want to skip this one.

In this article, you’ll learn the answer to the question what is a breve. You’ll also learn about some of the many ways to vary this coffee drink as well as how to make one.


The Cafe Breve Story

In Italian, the word “breve” means short. But what’s that got to do with this drink? You can get it in so many sizes?!

The breve latte may have gotten its name because of the nature of half-and-half. Steamed half-and-half does not rise as much as a lower fat milk. A low-fat milk can almost double in height when steamed. So, if you use the same amount of low-fat milk and half-and-half, after steaming, the drink made with half-and-half would be much shorter.

You’ll find this drink mainly in America. It is not as popular as many other espresso drinks. The reason why may be because of the very high fat content. Because of the extra fat, a 16-ounce breve coffee can have more than 600 calories! The same size drink with skim milk would be around 150 calories.

Most people prefer this high-fat drink as an occasional dessert or treat. Unless, of course, you’re a football player.

The offensive linemen on Northwestern University’s football team had their infamous breve-a-day diet. It added to their “bottom line” to help make them an immovable force. In this case, a bigger bottom line is probably not what you’re aiming for.


What is a Breve?

This coffee beverage is a mix of espresso, steamed half-and-half, and foam. If you ask for simply a breve coffee, most places will give you a latte made with half-and-half. That means the proportions are the same as a latte, with much more half-and-half than foam.

But you can add richness to any espresso drink by asking for half-and-half instead of milk. You could get a cappuccino with half-and-half, which would be roughly equal parts espresso, steamed half-and-half, and foam. You could also opt for a decadent drink, such as a caramel mocha breve coffee. Please, don’t try this if you’re looking to lose weight!

Here is a special note about using half-and-half. The higher fat content will make a drink much sweeter than its lower fat equivalent. You may find that you can then skip the extra sweetener you usually get. Of course, if you want, you can still get a flavor added. Vanilla seems to go especially well with half-and-half. It’s all about personal choice.


Starbucks Breve

Imagine you’re at Starbucks and want to order this luxury drink. You might not see a Starbucks breve listed on their menu board. But that doesn’t mean you can’t order one.

Many places consider the breve latte as a modification to a ‘standard’ latte. So, just ask for a latte and add the word “breve” to it. You can do this with any drink to make it more indulgent.

Breve vs Latte

When thinking about a breve vs latte, the key difference is the type of dairy you use. Simply put, the cafe breve is a latte made with half-and-half instead of milk.

Again, you can add the word “breve” to almost any espresso drink. But when used alone, it usually refers to a drink with a shot or two of espresso, anywhere from eight to 15 ounces of half-and-half, with a thin layer of foam on top.

Make Breve Coffee

How to make a Breve Latte

There are several important elements to making the perfect coffee drink. Besides the particular recipe you use, here are some important things to think about.

The Bean

Perhaps the most important part of making the best coffee drink is to start with high-quality beans. If you didn’t roast them yourself, you want to buy them as soon after roasting as possible. You also want to use it immediately after grinding. If you don’t, you can guarantee that the drink will be sub-par.

The Espresso

Next, make your espresso. There are many types of home espresso makers available. Choose one that fits your space and your budget.

The Steam

When steaming, start with very cold half-and-half. Room-temperature half-and-half will not froth as well. Also, you’ll get the best results if you steam the liquid in a metal milk jug. Be sure to not over-fill the jug. The half-and-half will expand some as a result of steaming.

The easiest way to steam dairy products is with a steaming wand. Many espresso machines have a built-in steaming wand. You can use a stand-along frothing wand, but the texture will be different than with a proper steam wand.

For a latte, you don’t want a lot of foam. You will create the most foam when the steaming tip is at or close to the surface. So, for steamed half-and-half without too much foam, keep the tip about 1/4-inch below the surface. To get the best consistency, tilt the milk jug so that the liquid swirls around. This will give a nice texture to the finished product. To be afraid to experiment to get the proper placement.

The Pour

Once you have put the espresso into the serving mug, pour the half-and-half in. Hold back the foam with a spoon while you’re pouring. After you’ve poured the amount you want, you can top the drink off with a dollop or two of the foam.

If you plan to frequently make these at home, you might want to invest in some glass mugs. They make a lovely display when serving guests. Seeing the three layers–coffee, half-and-half, and foam–somehow seems to make the drink taste even better.



  1. What does Breve mean?

    The word comes from the Latin brevis, which means short. This drink was probably named so because higher fat half-and-half does not rise as much as lower-fat milk.

  2. Is Breve hot or cold?

    Usually, this coffee beverage is served hot. However, at most coffee shops, you can request virtually any drink hot, iced, or blended.

  3. How many shots are in a Breve Coffee?

    That usually depends on the size of the drink. In some areas, a 12-ounce contains a single shot, and a 16-ounce has two shots. Other areas only use a single shot for both 12- and 16-ounce drinks. Still, others use a double shot for the 12- and 16-ounce beverage. When in doubt, ask the barista.

  4. How much milk is in a Breve Coffee?

    This espresso drink is often served with the same ratios as a latte. This can vary from one part espresso to two parts half-and-half all the way to one part espresso to 15 parts half-and-half. This varies regionally and from one coffee house to the next.

  5. What is the difference between a Breve and Latte?

    A first drink is made with half-and-half while a latte is made with whole, 2%, or skim milk. In some areas, a breve will have coffee/milk/foam ratios closer to a cappuccino.

  6. How many calories are in a Breve Coffee?

    A 16-ounce, double shot will have about 550 calories. This will vary slightly depending on what the coffee to half-and-half ratio is.


Is coffee a necessity? Many will say yes. But it doesn’t have to be a hack cup of swill. High quality coffee is readily available in the U.S. Since the 1970s when the first Starbucks opened in America, our appreciation of coffee has continued to evolve.

Coffee can do so much more than just wake you up. Friendships can strengthen over regular coffee breaks together. Because today’s decaf tastes pretty much the same as caffeinated, a steaming mug of coffee can also be the perfect way to relax after a long day.

Whether in a coffee shop or made at home, a simple drip coffee can be satisfying. However, the smell, texture, and taste of an espresso drink made with half-and-half can bring you joy. Don’t you deserve that?

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author sasha
Sasha Pavlovich

Hi, I'm Sasha Pavlovich and welcome to my blog about coffee! As an experienced barista, I have a deep passion for coffee. I love to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with everyone, and I never get tired of talking about it. Whether you're a novice or a connoisseur, I'm sure you'll find something on my site that will make you appreciate the wonderful world of coffee even more.