The first time I heard the word "piccolo latte" I thought that's a cute name but what is it? In this article I give a barista's opinion on what is a piccolo coffee and how to make it.
What is a Piccolo Coffee?
A piccolo latte (also known as a piccolo coffee) is a mini café latte made in a small tumbler glass or espresso cup.
It is made by extracting 1 shot of espresso into a small tumbler, and then filling up the rest of the cup with steamed milk and a small amount of micro foam. If done right you can even do a little bit of latte art on top of the drink.
It's a very strong coffee as it's practically an espresso with the edge slightly taken off due to the milk.
It's the perfect early morning drink that kicks you in the frontal lobe to wake you up!
How to Make a Piccolo Latte?
I gave a short and sweet guide above on how to make the drink. But what sort of coffee geek would I be if I didn't give a step by step guide:
- Back wash and purge: The first step is to back wash and purge your coffee machine's group head. Since this drink is more or less an espresso with a bit of milk, you can't hide any negatives in your espresso extraction.
By flushing and back-washing, you get rid of any old coffee grinds that may have built up in your espresso group. This allows you to extract a much cleaner espresso shot.
- Extract your shot: The standard piccolo latter takes one shot of espresso. This is 30ml or 1 ounce.
- Steam your milk: While the shot is extracting at the same time you should steam your milk. You should make your steamed milk the same as you would a café latte. Not too much foam, but just enough to have a silky micro-foam.
- Pour: The final step is pouring your steamed milk into your smaller glass. You should pour it just like a full sized latte. Let some steam milk in, then allow the micro foam to fill up the rest. If done right you can get some latte art on top.
What Does a Piccolo Coffee Taste Like?
A piccolo coffee is a strong drink as you will get a big espresso hit followed by milk. Since it is a milk based drink, I recommend using an earthy coffee bean compared to a fruiter blend to avoid acidic tastes that conflict with the fat of the milk.
Where to Order a Piccolo Latte?
Where I'm from in Melbourne, Australia, piccolos are a standard and popular menu item. Any barista will know how to make it. You should seek out small coffee shops rather than big chains as the bigger ones tend not to make it.
Around the rest of the world it is not as common as it requires a small tumbler glass or espresso cup. If your café servers a proper short macchiato they should be able to make you a piccolo.
Can You Make a Piccolo at Home?
Yes you can! All you need is a good coffee machine and a small tumbler around 80ml in size, a demitasse glass, or espresso cup.
Latte vs Piccolo Latte - What's The Difference?
The main difference is the size. A café latte uses a full sized tumbler glass, while a piccolo uses a mini tumbler or a espresso cup. The size of the glass effects the taste of the drink. The larger latte will be more milky, while the piccolo has a punch to it.
Piccolo vs Short Macchiato Difference
A short macchiato is made in the same glass as the piccolo. The main difference is that a short mac only has a small dollop of milk and foam - a mere "stain". While the piccolo coffee has a good pour and microfoam. A short mac will taste almost like an espresso, whereas the piccolo latte is a very, very strong latte.
Piccolo Coffee vs Cortado
The main difference between these two beverages is that a piccolo is a single shot of espresso while a cortado is a double shot. Both are served in a small tumbler glass. This means that a cortado is even a bigger espresso punch and taste as it has double the hit of caffeine compared to a piccolo latte.
Where did the Piccolo Latte start?
The piccolo latte is another coffee type that started in the cafes of Australia. It is an evolution of the short macchiato. From experience it came to be as it can be hard to drink multiples of espresso shots before getting the caffeine jitters. The milk in the piccolo takes the edge off as it has a similar taste to a really strong latte.
The piccolo is one of my favourite coffee drinks, I recommend you try it the next chance you get!