How to Make a Breve at Home

What is a breve?

A breve coffee is an espresso-based beverage topped with steamed half-and-half instead of regular whole milk.

If you’re into a creamy coffee with an extra bit of sweetness then a breve is perfect for you. Today, we’ll explore its origins, how to make a breve and how it compares to other coffee drinks.

What does breve mean?

Breve is the Italian word for short or brief and it describes that this coffee is smaller in size than others such as a latte or a cappuccino. Although the name is Italian, breve coffee was invented in the U.S. as a creamier and sweeter alternative to a latte without adding any sugars.

A breve (pronounced ‘breh-vay’) is also known as a breve latte, breve coffee, or caffè breve and. Despite being a big hit with coffee drinkers in the U.S. It’s not as popular in other parts of the world yet.

How is a breve made?

Caffè breve is an espresso-based coffee drink, so to make it at home you’ll need an espresso machine.

Once you have an espresso machine, you’ll only need half-and-half milk for the topping.

Half-and-half is a blend of whole milk with light cream. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, you can make it using equal parts whole milk to light cream.

The best recipe for a homemade caffè breve

Learn how to make a breve espresso drink at home.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Drinks
Calories 550 kcal


  • Espresso machine
  • Burr grinder
  • Tamper
  • Steam wand
  • Coffee mug


  • 20 grams espresso


  • Step 1: Grind your coffee beans fresh, using a fine grind setting.
  • Step 2: Measure 1 oz (30 ml) of coffee and use a distributor to even the coffee grounds in the portafilter.
  • Step 3: Tamp the coffee grounds and place the portafilter on the group head of your espresso machine.
  • Step 4: Place a preheated glass or cup of your choice under the portafilter and extract the single shot.
  • Step 5: Add half and half in your pitcher and steam until the pitcher is hot to the touch. Alternatively, you could use a milk thermometer, keep the temperature between 145-160° degrees Fahrenheit (62 - 71° degrees Celsius) otherwise you might burn the milk.
  • Step 6: Pour the steamed half and half on top of your espresso and enjoy your cafe breve!

Pro tips

  • If your espresso machine does not have a steam option and operates with pods, you can use an electric milk frother.
  • If you are using a steam wand make sure to immerse only the tip of the steam wand in the milk at the beginning to allow air bubbles to create the perfect milk foam.
Keyword breve, espresso

How does cafe breve compare to other drinks?

It’s common to confuse a breve coffee with other coffee drinks such as latte and flat white because they look very similar. The most important difference is the replacement of whole milk with half-and-half.

Breve vs. Latte

The cafe latte is another drink made popular in the U.S., specifically at Seattle’s Starbucks. Much like the breve latte, a cafe latte usually contains a single shot of espresso. The main difference between the cafe latte and the breve coffee is that cafe lattes are topped with steamed whole milk, not half-and-half.

This makes the breve richer in texture with a creamier mouthfeel than a latte. What’s more, the light cream part of the half-and-half makes the breve coffee taste a bit sweeter than the latte.

What’s the difference between a flat white and a breve latte?

A flat white and breve latte are very different in texture, caffeine quantity, and flavor.

The flat white has origins in Australia and New Zealand and quickly became popular in many parts of the world. It usually has a double shot of espresso resulting in a drink that has much more caffeine than the breve latte.

Aside from a more concentrated coffee content, the flat white uses steamed whole milk and is topped by a very thin layer of foam, thus the name “flat”. The breve on the other hand has more foam. This difference makes the flat white a much lighter drink as far as texture and mouthfeel go.

Regarding flavor, the breve is sweeter and the flat white has a stronger coffee flavor because of the double espresso shot.

How much half-and-half is in a breve?

Usually, the breve is the same size as a flat white (6 – 8 oz or 175 – 235 ml) and contains 4 oz (120 ml) of half and half.

Many coffee shops like to experiment with the sizes of their drinks so you might also encounter breves that are the same size as a latte or a cappuccino, which means they could also have more half-and-half than the standard breve.

What is considered a breve at Starbucks?

You might not find the word breve on a Starbucks coffee drinks menu but you can order a breve version of your coffee drink there. In Starbucks, a breve is considered any coffee beverage that substitutes whole milk with half-and-half.

All you need to ask is for your favorite drink made with half-and-half. Or say the name of your preferred Starbucks coffee and add the word breve at the end. You might even notice a “B” written on your cup, which stands for … you guessed it, breve!

Breve FAQs

So, now that you know all about the breve, its origins and how to make it at home. Let’s dig a little deeper to make sure you get the most out of it. Here are the most common FAQs regarding the breve.

Can I make a good breve with non-dairy creamer?

You certainly can! Many people use non-dairy products for their coffee due to lifestyle or diet choices. Lucky for you, many non-dairy creamers will ensure you get the thick creamy mouthfeel a breve is known for.

Califia Farms Unsweetened Better Half Coffee Creamer: Coconut Cream and Almond Milk is a half-and-half dairy-free creamer made with coconut cream and almond milk. That blend gives you the sweet taste and thick rich texture of a classic breve.

What’s the best roast for making a breve?

Generally, dark roast leaves an intense coffee aftertaste in your mouth, medium roast enhances the coffee beans’ characteristics and light roast will make the coffee taste weaker.

The roast profile is chosen by baristas to compliment the coffee bean and the brewing method. Since the breve is an espresso-based drink, look for beans that are recommended for espresso beverages. It’s best if you buy the coffee beans from your favorite coffee shop or local roasters so the baristas can help you choose.

Remember that the breve is a milk-based coffee drink, so if you end up with a very light roast, the half-and-half might overpower the flavor of the espresso. Feel free to experiment with a few roast profiles to find out which one tastes best.

Can I add syrups to it?

You can add any syrup in your breve that you think compliments it bestlistsar in mind that the breve is already a naturally sweeter coffee drink because of the cream in the half-and-half, so It’s best to add syrups or other sweeteners in moderation.

What else can I top my breve with?

Away to make your breve extra special is to change it up with the toppings! Instead of just using half-and-half try adding chocolate shavings or some cacao powder on top, as they give your breve a delicious cacao aroma and hints of chocolate flavor.

What is the breve coffee served in?

Coffee shops serve the breve in regular 6-8 oz cups.

However, when you’re making it at home you can experiment by serving it in a preheated and clear glass to get the visual experience of the coffee and half-and-half combination.

Takeaways on making a breve

There you have it! Now you know all about breves and how to make them at home. This brew is perfect for anyone who enjoys a coffee drink with a rich, creamy mouthfeel and sweet notes.

Adding a breve to your home coffee menu will certainly impress any coffee lover, so don’t hesitate to come back to this article while learning how to perfect it, and remember to enjoy the process!