What is a Cafe Breve?
A Breve is a creamy and thick Cappuccino with half-and-half cream. The half-and-half creates a creamy foam that holds well when mixed with espresso. It’s otherwise known as Breve Latte, Cafe Breve or Breve Coffee.
While most people will add sugar or sweeteners to their coffee, this modern American variation is decadent and might be sweet enough on its own.
Espresso Breve Recipe
The Espresso Breve is perfect to enjoy as a dessert after a delicious dinner with friends.
How to Make
Steam and froth half-and-half at 145-160 degrees Fahrenheit
Allow the half and half to set
Pull one 2 oz shot of espresso
Pour steamed half-and-half into a mug, holding back the foam
Pour half of the foam on top
Slowly pour the espresso into the mug
Top with more foam
For half-and-half to foam correctly ensure that that milk is cold. Steam and froth the half-and-half just as you would for a Cappuccino or Latte; however, the perfect foam for a Breve is temperature sensitive. Keep the temperature between 145-160 degrees Fahrenheit by using a Milk Thermometer, any higher than 160 while using half-and-half and you risk burning the milk.
After you have foamed your milk, allow it to set and tighten up the foam. Setting the foam will give your Breve it’s self-indulgent dessert quality.
While the milk sets, it’s time to pull your espresso with a delicious layer of Crema. A properly pulled espresso with Crema will add depth and creaminess to your Breve. Grind fresh espresso and tamp it with thirty pounds of pressure, let it breathe and tamp again with fifteen pounds of pressure. Clean the portafilter and filter basket to create a proper seal around the group head and give a smooth pour to your espresso.
The Best Coffee for Espresso Breve
As far as coffee selection, we recommend going with something on the milder side that will work symbiotically with the milk. A good Brazilian coffee, Guatemalan or Ethiopian will enhance the half-and-half while still imparting ample coffee flavor.
Pouring the drink together is the most crucial step. Start by holding back the foam and pour the steamed milk into a mug. Then pour half of the foam on top. The foamed half-and-half will be thick with air, and it will hold the espresso on the surface so you must pour it slowly and directly into the mug. Lay out the last bit of foam on top and sprinkle with chocolate shavings, cinnamon or top with a small strawberry.
Breve Coffee Pronunciation
As with a lot of foreign language words that are used in English and American settings, the cafe Breve is often butchered and mispronounced.
Please don’t ever try to order a “cafe breev”.
The correct way to pronounce Breve is “breh veh”. It’s a little softer sounding than “bray vay”, but you’d be forgiven for pronouncing it this way.
The origin of the word is either Italian or Spanish depending on whether you ask an Italian or Spanish speaker, but it’s pronounced essentially the same.
If you are looking for nondairy options to make a Breve, the most comparable for texture and density will be Cashew Milk or Full-fat Coconut Milk. You will get the same consistency and sweetness from frothing with these non-dairy options as you would if you used half-and-half.
If the breve is still not sweet enough for you or your guests, add your favorite flavored syrup directly to the espresso shot before pouring.
You can also use a strong-brewed coffee (using a higher ratio of coffee per cup) in lieu of espresso.