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
- 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
- Add garnish
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.
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.
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.