How to make a perfect Piccolo Latte

Variations of our most cherished coffee beverages have existed for years. Even the humble macchiato is a variation, and an evolution, of the espresso. It was developed over time for people who find espresso too intense or others who wanted something slightly different.

Another coffee beverage that is an evolution-drink which has gained a lot of popularity over the past ten years in Australia, is the Piccolo Latte.

How the the Piccolo Latte came to be

Like many staple western foods, milk has gone through a bit of a love hate relationship over the past decade. This has resulted in a growing number of people wanting to reduce their milk intake and therefore were after a smaller milk based coffee rather than their regular flat white or latte.

The macchiato was just a bit too small for those moving on from their lattes, and doesn’t suit our culture of lingering over a coffee with friends. Enter the Piccolo, a perfect fit between a good milk-coffee experience, but not as rich as a full-sized latte.

The piccolo is really a scaled down version of the full sized latte and is meant to represent the same flavour and strength. I believe this is the trap people fall into when making a piccolo that causes confusion and customer dissatisfaction.

Let me explain.

It’s all about shot length

The length of the shot is crucial. The coffee component in a latte is less than one quarter of the entire beverage, a 25ml shot in a 220ml glass. That means if we draw our standard shot of 25ml into the 90ml piccolo glass, the flavour balance is all wrong, and this is where most mistakes are made when making this drink.

This is how we make it

  • Grab 90ml glass, preferably not a demitasse cup. It’s a piccolo latte not a piccolo cappuccino, so try and make it in a glass.
  • Start with our standard brewing recipe of grinding and dosing 23g into your double portafilter basket. This will make 2 piccolo’s perfect for you and your friend.
  • Place the glasses on a scale on your espresso machine. If you don’t have one we sell them here.
  • Extract the coffee into the glasses and stop the extraction at around 30g (15g in each glass).
  • If you can manage two tasks at once heat milk (65-70 degrees) in a small 300ml pitcher at the same time.
  • Then pour the milk evenly over both coffees and hey presto, its coffee time.

You can read about heating and texturing milk in our guide here.

I really enjoy making piccolos, and I love sharing them with a friend even more. And the best thing is that I don’t feel guilty about having a second or third cup.

Enjoy!

dom-with-piccolo3

Get the gear

In this article we mention weighing your coffee. We use a simple scale that you can get here. And you can get other brewing gear here as well.

Dom

10 comments

  1. Guys can you do a blog post on frothing milk….specifically why jug size is important? I’m working on latte art but understand that jug size has implications.

    Cheers

  2. Hi,
    In my last European trip I had a coffee in Italy that was like a Macchiato but with 1/4 amount of milk compare to the amount of coffee and then foam on top.
    Would you know what it is called because I can’t remember the name?

    1. Can you give me some more information Vijay? on how they made the drink? How full was the cup when it was served to you? Did it have art on it? Was it served in a glass? demitasse cup or cappuccino sized cup?

  3. Hey Dom, so if someone asked for a strong piccolo, would you make that with a normal sized espresso shot and then to up?

    1. Hey Brett.
      Thanks for asking.
      For a strong piccolo we put two shots in, however we restrict the shot at the Ristretto level, this way we get all the strength and richness but avoid our piccolo becoming thin and watery by having a full double shot in it.
      Hope that helps.
      Dom

    1. I am also continually amazed at the differrences in these drinks.

      Here is how i would make them:

      Piccolo (100ml glass) – 25ml single shot topped with milk
      Double Piccolo (100ml glass) 25ml double shot topped with milk
      Cortado (70ml demitasse) 25ml single shot topped with milk
      Double Cortado (small capuccino cup) 50ml double shot filled 3/4 full
      Cortadito (70ml demitasse) 15 ml ristretto shot half filled with milk
      Double Cortadito (70ml demitasse) 20ml double ristretto shot topped with milk

      Hope that points you in the right direction.

      These drinks have origins in spain and Scandi nations and are all interpretations on other drinks.

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