Select Page

What Is a Breve Coffee?

If you’re a frequent café patron, no doubt you’ll be familiar with most of the coffee lingo, but do you know what a breve coffee is?

While it’s kind of like a cappuccino or similar to a latte, a breve should never be mistaken for either of those beverages — it most certainly has its own entity.

The exact method for making caffe breve may vary slightly from one barista to the next — one may use slightly different ratios or create a little extra foam. However, there is no substitution for its ingredients. Changing one means it’s no longer a breve.

So set aside that latte or cappuccino for the time being and try their richer, creamier breve coffee cousin. Some topics we’ll cover in this overview include:


  • The name.
  • What is it?
  • Is it a latte or cappuccino?
  • Who needs one?
  • How to order a breve coffee.

The Name

Breve coffee — pronunciation “breh-vay” — is only one name for this coffee drink. It’s also known as caffe breve, breve latte, or even plain old breve, depending on where you are.

The word “breve” can be loosely translated to mean short or brief, referencing the smaller amount of foam in this beverage. Breve coffee is predominantly considered an American drink that’s been modified from an Italian latte or cappuccino.

Breve Half and Half

What Is Breve Coffee? — Definition

So exactly what is a breve coffee drink?

In simple terms, it’s an espresso drink that, instead of using dairy milk, uses steamed half-and-half — half whole milk, half cream.

Half-and-half has a fat content anywhere from 10-18 percent, compared to about 3.5 percent fat content for whole milk. This high-fat content is what creates the rich, creamy texture of caffe breve. And, while half-and-half can be steamed or even frothed a bit, it can’t be whipped. This is why the layer of cream and foam isn’t as large as it may be with other coffee drinks.

There’s really not much to making a breve latte. First, you pour in one or two espresso shots, then the steamed half-and-half, and finally, the thin foam layer goes on top. It all fits nicely in a 5-6 ounce cup.

Is It a Latte or Cappuccino?

Despite a few similarities, caffe breve is different from a latte or cappuccino. It does resemble cappuccino in that it’s evenly layered, usually with a one-to-one ratio. A breve also has the same amount of caffeine as a cappuccino or latte, since all three use espresso shots.

However, there are far more calories and fat in breve coffee, compared to a latte or cappuccino. A breve latte is thicker, richer, and creamier than your traditional latte. However, a ‘regular’ latte uses whole milk, so it will have more foam than a breve latte. 

What’s more, with the half-and-half used in caffe breve, it’s sweeter than a latte, so you probably won’t need to add sugar.

Who Needs One?

You’re thinking this must be a trick question, right? 

While everyone needs a breve coffee drink, trust me, you definitely do. However, this is not your everyday, morning pick-me-up. A caffe breve is akin to a dessert or special treat.

It’s so rich and calorie-laden that it’s just not possible to consider breve coffee a light drink. This beverage is decadent and delicious, plus it’s meant to be savored.

In short, if you’re looking to reward yourself, or you’ve had it with counting calories, this drink is for you.

What is a Breve Coffee Drink

How to Order a Caffe Breve

While you can make this beverage at home, if you don’t have an espresso maker, you’re probably going to place an order at your local coffee house. And therein may lie the problem. Breve coffee goes by a variety of names, so make sure you specify what you’re ordering.

In some coffee shops, ordering a breve may only get you a cup of steamed half-and-half, without any espresso. To avoid that, specify that you want a breve latte or breve coffee. Because really, what fun is just half-and-half? You can even ask what is their version of breve before placing your order.


What is a breve latte? While it’s not exactly a latte, it certainly deserves its own form of recognition. Using rich and creamy half-and-half instead of milk, combined with espresso, breve coffee is delicious and decadent.

An Americanized version of the traditional Italian coffee drinks, this beverage is perhaps better suited for being a dessert, rather than a daily indulgence. It’s heavy on both calories and fat content, but what a perfect way to reward yourself with something extra.

If we’re using one word to answer, ‘What is a breve coffee?’ — we’d reply with ‘wonderful.’

What is Breve Coffee? FAQs

Which Is Stronger, a Latte or a Breve?

Neither a latte nor breve is stronger. Since they’re both made with a single or double shot of espresso, they both contain around the same amount of caffeine.

What Makes a Coffee a Breve?

Caffe breve coffee must be prepared with espresso and steamed half-and-half, rather than dairy milk. The word “breve” indicates that half-and-half is being used.

Is Breve Coffee Hot or Cold?

Caffe breve is a hot beverage. Half-and-half is steamed before being layered on top of an espresso. Cold half-and-half will not produce that same creamy layer or foam that’s noted with breve coffee.

Is a Breve Latte Bad for You?

A breve latte is very calorie-dense and has a high-fat content, so it’s definitely not the healthiest drink. However, everything in moderation means that it’s okay to occasionally indulge in such a rich beverage.

How Many Shots Are in a Breve?

A breve coffee is made with one or two shots of espresso, depending on your preference. A double shot of espresso is more common with this beverage, rather than just one shot.

Is Breve Half-and-Half?

Yes, it uses half-and-half, which is typically made from whole milk and heavy cream. Literally, half milk and half cream. However, you can find other forms made from reduced or fat-free milk and lighter cream.