Breve: Overview, Steps to Make It, and How to Order It at Starbucks

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Breve is an espresso drink made with half & half instead of milk. See how to make it at home and how to order it anywhere, including Starbucks.

Cappuccino in a black mug.

What is a Breve?

  • Breve, short for “Caffè breve,” is an espresso drink made with steamed and foamed half & half instead of milk. Half & half is half milk and half cream.
  • The drink is richer and creamier than an espresso drink made with just milk since there’s a lot more milk fat in half & half. Whole milk has around 4% milk fat and half & half has 12% milk fat.
  • Because half-and-half can be very rich, some of the best drinks to order breve are small drinks, like cortados and macchiatos, which are made with less milk than a latte.
  • Breve is pronounced BREH-VAY.

RELATED: Crema, Lungo, Ristretto, Espresso, Blonde Espresso, Americano, Macchiato, Latte, Cortado

Breve at Starbucks

If you order a breve at Starbucks, you’ll just get a cup of steamed half & half. At Starbucks, breve refers to half & half, and not a drink that’s made with espresso with half & half.

To avoid any confusion, you can add the word “breve” to any drink with milk when ordering. A breve latte is a latte with half & half and a breve cappuccino would be a cappuccino with half & half. Or better yet, order your espresso drink and ask for steamed half & half instead of milk.

Cappuccino made wit half & half in a cup.

What You’ll Need to Make a Breve

  • Espresso machine or Nespresso
    Breve is an espresso drink, so you’ll need a machine that can make espresso.
  • Coffee
    A dark roast will work better with the richness from the half & half.
  • Filtered water
    Always use good quality water to make coffee.
  • Half & half
    Make sure you’re using half & half and not heavy cream.
My Nespresso Pick

Photo Credit: amazon.com

What separates this Nespresso from other models is the steam wand that can froth milk (or half & half) for espresso-based drinks.
SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

Step-by-Step Instructions

For full ingredients and instructions, scroll down to the recipe.

  1. Pull 2 shots of espresso.
    Breve drinks are usually on the smaller size since the half & half is so rich. Use a cup that can hold 6 ounces.
  2. Steam half & half.
  3. Pour half & half into espresso.
    Aim for half steamed half & half and half foam.

Expert Tips

  • If using an espresso machine, get whole coffee beans and grind them just before making the drink for best results.
  • Breves are best when it’s equal parts espresso, steamed half & half, and foam. If you use too much half & half, it’ll overpower the taste of espresso.
  • Even though the word “breve” is Italian for “short,” it’s an American variation on an Italian latte so it’s not a drink you’ll likely find outside the States.
  • Because half & half is so heavy and creamy, use a dark roast coffee that can stand up to the rich dairy.
  • Steamed half & half is naturally sweet, so taste your drink first before adding any sweetener. You may not need to add any sugar at all.

Questions You May Have

What is the difference between a latte and a breve? 

The difference is the milk. Breve usually refers to the type of milk used (which is half & half), and a latte is an espresso drink made with regular milk. To order a latte with half & half, order a breve latte.

Can you make a breve drink with a Nespresso? 

Yes! All you need is to replace the milk in your espresso drink with half & half.

Is a breve sweeter than a latte? 

Because breve drinks have a higher fat content, they’re perceived as sweeter and rounder in flavor.  

Is a breve hot or cold? 

It can be either. When most people talk about breve drinks, they’re usually talking about hot drinks, but you can order a breve iced latte which is an iced latte with cold half & half.

Related

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How to Make a Caffe Breve

Author: Jee Choe
Breve is an espresso drink made with half & half instead of milk. See how to make it at home.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 4 mins
Total Time 4 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving

INGREDIENTS
 

  • 2 shots espresso
  • 4 ounces half & half

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pull 2 shots of espresso.
    Breve drinks are usually on the smaller size since the half & half is so rich. Use a cup that can hold 6 ounces.
  • Steam half & half.
    Froth 4 ounces of milk, creating some foam. Put the steam wand into the pitcher with half & half just below the surface and turn on the steam. Move the pitcher down so that the steam is just touching the surface for 3 seconds and listen for a paper-tearing sound. Then move the pitcher back up and to the side so that the wand is below the surface and a vortex is created. Any big bubbles should get smaller. Once the half & half has doubled in volume and the pitcher is too hot to touch, turn off the steam wand.
    It's hard to steam milk with less than 4 ounces so you will need to throw out some of the half & half or use it for another drink.
  • Pour half & half into espresso.
    Aim for half steamed half & half and half foam.

NOTES

  • If using an espresso machine, get whole coffee beans and grind them just before making the drink for best results.
  • Breves are best when it’s equal parts espresso, steamed half & half, and foam. If you use too much half & half, it’ll overpower the taste of espresso.
  • Even though the word “breve” is Italian for “short,” it’s an American variation on an Italian latte so it’s not a drink you’ll likely find outside the States.
  • Because half & half is so heavy and creamy, use a dark roast coffee that can stand up to the rich dairy.
  • Steamed half & half is naturally sweet, so taste your drink first before adding any sweetener. You may not need to add any sugar at all.

NUTRITION

Calories: 153 | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 55mg | Potassium: 216mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 401IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 1mg
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