Are Lattes Sweet? Busting Some Myths

Many coffee lovers might attest that lattes are sweet, but is that true? While lattes may hint at sweetness, they’re not essentially sugary, as many believe. 

However, the coffee’s natural bitterness and acidity can be offset by adding milk, which may come with some sweetness, depending on the dairy product’s fat content. 

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of lattes and bust some myths surrounding its sweetness.

Latte Composition: Exploring Its Elements

To truly understand latte sweetness (or lack thereof), we need to explore a latte’s composition briefly. A latte is composed of a shot of espresso and steamed milk. 

The milk provides the drink’s sweetness and offsets the espresso’s strong taste. However, milk sweetness varies depending on the fat content, and most lattes usually have two or more shots, which means the espresso’s bitterness doubles or triples. 

The mix produces a well-balanced flavor but not necessarily the sweet taste most people associate with lattes.

Myth: Lattes are Always Sweet

Are Lattes Sweet

As mentioned, lattes are not always sweet, but it’s easy to see why this myth exists. Firstly, many coffee shops add sugar or syrup to lattes to make them sweet, making them a dessert-like drink. 

Furthermore, latte flavors like caramel, hazelnut, or vanilla carry a lot of sweetness, albeit artificially. However, depending on the milk used, a latte could be bitter, nutty, or even sour but still be termed a latte.

The Relationship between Fat Content and Sweetness

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Typically, lattes are made using whole milk, which contains higher fat levels than other milk types like almond, soy, or oat milk. 

The fat in whole milk makes the milk’s flavor richer, giving the drink a creamy texture. The extra fat content and the espresso’s bitterness can deliver a palatable drink, but the sweetness doesn’t readily come through. 

Therefore, if you’re looking for a sweet beverage, a latte may not be the best option, especially if you’re lactose-intolerant or vegan.

Alternative Milk Options in Lattes

If you’re looking for a healthier or vegan latte option, plenty of milk options are still available. Although they won’t have the same richness as whole milk, other varieties like soy, almond, and oat milk are popular alternatives. 

Almond milk, for instance, has a nutty flavor that complements the espresso’s bitterness, providing a more balanced but different-tasting latte. Soy and oat milk, on the other hand, have a creamy texture comparable to whole milk but don’t carry as much sweetness. 

If you prefer a sweeter drink, maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar can also add some sweetness to your latte.

Are Starbucks lattes sweet?

One of the most common questions about lattes is whether they are sweet, specifically those from Starbucks. The answer to this question is that it depends on the type of latte you order. 

Starbucks lattes are made with a combination of espresso and milk, and the sweetness level can be adjusted by adding flavored syrups or sweetened whipped cream. 

For example, a plain latte may not be sweet, but a vanilla or caramel latte is likely to have added sweetness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is latte sweet or bitter?

A latte is typically made with espresso with a slightly bitter taste. However, the addition of milk and flavorings can help to balance out the bitterness. You can always add flavored syrups or sugar to your drink if you prefer a sweeter latte.

Are iced lattes sweet?

Iced lattes are a popular choice during summer, and many people wonder if they are sweet. Iced lattes can be sweet or not, depending on your preferences. Like hot lattes, iced lattes are made with espresso and milk, and the sweetness level can be adjusted by adding flavored syrups or sweetened whipped cream.

Is vanilla latte sweet?

Vanilla lattes are one of the most popular lattes, and many people wonder if they are sweet. Vanilla lattes are typically sweet because they are made with vanilla-flavored syrup, which adds sweetness. However, adding more or less syrup can adjust the sweetness level.

How do I order a less sweet latte?

If you prefer a less sweet latte, you can always order it with fewer pumps of flavored syrup or no syrup. You can also ask for unsweetened whipped cream instead of sweetened whipped cream. Additionally, you can ask for nonfat or skim milk instead of whole milk, which contains natural sweetness.


Lattes aren’t necessarily sweet, and drinking one is different from drinking a coffee dessert. While many coffee shops flavor lattes to make them sweet, the espresso-based drink remains bitter-sweet. 

However, latte sweetness largely depends on the milk used, its fat content, and whether or not any sweeteners are added. 

Whether you prefer the extra sweetness in your lattes, swapping to alternative milk options could be worth exploring for a different taste experience.

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