What Is Breve Coffee? (All You Need To Know)

The best way to visualize what “caffè breve” or breve coffee – is to imagine an Americanized variation on the classic Italian café latte. However, this drink is nothing like your average latte, as it is made with steamed half-and-half milk to increase the foam volume.

Now that this beverage is gaining increasing popularity all over Europe, we have enlisted some of its main characteristics. We recommend you to try a cup of this beverage, as it is a very delicious treat.

What Is Breve Coffee

Coffee breve is an espresso-based hot drink. It is an American variation on the Italian cappuccino, although it is made with half-and-half instead of milk. This is a rich mix of whole milk and cream. This dairy-based product froths particularly nice, giving the drink an incredible and fluffy consistency.

Breve coffee is usually not sweetened since half-and-half is already rich in sugar. However, you can add flavored syrups or sugar-free sweeteners to your brew to make it look and taste more like a dessert than a coffee.

The Composition of Breve Coffee

Coffee breve consists of 1 shot of espresso and equal parts of steamed and frothed half-and-half. It is usually served in a standard 5 oz. (150 ml) cappuccino cup, although some coffee shops serve it in a 6 oz. (180 ml) mug.

What does “breve” mean?

“Breve” is an Italian word that means “short”. When you are ordering this drink, you should pronounce it as “bréve”, with a final “e”.

When associated with any classic espresso-based drink, the word “breve” means that the milk component is replaced half-and-half. However, it might also refer to the fact that this drink is made using espresso, which is a short shot of coffee.

Breve Coffee vs. Latte

Breve coffee and lattes may look like two similar beverages, but they have different flavors and textures. Although both drinks are made with espresso and steamed dairy products, you will need different ingredients to prepare these delicious beverages.

Lattes are made with 1 or 2 shots of espresso and steamed milk, topped with thin and bubbly milk foam. Although dairy-free alternatives are always available, a latte is usually made with whole milk.

On the other hand, baristas use steamed half-and-half rather than milk to top the espresso when brewing breve coffee. Half-and-half needs to be frothed for a longer time than standard milk. This creates a richer and creamier texture, and the milk foam on the top of the drink is thicker. 

Origins of Breve Coffee

There are different theories about how breve coffee was born. All we know is that this drink originated in the United States as an Americanized version of the classic Italian latte.

Lately, this beverage has become a widespread phenomenon, and several big chains in the coffee industry have added it to their menu. Nevertheless, there are still a few countries where breve coffee is not that popular. For example, in Italy, you will rarely find it in any coffee shops. Luckily, if you are very fond of this espresso-based beverage, you can easily make your own at home.

Ordering Breve Coffee at Starbucks

Coffee breve is now a widespread phenomenon, meaning that you should be able to order it at your local coffee shops, including Starbucks. However, if you are in a European country where this drink is still not available, you can ask the arista to make one appositely for you. All you need is to ask for a standard latte with half-and-half rather than milk. 

For a bolder and fuller flavor, we recommend adding a pinch of cinnamon powder on top of your fluffy milk foam. 

How to Make Breve Coffee

Brewing a breve coffee at home is quick and easy, and you don’t need any particular tool to impress your friends and family with your barista skills. All you need is good quality coffee and your favorite half-and-half milk. The brewing process is as follows:

  • Steam and froth the half-and-half milk just as you would for cappuccino or latte. Don’t forget that half-and-half is temperature-sensitive, and it needs to be frothed for longer than standard milk, so it has time to develop a rich foam.
  • Brew your favorite espresso. You will need one single shot (2 oz.). You can use a double shot of espresso if you wish to make a stronger drink. Meanwhile, the foam will set and tighten up.
  • Pour the hot milk into your espresso cup, making sure to hold back the foam. 
  • Gently spoon the foam over the top of your espresso.
  • You shouldn’t need to add any sweetener as the milk will immediately make the coffee less bitter. However, you are more than welcomed to experiment with any flavored syrup or keto-friendly sugar alternative. You can also garnish your delicious cuppa with some cinnamon, nutmeg or cocoa sprinkles.

What Are the Best Coffee Beans to Make Breve Coffee?

When it comes to coffee selection, we are sure you already know how to find the best beans to give your drink the full-body it deserves. 

If you want to make breve coffee at home, we recommend using either Brazilian, Guatemalan, or Ethiopian coffee beans. Their rich and balanced flavor will enhance the sweetness of the half-and-half, giving your coffee an ample and variegated aftertaste.

When pouring the drink together, you should make sure to hold back the foam and stir only the milk into the mug. The milk should sit above your coffee gradually. The last thing you want is to jeopardize the taste of the espresso. 

The secret for a balanced flavor is to use only the fluffiest and thickest foam. This will hold the espresso on the surface of your mug, creating different layers within your beverage. When stirring the drink with a spoon, try to be delicate.

Ideally, you shouldn’t add any sugar, as it won’t reach the espresso at the bottom of your cup easily. If you still want to spice your breve coffee up, you can add some powdered cinnamon or nutmeg on top.

How many calories does Breve Coffee contain?

Several cafés and restaurants serve breve coffee as a dessert beverage. Because of its creamy and rich texture, this drink is sweet enough to be consumed without additional sweeteners. However, this also means that this coffee has significantly more fat and cholesterol than any other espresso-based drink.

Iced breve coffee usually has fewer calories since the cup is filled with ice cubes, and the drink is diluted. Some coffee shops offer fat-free variations of this beverage. However, these drinks most likely contain corn syrup, which makes them full of sugar. In other words, if you are looking for a healthier alternative to your breve coffee, we recommend going for a smaller serving size.

Is Breve Coffee Good for You?

Half-and-half milk contains a high percentage of carbs and protein, which are rich in calories. Generally, an average serving of breve coffee (8 oz. or 240 ml) contains around 320 calories. It is for this reason that having a cup of coffee breve every morning isn’t one of the healthiest options for you. Because of its ingredients, this beverage can significantly affect the levels of cholesterol in your body.

Is Breve Coffee Keto-Friendly?

The main ingredient of coffee breve is half-and-half, topped by a fluffy milk foam. As the name suggests, half-and-half is made by half milk and half cream. This dairy-based product contains a lot of nutrients, such as selenium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B2, B5, and B12. All of them are essential for our overall health, although half-and-half is also rich in fat and cholesterol. 

In other words, half-and-half contains milk, but it also belongs to the realm of high-fat products, which are usually part of the keto diet. If you are following a ketogenic-friendly alimentary regimen, you might be wondering if you are allowed to enjoy a sip of breve coffee now and then. 

Unfortunately, the short answer is no. Although half-and-half contains fat, it is also packed with sugar and carbs, which will not make any good for your diet. Of course, you can still add a small amount of this product to your coffee (1-2 tbsp of half-and-half only have about 0.6 grams of carbs), but dieticians and experts recommend opting for other keto-friendly alternatives. This includes butter, ghee, plant-based milk, or heavy whipping cream.


Breve coffee, or coffee breve, has now become a must for many coffee lovers with a sweet tooth. This drink can be ordered at many local shops, including Starbucks, or even prepared at home. 

What makes it different from your average cuppa is the use of half-and-half milk, which is fatter and sweeter than any other dairy and not dairy beverages.

If you are looking for a sweet treat in the morning or an interesting variation to your usual coffee break, breve coffee can easily become your go-to drink. Just don’t forget to keep an eye on those sugar levels!