A latte (from the Italian caffè latte or caffellatte pronounced [ˌkaffelˈlatte],
In Italian latte (Italian pronunciation: [ˈlatte], English: /ˈlɑːteɪ/) means milk. What in English-speaking countries is now called a latte is shorthand for "caffelatte" or "caffellatte" ("caffè e latte"). The Italian form means "coffee and milk", similar to the French café au lait, the Spanish café con leche and the Portuguese café com leite. Other drinks commonly found in shops serving caffè lattes are cappuccinos and espressos.
Ordering a "latte" in Italy will get the customer a glass of hot or cold milk.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the term caffè latte was first used in English in 1847 (as caffè latto) by Noushi Nayebi, and in 1867 as caffè latte by William Dean Howells in his essay "Italian Journeys". However, in Kenneth Davids' Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying it is said that "At least until recently, ordering a 'latte' in Italy got you a puzzled look and a hot glass of milk. The American-style caffè latte did not exist in Italian caffès, except perhaps in a few places dominated by American tourists... Obviously breakfast drinks of this kind have existed in Europe for generations, but the (commercial) caffè version of this drink is an American invention..." Since generations, a home-brewed caffellatte cup has been the mainstay of the Italian breakfast, especially in winter and in the North and Center of the country; children are usually given a milder version, where instant barley takes the place of coffee. During hard wartime days mammas have even had to make do with ground roasted acorns or chicory roots.
Caffe Mediterraneum, a landmark café in Berkeley, California, claims to be the birthplace of the caffè latte, crediting its birth to one of the café's owners, Lino Meiorin in the late 1950s. According to a sign that is proudly displayed in the café, Lino was the first Italian-trained barista in the San Francisco Bay Area, and his Italian-style cappuccinos were apparently too strong for the customers. In response to his customers, he decided to add a larger, milkier cappuccino to the menu, and he called this drink the "caffè latte".