What is a Breve? (and How to Order It at Starbucks)

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Wondering what a breve coffee drink is? See exactly why breve espresso-based drinks are so rich and creamy. Plus, get tips for ordering a Breve at Starbucks.
A breve from Starbucks.

What is a Breve?

A Breve is a hot coffee drink that combines bold espresso and steamed half-and-half. It has a light layer of half-and-half milk foam on top.

Most espresso drinks are made with whole milk or reduced fat milk, but a breve, also called a Caffè Breve, is something different.

The milk is replaced with richer half-and-half.

The high fat content in the half-and-half is what gives a breve its signature creaminess.

Made from equal parts whole milk and heavy cream, the amount of fat in half-and-half ranges from 10.5% to 18%.

For comparison, most espresso drinks, like lattes, macchiatos and cappuccinos, are made with reduced-fat milk (2% fat) or whole milk (3.25% fat).

Additionally, sweetener is not usually added to a breve since steaming the half-and-half brings out its natural sweetness.

You might be wondering about the name, Breve.

Breve translates to “short” in Italian.

Since the volume of aerated half-and-half is shorter than regular steamed milk, the name, “Breve” makes sense.

A breve latte showing the creamy foam on top.
Breve coffee is espresso with steamed half & half.

Breve vs Latte

Both a breve and a latte are espresso-based drinks with steamed dairy.

However, there is one key difference between these coffeehouse classics—the type of dairy milk.

Basically, a breve is akin to a typical American latte, except it’s made with half-and-half in place of whole or reduced fat milk.

The result is, breve coffee has a more velvety sip.

However, there is a trade-off for calorie-counters.

Half-and-half has more than double the calories of whole milk!

What does breve mean at Starbucks?

At most coffeeshops, Breve or Caffè Breve is the name of an espresso-based latte that’s made with half and half.

In Starbucks lingo, breve is what they call half & half. In other words, breve is a milk option at Starbucks and not an espresso drink that has half & half in it.

Take a look at the list of milk options on the Starbucks app to see what I mean.

Nestled in the list, between Almond and Coconut, is the option to pick “Breve (Half & Half).”

Do you remember when baristas used to handwrite drink orders on cups?

The proper cup marking code for half and half was a “B” in the milk box.

Now you know why!

List of Starbucks milk options on the app showing that breve is also what they call half and half.
The term breve refers to half & half at Starbucks.

How to Get a Breve Coffee at Starbucks

Starbucks baristas are not trained in coffee terminology, besides what’s on the menu.

And the list of espresso drinks offered at Starbucks does not specifically include a Breve.

Since there is no such thing as a Caffè Breve on the Starbucks menu, “breve” means one thing to most baristas—half & half.

One look at this Reddit thread about ordering a breve at Starbucks and getting a cup of steamed milk sans espresso, showcases the confusion.

One would hope a barista would ask for clarification if they think someone wants a grande cup of steamed half & half, but since they might not, it’s best to order like this:

At Starbucks, ask for a breve in conjunction with the name of a drink. Don’t just ask for a breve. For instance, order a breve latte or breve cappuccino.

How to Order from the Barista

To get a Breve at Starbucks ask for a “Breve Latte,” “Breve Caffè Latte” or a “Caffè Latte with half & half.”

The standard milk in Starbucks espresso drinks, except flat whites, is 2% reduced fat dairy milk.

So getting a Breve Latte at Starbucks is merely substituting one milk for another.

Keep in mind, there’s an upcharge for half & half, but you can get it for free if you have enough Starbucks Rewards Stars.

For a breve latte with more espresso and less dairy, order an 8-ounce short latte with 2-3 shots of espresso.

In addition to a Breve Caffè Latte, you can order any espresso drink breve at Starbucks, such as a Breve Cappuccino, Breve Espresso Macchiato or even a Breve Caramel Macchiato.

How to Order with the Starbucks App

To order a Breve Latte using the Starbucks app, all you have to do is make one modification to a Caffè Latte.

  1. Go to Hot Coffees.
  2. Pick Caffè Latte and select a one of Starbucks drink sizes: short, tall, grande or venti.
  3. In the Milk box switch 2% Milk to Breve (Half & Half).

Caffeine in a Starbucks Breve Latte

  • Short (8 fl. oz.): 75 milligrams
  • Tall (12 fl. oz.): 75 milligrams
  • Grande (16 fl. oz.) 150 milligrams
  • Venti (20 fl. oz.) 150 milligrams

A Breve at Starbucks has the same amount of caffeine as a regular Caffè Latte made with Starbucks signature espresso roast.

Notice, the caffeine content is the same in a short and tall, as well as a grande and venti.

This is because the two smaller size are made with a single shot of espresso, and a grande and venti each get a double shot.

Take a look at this: Caffeine in Starbucks Lattes (Every Size, Hot & Iced), for even more inside information.

For extra caffeine in your Starbucks drink, switch the roast to blonde which has 10 more milligrams per shot, or add-in more shots of espresso.

One word of caution, however, bold dark roast espresso stands up to all the cream in a breve coffee better than smooth blonde roast.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Caffeine in Starbucks Coffee