What is Breve? Everything You Need to Know

What is Breve? Everything You Need to Know

Are you coffee lovers always on the hunt for new and intriguing flavors? If so, you might have heard of the unique and delicious drink called breve. What is breve? Is it simply half-and-half, or is there more to it than meets the eye?

A breve (pronounced breh-vey) is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed half-and-half — that’s a light cream. It looks like a small latte, but the cream is used instead of milk.

A typical breve has 60ml of espresso and 60ml of half-and-half. At coffee shops, especially Starbucks, you can use “breve” to customize any order — just swap out the milk for half-and-half.

What is breve?


Half-and-half is a mix of half milk and half cream. In other places, it might mean something different, but in the United States, where you can usually order a breve, it’s milk and cream together.

Where did it come from?

It’s not clear when people started calling espresso with half-and-half a “breve,” but the cream has been going in coffee for a long time. The first known use of cream in coffee was in 1924, and for half-and-half, it was in 1963.

The term “breve” directly referring to coffee with steamed half-and-half was first mentioned in a 1990 article about Tony’s Coffee House in Bellingham, Washington.

It’s likely that “breve” was adopted in the late ’80s to market Italian-style coffee to Americans. Around the same time, other Italian words like venti and grande became popular, especially at Starbucks.

Why “breve”?

“Breve” means short or brief in Italian, which makes sense since cream is too rich to drink a lot of. But it’s funny that you can now order a Venti breve cappuccino at Starbucks — that’s 20oz of cream with a shot of espresso. Yikes!

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