This ube latte features a creamy base of ube-flavored milk before getting topped with a shot of strong espresso!
How to Make an Ube Coffee
The bottom ube milk layer is a dump and stir situation. I like to use a whisk since the ube halaya (ube jam) can be stubborn and not want to mix into everything else, but a blender or even a jar and a lid could work too. Any milk or sweetener works here; I've used soy milk and sweetened condensed milk since I like the flavor and sweetened condensed milk doesn't clump up or sink like sugar or honey.
For the espresso, any dark roast coffee beans would work. I used the East Fourteenth blend from Red Bay Coffee in Oakland, CA, and I love how smooth and strong it is. If you're in the Bay Area, they make a seasonal candied yam latte that much tastier and more exciting than any PSL (;
Anyways, this ube latte is pretty sweet and creamy, so if you're not looking for something as milky and more coffee-y, I'd recommend decreasing the amount of ube milk and/or increasing the amount of espresso.
You could mix the ube milk and espresso together if you're not in the mood to be fussy or you don't care about cloudy grey drinks. That isn't me though, and I'm a sucker for layered drinks, no matter if they're tea-based or coffee-based. Here's a few tips to make sure that you get really clean layers:
- Make sure the espresso is warmer than the ube milk. I make the ube milk first and stick that in the fridge while I brew the espresso. When I'm assembling the drink, I pour the ube milk in first, then add the espresso on top (there's enough ice that the drink stays cold). The cold temperature of the ube milk, as well as the addition of ube halaya and condensed milk, make the milk denser than the espresso, so the espresso floats on top.
- Position a spoon with the bowl upside down, with the tip touching the inside edge of the cup, somewhere above the ube milk level. Pour the espresso slowly onto the spoon and let it dribble down into the rest of the drink. Using a spoon helps prevent you from pouring too fast and jostling the bottom layer.
Is ube a yam or a sweet potato?
An ube is a yam. Yams and sweet potatoes get confused all the time, but I think of them in relation to savory potatoes like brown russet potatoes and yukon gold potatoes. These ones are a lot more starchy, whereas yams are creamier (and there's no starchy white residue on your knife when you cut them).
Are ube and taro the same thing?
Nope! Taro is lot more starchy, and a lot less sweet than ube. The texture of ube is a lot more like an orange yam, and it's creamier compared to the texture of ube.
The appearance is different too, as taro is white with purple veins, while ube is deep purple throughout.
If you can only find taro and no ube, you can try out this taro latte!
What flavor is ube?
The flavor of fresh ube to me is that of a mild yam. It's not as sweet as the typical orange yam that you'd find at American grocery stores or stereotypically mashed and buried under a cloud of toasted marshmallows at Thanksgiving.
The flavor of ube extract is a lot less subtle (which you could say for other extract vs ingredient comparisons. Ever had an almond and compared it to the flavor of almond extract?).
It's very coconutty, rather than pure yam, and getting used to the flavor of ube extract over fresh ube led me to the assumption that you could substitute coconut for ube (not true!!).
What flavor goes well with ube?
Coconut, obviously, since ube extract manufacturers pair ube and coconut flavors together in ube extract.
Are you going to be surprised if I say coffee next? I had an ube horchata topped with espresso at FrankieLucy in LA earlier this year, and theirs was so delicious that it got me so hooked on the ube/coffee combo that I ended up making ube lattes at home.
I doubt adding ice cream to anything makes a recipe worse, so casually going to slide in an ube milkshake recipe.
Where to buy ube extract?
This is likely the hardest part of the whole recipe. I've only seen ube extract consistently at Filipino markets, so I wouldn't get my hopes up if you're only trying at other Asian grocery stores (Chinese stores are wildcards). It's usually near the baking supplies, or sometimes near the canned fruit or the ube halaya.
You can order ube extract online if you don't live near a Filipino market.
- 2 tablespoons ube halaya
- ⅛ teaspoon ube extract
- ¾ cup milk cold
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup espresso
Combine the ube halaya, extract, milk, salt and sweetened condensed milk until homogenous. If you want to make it a little frothy, you can use a whisk, blender, or even shake in a jar. Refrigerate the ube milk until ready to use.
Pull an espresso shot (I use a Moka pot for this).
Fill a tall glass half full with ice. Add the ube milk. Holding a spoon so that the lip is at a 45 degree angle pointing down against one of the walls of the cup but isn't touching the ube milk, pour the espresso slowly into the spoon so that it floats on top of the ube latte.
Take your pictures with the layered drink, then stir before enjoying.