You would think it should be as easy as “One Grande Café con Leche please”. Well, it’s not quite that straightforward. Starbucks does not list a Café con Leche on their menu.
But wait, not all hope is lost!
Let’s have a closer look at what you can order so you end up with a Café con Leche at Starbucks!
How do you prepare a Café Con Leche?
Café con Leche is a popular Spanish and Latin American beverage consisting of espresso and milk. It is typically served in a tall glass. The name translates to “coffee with milk.” While it is often confused with latte macchiato, Café con Leche contains equal parts of scalded milk and espresso.
The most common way to make Café con Leche is to prepare a shot (or better two) of espresso or strong coffee. Cuban Café con Leche uses Cuban espresso while the Spanish version sometimes is brewed with strong coffee instead of espresso. It’s not that hard to make Café con Leche at home.
Heat the milk in a saucepan until it’s just shy of boiling. You can also simply heat the milk in the microwave. Make sure it’s not boiling. Milk that’s heated up to just below the boiling point is scalded milk, which is used for a Café con Leche.
Add some sugar to the hot milk and then pour a bit of the coffee or espresso into it. Mix the milk and espresso until you end up with your favorite ratio. Traditionally, the milk and coffee should be equal amounts but that might end up being too strong for you. If you want it sweeter, you simply add more sugar.
Does Starbucks have Café con Leche on the Menu?
Café con Leche is not a beverage that you can find on the Starbucks menu. At least not in the US or Canada. You might have a chance to find this delicious espresso drink in South America or Starbucks in Spain.
There are a few espresso drinks that come close that you could consider though:
Espresso and Milk
A Café con Leche is espresso and milk. You can ask for (steamed) milk and two shots of espresso in a larger cup. You’ll be your own barista in the middle of a Starbucks!
This variation of Café con Leches uses steamed milk rather than regular milk. Ask for additional shots in order to get the coffee taste you like!
A cappuccino is similar to a latte macchiato, except it usually contains foam. A cappuccino is prepared by adding steamed milk to espresso. Then, a small amount of foamy milk is added to the espresso. Finally, sugar is stirred into the frothy milk.
So, overall, there are no Café con Leches on the Starbucks menu and you have to get creative to get one!
How to Order Café con Leche at Starbucks?
Café con Leche is one of those beverages that people either love or hate. In fact, it’s been around since the 19th century. But did you know that there are thousands of different ways to make it? There are even cafes that serve up a variety of different types of Café con Leches based on what region they’re serving in.
This variety makes it even harder to figure out how to order Café con Leche at Starbucks. It for sure doesn’t help that it’s not on the menu either.
So, what to do?
You won’t get a perfect Café con Leche at Starbucks. Period! The closest you can get is to order a Macchiato with steamed milk and no foam or a Flat White also with no foam. Add espresso shots to your liking so you get a strong coffee taste and not just steamed milk.
You will have to live with steamed milk that you can ask to get extra hot. Starbucks does not provide scalded milk and in that case, extra hot steamed milk with no foam will be the closest you can get.
Yet, even though you might not get a perfect traditionally brewed Café con Leche, you will be able to get a very delicious concoction of espresso and steamed milk that will taste the same!
Let’s have a look at the Differences Between Lattes And Café Con Leches
Café con Leche is rich and creamy like a latte, but it’s lighter and less sweet. In Colombia, Café con Leche is traditionally served hot, while in Argentina it’s often cold. Brazilians prefer theirs with milk, while Mexicans love theirs without or at least with significantly less.
A Café Latte usually has a ratio of one part espresso to three’ish parts steamed milk. The Café con Leche is mixed at a flat 1 to 1 espresso to milk ratio. It’s easy to see and understand that a Latte does taste a lot smoother while the Café con Leche has a strong coffee aroma. There are more similarities between a Cortado and a Café con Leche as they both use the same coffee to milk ratio.
What the Heck is Scalded Milk?
You hear ‘Scalded Milk’ and have no idea what that might be? Don’t fret, you’re in good company. Most people don’t know what it exactly is.
Technically, it’s pretty simple. Scalded milk is heated to just a bit below the temperature where it starts to boil. That doesn’t sound too hard, does it?
Again, that’s the theory and simple technical side. In reality, it’s not quite that easy. When you heat up your milk in a pan on your stovetop it’s like this constant question of whether the milk is hot enough. And then? Well, then it starts to boil and boils over and you end up with a big mess…
However, it really isn’t that hard either. Just start to heat a stainless steel pan with your milk over medium heat. Keep an eye on it and when you see the first little bubbles start to show up then remove the milk. It’s even easier when you have a thermometer to use. Keep the milk under 181 degrees F and you should get the perfect scalded milk!
If you don’t want to use a stovetop then you can also microwave the milk or use a steam wand from your Espresso machine. Just make sure that you’re not creating too much foam!
Final Thoughts on How you can Order Café con Leche at Starbucks
While you won’t be able to find a Café con Leche on the menu at Starbucks (or other specialty coffee shops for that matter), you can get reasonably close. In the end, Café con Leche is nothing much else than half coffee (or espresso) and half hot milk.
Therefore, it’s closely related to a Cortado which you also have a hard time getting at Starbucks! Yet, a short latte with an extra shot (or two) and no foam, an espresso macchiato with some hot milk, or a short flat white with an extra shot and no foam will get you close. Not perfect, but you’ll enjoy your delicious espresso beverage!