Café con Leche is a frothy, warm caffeinated beverage. It hails from Spain, and if translated into English, the words mean “coffee with milk.” While it is similar to other lattes in that it contains espresso or very strong coffee, it differs, as the milk is scalded, whereas, with latte beverages, the milk is frothed. Best of all, you can make Café con Leche at home whenever you desire!
Another difference between a traditional latte and Café con Leche is that this Spanish beverage is made using equal parts espresso and milk. Most other frothed coffee beverages are made using a 1:3 ratio of espresso-to-milk (in other words, they contain more milk than espresso).
Café con Leche is consumed around the globe. Yet, it tends to be more prevalent in Spanish cultures, including communities in Spain (of course) and Latin American communities. While it can be found in some American cafes – particularly in those that are located in Spanish communities – it isn’t as popular in the United States.
Have you ever tasted Café con Leche before (perhaps while you were traveling abroad or while you were visiting with Spanish friends)? There’s no doubt that you were delighted by the bold, tasty combination of the bold espresso flavor and the creamy, sweetened milk.
If you’d like to recreate the beverage or if you’ve never tried it before and you’re wondering what the hype is all about, you may be wondering if you can make café con Leche at home. Fortunately, you can!
Below, you’ll find everything you need to make café con Leche at home, including the supplies, the ingredients, how to make it, and how to serve it. Get ready to enjoy a delightfully energizing espresso-latte-style taste sensation known as café con Leche!
What do You Need to Make Café con Leche?
To make a Café con Leche at home, the first thing you’ll need to do is gather your supplies. That includes the equipment and the ingredients, which are as follows:
To make Café con Leche at home, you need the following equipment:
- An espresso maker or a Moka pot (a stovetop electric coffee maker)
- A coffee bean grinder
- A stove or another heating element, such as an electric hot plate, or even a microwave (which will be used to heat the milk)
- A spoon
- A whish (optional)
- A pot or a small bowl (to heat the milk)
- A mug (of course!)
While you could use a one-cup coffee maker, such as a Keurig or a Nespresso machine, if you want to make the best tasting, most flavorful café con Leche, using a coffee maker or an espresso maker is highly recommended.
For the ingredients, you’ll need to gather the following:
- Water. Use water that tastes the best to you. If you like the taste of the water that comes out of your kitchen or bathroom faucet, go ahead and use it! If you find that the water that comes out of the tap in your house has a mineral-like flavor, or if the water doesn’t taste good on its own, it isn’t going to taste good in your Café con Leche. You could also use purified water from a pitcher or a filter on the refrigerator or bottled water.
- Coffee. It is highly recommended that you use fresh ground coffee beans. The stronger the coffee, the better; French roast would be an excellent option, as it has a nice, robust flavor and makes a solid cup of strong, dark coffee. You could use ground coffee in a can. However, if you want to ensure that your café con Leche comes out as tasty as possible, grinding the beans yourself right before you brew your coffee is your best bet. The reason? – Typically, the grind of canned coffee is usually too coarse to yield good results. Plus, the roast and the overall quality of the beans usually aren’t the best.
- 10 to 12 ounces of milk. For the best results, use whole dairy milk. While you could use 2%, 1%, or skim milk, it won’t yield the same rich results. Additionally, you could use plant-based milk, such as cashew or almond; however, these types of milk may not produce the best effects, as they break down differently when heated than dairy milk.
- Sweetener of choice. You could use pure cane sugar, stevia, molasses, or any other type of sugar that you prefer.
What Type of Milk is Used in Café con Leche?
Traditionally, café con Leche is made with whole dairy milk. Therefore, if you want the most authentic tasting drink possible, you should stick to this type of milk.
As discussed, you could substitute for other types of milk, such as 2%, 1%, fat-free, or even plant-based milk (cashew, almond, etc.). Note that these types of milk may alter your café con Leche’s taste and texture, as they react differently when they are scalded compared to whole dairy milk.
You could also substitute and use sweetened condensed milk, but again, doing so does not guarantee that your café con Leche will have an authentic taste or texture.
How do You make Café con Leche at Home?
Once you have all of your supplies and ingredients assembled, you can start making your café con Leche at home.
- Brew the coffee. Start by making your coffee as per the type of coffee maker that you are using. If, for example, you are using an espresso maker, fill the bottom part of the pot with water just below the valve. Set the filter into the pot and scoop one tablespoon of espresso into it. Attach the top part of the espresso maker onto the bottom half, then set the pot onto your stove’s burner or a hot plate. If you’re using a traditional coffee maker, brew your coffee the way you usually would. You could also use a one-cup coffee maker, such as a Keurig or Nespresso maker.
- Heat your milk. While the coffee is brewing, heat the milk. Pour the milk into a pan and place it onto the stovetop or a hot plate. Set the burner to mid-high or high. Let it heat up until it almost reaches a boil. Stir a few times and as soon as you start seeing a few large bubbles, turn the heat down. Alternatively, you could heat the milk in a microwave. Pour the amount that you intend on using in your coffee (remember, café con Leche is made using equal parts coffee and milk) into a microwave-safe dish and heat it until it almost reaches a boil (the amount of time depends on the amount of milk you will be using, as well as the microwave you will be heating it up in).
- Add sugar to your mug. While your coffee is brewing and your milk is heating, pour the sweetener into your mug. If you’re going to be using a one-cup coffee maker, add the sugar before brewing your coffee.
- Mix. Once the milk and coffee are ready, pour the heated milk into the coffee.
How is Spanish Café con Leche Served?
Spanish café con Leche is served hot. Traditional Spanish café con Leche is served simply by mixing the coffee and scalded milk together. If you prefer, however, you can try the Cuban-style version. It involves the addition of espuma, a sugary foam.
To make the espuma, add sugar into a bowl or creamer, then add an equal part of espresso and whisk using a vigorous motion until the sugar is completely dissolved and you have a light brown froth. Pour the frothy sweetened mixture onto the top of your café con Leche and enjoy!
By following the simple instructions above, you can enjoy a delicious cup of Café con Leche whenever you’d like.