What is Café con Leche? Is it just a Fancy Caffe Latte?

Café con Leche is a hot, creamy, frothy caffeinated beverage that hails from Spain. It’s made with a mixture of equal parts strong coffee – typically espresso – and scalded milk. The coffee and milk are blended together with sugar or any other type of sweeteners, such as coconut sugar, stevia, monk fruit, or even honey or molasses.

What is Cafe con Leche?

Though it originated in Spain, today, Café con Leche has been adopted around the world. It is beloved by all types of Spanish-speaking communities, as well as those who are just looking to enjoy a taste-tantalizing pick-me-up that’s a bit more exciting than a standard cup of coffee.

The Spanish words “Café con Leche” means “coffee with milk” when translated to English.

How is Café Con Leche Made? 

Pouring scalded milk to make Cafe con Leche

As mentioned, café con Leche is made by combining equal parts of strong coffee (espresso) and whole milk. Traditional preparations are used to make the espresso that is used in the beverage; however, rather than being steamed (as is the case with other types of latte-style drinks), the milk used in café con Leche is scalded.

To scald the milk, it is heated until it almost reaches the boiling point, using a steam wand. When mixed with espresso, the scalded milk creates a frothy, rich, creamy beverage that has a sweet flavor.

However, unlike steamed milk, scalded milk does not create a foam layer on top of the espresso. While plant-based kinds of milk can also be used to create café con Leche, it should be noted that they might have a different reaction to scalding than dairy milk and that different reactions could impact the taste and consistency of the beverage.

Can You make Café Con Leche with Instant Coffee? 

If you’ve had café con Leche before or you’re interested in trying it, you might be thinking about making it on your own. One of the main ingredients in this beverage is espresso. To make the drink faster, it might be tempting to try making the beverage using instant coffee. However, if you want your beverage to be as authentic and tasty as possible, then you’re going to want to stick to brewing coffee from beans.

You have to use strong, dark coffee grounds, such as French Roast, for an authentic flavor. While you could use canned coffee grounds for the best results possible, it’s recommended that you make your grounds just before brewing your coffee.

How to Make Café con Leche with Nespresso or Keurig

While using freshly ground coffee beans is recommended, if you want faster results, you can make your Café con Leche using coffee that has been brewed using a Keurig or Nespresso machine.

To do so, choose a high-quality coffee or espresso pod or capsule. For example, if you’re going to be using a Keurig, Café Bustelo K-cups are an excellent choice.

Begin the process of making your café con Leche by heating one cup of whole, preferably dairy milk, in a saucepan on a stovetop. Set the burner to high and occasionally stir, bringing it to just the brink of boiling (as soon as you see big bubbles forming in the milk, remove it from the heat).

While the milk is heating, pour sweetener into a mug. Brew your coffee or espresso in your Keurig or Nespresso machine into the sweetener-filled mug. Once the coffee or espresso is made, mix the sweetener until it is fully dissolved. Pour the scalded milk over the brewed, sweetened coffee or espresso.

If you’d like to add a little foam to the beverage, you can use a frothing wand to froth the top of the Café con Leche.

Delicious Cafe con Leche

Can Condensed Milk be Used for Café con Leche? 

If you prefer, you could use condensed milk instead of whole milk to make your café con Leche. If you’re going to use condensed milk, make sure that it is sweetened so that you don’t have to dissolve sugar or any other sweetener into the beverage; instead, the condensed milk will sweeten it for you.

Is Café con Leche the Same as a Latte? 

This beverage is similar to other types of drinks that are made with espresso, such as lattes, in that they’re frothy and pack a powerful boost of energy, with more than 6.8 ounces (or 200 milligrams) of caffeine per serving. Given the “go, go, go” lifestyle that so many people live today, it’s easy to see why these beverages are so popular.

But what is it that makes café con Leche different from other types of espresso, latte-like drinks? The difference lies in the ratio of milk to espresso. Café con Leche contains more espresso or strong coffee than different types of latte drinks. Whereas most latte beverages contain an espresso-to-milk proportion of 1:3, café con Leche has equal parts of both.

Because café con Leche contains more espresso, it also has more caffeine. While this beverage can be found worldwide, it still tends to be more prevalent in Spanish cultures, including Hispanic and Latin American communities. In contrast, lattes tend to be more commonplace in the United States and Europe.

What’s the Difference Between Cuban and Spanish Café con Leche? 

As discussed, café con Leche originated in Spain. It is a popular caffeinated beverage among Spanish cultures worldwide.

The Cuban culture has also adopted its version of café con Leche. Are the Spanish and Cuban varieties the same? While both are made using the same ingredients, generally speaking, the Cuban rendition of Café con Leche contains more milk than coffee. In contrast, the Spanish variety is made using equal parts of coffee and scalded milk.

Generally speaking, Spanish café con Leche has a richer, more robust flavor, while Cuban café con Leche offers a lighter flavor, as it features more milk than coffee.

Summing It Up

If you’re looking for a new, tasty, and energy-packing caffeinated beverage, consider giving café con Leche a try! By following the simple instructions above, you can whip up your energizing taste sensation at home.

What is Cafe con Leche?
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