Is Café Bustelo Cuban Or Puerto Rican [The Definitive Answer]

What Is A Cafe Con Leche? [The Classic Spanish Coffee]

Last updated on May 22nd, 2024 at 14:13

A question that has been popping up in our coffee community is What is a cafe con leche? 

It’s a popular Spanish coffee drink that is enjoyed in slight variations across the Latino community.

Keep reading as we get into more details and talk about how easy it is to make one at home!

What Is A Cafe Con Leche?

Cafe con leche is a very common and popular coffee beverage that you will find in every coffee shop in Spain and Latin America. It’s a strong coffee with scalded milk in equal amounts. Usually it is UHT milk that is used and not fresh milk. Sugar or a natural or artificial sweetener is added as per personal preference and taste.

A cafe con leche can be oscurito, which is darker and made with less milk, or clarito, lighter and made with more milk. It’s typically served as a hot beverage but can also be served as a cafe con leche con hielo, which is an iced cafe con leche.

The coffee beverage has slight variations as you travel across Latin America, for example a Cuban café con leche is made with a significantly stronger coffee. It varies to suit local tastes.

What Is A Cafe Con Leche
A Cafe Con Leche

Read: Is café Bustelo Cuban or Puerto Rican

A café con leche at Starbucks is a hot strong coffee brewed with a shot of espresso using their Pike Place signature coffee and scalded whole fat dairy milk.

If you don’t see it on the menu at your local Starbucks, request a latte with coffee and scalded milk in equal amounts. Alternatively, you can order a latte and a shot of espresso and a shot of espresso and add the shot to your latte to create a double café con leche.

Cafe con leche has a similar taste to a latte but has a more prominent and dominant taste from the shot of espresso or strong coffee. It’s aromatic, rich and has a strong taste with a rich, creamy texture.

How Is A Cafe Con Leche Made?

Having worked in Spanish coffee shops for many years I have made this coffee drink more times than I care to remember – maybe even thousands of times!

It is made by combining equal amounts of espresso and scalded whole fat UHT milk. It is rare, very rare for fresh milk to be used.

The scalded milk is made by heating it to just below the boiling point. When the scalded milk is added to the shot of espresso, it produces a creamy, rich and naturally sweet coffee beverage.

When plant based milks and nut based milks are used, the Barista brand must be used as they will curdle under the scalding process.

While an espresso base is used in Spain, this is not always the case across Latin America as the moka pot is very commonly used as is the coffee sock method.

Elaborating A Cafe Con Leche
Making A Cafe Con Leche

Read: Puerto Rican cafe con leche

Making A Cafe Con Leche At Home

To make a top quality and authentic cafe con leche in the comfort of your home, an espresso machine is preferred but is not essential. A French press coffee maker and a moka pot can make the strong espresso like coffee that you need.

Brewed coffee is too weak and will not make that strong coffee that you need.

Simply brew a strong shot of espresso using Brazilian coffee, or single-origin coffees from Colombia, Ethiopia, Panama or Peru.

If you are making a moka pot coffee, a “secret” trick to getting better quality moka pot coffee is to preheat the water to 70C (158F) and then add it to the water chamber.

Once your coffee is brewed, pour it into a cup and heat your milk to almost the point of boiling, the scalding point. Pour an equal amount of your milk into your coffee.

Serve and enjoy.

Café Con Leche Pronunciation

The way to pronounce café con leche is ka·fe kon le·che. To listen and practice click play in the video below. 

Frequently Asked Questions About What Is A Cafe Con Leche

What Does Café Con Leche Consist Of?

A cafe con leche is made of well-brewed strong espresso shot and an equal amount of scalded whole UHT milk. Scaled milk is made by steaming the UHT whole milk to near boiling point with a steam wand.

Is Café Con Leche Just Coffee With Milk?

While the name translates to coffee with milk, there is more to making a cafe con leche than just adding milk to coffee. You need strong coffee, preferably a quality espresso shot and Ultra Heat Treated (UHT) full fat whole milk that is scalded in an equal amount.

How Much Coffee Is In A Café Con Leche?

A café con leche has a single ounce of espresso, 30 ml in metric.

Read: How to make cafe con leche

Is Café Con Leche Hot Or Cold?

A café con leche is a hot coffee drink and is usually served in this way, although it can also be served with ice to make a café con leche con hielo (iced coffee with milk).

No, while the espresso shot on its own is bitter, the lactose in the milk tones down the bitterness and smooths it out. It also has a rich mouth feel. It’s like a latte with a more dominant coffee taste.

Is Cafe Con Leche A Flat White?

No, while both these drinks look incredibly similar. The coffee shot use to make a flat white is a ristretto and not an espresso. 

A ristretto is similar to an espresso but is made with a coffee to water ratio of 1:1 while an espresso typically has a coffee to water ratio of 1:1.5. 

Also, a flat white is made using steamed milk while a cafe con leche is made using scalded milk. A flat while also has a fine 1 mm cap of microfoam. 

Final Thoughts – What Is A Cafe Con Leche?

No need to wonder and have that annoying question in your mind “what is a cafe con leche” as I have answered this question in detail. 

If I have missed something out, or if you have any questions, get in contact as I am happy to answer all your questions.

Join our active and informative online coffee community on Facebook/Meta and take part by sharing your cafe con leche creations. 

Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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