Café con leche isn’t a very common drink on American cafe menus, though it’s similar to a latte. Those who know this Spanish drink love the combination of bold espresso taste, creamy steamed milk, and distinctive foam topping. This light brown froth, made by whipping sugar and espresso, is called espuma.
Café con leche, which means “coffee with milk” in Spanish, is a traditional Spanish and Cuban style coffee. Follow along with us as we make the perfect café con leche at home, and teach you to do the same!
Crafting Café Con Leche at Home
First, we have listed everything you will need to create a café con leche. Then, we have outlined the steps to create a perfect cup from your own kitchen!
- Filtered water
- Finely-ground Cuban coffee (We used Café Bustelo)
- 10-12 ounces of milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)
- Moka pot or espresso machine
- Spoon and whisk
- A heating element for the milk; steamer, microwave, stovetop
- Creamer or small bowl
1. Prepare the espresso.
We’re using a Moka pot, but if you’re using a different method, prepare your espresso as usual.
Fill the bottom compartment with water and add coffee grounds to the filter basket. Screw the top compartment on and place the Moka pot on the stove. Use medium heat to avoid scorching your coffee.
2. Heat the milk.
Heat the milk using a milk steamer, stovetop, or microwave. You don’t need to froth the milk; it just needs to be hot. Make sure not to boil the milk.
3. Add the espresso and milk to your coffee cup.
Pull or pour your espresso shots into your coffee mug. Add the hot milk and stir well. You’ll want a ratio of about 2/3 milk and 1/3 espresso.
4. Make the espuma.
This step is optional, but it’s a fun addition! This sugary foam, called espuma, is traditional in Cuban café con leche but is less common in other countries.
Pour 2 tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl or creamer. Add an equal amount of espresso and whisk vigorously. You want the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to form a light brown froth. Pour this mixture on top of your café con leche and enjoy your tasty treat!
Tips for a Delicious Café Con Leche
- Use a dark roast to give a very strong flavor to your espresso. Remember, Latin Americans like their coffee strong. The stronger the espresso, the more authentic it probably is for your café con leche.
- Whole milk is traditional, but you can use any kind you like.
- Making espuma is the most authentic way to enjoy a café con leche, but you can also just stir in a little sugar.
Congrats! Now you know all the secrets of a perfect café con leche. Go ahead and make one for yourself at home. This Cuban combination of strong espresso, hot milk, and sweet, frothy espuma makes a great start to the morning, and now you can have one whenever you want.