Cafe con leche isn’t a very common drink on American cafe menus. However, those who are a fan of this Latin drink like it because of the bold espresso taste with the combination of scalded milk. It is a traditional Spanish and Cuban style coffee. Follow along with us as we make the perfect cafe con leche at home, and teach you to do the same!
First, we have listed everything you will need to create a cafe con leche. Then, we have outlined the steps to create a perfect cup from your own kitchen!
This means grind your beans if you need to and then measure the grounds if necessary.
This can be done with a milk steamer by using a steam wand or a frother that heats the milk. The milk for this recipe doesn’t need any aeration. Aeration makes foam, which isn’t standard for a cafe con leche. If you don’t have a frother or steam wand, don’t worry, the milk just needs to be hot. You can also heat the milk up to the boiling point on the stove for 5-8 minutes or in the microwave for about 1 minute. Make sure not to boil the milk.
If you make espresso at home often you already know how to get it into your mug! In this case, make it like you normally would. If you aren’t familiar with the process, we have included a step by step outline for making espresso with a moka pot further in the post.
This doesn’t have to be done with any specific technique. To give you an idea of the amount of milk to use, the espresso should only be 1/3 of the drink and the milk should be the other 2/3.
While not everyone likes their coffee with something sweet, the cafe con leche is traditionally served in Cuba with sugar in it or on top. This isn’t so much the case in Spain however, so you are welcome to choose which variation you would like to enjoy. We will explain how to make the sugar slurry so you can add it if you wish.
Now you’re finished making an authentic cafe con leche at home, enjoy!
Now that we have given you the good stuff on how to make the entire drink, let’s focus on the first step of the process; making espresso. As mentioned above, you can create your espresso with any at-home espresso brewing method; espresso machine, Moka pot, etc. If you are familiar with the steps to create espresso at home, you can follow your normal routine and skip reading this step outline. If you are wanting to make this drink at home, and just bought a stovetop espresso maker you are probably new to making your own espresso. We have the steps outlined for you.
1. Start with your reservoirs for the stovetop espresso maker separated. Without measuring, fill the bottom reservoir with water.
2. Fill the middle reservoir with espresso grounds, fine grind. Don’t worry about measuring, just fill it to the top. No need to tamp your grounds for this method.
3. Place the grounds reservoir inside the water reservoir. Then screw the top portion back on. Now you should be ready to brew.
4. Put your stovetop espresso maker on the stove on medium heat. It will heat up until the water gets hot enough to go into the top chamber, and eventually fill it with coffee. Don’t let your water boil! It can give you a bitter espresso. You will know it’s done when you hear air leaking and the top of the pot is full. Sometimes steam comes out of the top of the moka pot. This process will take about 10 minutes
Congrats! Now you know all the secrets of a perfect cafe con leche. Go ahead and try it out, make one for yourself at home. This Cuban combination of strong espresso, scalded milk, and the occasional sugary espuma makes a great start to the morning, and now you can have one whenever you want.
NOTE: we also wrote a step-by-step guide on how to brew cafe bustelo. You can find the guide here.
Header image credit: Jeremy Keith, Flickr