A café au lait is a type of coffee-milk mix which is generally found in the European homes and cafes.
The coffee and milk combo is traditionally French in style and preparation and is a French version of the Italian cafe latte.
It also has other European versions such as café con leche of Spain, kawa biala in Poland – translated as white coffee, Milchkaffee of Germanty Melange of Austria, café com leite of Portugal and koffie verkeerd of Netherlands.
This French term and European style has been around since the 1950s in different parts of Europe particularly Italy, France, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden.
In the United State, the café au lait is actually a coffee beverage including a strong or bold coffee such as espresso with a scalded milk in a one is to one ratio.
There is also a version of Café au lait in New Orleans which was made popular by Café du Monde. In this American coffee shop, café au lait is made while mixing the traditional proportions with chicory in order to achieve a strong bitter taste.
The milk used is also is not prepared in the usual manner as the New Orleans drink utilizes scalded milk or milk warmed over heat to a simmer instead of steamed. The bitterness of chicory complements the sweetness of the beignets which is the usual partner of this drink.
Most café au laits are made with an espresso machine that includes a milk steaming mechanism.
A café au laits can also be be prepared using a premium drip coffee maker or a moka pot.
The main ingredients to prepare this type of milk-coffee combination are: 2 cups of scalded milk, 2 cups of strong coffee or espresso and 1 rounded tablespoon of sugar.
You can also add in order flavor enhancers like cocoa for Chocolate Café Au Lait. First, simmer the milk over low heat. Then, pour coffee into the milk.
Next, combine both the sugar and cocoa or any other added ingredient into the coffeepot.
Then, pour the hot milk and coffee back into the coffeepot and blend them well. Finally, serve the hot beverage with pastries.
About Mike Quinn
Mike Quinn spent 20 years in the US Army and traveled extensively all over the world. As part of his military service, Mike sampled coffee and tea from all virtually every geographic region, from the beans from the plantation of an El Salvadorian Army Colonel to "Chi" in Iraq to Turkish Coffee in the Turkish Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. He spent nearly a decade in the Republic of Korea where he was exposed to all forms of traditional teas. Mike formerly owned and operated Cup And Brew, an online espresso and coffee equipment retail operation.
3 thoughts on “Back to the Basics, Hold the Foam, and Give Me a Café au Lait!”
I fell in love with cafe au lait when I was studying French in school. I have had it in Quebec City, and also in New Orleans, at Cafe du Monde, with beignets. I wasn’t aware that I could make it at home on the stove, without having an espresso maker to steam the milk. Now that I know that, I will make it, and of course, I will serve it with homemade beignets!
Never indulged in cafe au lait before and I’d love to but the fact that chicory is involved to give it a bitter taste, that pushes me towards the fence..any type of coffee I happen to indulge in must have lots of sugar 🙂 otherwise the fun stops immediately.
I kind of make my own version using almond milk. It is made the same exact way, and boy is it delicious. My mother loved it when I fixed her one during Christmas holiday. I would love to go to France and taste the authentic brew.