Appropriate for enjoying any time of the day, Cafe Con Leche is a popular Spanish-style coffee drink, most often served with breakfast.
It is a commonly consumed beverage throughout various Hispanic communities, such as Cuba, Latin America, Spain, and Miami, Florida. And, although Cafe Con Leche in English directly translates to ‘coffee with milk’, recreating it is as easy as adding hot milk to concentrated coffee.
Thankfully, enjoying this espresso-based drink at home does not have to be difficult, strange as it may sound. As long as you are willing to adhere to the long-held Spanish tradition of making Cafe Con Leche, you too can enjoy this exotic-sounding drink at home.
Where is Cafe con Leche popular?
Cafe Con Leche is a popular drink among older individuals, ranging in age from 30 to 70. It’s believed that older adults appreciate this Spanish drink simply due to tradition, as well as fear of ordering something new at a coffee house.
While the exact origins surrounding the invention of Cafe Con Leche remain a bit of a mystery, there is speculation of humble beginnings within a small Brazilian home, well before the 1900s.
However, similar traditional European drinks were also invented somewhere around the 17th century. In any case, there are a variety of ways to enjoy Cafe Con Leche, regardless of your age, from hot to frozen and everything in between.
Features and variations
Often known as the Spanish variation of Caffe Latte or Café Au Lait, the Cafe Con Leche recipe incorporates steamed milk with espresso.
When ordering in a restaurant, this hot drink may be served light or dark, formulated with differing variances of coffee to milk ratios. Some restaurants even put a little twist on this caffeinated brew, such as emphasizing sugar content with a small sprinkling of salt, for example.
Other, seemingly small variations may include the utilization of raw brown sugar, organic coffee, or even milk alternatives. Overall, this traditional drink is rather consistent, requiring three base ingredients.
Two large servings call for 1 tbsp espresso, 6 oz whole milk, and sugar (sweetened to taste).
How to make a perfect “Cafe con Leche”
To begin, simply combine the aforementioned ingredients into a saucepan, if you don’t have an espresso maker (or Moka pot) within your employ.
Heat the milk, without allowing it to boil, and pour it over freshly ground coffee beans. For those with a bit of a sweet tooth, adding a bit of sugar may help to cut any existing bitterness. Making Cafe Con Leche really is as simple as that.
In a pinch, a standard microwave might also be used, especially if time is of the essence. Wondering how to make Cafe Con Leche with instant coffee? Substituting espresso with instant coffee is easily done, by adding a single serving of instant coffee in place of freshly ground coffee.
A Moka pot makes the creation of Cafe Con Leche at home easily obtainable.
- Take a three cup espresso pot, and fill the bottom with water up to the bottom of the valve.
- After you place the filter over top, add a scoop of espresso grounds.
- Take the top half of the Make pot, and screw it onto the bottom half, and place it on the desired burner, with the handle hanging away from the heat. Allow it to stay on the burner for the time required over medium heat, as the espresso fills the top of the pot – removing it as soon as it’s full. If you leave it on the burner after the espresso has been extracted, the liquid will begin to boil and ruin the flavour.
- For those who appreciate a sweetened Cafe Con Leche, add sugar to the espresso concentrate while it’s heating up. Otherwise, pour the hot espresso over sugar, in order to commence proper dissolving.
- Froth your milk in a separate container, before combining everything into individual cups – serving hot.
Another (now famous) variance hardcore coffee drinkers might enjoy, is iced Cafe Con Leche. This newly created sub-style has grown in popularity throughout Miami, Florida, as a cold way to enjoy this traditional Spanish-style coffee.
If you are willing to invest a little time, begin by brewing espresso the evening before. Allow it to cool in the fridge overnight, and it will be ready to incorporate with the remaining ingredients the following morning.
Create two servings by combining ¼ cup of cream with ½ cup of milk, along with your favourite form of sugar, and froth with a handheld milk frother until it begins bubbling. At this point, toss in a single ice cube, and continue frothing for 60 seconds – then add your coffee! Enjoying Cafe Con Leche might be further elevated into a fantastically frozen coffee treat.
By utilizing instant espresso single serving, with sugar to taste, and evaporated milk, one may simply freeze the frothed mixture overnight, and enjoy the following morning as a blended treat. Either cold variation makes an excellent drink on a hot summer day, depending on your preference.
Enthusiasts have taken this Spanish-style coffee to all new heights, by incorporating Cafe Con Leche into a fantastic cake recipe. The popular recipe was created by adding instant espresso powder with whole milk and sugar with common cake ingredients and topping it with infused icing. Once this coffee-infused cake was baked, cooled, and properly iced, it paired perfectly with a cup of hot and fresh Cafe Con Leche.
As you can see, it’s quite fascinating to observe the numerous ways generations of coffee lovers have taken this simple, unassuming blend of ingredients and transformed them into a variety of combinations – including baked goods.
However, it is vitally important to remember that you should never allow the exotic-sounding title of Cafe Con Leche to prevent you from enjoying such a fantastic beverage. And, once the recipe has been attempted and perfected at home, it is a wonderful drink you can enjoy for years to come.
I am an Italian coffee lover that pushed for the love of this “amazing drug” decided to come to London to study about coffee and its different extraction procedures and tastes.