Spanish Cafe con Leche

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Cafe con Leche is a creamy hot drink made with espresso and milk. I enjoy mine lightly sweetened, but many people prefer it unsweetened.

It’s easier to make than you might think and you don’t need a fancy countertop espresso machine to make it.

Learn how to make Cafe con Leche at home! get the instructions at barefeetinthekitchen.com

A few years ago, my sister Jenny vacationed in Spain with her husband. They both returned home with a love for Spanish Cafe con Leche.

They shared their love of this creamy coffee drink with us when we visited them and I was hooked from that first sip.

I had never before been a coffee drinker, but that changed as soon as I tasted Cafe con Leche. The very next morning after we returned from visiting them, I ordered my own stovetop espresso pot and a milk frother.

For the past 5 years, I have been brewing my own cafe con leche almost every morning. I love it.

Make Cafe con Leche at home with these easy tips to follow! get the instructions at barefeetinthekitchen.com

I have served this to friends and family numerous times and it has been much loved. I have a couple friends that joke about coming back to visit and staying longer, just to enjoy this every morning.

This is not merely an at-home substitute for fancy coffee-shop lattes, this drink puts those coffees to shame.

WHAT IS CAFE CON LECHE

Cafe con leche is Spanish for coffee with milk. It is a hot coffee drink made with espresso and scalded milk in approximately a 1:1 ratio.

Sugar is added according to taste. I like mine fairly sweet and my sister prefers hers barely sweetened at all.

Spanish Cafe con Leche recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

THINGS YOU NEED TO MAKE CAFE CON LECHE

Equipment:
6 cup Bialetti Moka Express stovetop espresso maker or 3 cup Bialleti Moka Express stovetop espresso maker (recipe directions are for the 3 cup size, double the ingredients for the 6 cup size) *
1 milk frother, I use this simple battery operated frother

* Please note that this is an espresso maker, not a regular coffee pot. The “3 cup” size produces only 6 ounces of espresso, enough for 1 large or 2 small cups of cafe con leche.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon good quality espresso, I use Lavazza
1-3 teaspoons sugar (If I have it on hand, I use this homemade vanilla sugar or raw sugar.)
2/3 cup milk

HOW TO MAKE CAFE CON LECHE

Fill the bottom portion of the 3 cup espresso pot with water, to just below the valve. (If using a 6 cup pot, double the ingredients.) Place the filter into the pot and scoop 1 tablespoon of espresso into the pot.

Screw the top half of the espresso make onto the bottom half and then place the filled pot on a stove burner. Place it with the handle facing off the side of the burner, so that it doesn’t get too hot. (You will still need a hot pad!)

Set the burner to medium (medium high on my current stove, but I used medium on my other stove). Within about 10 minutes, the espresso will have pushed through the filter and filled the top of the pot. Remove it from the heat as soon as the pot is full, do not let the espresso boil or it will burn.

Espresso for Cafe con Leche

While the espresso is heating, place the sugar in a large cup or divide it between two small cups.

Pour the milk into a large 2 cup measuring cup and warm it for about 90 seconds in the microwave. Or if you are using the stovetop to scald the milk, start it on low when you start the espresso.

Steamed milk and espresso for Cafe con Leche

When the espresso is finished, pour it over the sugar and stir for a few moments to dissolve the sugar. Froth the milk until it has doubled in size and then pour the foamy milk over the coffee. Stir to combine. Serve hot.

Homemade Cafe con Leche tastes better than the coffeeshop! get the instructions at barefeetinthekitchen.com

For more homemade drinks that are better than the coffee shop, try this Homemade Chai Tea or the London Fog. This Italian Cream Liqueur is a huge favorite when the weather cools off as well. This Peppermint Mocha Latte and this Butterscotch Caramel Coffee are on my list to try soon.

Kitchen Tip: I use this stovetop espresso maker and this milk frother to make this recipe.

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Steamed milk and espresso for Cafe con Leche

Cafe con Leche

5 from 1 vote
Pin Print Review
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 8 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Course: Drinks
Servings: 2 (3) ounce servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon good quality espresso
  • 1-3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk

Instructions

  • Fill the bottom portion of the 3 cup espresso pot with water, to just below the valve. (If using a 6 cup pot, double the ingredients.) Place the filter into the pot and scoop 1 tablespoon of espresso into the pot. Screw the top half of the espresso make onto the bottom half and then place the filled pot onto a stove burner. Place it with the handle facing off the side of the burner, so that it doesn't get too hot. (You will still need a hot pad!)
  • Set the burner to medium (medium high on my current stove, but I used medium on my other stove). Within about 10 minutes, the espresso will have pushed through the filter and filled the top of the pot. Remove it from the heat as soon as the pot is full, do not let the espresso boil or it will burn.
  • While the espresso is heating, place the sugar in a large cup or divide it between two small cups. Pour the milk into a large 2 cup measuring cup and warm it for about 90 seconds in the microwave. Or if you are using the stovetop to scald the milk, start it on low when you start the espresso.
  • When the espresso is finished, pour it over the sugar and stir for a few moments to dissolve the sugar. Froth the milk until it has doubled in size and then pour the foamy milk over the coffee. Stir to combine. Serve hot and Enjoy!

Notes

Equipment needed:
6 cup Bialetti Moka Express stovetop espresso maker or 3 cup Bialleti Moka Express stovetop espresso maker (recipe directions are for the 3 cup size, double the ingredients for the 6 cup size)
1 milk frother, I use this simple battery operated frother
* Please note that this is an espresso maker, not a regular coffee pot. The "3 cup" size produces only 6 ounces of espresso, enough for 1 large or 2 small cups of cafe con leche.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 66kcal · Carbohydrates: 7g · Protein: 2g · Fat: 2g · Saturated Fat: 1g · Cholesterol: 8mg · Sodium: 35mg · Potassium: 195mg · Sugar: 6g · Vitamin A: 130IU · Calcium: 92mg · Iron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @WPRecipeMaker or tag #wprecipemaker!

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{originally published 12/4/12 – recipe notes and photos updated 6/11/18}

How To Make Cafe con Leche at home! get the instructions at barefeetinthekitchen.com

 

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Bonnie says

    I have an electric one that has a streamer on the side love it. Years ago I had a stove top one, that also had a streamer on the side.
    Wore it out.
    When I make these at home we use beer mugs to drink them out.

  2. Nancy says

    I come from a very big Italian family. Espresso was always brewing at our house. I recently purchased an espresso/cappuccino machine and I LOVE it! We have cappuccino every night after dinner. I have finally got the frothing down pat! This sounds just like cappuccino, however, I like adding a bit of cinnamon ontop of the frothing. Can you tell me how to make vanilla sugar? That sounds awesome in my morning coffee!

  3. Traci H says

    We lived is Spain for three years. I lived off of cafe con leche! I would commit very dirty acts for one right about now! Oh, and Tinto! Tinto……

  4. Anonymous says

    I hear so much about this beverage on the Camino forums. I've read through your post and I'm unclear as to how this differs from a latte? I make my own lattes at home with an espresso machine.

    • Mary says

      Cafe con Leche is simply "coffee and milk," basically a Spanish latte. I prefer it because it isn't as rich as a coffeeshop latte and when made with espresso it tends to have a deeper flavor. I'd love to hear your opinion on the difference (vs your latte with an espresso machine) if you try it!

    • C. Cody Anderson says

      The big difference is the amount of milk. While a latte has a lot of milk piled onto the espresso (usually something like 1:4 or more), you'll never get anything larger than a 6 oz cup in Spain (so a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of coffee to milk). This makes a stronger drink that isn't as "thick" as a latte or cappuccino. Because of the strength (or the palate or most Spanish people), sugar is also very commonly added.

      When I make these at home, I typically use raw sugar to deepen the flavour somewhat and bring the drink closer to what I experienced in Spain. I found the milk in Spain (which is sold shelf stable by the way) to be sweeter than in Canada, and their espresso tends to have a stronger caramel taste to it, at least in the coffee shops I went to.5 stars

  5. Sysy says

    This is an italian cappuccino and sorry, but the moka is italian too.
    The spanish Cafe con leche is just coffee with milk withoit foam. Because they don’t know foaming the milk and are using defated milk…

    • Mary says

      While I can not speak to the lattes in Italy, this is most certainly how a Cafe con Leche is made. And yes, they certainly do froth the milk in Spain and Mexico for this drink. Isn’t it interesting how similar things are though?5 stars