Most coffee buyers are confused by the difference between all of the coffees available at cafes and restaurants. Cafe con Leche and latte are very similar coffee beverages. Still, a couple of significant differences in taste and composition make each one a unique drink.
A difference between Cafe con Leche and latte is that lattes have more milk, even though they are both made using milk and espresso. Lattes also have a thin layer of foam, whereas Cafe con Leches is thicker and a creamier coffee beverage.
Want to know all of the differences between these two popular coffee drinks? Keep on reading! Many things make Cafe con Leche and lattes different, even though they are both made using the same basic ingredients: espresso and milk.
The Basic Differences
Before diving into the minute differences between Cafe con Leches and lattes, here are the fundamental differences:
- Cafe con Leche is a traditional Spanish drink. Lattes are traditionally Italian.
- Cafe con Leche has a 1:1 coffee to milk ratio, while lattes have a 1:2 coffee to milk ratio.
- A Cafe con Leche has no foam, but lattes have a thin, frothy layer of foam.
What Is a Cafe Con Leche?
Cafe con Leche is a traditional Spanish drink. Cafe con Leche means “coffee and milk” in Spanish. It is still one of the most popular coffee drinks in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries worldwide. Depending on where it is served, it can be made differently. For example, Cuban Cafe con Leche from Cuba and Florida usually uses stronger coffee or espresso, sugar, and more milk than other versions of the same drink.
Cafe con Leche is a breakfast staple in many Spanish-speaking countries and Florida because it is one of the most simple, traditional drinks available. With so many elaborate coffee drinks available at cafes nowadays, many people turn to elegant yet simple coffee drinks by default.
It is made by combining equal parts espresso with whole milk. The whole milk in a Cafe con Leche is scalded rather than steamed or added to the espresso cold. Most of the time, the milk is heated with a steaming wand and added just before it reaches its boiling point.
Scalded milk combines with the espresso to make a creamy, sweet drink. Scalded milk does not create a thick layer of foam or microfoam on the surface of the coffee, making Cafe con Leche uniquely thick and creamy. It is also hotter than foam, so generally, a Cafe con Leche is served hotter than other drinks.
What Is a Latte?
Lattes, sometimes called cafe lattes, are Italian in origin. Like Cafe con Leche, the name caffe latte means “coffee and milk.” So technically, if you are ordering a latte in Italy, you are just ordering milk. Lattes have been a popular drink for a very long time. They have been enjoyed by many European countries starting in the 17th century.
Lattes are one of the most popular coffee drinks available, and many restaurants offer them.
They are made with espresso and steamed milk. Generally, the ratio of steamed milk to coffee in a latte is 2:1, making them much foamier, milkier, and creamier than Cafe con Leches. Since they have more milk than coffee, they usually have a light layer of foam at the top of the beverage. The foam on a latte is made by frothing it after scalding it.
Nowadays, many lattes have extra flavorings or sugar added to them to make them sweeter and unique. Still, every cafe latte is just made out of espresso and scalded milk. Like Cafe con Leche, the scalded milk is added to the coffee, not vice versa. Adding the milk to the hot espresso forms a layer of foam at the top of your latte.
Since lattes have such a light, frothy layer of foam floating on the top, they are a favorite for many coffee artists. Baristas who make designs on their coffees’ surface carefully pour the scalding milk into their lattes, creating beautiful designs like leaves or flowers that float on the espresso’s surface.
How To Make a Cafe Con Leche
Whether you want to understand how Cafe con Leche is made, or if you’re going to make your own Cafe con Leche at home, the steps are pretty simple.
To make a Cafe con Leche at home, you will need:
- A french press, espresso maker, or espresso machine
- A pan or pot
- A thermometer
- A mug or glass
- Whole milk
To make your easy Cafe con Leche:
- Brew your coffee. If you do not have an espresso machine, you can use a french press or a coffee machine. Just make your coffee very strong. Usually, the coffee to water ratio of a good Cafe con Leche is 1:10 or 1:11.
- Scald your milk. Put your milk in a pot or pan, and heat it until it is around 82° F (27.7° C). Remove the milk from the heat just before it reaches a boil, and stir it to add more air. Stirring and swirling your milk will make it thicker and creamier.
- Mix your Cafe con Leche. Pour the scalding milk into the coffee in a mug or glass at a 1:1 ratio.
How To Make a Latte
Making your own latte is an easy way to up your brewing game, and you can make one with all of your favorite ingredients and flavors. Lattes are very simple to make at home. To make a latte, you can use regular coffee or espresso. There are no limits when it comes to crafting your own unique coffee concoction from the comfort of your own kitchen.
Before making your latte, you will need:
- A coffee machine, french press, espresso maker, or espresso machine
- A pan or pot
- A mug
- Whole milk
To make your own latte:
- Brew your coffee. If you are not using espresso, make your coffee very strong. Most professional baristas use a coffee to water ratio of between 1:15 to 1:10.
- Scald your milk. In a pot or pan, scald your milk. Scalded milk is heated to around 82° F (27.7° C).
- Froth your milk. Once your milk is hot but not boiling, pour it in a jar or in your mug. Whisk the milk or stir it rapidly with a fork until a thin layer of foam appears on the milk’s surface.
- Put your milk in the microwave. Put your milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Microwaving your milk will cause it to foam a bit more, and doing so will strengthen the foam to keep it from thinning when you pour your milk into your coffee.
- Pour your milk into your coffee. When you do this step, make sure that you add the milk into your coffee, not vice versa. Pouring your milk into your coffee will make the foam float on top.
- Add any flavorings or sugar. This step is optional, but if you want to flavor your latte with fresh lavender, cinnamon, flavored syrup, or sugar, you should add it now.
- Enjoy your homemade latte!
Although Cafe con Leches and lattes are both made from espresso and milk, there are many differences between the two drinks. Both of them come from different parts of the world, have different amounts of milk, and have different amounts of foam.
Now that you understand the differences between the two coffee beverages, you will be able to make informed decisions when you order as well as make your own Cafe con Leche or latte.
- Perfect Daily Grind: What Is A Cafe Con Leche?
- Wikipedia: Latte
- Wikipedia: Café con Leche
- Taste of Home: How to Make a Latte at Home | No Espresso Machine Needed!
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