Content Summary

Coffee aficionados, rejoice! Making cafe au lait at home is easy once you know what you're doing. All you need is a few simple ingredients and a bit of practice.

This delicious French beverage is made of equal parts espresso and hot milk, but it can be customized to fit your taste. Read on for our foolproof guide to making the ultimate cafe au lait at home.

Making A Café Au Lait With A French Press

Start with your favorite coffee blend and some hot milk. French press coffee works best, but if you don’t have one of those handy, simply go for whatever type of coffee you prefer (just make sure it’s freshly brewed). Feel free to use any kind that suits your fancy—dairy, whole or half, almond, oat—anything goes! Let's get brewing!

Step 1: Brew Your Coffee

Next up is brewing your coffee.

  1. Measure out 2 ounces of coarsely ground coffee beans into your French press.
  2. Add 8 ounces of boiling water and give everything a good stir.
  3. Allow the mixture to steep for about 4 minutes before pressing down on the plunger.
  4. Meanwhile waiting for the coffee, move to the next step.

Step 2: Heat Your Milk

  1. Gently heat the milk over low-medium heat until it starts to steam. Don’t let it boil or you risk ending up with burnt milk!
  2. Use a spoon to stir continuously while heating. This will help create a creamy texture and prevent scorching.
  3. Once the milk has reached a nice, warm temperature (but not too hot!), remove it from the heat and set aside.

Step 3: Make The Milk Foam

This is where the fun begins!

  1. Clean your French Press, and continue to use it to make the foamy goodness.
  2. Pour 4 ounces of heated milk and a pinch of sugar (optional, but recommended) into the French Press.
  3. Use the plunger of the French Press to vigorously plunge the milk until it forms a foamy layer on top.
  4. This should take about 1 minute.

Note: You can use an electric handheld milk frother if you'd like, which will give your milk an even more creamy texture.

Step 4: Put It All Together

Layer 2 components: coffee + heated milk.

  • Simply pour equal amounts of coffee into the mugs or transparent glass, leaving enough room for a nice foamy top.
  • Slowly add the heated milk, gently as you go.
  • Add the remaining milk foam to the top and voila!
  • If desired, add a teaspoon or two of sugar for extra sweetness before stirring.

Making A Café Au Lait With An Espresso Machine

Start by brewing a shot of espresso in an espresso machine using fresh grinded espresso coffee beans. Use 2 ounces of coffee for every 4 ounces of hot milk.

Step 1: Make Your Espresso

  1. Load your portafilter with freshly ground coffee beans, then firmly tamp them down until they are uniformly compressed.
  2. Securely affix your portafilter to the machine, and prepare a mug for freshly brewed coffee beneath where it will be dispensed. Now, let the brewing commence!

Step 2: Heat Your Milk

  1. Heat the milk slowly over low-medium temperature until it begins to form steam. Then, take the pot off the stove or heat source when it reaches a pleasant and warm temperature (but not too hot!).
  2. If you have an espresso machine with a steamer wand or frothing pitcher, take full advantage of it! If not, do not fret - simply reach for a handheld milk frother or whisk instead.
  3. For sweetness, add 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) of sugar or honey to the hot milk and stir until it has dissolved completely.

Step 3: Put It All Together

Now comes the fun part—layering the espresso and hot milk.

  1. Simply pour equal amounts of coffee into the mugs or transparent glass, leaving enough room for a nice foamy top.
  2. Slowly add the heated milk, gently as you go.
  3. Add the remaining milk foam to the top and voila!

Tips & Tricks

  • If you don’t have a French press handy, feel free to use whatever type of filter coffee maker, or if you prefer, an Aeropress–just remember that freshly brewed coffee makes all the difference here.
  • Add caramel or chocolate syrup to the coffee for a sweet and delicious twist.
  • Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg for extra flavor.
  • Add a dollop of whipped cream for an even more indulgent drink.
  • If you have an espresso machine with a steamer wand, use it to froth the milk for added creaminess.
How to Make Café au Lait with a French Press | Chef Carter's Cooking Corner

With just three simple ingredients—espresso, milk and sugar and our easy-to-follow steps above, anyone can do it!

Need a French Press coffee maker? Check out our top picks of best manual coffee makers below to get yours!

The Best Manual Coffee Maker: A Fine Art Of Coffee Brewing
We’ve combined a list of top 6 manual coffee makers available today and help you to find which one is the right coffee maker that suits you best. Check them out!

In no time at all, you’ll be sipping this classic French beverage like it was made by an expert barista–no fancy equipment required. Happy brewing!

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