What about the classic café au lait? Let’s take a look at café au lait and what makes a Café au Lait different from other popular espresso drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and flat whites.
Let's dig into the basics of this delicious caffeine-fueled beverage.
What Is A Café Au Lait?
A Café au Lait is made up of equal parts freshly brewed espresso and steamed milk. It’s a French classic that dates back centuries and is perfect for those who like its mild and creamy coffee.
The best way to prepare one at home is to make some strong-brewed coffee in your French press or drip pot, or espresso machine.
Then steam some milk in your electric frother until it's hot and foamy. Finally, pour equal parts of each into your cup and enjoy!
1. Café au Lait vs Latte
The main difference between a café au lait and a latte is that a latte has more steamed milk than espresso while a Café Au Lait has equal parts espresso and steamed milk.
A latte also typically contains more foam and less espresso than a café au lait. This means that lattes tend to be sweeter, creamier, and lighter in caffein flavor than café au laits.
2. Café au Lait vs Cappuccino
Another popular coffee drink is the cappuccino, which contains more espresso than both lattes and café au laits. Cappuccinos also usually contain more foam than either of those two drinks.
It’s important to note that cappuccinos have significantly less steamed milk than either lattes or cafe au laits, so they tend to have a stronger flavor profile and less sweetness overall.
3. Café Au Lait vs Macchiato
A macchiato has more espresso than either cafe au lait or cappuccino making it stronger tasting than both drinks since there isn't enough steamed milk added in to cut down on its bitterness.
Additionally, macchiatos are served in smaller cups so that all you taste is pure espresso! They are usually topped off with just a small dollop of foam rather than being filled with it like lattes or cappuccinos would be!
4. Café Au Lait vs Flat White
Flat whites are another popular coffee drink that can be somewhat difficult to differentiate from other coffees since they often contain similar ingredients as other drinks—namely, shots of espresso and steamed milk—but in different ratios.
Flat whites contain more shots of espresso than either cafés au laits or lattes but less foam than either cappuccinos or macchiatos do. They are usually served in larger cups, which makes for an intensely flavorful coffee drink with a robust aroma and creamy texture.
Café Au Lait FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how the French drink Café au Laits:
Do French put sugar in their coffee?
Some French people do add sugar to their coffee. While the majority of French enjoy their coffee without any added sweetness, most cafés and restaurants will provide sugar cubes or simple syrup with their coffee beverages. If you like your coffee sweet, feel free to add it in!
Do French use cream in their coffee?
No, the French typically do not add cream to their coffee. Instead, they use light-bodied whole milk or steamed milk for a lighter and smoother taste. This is why café au laits are so popular in French cafes, as they contain equal parts espresso and steamed milk.
How do the French drink café au lait?
The French typically drink café au lait out of a large cup or small bowl. They may enjoy the coffee in the early morning with breakfast or as an afternoon pick-me-up. Café au laits can also be enjoyed with a sweet pastry or biscuit for an indulgent treat!
Tips & Tricks
- You can easily customize it to your taste. If you like more sweetness, add some sugar or syrup before drizzling in the warm milk. Or if you prefer a stronger espresso flavor, use fewer ounces of milk in each cup.
- You can also get creative with the types of milk you use for your café au lait. For a creamier and richer taste, try using half-and-half or even heavy cream instead of whole milk.
- For vegan options, almond milk and oat milk both work well when steamed.
- Freshly ground coffee beans will also make all the difference in your café au lait! Make sure to grind up the beans just before brewing for maximum flavor and aroma.
- If you don’t have an espresso machine or frother at home, try using a French press to make your café au lait instead. The process may take a bit longer but it will give you the same creamy results in the end!
Need a French press to make your cafe au lait cup? Check out our picks of best manual coffee maker below and grab your favorite tool.
Café au lait is a classic French coffee treat that is loved around the world. It’s simple to make and can be customized to your tastes. Make one today!