Coffee being poured into white coffee cup

HOW TO MAKE CAFÉ AU LAIT: RECIPE TIPS

This popular beverage, which is French in origin—and translates to coffee with milk—is commonly made by pouring strong, hot coffee into a large cup or footed bowl of hot, steamed milk. It can be enjoyed as is, or enhanced with flavorings or sweeteners and served with warm croissants for a classic French breakfast.

KitchenAid® Burr Grinder with 2 green coffee mugs KitchenAid® Burr Grinder with 2 green coffee mugs

WHAT IS CAFÉ AU LAIT?

Café au lait is equal parts brewed coffee and hot milk and can be made in a variety of sizes, usually ranging from 6, all the way up to 20 ounces. To follow the most authentic recipe, the milk is typically steamed to create a smooth, creamy texture. Because they’re made with coffee, café au laits are more mellow in taste than espresso-based drinks like lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos.

There are versions of café au lait served all over Europe, including café con leche in Spain, café com leite in Portugal, koffie verkeerd in the Netherlands and milchkaffee in Germany. You can find an American version of café au lait in New Orleans, which combines a coffee and chicory root blend with milk.

CAN I MAKE CAFÉ AU LAIT AT HOME?

Café au lait is frequently made at home because all it requires is a way to brew a strong cup of coffee, like a drip coffee maker and a way to heat or steam the milk. An espresso machine with a steam wand is a great way to create authentic café au lait at home with steamed milk.

You can also heat your milk low and slow on the cooktop, or 20-30 seconds in a microwave until a thermometer measures 155º-165º F. Milk frothers are another great tool for steaming milk and enhancing creativity and can help add a café style touch to coffee drinks at home.

KitchenAid® coffee maker on countertop with croissants and mug of coffee KitchenAid® coffee maker on countertop with croissants and mug of coffee

CAFÉ AU LAIT RECIPE

Creating a delicious café au lait starts with a strong, brewed coffee. The KitchenAid® 12 Cup Drip Coffee Maker with Spiral Showerhead and Programmable Warming Plate evenly saturates coffee grounds for optimal extraction, producing an exceptionally flavorful cup of coffee and features a variable brew strength selector to easily create a strong cup. Once the coffee is brewed, you’ll add it to heated or steamed milk. The steam wand on KitchenAid® espresso machines help achieve authentic milk flavors and textures for great coffee drinks.

ingredients

  • 1 part strong coffee
  • 1 part milk, steamed 
  • Optional flavorings – honey, agave, sugar, lavender, citrus, vanilla

Yields

  • 1 drink

TOOLS

prep time

*5 minutes

*NOTE: Select KitchenAid® drip coffee makers have a Pause and Pour feature that allows you to pour an individual cup of coffee before the entire capacity of the coffee maker is brewed.

total time

5-8 minutes depending on whether you heat your milk on a stovetop, microwave or with a steam wand.

Interior of burr coffee grinder

STEP 1: GRIND BEANS

Freshly ground coffee beans are the key to a great cup of coffee and your grind size should match your brewing method. If you’re using a drip coffee maker, a medium coarse grind is optimal. If you’re making coffee in a cold brew coffee maker you’ll want an extra coarse coffee grind. KitchenAid brand offers both burr and blade coffee grinders to accommodate every coffee maker in every kitchen.

Coffee being poured into coffee cup

STEP 2: BREW STRONG COFFEE

Make coffee with your favorite brewing method. Drip, cold press, pour-over or French press can all create a strong cup of coffee. The KitchenAid® 12 Cup Drip Coffee Maker with Spiral Showerhead and Programmable Warming Plate can brew 12 cups of coffee at a time and hold the temperature for up to 4 hours with the convenient programmable warming plate.

Milk being steamed with steam wand on a KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

STEP 3: STEAM MILK

Steam your milk to approximately 155º-165º F. Steaming will pull air into the milk creating tiny bubbles and a rich, silky texture.

Milk being poured into glass cup of coffee

STEP 4: ADD MILK TO COFFEE

Pour equal parts steamed milk and strong coffee into a large cup, saving any foam. Stir, then pour any reserved foam on top.

SHOP KITCHENAID® ESPRESSO MACHINES AND COFFEE MAKERS

Step up your brewing game with coffee makers and espresso machines from KitchenAid brand. Steam milk for café au lait and create espresso-based cafe favorites like lattes and cappuccinos with the KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine and Milk Frother Attachment. The KitchenAid® 12 Cup Drip Coffee Maker with Spiral Showerhead and Programmable Warming Plate is packed with features like 24 hour programmability to get the coffee brewing when you need it.

Woman pouring coffee into cup from KitchenAid® coffee maker Woman pouring coffee into cup from KitchenAid® coffee maker

HOW TO BREW STRONG COFFEE FOR CAFÉ AU LAIT

Strong coffee isn’t watery or bitter; it’s rich, dense and full of flavor. A strong cup of coffee can be brewed by simply increasing the amount of coffee grounds you use without increasing the water.

Some drip coffee makers come equipped with a “strong” setting. The KitchenAid® 12 Cup Drip Coffee Maker with Spiral Showerhead and Programmable Warming Plate features a variable brew strength selector, which allows you to choose between regular and bold strengths.

The KitchenAid® Cold Brew Coffee Maker will create a coffee concentrate that can be heated in the microwave or on the cooktop before combining with steamed milk. This method will yield a bolder coffee flavor without the acidity of hot brewed coffee.

A French Press is another simple way to create a strong cup of coffee. The constant infusion of hot water into the grounds extracts a lot of flavor – and extra caffeine.

Discover more about the differences between coffee and espresso and how they’re brewed.

HOW DO YOU MAKE CAFÉ AU LAIT MILK?

Whole milk is the ideal milk to use for a café au lait recipe. The richness of the full-fat milk will create a creamy counterpoint to the bold-flavored coffee. 2% milk can also be used and try plant-based milks like oat for a vegan option.

KitchenAid® coffee maker on countertop with coffee drink and breakfast foods KitchenAid® coffee maker on countertop with coffee drink and breakfast foods

CAN I ADD FLAVORS TO CAFÉ AU LAIT?

Experiment with the flavors of your café au lait by trying different roasts or milks. Play with plant-based milks like oat, almond and soy to create new flavors. The Spanish version of this drink, café con leche is typically sweetened with sugar. Try adding honey, agave or a dash of cinnamon, or a sprinkle of cocoa.

This recipe for Coffee with Lavender Steamed Milk brings a delicate floral note to this delicious café drink. Citrus Cafe Ole replaces milk with cream and is sweetened with brown sugar and spiked with orange. Both recipes use coffee concentrate which can be brewed in a KitchenAid® Cold Brew Coffee Maker for a bold, smooth taste. Serve your cafe au lait drinks with classic, buttery croissants for a simple, elegant breakfast.

SHOP FOR KITCHENAID® COFFEE PRODUCTS

Making café au laits and other coffee drinks at home is a great way to start the day and get the creative juices flowing. The Coffee Collection from KitchenAid brand offers all the brewing essentials you need to create authentic café au laits and more right in your own kitchen.

DISCOVER MORE COFFEE INSPIRATION FROM KITCHENAID