French for, “coffee with milk”, this hot beverage is in fact more than just coffee with some milk poured into it.
Given, it’s not a super complicated drink.
It’s pretty simple, but it’s not just coffee with a splash of milk.
If you don’t know exactly what it is, a cafe au lait is just like a latte but instead of espresso you just use regular brewed coffee.
So the ingredients are still just milk and coffee, but just with an extra touch to it… a bit more finesse.
So in this article, I’m going to teach you exactly how to make the classic and classy cafe au lait at home with the best recipe, and you can do it using simple and inexpensive equipment!
So here’s how to make a cafe au lait.
The Ingredients (And Equipment Needed)
Before the step-by-step tutorial, let’s just quickly go over the ingredients and equipment needed.
The ingredients, as I mentioned before, are just coffee and milk of your choice.
But the equipment needed is of course a coffee maker of your choice, but you’ll also need a milk frother.
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And the truth is that in the end it really doesn’t make a huge difference which one you use.
Even if you were to use one from the most expensive, amazing espresso machine.
And that’s about it for ingredients and equipment.
It’s quite a bit more simple than making cafe au lait’s espresso counterpart, the latte, because you don’t need to make espresso for it, which is more complicated than regular brewed coffee.
But here’s everything you need for one cafe au lait:
- 6 ounces of preferably strong-brewed coffee (approx.)
- 6 ounces of milk (approx.)
- A large mug, latte or cappuccino style is preferable
- A milk frother
The measurements don’t need to be exact, and you don’t need a big mug.
But if you want the optimal cafe au lait experience, that’s how you do it.
So let’s look at how to make it now…
How To Make Cafe Au Lait: Step-By-Step
This won’t be the longest “how to” I’ve ever done, but there are certainly some things to know and keep in mind when you make this delicious drink.
There are only a few easy steps, and voila, you have a cafe au lait ready to go.
So here they are…
Step 1 – Brew your coffee
I realize the chances are, you know how to brew coffee that you love.
But for cafe au lait, I’d say you will preferably want to brew it strong, no matter what kind of brewing method you use.
For a standard measurement for a cup of cafe au lait, you’ll want to make 6 ounces of strong coffee.
If you do want a brewing tutorial, the brew methods I’d suggest for making this beverage are AeroPress (my favorite), French press, pour over or even automatic drip if you fancy that (click on the links for the tutorial).
Although you can actually use any brew method you’d like.
The thing is that whatever brewer you use, it’s a good idea to use a darker roast of coffee and to make it strong, because it gets diluted by the milk.
Step 2 – Steam the milk
Again, using whatever type of milk you prefer, measure about 6 ounces of milk into the frother, or between the minimum and maximum marking lines.
And if you’re milk frother has the option for steamed or frothed milk, you’ll want to use the steamed option.
If you use one of the hand-held ones, make sure to heat up the milk in the microwave before frothing it, for any frother that doesn’t heat your milk.
Simply froth your milk until your foam has the texture you like.
Remember, the bubbles (foam) is key to latte or cappuccino style drinks that have steamed milk, and this certainly includes cafe au lait.
So whether you use a fancy steam wand from an espresso machine, or the simplest hand-held one, keep an eye on your foam and you’re not done frothing until the foam looks good!
And please keep an eye on the temperature at the same time.
Step 3 – Pour and enjoy!
The last step is to combine them and drink up!
Although you can just dump the milk into the coffee and call it a day, here’s the technique I recommend much more than that!…
Take a tablespoon, or your milk spoon for cappuccino foam if you have one, and as you pour your heated, frothed milk into the mug, use the spoon to block the foam from coming out.
So just pour the heated milk in first, and it it should be about three or four ounces of milk.
After you pour only milk with no foam, then put the milk container down and manually scoop the foam out with your spoon, putting on the desired amount.
This will not only make it look better in the end, but also will give you more control of how much milk and foam you get in your drink.
The proportions of coffee, milk and foam for a cafe au lait would ideally be equal parts of coffee and milk.
But for me, I prefer mine and suggest to others to make it with latte style proportions, which would be mostly coffee, then some milk and just a bit of foam on top.
In more precise measurements this would be 50% coffee, 30% milk and 20% foam.
So after you’ve poured your milk, sip and enjoy!
Especially on a fine coffee table if you have one.
This drink, which is of course never to be confused with just a white coffee, is a very nice drink and also an easier beverage to craft than a latte.
Whether you do indeed make it in a big latte mug, or just a plain mug or cup, I hope that after reading this “how to” that you’ll enjoy your cafe au lait.
I personally think that it’s such a nice morning or noontime beverage, sometimes maybe even more enjoyable and cozy than a latte.
It’s also a great way to up the whole “coffee and milk” idea.
Please let me know if you have any questions about anything in this article or about this drink, and I hope you love it when you make it.
So bon appetite, and cafe au lait cheers!