How To Prepare Cafe Au Lait

Café au Lait, or literally "coffee with milk", is a French coffee drink. It is made with coffee or espresso and steamed milk. Although popular in coffee shops, it can also be made at home. Here's how to prepare café au lait:

Ingredients and supplies:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Milk steamer (preferable) saucepan
  • Dark, strong coffee or espresso
  • Coffeemaker
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Mug (white porcelain is traditional)
  1. Brew the coffee. Make the coffee a little stronger than you usually prefer. Café au lait can also be made using espresso from an espresso machine, but the home way involves coffee. Café au lait can be made with any coffee, though traditionally a French roast with chicory is used.
  2. Prepare the milk. Steam about a half cup of milk, if you have a milk steamer available. Otherwise, carefully heat the milk on the stovetop. Do not overheat it or bring it to a boil, or it could burn. Instead, the milk should be just scalded. Microwaving will also work, but this method is not recommended because it is harder to control the temperature of the milk. Some prefer their café au lait with steamed milk, while others prefer scalded milk.
  3. Prepare the cup. Traditionally, this drink is served in a white porcelain cup or bowl, though of course it can be served in any mug or glass you have. First, put your desired amount of sugar in the bottom of the cup. Café au lait is typically served as a sweet drink, not just black coffee with milk. The coffee and milk will dissolve the sugar much easier than if the sugar was added on top of the drink.
  4. Assemble the drink. Over the sugar, fill the mug halfway to the top with hot coffee. Over the coffee, pour the steamed or scalded milk, filling the rest of the mug. If you like, top the mug with a dollop of steamed milk. Cafe au lait can also be assembled by pouring both the coffee and the milk at once into the mug, usually from a height of at least a foot and a half, although this can be hard to control for the beginning barista.

Café au lait is a very popular drink that is easy to make as long as you have a coffeemaker. It has French origins, and today is known as a New Orleans drink.


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