If you’re a coffee lover who’s never tried a Café Au Lait, now’s a great time.

You can go into your nearest coffee shop and try one, or if you’re more of a DIY-er, try making one for yourself at home.

What is Café Au Lait?

Café Au Lait is a French form of coffee drink that follows the European tradition of coffee with milk, or café con leche, from Spain, or koffie verkeerd from the Netherlands, with its own twist.

The twist is, instead of using cold milk, like White Coffee uses, Café Au Lait uses hot milk to create the unique hot blended drink.

Many people confuse a Café Au Lait with a Latte.

There’s a subtle difference between the two, which makes a noticeable difference for the drinker.

A Café Au Lait, as mentioned, is a hot coffee made with hot milk as a part of the blend. The coffee used in a Café Au Lait is a strong coffee, however, rather than an espresso, for which you use espresso to make lattes.

What’s the Difference Between Espresso and Coffee?

There are two main differences between espresso and drip or pour over coffee.

Brew Time

Espresso generally takes about 25 seconds to pass through the filter and grounds to create a great shot of espresso. A cup of drip, or pour over, coffee will take a bit longer, as the water lingers in the grounds and filter during the drip/pour process.

Fineness of Ground

Espresso is less coarsely ground coffee than that used in strong or regular coffee.

What’s the Difference between Regular, Bold, and Strong Coffee?

The difference between regular, strong, and bold coffee is also unique.

The terms ‘strong’ and ‘bold’ are often confused. Many people may assume ‘bold’ means higher concentrations of caffeine, while ‘strong’ refers to flavor.

In actuality, the differences are as follows.

Bold Coffee

Bold coffee generically refers to coffee that has a higher concentration of coffee to water than the average cup of brewed coffee. Bold coffees are your dark roasted coffees. These coffees are considered to have strong, rich, fuller flavors, since there’s more coffee in the brew than average. They’re usually smooth in taste as well, and tend not to be as bitter tasting as regular coffee.

Strong Coffee

Strong coffee has a higher concentration of coffee grounds to water than regular coffee, but doesn’t have to be a dark roasted coffee. Strong coffee is simply defined by the amount of coffee used to brew versus the amount of water. Since these brews can be dark or lighter roasts, the flavor will vary, though it will always be strong. They can be bitter, smooth, dark, or light in roast.

This means that you need a strong brewed cup of coffee, but not necessarily a bold brewed cup, for making Café Au Lait.

How to Make Café Au Lait

Café Au Lait is fairly simple to make. And while having an espresso machine would make steaming the milk simpler, you can do it without one.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • 1 part steamed milk
  • 1 part strong coffee, hot

Step by Step Instructions

1. Brew a strong cup of coffee.

2. While the coffee is brewing, pour milk into a Mason jar.

3. Put the airtight lid on jar and shake for about 45 seconds. Stop shaking when milk has doubled in volume.

4. Remove the lid and place in the microwave. Heat on high for about 45 seconds, but keep an eye out to make sure that the foaminess doesn’t deflate.

5. If you don’t wish to use the microwave, you can put milk into a saucepan. Get the milk to a foamy, almost boil, while stirring as it heats.

5. Pour the hot coffee and steamed milk into a large cup or Café Au Lait bowl.

6. Stir the liquids together, and spoon off the foam from as you stir.

Why Use a Café Au Lait Bowl Instead of a Cup?

While you can use a large cup, like one of the popular soup mugs, a Café Au Lait bowl is highly recommended for the best experience with your French hot coffee drink.

These bowls are usually decorative, though often come in plain porcelain or ceramic. Their size makes it easier to stir your coffee and milk seamlessly, and with less mess.

Plus, there’s just something about having a more authentic experience of using the intended glassware.

How to Best Enjoy Your Café Au Lait

After making this delightful coffee drink in your Café Au Lait bowl, you should enjoy a croissant or other French breakfast pastry with it. You can add a garnish of some sort to the Café Au Lait, as well, which will tweak the flavor. Try a sprig of fresh mint for a fresh, unique taste, or a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg to spice things up instead.

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