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Cafe au Lait vs Latte: What Makes them Different?

Dave Carter

Published: September 9, 2021

Last updated: October 23, 2022

Coffee is a morning ritual for many people. Some drink it black, some add milk and sugar, and others sweeten their coffee with flavored syrups or chocolate powders. One of the most popular additions to coffee is a foamed topping called a latte. A cafe au lait is similar to a latte in that it also has milk added but isn't as foamy as lattes. 

So, which one should you order on your next espresso run? In this article, we will look at the differences between these two beverages and which one you should be drinking to get your caffeine fix without adding too much cream or sugar into your diet! Therefore, keep reading to find out which is the best between cafe au lait vs latte.

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Cafe au Lait vs Latte: Origins and Recipes

Things That Make Difference Between Cafe Au Lait vs. Latte

When it comes to ordering an espresso-based-drink, there are many options. All coffee drinkers know how hard it is to choose between the two most popular coffee drinks due to the Cafe au lait vs cafe latte difference. 

However, the differences between a latte and a cafe au lait extend beyond just what is in them. There is enough variety in both beverages that it can also be difficult to determine what they are called because many coffee shops use different terms for these drinks or even mix up their recipes. There are hundreds of variations of each drink, depending on which part of the world you live. Let us delve into the origins and recipes of cafe au lait vs latte.

Origin of Cafe au lait

The cafe au lait was originally introduced in France way back in the 17th century. The term "au lait" in French means "with milk," which is why it is added to the coffee drink. Plus, this beverage is traditionally made with freshly brewed coffee and hot milk. Therefore, our recommended ingredients for a great tasting cafe au lait are hot coffee, milk, and a French press. 

Although it is typically made with freshly brewed coffee and milk, some cafes have been known to use instant coffee or espresso powder not to waste any leftovers from the day before. In this case, we recommend using a medium-fine ground coffee and a Breville milk cafe for steaming.

Cafe au lait Recipe:


  • 1 tablespoon of medium ground coffee beans
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) steamed milk
  • Water


  1. Start by pouring about 8 oz of hot water into your French press. It doesn't matter how many cups you use as long as the total volume is about the same as it would be if you were making coffee (8-12 oz).
  2. Then, add 1 level tablespoon of medium-fine ground coffee into the French press and give it a slight swirl to help the coffee settle.
  3. Next, pour about half of the hot water you used into your mug and place it in a microwave oven for 20 seconds or until it's nice and hot.
  4. After that, carefully remove the French press from over the sink and slowly plunge on the plunger, which will prevent the final product from being too sludgy.
  5. Once all of the coffee has been poured into your mug, pour in about 3 oz of warm milk and give it a gentle stir until uniform. You can adjust the temperature of your milk or coffee to please your taste buds.
  6. Enjoy!

Origin of Latte

How to Make Lattes Recipe at your Home

Although it originated in Italy, latte art slowly became one of America's most popular coffee drinks, especially in New Orleans. Although some people think that cramming as much milk as possible into an espresso drink will lead to a tasty treat, this dilutes the taste of your espresso. However, there is a time and place for everything, and some latte drinkers prefer extra-large coffees with lots of milk. 

When making this kind of Italian coffee beverage, we recommend using a semi-automatic or fully automatic espresso machine that enables steaming and dispensing like the Saeco Vienna Plus. In addition, we recommend using a fine ground coffee and a milk frother such as the Nespresso Aeroccino3 to make micro-foam. You can also mix it with chicory. Chicory is a plant that can be used to make coffee. People often drink it in espresso or latte because its caffeine gives them energy when they are tired.

Cafe latte recipe:

This is a simple recipe for a caffe latte that you can use at home.


  • 4 oz (118 ml) hot espresso
  • 8 oz (236 ml) steamed milk, hot or cold
  • 1 tablespoon medium ground coffee


  1. Start by preheating your milk frother to the correct temperature and then placing it on top of your mug. For a nice velvety tasting latte, we recommend steaming your milk for 30-40 seconds or until it is hot enough to dissolve sugar.
  2. Next, use an espresso machine with a dispenser to make 4 oz of hot espresso, which will be poured into your cup first. Since this amount is equal to two shots of espresso, you will need about 1 level tablespoon of medium ground coffee. And if you are looking for a light and creamy taste, we recommend making the foam before adding anything else. However, if you prefer a stronger taste without foam, make the foam after adding the espresso.
  3. Preheat 8 oz of milk to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit/60 degrees Celsius, then add 1 level tablespoon of medium ground coffee into your Saeco Vienna Plus's portafilter and turn it upside down. This will eliminate any excess water or coffee grounds that might affect the taste of your drink.
  4. Then, screw on the portafilter back in place so it is locked in properly, and hit the drip stop button several times until no more drops are coming out.
  5. While you are waiting for your espresso to finish making, pour 4 oz of steamed milk into a mug or glass with a handle that should take anywhere from 20-30 seconds, depending on how much steam power your frother has.
  6. Finally, pour your espresso shot into the milk and then use a spoon to make micro-foam on top of your latte carefully. Then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy!

What is the Difference Between Cafe au Lait and Latte?

Learn More About What is the Difference Between Cafe Latte and Cafe au Lait

This is a common question among coffee drinkers, and it can be challenging to determine what distinguishes them from each other. While both drinks contain espresso and milk, there are some key differences in what goes into them and how they turn out. Therefore, let us look at the difference between cafe au lait and latte based on colour, temperature, quantity, coffee strength, etc.

Colour: Despite what some people think, a latte does not appear lighter than a cafe au lait. The reason for this is that if you add chocolate or vanilla syrup to your drink, it will significantly enhance the amount of foam and lighten up the color of your beverage. If you want to keep things simple and essential in terms of adding flavorings, we recommend sticking with just steamed milk and espresso so you can enjoy the full taste and aroma of your favorite coffee.

Temperature: In a café au lait vs Latte, a cafe au lait contains hot milk instead of steamed milk, making it much warmer than a latte due to the longer contact time between the liquid and glass. This also means that if your café au lait were served in a cold glass, you would have to drink it a lot faster than a latte that was done in a mug.

Quantity: Since cafe au lait contains more espresso and less milk, this means there is less of the steam needed to create foam. This is why it takes less time for your café au lait to be ready when compared to making a latte. The volume of steamed milk used in both drinks does not differ significantly, but if anything, the latte may contain slightly more because it's usually made with whole or 2% milk instead of skim like the cafe au lait, which tends to make up about half and a half (50/50).

Flavor: It can be difficult for many people to taste the difference between a latte and a café au lait because they expect to taste two different flavors. However, if you are looking for the best of both worlds without making any flavor adjustments, we recommend ordering an iced latte with milk on the side so you can enjoy both espresso and milk at your leisure.

Coffee strength: Caffeine content does not differ between cafe au lait and latte since it is based on how much espresso is used in each drink. This means that if you drink one of our delicious espressos or cappuccino before bedtime, it will likely keep you up all night long, which is just what some people are looking for while others are trying to avoid!

Texture: Although both latte vs cafe au lait drinks are similar, the most significant difference is in the texture. Latte is a drink with a lot of foam on top, while cafe au lait has a layer of less creamy consistency which comes from steamed milk only. In addition, because there isn't any espresso added to cafe au lait, it's not as thick and flavourful as its latte counterpart.

10 Best Espresso Machines

The Best Espresso Machines that You Can Buy Online.
Extensively Reviewed by a Coffee-Enthusiastic.


Both drinks are delicious for different reasons, so no matter which one you choose, you will enjoy your next cup! We hope that having more information about cafe au lait vs latte will help you reach the conclusion that both drinks are equally as good if not better than what is being offered at other coffee shops around town!

Dave Carter

As a coffee enthusiastic Dave share with you his latest and greatest coffee news and insights. He es always interested in trying out new things about the best bean of the world!

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