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Café Con Leche vs Latte: What’s The Difference?

There are many coffee drinks available on the menu at your local coffee shop, both hot and iced, and it can be intimidating trying to tell them apart if you’re new to the world of coffee.

Many coffee-based drinks are similar and therefore can be hard to tell apart.

Cafe con leche and latte can be especially confusing as they have the same ingredients.

However, there are differences in the way that they are made and the ensuing taste of the final drink.

What is a Cafe con Leche?

Literally translated from Spanish, café con leche means coffee with milk.

This drink comes from Spain and other Spanish-speaking destinations, such as Cuba, Panama, and Puerto Rico. 

In these locations, coffee refers to a strong espresso rather than the filtered, drip brewed coffee that might come to mind for Americans.

To make a traditional café con leche, a strong espresso is used along with the milk of your choosing.

Some popular choices include whole milk, almond, soy or condensed milk for a sweeter result.

The milk is heated to be extremely hot and added to the coffee before any foam can be created.

A café con leche uses equal parts coffee and milk to make a drink that is strong but palatable.

This means that if you use four ounces of coffee, you’ll also use four ounces of milk.

What is a Latte?

The first café lattes were served in Italy back in the 1700s.

Since then, the popularity of the drink has endured, making it a staple on coffeehouse menus around the world.

In Italian, café latte means coffee with milk.

Therefore, café latte and café con leche mean the same thing in two different languages.  

The recipe for a café latte uses double the amount of milk to espresso, making it weaker than a café con leche.

This makes it ideal for those who don’t enjoy a strong coffee taste, as the extra milk takes away from the bitter coffee taste.

For example, if you use four ounces of coffee, you’ll want to combine It with eight ounces of milk to make a latte.

What are the Differences Between Latte and Café con Leche?

While they share the same ingredients, the way these drinks are made is different, changing the taste of the end result.

To create the signature foam that sits on top of a latte, the scalding hot milk is frothed before it is added to the espresso.

This is done using a milk frother or by quickly whisking the hot milk by hand until small bubbles appear.

This frothy milk is then added into a cup with the coffee already in it, so it dispenses evenly through the cup instead of having it all rise to the top.

You can customize the level of foam in the cup as you find out what kind of café latte you prefer. With more foam, the coffee taste is muted.

This is known as a “dry” café latte. 

While lattes can be flavored with syrups like caramel or pumpkin spice, the café con leche is usually served simply so the drinker can savor the strong coffee flavor.

While both these drinks are delicious, which one you prefer depends on your personal taste and how much you like the taste of espresso. 

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