Café au lait is a popular French coffee drink made from coffee and steamed milk. You can make it at home using a drip coffee machine, French press, or stovetop coffee maker. This article will show you how to make a traditional French café au lait and an American version using a drip coffee machine or French press. We’ll also give you some tips and variations to help you make the perfect café au lait for your taste.
What is Cafe au Lait?
Cafe au lait is a traditional French coffee drink originated made from equal parts steamed milk and cursed coffee. It is typically made with a strong, dark roast coffee and is served in a large bowl or mug.
The traditional French cafe au lait is often served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, but it can also be enjoyed in black. In America, the cafe au lait is sometimes made with reverse coffee and served in a larger cup with steamed milk.
It is traditionally served in the morning as a breakfast beverage but can also be enjoyed at any time of the day.
What Equipment and Ingredients Needed for Cafe au Lait?
- Espresso machine: An espresso machine is necessary to make café au lait at home, as it is used to make the cursed coffee. You can use a French press or a stovetop espresso maker if you do not have an espresso machine.
- Coffee beans: It is important to use high-quality coffee beans for café au lait. Look for beans that are labeled as “espresso” or “dark roast” for the best results.
- Steamed milk: Steamed milk is the other main ingredient in café au lait. Whole milk is the traditional choice, but skim soy or almond milk can be used.
- Milk frother: A milk frother can be used to steam and froth the milk, but it’s optional if you don’t have one.
- Measuring tools: Measuring tools such as a scale or measuring cup are important for ensuring that the correct proportion of coffee to milk is used.
Follow these Steps to Make Cafe au Lait at Home
Step 1: Preparing the coffee
Preparing the coffee is the first step in making cafe au lait at home, and this step is crucial as it sets the foundation for the rest of the drink. Cafe au lait, which means “coffee with milk” in French, is traditionally made with equal parts steamed milk and brewed coffee.
To make the best flavor, start by brewing the coffee using your espresso machine or French press. For every cup of steamed milk, you’ll need about 1/2 cup of brewed coffee. Use high-quality coffee beans, and make sure to use the right amount of water to get the best flavor.
In New Orleans, cafe au lait is made with a strong coffee, similar to what’s used for lattes. Combining steamed milk and brewed coffee creates a smooth and creamy drink that’s perfect for any time of day.
Step 2: Steaming the milk
The second step in making cafe au lait at home is to steam and froth the milk. This step is just as important as the first as it adds a creamy and velvety texture to the drink. The type of milk you use can greatly impact the final flavor of your cafe au lait, so it’s important to choose the best milk for your taste.
To steam the milk, you can use a milk frother or heat it on the stove and use a whisk to create froth. Start with cold milk and heat it until it’s hot to the touch but not boiling. If you’re using a milk frother, pour the milk into the frother and turn it on.
The frother will steam and froth the milk, creating a creamy and frothy texture. If you don’t have a frother, you can heat the milk on the stove and use a whisk to create froth. Heat the milk until it’s hot, then use the whisk to create froth by rapidly whisking the milk until it becomes frothy.
It’s important to remember that steaming the milk too much can result in scalded milk, which will affect the flavor of your cafe au lait. The ideal temperature for steamed milk is around 150°F, so use a thermometer to ensure the milk reaches the right temperature.
Step 3: Mixing the coffee and milk
The third step in making cafe au lait at home is to mix the coffee and milk. After preparing the coffee and steaming the milk, it’s time to combine the two to create the final drink.
Slowly pour the steamed milk into the brewed coffee, being careful to maintain the proportion of 1/2 cup of coffee to 1 cup of milk. You can use a large cup to serve the drink, or if you prefer, you can pour it into a mug.
Cafe au lait originated in French-speaking areas and is a popular drink for brunch. It’s a milder version of a latte and is made with equal parts steamed milk and brewed coffee, making it a great alternative for those who prefer a less strong coffee. The frothed milk combined with the brewed coffee creates a smooth and creamy drink that’s perfect for any time of day.
Extra Tips for achieving the perfect café au lait
Making the perfect cafe au lait requires experimentation and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you achieve the ideal drink:
- Ensure the coffee is hot: The coffee should be hot but not boiling. If the coffee is too hot, it will burn and ruin the flavor. The drink will only be as enjoyable if the coffee is hot enough.
- Steamed and Frothed Milk: The milk should be steamed and frothed to the desired consistency. The froth should be light and airy, and the steamed milk should be hot but not scalding. If the milk is too cold, it won’t mix well with the coffee; if it’s too hot, it will burn.
- Experiment with proportions: Experiment with different proportions of coffee to milk until you find the perfect balance for your taste. Some people prefer a stronger coffee flavor, while others like a milder drink. You can try different ratios until you find the perfect balance for you.
- Temperature: Ensure that both the coffee and the milk are at the same temperature. If one is hotter than the other, the drink will be less enjoyable.
Making cafe au lait at home is a simple and enjoyable process. With the right tools, such as an espresso machine or French press, and a little bit of patience, you can create a delicious cafe au lait that rivals those found in coffee shops.
Remember to experiment with different coffee-to-milk ratios, use hot but not boiling coffee, and steam and froth the milk to the desired consistency to achieve the perfect cafe au lait. So why not try it and enjoy a taste of this classic French drink in the comfort of your own home?