It’s All in the Milk – Delicious Coffee Specialties With Milk

It’s All in the Milk – Delicious Coffee Specialties With Milk

Preparation tips for white coffee – from latte macchiato to cafe con leche

Milk and coffee go together like cream and cake. And the many international coffee specialties that would not exist without milk are just as delicious. From milk coffee to caffè latte, café au lait, café con leche and Viennese melange to flat white – people all over the world enjoy coffee with creamy milk. And although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are small but subtle differences between the individual lattes.

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The classic white coffee

In this country, the classic milk coffee consists of equal parts coffee and milk. The preparation is very easy and therefore not only possible in the café, but also at home at any time: The milk coffee can be prepared with filter coffee, which is why a simple coffee machine is sufficient. Use this machine to brew your favorite type of coffee in the desired strength and then fill it up with warm milk.

The milk coffee is usually served in an extra large cup or bowl, either in the morning for breakfast or in the afternoon with a delicious piece of cake. If desired, it can be refined with a little milk foam, which is not a must, but is a welcome extra for connoisseurs. A similar preparation of white coffee can be found in France.

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The French variant: Café au Lait

In France, milk coffee has the illustrious name of Café au Lait. The term literally means “coffee with milk”, and in fact Café au Lait consists almost exactly half of (filter) coffee and half of hot milk. The recipe for Café au Lait therefore corresponds exactly to that of latte, apart from the fact that the milk is added hot to the coffee.

In Parisian coffee houses, this variant of the milk coffee is also known under the name “Café Crème”. But be careful: If you order a “Café Crème” outside of the capital, you have to expect to be served coffee without milk but with cream.

Traditionally, the French enjoy coffee for breakfast with a piece of baguette or a fresh croissant, which they dip into the milk coffee before consumption.

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Caffè Latte vs. latte macchiato

The Italian variant of milk coffee is called Caffè Latte (also: Caffè e Latte). The coffee specialty here consists of a lot of hot milk and a double (sometimes a single) espresso. It is not common to use milk foam, but it does happen from time to time, not least because of the brief, hot frothing of the milk. Caffè Latte is a traditional breakfast drink. The Italians serve it in a large glass or in a flat coffee bowl, often with the typical almond cantuccini.


Attention: In Germany, some people like to shorten the latte macchiato (“speckled milk”) with “caffè latte”. Strictly speaking, this is not correct, because latte macchiato and caffè latte have different compositions. While caffè latte contains roughly the same amount of milk and coffee, latte macchiato consists of three layers: hot milk (bottom), espresso (middle) and milk foam (top).


Whether caffè latte or latte macchiato, an espresso machine or espresso pot is required for preparation. Milk foam can be prepared with a suitable hand frother or – if available – with the espresso machine or the fully automatic coffee machine.

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The Spanish counterpart: Café con Leche

The Spanish milk coffee is called Café con Leche and, like in Italy, consists of half (a double) espresso and milk. Compared to German latte, Café con Leche with coffee consists of more strongly roasted coffee beans. Traditionally, the milk required in Spain is served in a separate jug. Depending on the region, it is simply warmed or frothed milk that can be added to the espresso as desired.

For preparation at home, in addition to an espresso machine – if frothed milk is required – a milk frother is required. The Spaniards like to eat sweet pastries with their café con leche, such as the donut-like, deep-fried churro.

Austrian delicacies: Wiener Melange

If you want a milk coffee in a coffee house in Austria, you order a Melange (French: melanger = to mix). If this is also to be prepared with a portion of milk foam, it is a Viennese melange that has been available in the Austrian capital since 1830. Today it is a classic in the famous Viennese coffee houses and is often served in a large cup or glass with sugar or honey.

The Wiener Melange consists of a third of coffee, hot milk and frothed milk, which are put into the cup in this order. It is the ideal complement to the world-famous Sachertorte, but it also tastes good with any other cake and of course also for breakfast.

The trendsetter: Flat White

A specialty of white coffee is the so-called flat white. The name originally comes from Australia and New Zealand, where it has been used as a name for white coffee since the 1980s.

It refers to the fine layer of milk foam that extends to the rim of the cup and ends with it. Today the flat white is the common hot drink for breakfast in Australia. Flat white is also part of the standard range of coffee specialties in London and New York and is available in almost every café. The Flat White is a cappuccino (usually) decorated with latte art, which consists of a double ristretto, i.e. a strong espresso and milk. The special thing about milk is that it is only frothed very lightly, i.e. with very little air, and is therefore still almost liquid. Whole milk with a fat content of at least 3.8 percent is best for this.

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In direct comparison to the cappuccino, the Flat White has a larger proportion of coffee, but is served in the same cup size. If you want to prepare a flat white at home, you need an espresso machine with a steam nozzle to prepare the fine milk foam. First fill the espresso (about 30 ml) into the cup and then add the frothed milk. With a little dexterity and practice, the first attempts at latte art when pouring the milk will soon succeed.

Conclusion on the milk coffee specialties

  • Milk coffee is traditionally drunk in the morning or in the afternoon.
  • Every country has its own milk coffee specialty.
  • The main differences are found in the composition.
  • Depending on the type, filter coffee or espresso as well as heated, hot or frothed milk are used.