Café Con Leche- The Best Latte You’ve Never Had

Miami Coffee Phenomenon

This is the last installment in our ‘Brewing Cuban Coffee at Home’ series. If you missed our previous installments, check them out to see how to prepare colada, cortadito, and cafecito.

Have you ever taken a sip of a latte and thought “WOW, this must be the best thing in the world”? Well, it sure is one of the best things, but we’re willing to bet you’re only that impressed because you have yet to try café con leche.

Café con leche is the Cuban equivalent of a latte. As the famous quote goes: “what tequila is to liquor, café Cubano is to the world of coffee.”  Naturally, you’d expect any type of Cuban coffee to taste better than its equivalent, and café con leche doesn’t disappoint.

What is Café Con Leche and What’s the Best Way to Drink It?

Café con leche is essentially a shot of Cuban coffee mixed with warm milk. Traditionally, it should contain equal proportions of coffee and milk. However, how much milk you add depends on your preference.

If you’re ordering from a ventanita, the barista might ask you if you want it oscurito or clarito– dark or light. If you prefer an equal mixture, feel free to say mediano and you’ll get a gold-colored coffee that’s as sweet as it is rich.

Locals in Little Havana drink café con leche early in the morning. In fact, the morning only starts after they’ve finished their tacitas of café con leche. Thankfully, the generous serving of milk ensures that the coffee is mild, even on an empty stomach.

What’s the Difference Between Café Con Leche and Cortadito?

You’ve probably heard of cortadito, sweet Cuban coffee with a shot of milk. Before you get confused, please note:

  •         Café con leche has much more milk than a cortadito. Even the most oscurito (darker) café con leche will have much more milk than a cortadito. Café con leche’s defining feature is its equal ratio between coffee and milk.
  •         You can prepare a cortadito with regular or evaporated milk, but café con leche is always prepared with cow’s milk. Always.

How Do You Make Café Con Leche At Home?

Remember: in Cuban coffee, the foam comes from the unique blend of Arabica and Robusta beans and from mixing the strongest drops of coffee with sugar. Just make sure that you’re using a good brand of Cuban coffee, and you’re good to go.

First, make your Cuban coffee like you always do. Second, add as much warm milk as desired.

Anything Else?

If you’re feeling adventurous, you might want to try adding a tiny pinch of salt to your café con leche. This is one of the ways you can spot old-timers at ventanitas. Also, you’ll most likely appreciate how the salt enhances the coffee’s flavors. 

However, in the unlikely event that you don’t care for it, skip this step the next time you prepare café con leche 😉


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