A Coffee Enthusiast’s Guide to What Is the Difference Between a Latte and a Cafe Con Leche

There was a friend’s meetup this Thursday in our favorite cafe, but it was a little awkward. Why? Because my friend Natasha who thinks of herself as a coffee enthusiast, likes to butt in with information regarding coffee no one asks for in the middle of juicy gossip. 

I tried to make conversation and asked her, what is the difference between a latte and a cafe con Leche? Turns out, the latte is a milkier variation than a Cafe con Leche. While you put 1:1 coffee and milk in a cafe con Leche, you put 1:2 of the same in a latte. What’s more, a latte is Italian in origin, and a cafe con Leche is Spanish. And if you see a layer of foam on top, it is a latte, definitely not a cafe con Leche!

When it comes to other coffees, things are different too, compared to both the cafe con Leche and the latte. This is why this article will discuss the likes of cappuccino, cafe au lait, macchiato, and flat white as well to help you understand the differences better. Let’s see how!

What is the Difference Between a Latte and a Cafe Con Leche?

There are a lot of differences between the two, that include their meanings, their ingredients, the preparation, and of course, the taste.

So first comes latte. In Italy, if you order a latte, you will get just milk. You have to say cafe latte, which is literally “coffee and milk.” On the other hand, cafe con Leche means “coffee and milk,” so no issues there!

Lattes, again, can be had all through the day and are especially popular in the afternoon or onward when hanging out with friends. Cafe con Leche is usually consumed at breakfast.

When it comes to the ingredients, in a latte, espresso and steamed milk is used in a 1:2 ratio. The more milk in them compared to cafe con Leche makes them milkier and results in a natural foam. But there can be additional foam too! Also, lattes are given added flavors to make them tastier: like hazelnut latte, red velvet latte, or things like that. While making a latte, steamed milk is added to the coffee to make the foamy top layer and a warm cup of coffee.

On the other hand, cafe con Leche is made of equal parts of espresso and whole milk. The milk is different too. It is added just before it hits the boiling point, is usually heated with a steaming wand, and is scalded, not steamed. There is no microfoam here, and it is hardly flavored!

In terms of taste, lattes having more milk are creamier, thicker, and denser than cafe con leches.

What is Better: Cafe Con Leche VS Cappuccino VS Cafe Latte?

There is no way to say which one is better as each one suits the taste of each individual coffee lover!

However, if I had to create a difference, it would be something like this:

In terms of froth/microfoam/foam: cafe con leche<cafe latte<cappuccino

In terms of milk content, cafe con leche<cappuccino< caffe latte (latte and cappuccino having nearly the same amount of steamed milk may result in them both tasting the same)

In terms of milk type: cafe con Leche: scalded; caffe latte: steamed; cappuccino: steamed and frothed.

So depending on your taste and preferences, you can have your pick! And if you don’t like any of the three above, you could always go for a macchiato, which neither uses steamed or scalded milk, but just milk froth. Heads up, this is the least creamy!

What is the Meaning of Cafe Con Leche VS Flat White?

Although they are both made from scalded milk, compared to the cafe con Leche, the flat white has microfoam steamed milk. It is almost near the cafe con Leche but is separated by a foam that may or may not be added. Cafe con Leche has no foam, ever.

So if you want a cafe con Leche in Australia that has a touch of foam on top, you’ll get a flat white!

Is there any Difference Between Cafe Con Leche and Cafe Au Lait?

No, there is no difference between cafe con Leche and cafe au lait. Both of them are the aliases of the same drink in Spain and South America, depending on where your cafe is located!

While making them both, you have to use Espresso or Mocha and milk beaten with a steaming wand. In order to make a cafe au lait or cafe con Leche, you have to take: 4 oz of strong coffee, 4 oz of milk, an 8 oz cup, a frothing/steaming wand, and a coffee maker.

Is There any Difference Between Cafe Au Lait and Caffe Latte?

Yes. There are some differences between cafe au lait and caffe latte. Since cafe au lait is the same as cafe con Leche, hence the same differences as mentioned before hold true between them.

Again, if you are in Germany and hear Milchkaffee, this is also the same as cafe au lait and cafe con Leche, and means the same “coffee and milk.” So this one also has the same difference compared to a cafe latte.

Related: Can You Make Latte Art with Regular Coffee? Learn the 6 Smart Hacks!

Final Words

So that was all about your pressing question of what is the difference between a latte and a cafe con Leche. As you saw, there are differences in their milk content, their taste, as well as their origin.

But they have a common bond of being made with espresso. So not everything is a rivalry between them. Again, there is practically no difference between a cafe au lait and a Cafe con Leche. However, the former is different from a latte.

Again if you wanted a lot of microfoam, you could go for the cappuccino, and if you wanted less creamy options, then definitely a macchiato. After all these, the next time you make a visit to the cafe, you definitely know what you’re getting!

Checkout the best cups for latte art!

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