Cafe au Lait vs Caffe Latte: What’s The Difference?

When it comes to cafe au Lait and caffe latte, the differences may seem subtle at first. Both drinks are variations of a caffeinated espresso-based beverage served in a cup, but cafe au lait stands out with its unique combination of ingredients.

What’s cafe au Lait?

what is cafe au lait

Cafe au lait is a traditional French drink made from equal parts steamed milk and strong, black coffee. The name translates into ‘coffee with milk’ from the French language, and this sums up its ingredients. It’s a typical coffee drink prepared using a Fench Press or a drip coffee machine. In this case, the coffee fills half the space, while the rest is occupied by milk. The milk is usually heated to 65°C (150°F) so it does not burn the tongue, and cafe au lait can be served in a bowl or mug for a more authentic cafe experience.

What’s a Caffe Latte?

what is caffe latte means

Caffe latte, on the other hand, is an Italian-style coffee drink made with a single shot of espresso, steamed milk, and topped off with a thin layer of foam. Caffe latte is served in a wider cup than cafe au lait, which contributes to its more intense and layered flavor.

Caffe Latte vs Cafe au Lait 

Though both types of coffee are made with milk, there remain some distinct areas separating them, and here are the key differences.

caffe latte vs cafe au lait

  1. The amount of milk used differs, with a latte having more milk than a lait. While preparing a latte, one uses almost double the amount of steamed milk to espresso, and then adds a thin layer of milk foam.  For the lait, the milk-to-coffee ratio is set at 1:1.
  2. Latte purely uses espresso while Cafe au Lait is prepared with filter coffee. While both types of coffee require strong coffee, coffee au Lait uses filter coffee, and this can be traced to its popularity with the masses. Of course, one can also use espresso in preparing the coffee if they require an extra snazzy flavor. For the latte, it ALWAYS uses an espresso shot. Non-negotiable or else it loses authenticity.
  3. The serving sizes differ since the Cafe au Lait allows some creativity. A standard espresso shot is 3 oz/88 ml and everything depends on this. Fortunately, the Cafe au Lait gives you room to be wild depending on the brewing method used. Normally when I’m enjoying my Lait, I go for 10 oz/300 ml, with a slightly higher coffee concentration compared to the milk, and this gives maximum pleasure. Go forth and find your taste!

Finally …

All in all cafe au lait and caffe latte are both delicious coffee drinks that offer distinct differences in taste and texture. Cafe au lait is a comforting, cafe-style beverage with a mild flavor that can be enjoyed at any time of day, while a caffe latte offers a more intense coffee experience perfect for those looking for an extra caffeine boost. No matter which one you choose, both cafe au lait and caffe latte are sure to bring a delicious cafe experience right to your home.


What is the difference between a cappuccino and a cafe au lait?

A cappuccino is a cafe-style beverage made from espresso, steamed milk, and foam. Cafe au lait consists of equal parts strong black coffee and steamed milk, served in a bowl or mug.

Is a latte and a caffe latte the same thing?

In simple terms, the answer is a big YES.

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