Cafe con leche is a traditional morning breakfast beverage made with strong Cuban espresso, whole milk, and sugar usually served with buttered Cuban toast.
You know how they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Well, in my world, Cuban breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It usually consists of pastelitos (pastries), croquetas, Cuban toast, and Cuban coffee or cafe con leche. Literally, my favorite meal of the day!
What is cafe con leche?
Cafe con leche translates to “coffee with milk” and it’s a breakfast drink that originated in Spain and then was adopted by the Hispanic community. This drink is made differently depending on where it is served. For Cubans, it’s made with strong Cuban espresso, very hot whole milk, and sugar.
In Cuban restaurants in South Florida, you are usually served the Cuban coffee and milk separately so you can prepare it to your liking. If you want it lighter, you add more milk, less espresso. If you’d like the drink darker, you add less milk, more espresso. You can also sweeten to your liking too.
What do you need to make Cuban coffee?
To make Cuban coffee, you need an espresso maker. This is the one I have. Every espresso maker is different so make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Typically, you would add water into the espresso maker then fill the filter with the ground espresso. Close the coffee pot, screwing the bottom part firmly onto the top part then place it on the stove on medium-high heat. As soon as it starts brewing, turn down the heat to the lowest setting until it’s done. Click here to get your Cuban coffee starter kit!
How To Make Cafe Con Leche
- Make the Cuban espresso. Fill your espresso maker with water and ground espresso according to the manufacturer’s directions and brew the espresso.
- Heat up the milk. In a saucepan, heat the milk until very hot (close to boiling). Remove it from the heat and transfer it to a coffee mug. If you’re using a microwave, pour the milk in a coffee mug and heat up on HIGH for 1 minute or until very hot. Stir in the sugar.
- Mix the coffee and milk. Once you’ve heated the milk and coffee is ready, start with 1/4 cup of coffee. Pour coffee into the mug and stir until light brown/beige color. Taste adjust as necessary. If you want more coffee flavor, add more coffee. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar.
Questions about Cuban Coffee + Milk
A latte is Italian and has more milk than a cafe con leche. The ratio of milk to coffee in a latte is 2:1 and usually has a thin layer of foam on top.
Yes, it is. It is twice as strong as American coffee and tastes very strong which is why it’s usually sweetened. Click here to buy Cuban dark roast ground coffee.
Cuban espresso is a dark roast with an intensely aromatic, rich, strong taste. When mixed with scalded milk and sugar, it tastes like pure heaven.
How To Make Buttered Cuban Toast
It is customary to make buttered Cuban toast for breakfast to accompany your Cuban cafe con leche.
To make Cuban toast (or Tostada Cubana in Spanish), cut the loaf of Cuban bread into a smaller piece, roughly 7-8-inch long. Slice it lengthwise and butter both sides and the outside as well. On a sandwich press or in a hot skillet, toast the bread until golden brown on both sides then cut diagonally. Dip the toast into your cafe con leche and get ready to fall in love!
Pro tip: Cuban bread is made with no preservatives and as a result, it gets stale quickly and will harden if not eaten on the same day. You can still eat it the following day but it will not be as soft as it was on the day it was baked.
Cafe con Leche (Cuban Coffee with Milk)
- 1/4 cup Cuban espresso or more to taste
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar or more to taste
- Pinch of salt optional
- Fill your espresso maker with water and ground espresso according to the manufacturer's directions. Place on the stove at medium-high heat and brew the espresso. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat the milk until very hot (close to boiling). Remove it from the heat and transfer to a coffee mug. If you’re using a microwave, pour the milk in a coffee mug and heat up on HIGH for 1 minute or until very hot. Stir in the sugar.
- Once you’ve heated the milk and coffee is ready, start with 1/4 cup of coffee. Pour coffee into the mug and stir until light brown/beige color.
- Taste adjust as necessary. If you want more coffee flavor, add more coffee. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar. If you wanted to elevate the flavor, you can add a very small pinch of salt to the cafe con leche. Enjoy!