Café au lait

Café au lait

10 min
Discover the charm of Parisian mornings with our café au lait recipe, a perfect mix of strong coffee and smooth milk that warms the soul and pleases the senses. This timeless drink, simply 'coffee with milk', stands as a favourite in coffee culture for its straightforward elegance. Prepare it quickly with a few ingredients, and enjoy a cup that's both soothing and stylish, sweetened just how you like it.


  • Heat the milk and pour into a glass.
  • Stir in the instant coffee powder and sugar if preferred.

Café au lait FAQs

Read below to find out more about our café au lait recipe.

What is café au lait?
Café au lait stands out as a cherished French beverage, made with coffee and warm milk, usually served without any froth. Translated, it means 'coffee with milk', and is known for its smooth, creamy consistency. Enjoyed slowly, especially in the mornings, it offers a comforting experience. In contrast to white coffee, which has cold milk or whitener, café au lait includes warm milk for a silkier feel. It also differs from a latte, which is creamier due to more layers of milk and foam, and stronger with espresso as one of its main ingredients.
What is the ideal temperature for heating milk in a café au lait?
Heat milk to 65-70 °C (149-158 °F) for the best café au lait. This warms the milk just right to mix smoothly with the coffee, giving you a rich flavour and creamy texture without burning the milk. If microwaving the milk, heat it until you can comfortably touch the container. Keep an eye on it to prevent overheating, as this can cause the milk to lose its creaminess, which is essential for a good café au lait.
How do you traditionally serve café au lait?
A café au lait is traditionally served in a large mug or bowl. This provides plenty of room for the beverage and suits the French habit of dipping pastries into the coffee. Enjoying café au lait this way also enriches the taste experience, blending the smooth coffee with the texture of the pastry.
What is the best coffee to use for café au lait?
Though our recipe includes instant coffee, you can also choose a strong dark roast for a bolder taste. These coffees have a full flavour that pairs well with warmed milk, creating the classic café au lait balance.
Can I make café au lait with any type of milk?
Traditional café au lait is made with whole milk, which offers a deep, creamy flavour. However, you can use various milk types to suit your taste. Plant-based drinks like almond, soy, oat and coconut work as great substitutes. Keep in mind, alternative drinks will introduce their own distinct flavours and may slightly change the café au lait's texture.


200 ml
Instant coffee powder
2 tsp
Granulated sugar to taste

Master the art of café au lait with these tips.

Raise your coffee ritual and enjoy every sip with more pleasure and style.

The French tradition of café au lait

The French tradition of café au lait is about more than taste: it's about enjoying a relaxed and slow start to your day. Serve it in a large cup or bowl to enjoy the French custom of dipping pastries like croissants or pain au chocolat into your coffee. Take time to pause and savour the moment, one sip at a time.

Pair your café au lait with this

Choose freshly baked croissants for their buttery taste that blends seamlessly with your coffee. Add variety with scones like blueberry, which offer a complementing taste to the coffee's richness. End on a sweet note with chocolate banana or apple streusel muffins. These pastries enhance your café au lait by adding a mix of flavours and textures that make your coffee moment even more special.

Enhance the flavours with these sweeteners

Classic choices like granulated or brown sugar add a clean sweetness that pairs well with the strong coffee. For a richer taste, add honey or maple syrup for their unique floral or woodsy flavours. For a luxurious café au lait, mix in caramel or chocolate syrup. Each sweetener lets you customise your drink, enhancing the traditional coffee and milk combination with your own flair.

Try these variations

Variations on the traditional café au lait offer a creative twist on this beloved classic. One popular variation is the addition of flavoured syrups such as vanilla, hazelnut or caramel, which infuse the coffee-milk blend with enticing aromas and hints of sweetness. Introduce a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg for a cozy and complex flavour. These spices bring a comforting aroma and a hint of spice that enhances the coffee's deep flavours. For those wanting to indulge their sweet tooth, a dollop of whipped cream or a sprinkle of cocoa powder can transform the café au lait into a decadent dessert-like treat.