café con leche vs. latte – what is the difference?

A café con leche and a café latte are two coffee classics. However, when we look at what makes these classics different, we find that while the differences may only be minor, the outcome is considerably different. So, let’s look at cafe con leche vs. latte.

a cup of café con leche vs. latte

What is Cafe con Leche?

Cafe con leche is a classic coffee enjoyed in Latin America and Spain and traditionally served for breakfast with toast or pan tostado – in Colombia, it’s served with a warm arepa con queso (corn arepa with cheese) or huevos pericos (Colombian scrambled eggs). Cafe con leche is equal parts coffee and hot milk – most commonly made with whole milk rather than low-fat milk. Served in coffee shops and bakeries across many Spanish-speaking countries, cafe con leche is a popular coffee drink to many.

Café con leche vs. latte

What is a latte?

A latte is a strong coffee and twice the amount of milk. However, in the case of a latte, the milk is steamed, creating a thin layer of foam, which is the building block of a classic, regular latte. Steaming the milk requires a coffee or espresso machine with a steam wand or an at-home milk frother.

You can also use the steaming wand to heat the milk and build a thick layer of foam, forming into beautiful coffee art, like the trendy coffee leaf. But, of course, an at-home frother is ideal for making a latte without a fancy steaming wand.

The Difference between Cafe con leche and latte.

café con leche vs. latte

  1. Cafe con leche has less milk or a 1:1 ratio of milk to coffee – equal parts hot milk and coffee are poured into a cup. Whole dairy milk and a double shot of espresso create the perfect cup of coffee in the classic cafe con leche. The milk is heated on the stovetop using a small pot.
  2. The Café latte is 1:3 part coffee to milk. However, instead of scalded or hot milk, the latte incorporates steamed milk or frothed milk – the milk is steamed using a wand in espresso-style coffee makers. The steam wand injects air and steam into the milk, forming a light to thick layer of milk or espuma de leche that lends itself to beautiful “latte art.” The hot coffee then comes together with the steamed and silky milk beautifully.


Because both require heating milk, coffee enthusiasts appreciate steamed or scalded milk with the combination of espresso shots as a better choice than cold milk with a hot espresso. When the milk reaches a boiling point, it becomes slightly sweeter and nuttier, making a big difference in the coffee.

cafe latte in a mug next to a cake
cafe con leche vs. latte

The Coffee

The ideal coffee for the best cafe con leche or latte is espresso. Espresso is when a mild coffee bean is roasted to a darker, bolder flavor. Colombian coffee is advertised as an excellent coffee because the bean is ideal for roasting. After all, it is naturally mild and roasts well- without turning bitter. Recently, coffee beverages have advertised their use of Colombian coffee beans. However, there are also high-quality beans in other parts of South America and different continents. In recent years with the amount of espresso on the market, a coffee enthusiast has much to choose from.


Can you make a cafe con leche or a latte with drip coffee?

Yes, you can increase the strength of the drip coffee by increasing the quantity or the power of the actual bean or ground coffee. Latte drinkers may prefer a stovetop espresso maker like a Moka Pot. Or a french press to a regular coffee or a traditional coffee machine.

Is a latte stronger than a coffee?

It truly depends on the cup of coffee. However, a latte is made with espresso, naturally more robust than a milder bean traditionally used to brew a regular cup of coffee. However, a caffe latte has more milk than a classic cup of coffee, so it might taste slightly similar or more decadent than a regular cup.

Is a latte only made with coffee?

A latte is not only coffee. It has a lot of milk and can be served either hot or cold. A latte has a 1:3 ratio of espresso to steamed milk.

How can I make a latte with foam at home?

There are espresso coffee makers with steaming wands available for at-home use. You can also buy a frother and milk foamer in the comfort of your home.

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