What is a Caffe Misto? How to Make This Coffee at Home?

crazy by Editorial Staff | Updated on April 28th, 2023

Welcome to Crazy Coffee Crave! We are your go-to source for all things coffee, providing you with expert knowledge and guidance to enhance your coffee experience. In this article, we will explore the world of Caffe Misto, also known as “café au lait,” and guide you on how to make this delightful coffee right in the comfort of your home.

What is Caffe Misto?

Caffe Misto is a popular drink made with brewed coffee and steamed milk. The name “Caffe Misto” translates to “coffee with milk” in French, perfectly capturing the essence of this beverage. Unlike a latte, where espresso is used, the coffee in a Caffe Misto is brewed using a French press or a drip-brewing method.

caffe misto

It is a simple yet satisfying coffee to make at home as there is no specific way to mix the coffee and milk. Some coffee shops steam the milk for a frothier texture, while others heat it. Either way, the milk should be hot and foam-free. It’s important not to confuse Caffe Misto with flat white coffee, which is made with cold milk instead of hot milk.

Now that we have introduced Caffe Misto, let’s delve deeper into its origin, flavor profile, and how you can make this delicious coffee at home. We’ll also address some commonly asked questions to ensure you have all the information you need to enjoy a perfect cup of Caffe Misto.

Origin of Caffe Misto

The origins of the coffee and milk combination in Caffe Misto can be traced back to China. Around 1660, Johan Nieuhof, the Dutch ambassador to China, is believed to have tasted this mixture for the first time. The concept of coffee with milk in a cafe setting is credited to a Polish store owner in Vienna.

While the origins of the term “café au lait” (popularly known as Caffe Misto by Starbucks) are unclear, it is believed to have originated in France during the 17th century. References to this drink can be found in the letters of Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, the marquise de Sevigne.

Starbucks misto

Flavor Profile of Caffe Misto

Caffe Misto offers a comfortable, no-frills appearance that may not be as artful as a latte but still appeals to coffee enthusiasts. It combines the strong flavor of coffee with the smoothness of milk, resulting in a pleasing taste. The coffee flavor in Caffe Misto can be robust, especially if brewed using a French press, which may lead to slight bitterness.

However, the overall integration of coffee and milk provides a smooth finish. When the milk is steamed, the lactose (milk sugars) become more soluble, contributing to a sweeter blend. Additionally, the milk texture is noticeably different due to the microfoam formed by the steam wand, setting it apart from simply adding milk to coffee

Café latte vs. Caffé misto

clear glass mug with latte art

The difference between a café latte and a Caffé Misto is so chaotic that some people mistake them for the same! This is understandable given that the names of both drinks translate to “coffee with milk” in different languages. However, you should be aware of a few subtle differences between a latte and a café au lait.

Brewing method

The major difference between a Misto and a latte is how the coffee is brewed. A Misto is either French-pressed or drip-brewed, unlike a latte made with espresso. An espresso machine makes making crema easier, which is a key component of latte art. Despite their external closeness in appearance, a latte is often more expensive than a Misto because of the use of espresso.

Caffeine and calorie content

What about the caffeine content, though? The following comparison is based on a Grande (16 fl oz) Starbucks serving:

Caffé MistoCafé Latte
Serving16 fluid ounces16 fluid ounces
Caffeine Content150 mg150 mg
Cholesterol15 mg30 mg

Please remember that the caffeine content of café au lait varies depending on the brewing method (drip brewed coffee has more caffeine!).

Ingredient ratios

One of the most significant factors in coffee brewing is the ratio of the ingredients. The two main ingredients (coffee and hot milk) are blended in a 1:1 ratio for a Caffé Misto.

A latte, on the other hand, consists of three primary ingredients: a rich shot of espresso (1/6), hot milk (4/6), and a thin layer of foamed milk (1/6, which is thinner than that of a cappuccino). This masks much of the espresso’s stronger taste, leaving the cup with its signature mild, smooth, and refreshing flavor.

What are the differences in milk?

Now that you’ve gotten a brief overview of these drinks, it’s time to dig deeper into the differences.

The milk and its preparation are among the most significant differences (along with the type of coffee used). Take a look at the differences below:

  • A Caffè Misto can be made with any milk, and the milk has steamed
  • A latte can be made with any milk, but whole milk produces the best foam. Most of the milk is steamed, with only a small portion being foamed.

The amount of milk in these drinks is the next significant difference. This varies depending on the coffee shop, but for the most part, it’s the difference in milk:

  • In a caffè misto, milk and coffee are mixed equally. This drink typically has 1/2 cup (0.12 l) of milk,
  • A latte contains far more milk and a significantly different ratio of coffee to water. 3/4 cup (0.18 l) milk is used in a latte.

Because of the disparity in milk amounts, there is also a difference in taste. The latte has more texture than I mentioned at the beginning.

Caffè misto vs. Cafe au lait

Cafe Au Lait
Cafe au lait

Caffe au Lait is a relative of caffe latte and caffè misto in France. Described, it’s a combination of drip coffee and milk. However, the ratios vary greatly depending on personal liking. To some extent, cafe au lait is a homemade coffee drink, but it is also served in most coffee shops in France, especially for breakfast.

Apart from the coffee-to-milk ratios, the main difference between cafe au lait and caffe misto is how the milk is prepared. A caffè misto has frothed milk, but a cafe au lait has warm milk that hasn’t been frothed.

Cappuccino vs. Caffe misto

When we only consider the milk-to-coffee ratio, comparing cappuccino with caffe misto makes sense. Cappuccino, like caffe latte, is an espresso-based drink, but caffe misto is made with drip coffee.

Making a Caffe Misto at Home

Now that you’re familiar with the essence of Caffe Misto, let’s learn how to make it in the comfort of your own home. The process is simple and requires the following steps:

  1. Brew a fresh pot of coffee using a French press or a drip-brewing method. Ensure that the coffee is strong and flavorful.
  2. Heat or steam the milk according to your preference. You can use a milk frother or heat the milk on the stovetop until hot but not boiling. The milk should be smooth and free of foam.
  3. Pour the desired amount of coffee into a cup or mug, leaving room for the milk.
  4. Slowly pour the steamed milk into the cup, gradually adding it to the coffee. Aim for a balanced ratio of coffee to milk based on your personal taste preferences.
  5. Stir gently to blend the coffee and milk together.
  6. Optionally, you can sprinkle a dash of cocoa powder, cinnamon, or nutmeg on top for added flavor and visual appeal.
  7. Your homemade Caffe Misto is now ready to be enjoyed! Savor the harmonious combination of rich coffee and creamy milk.

Can I make my caffe misto with more ingredients?

Yes, to put it briefly. Coffee and milk are the basics of a caffe misto, but you may sweeten it with flavored syrups like pumpkin spice, vanilla, or hazelnut. A spoonful of whipped cream on top of your espresso misto might also give it a richer texture.

A latte may be made in the same way, except you’ll need a steam wand to properly froth the milk at home. Experiment with different flavorings to find your ideal cup of coffee.


Is there sugar in Caffe Misto?

Caffe Misto doesn’t inherently contain sugar. However, if you prefer a sweeter taste, you can add a sweetener of your choice, such as sugar, honey, or a flavored syrup.

Is Caffe Misto the same as cafe au lait?

Caffe Misto and cafe au lait are similar in concept and both involve a combination of coffee and milk. However, the specific preparation methods and ratios may vary between regions and coffee shops.


Caffe Misto offers a delightful coffee experience that brings together the bold flavors of coffee and the smoothness of steamed milk. Its origins can be traced back to China and France, and it has become a popular choice for coffee enthusiasts worldwide. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can easily make a satisfying cup of Caffe Misto at home. Whether you prefer it as a morning pick-me-up or a comforting beverage throughout the day, Caffe Misto is sure to satisfy your coffee cravings. Enjoy the perfect balance of flavors and indulge in the cozy warmth of this classic coffee delight.

Remember, at Crazy Coffee Crave, we are committed to providing you with expert knowledge and guidance to enhance your coffee journey. Stay tuned for more exciting coffee-related content and explore our website for a wide range of coffee tips, recipes, and recommendations. Cheers to the wonderful world of coffee!

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Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.