Spanish Latte Recipe: How to Make Cafe Con Leche
A delicious Spanish latte isn’t a drink you usually see on the menu of your average coffee shop. But if you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out.
This drink is highly underrated. It’s made of equal parts scalded milk, espresso, and just a hint of creaminess from sweetened condensed milk. Home Grounds is here to change its status!
Keep reading this Spanish latte recipe to learn more about it, know its ingredients, and how to make it.
What You Need
- Two 1.5-ounce shots of espresso or strong coffee (3 fluid ounces total)
- 3 fluid ounces whole milk
- Four tablespoons (2 fluid ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 15 grams of coffee beans
- A good coffee grinder (manual or automatic)
- An espresso machine, stovetop espresso maker, or Aeropress with attachments (see “Extra Notes” and “Pro Tip” below)
- A scale
- A sturdy, high-quality tamper
- A whisk, French press, or milk frother
- A saucepan
- A thermometer
- One 16-ounce coffee mug
At a Glance
- While Home Grounds bases this recipe on espresso, feel free to substitute the espresso with strong filter coffee from a coffee machine or even French press coffee. The most important aspect of this Spanish latte is the ratio of milk to coffee, so feel free to use whichever roast or brewing method fits your palate.
- Unlike making a traditional latte—where the ratio of milk to espresso is ⅔ steamed milk to ⅓ espresso—a Spanish latte is made with equal parts of espresso and scalded milk. To make the best Spanish latte, ensure you have a suitable latte machine or espresso machine. Also, Home Grounds recommends using a whisk, French press, or Frother to aerate the scalded milk properly.
- But, while Home Grounds recommends using a latte machine for best results, you can use a stovetop espresso maker or even an Aeropress with the JOEPRESSO attachment. As a bonus, you can use the JOEPRESSO to aerate the milk and brew your espresso-style coffee.
- Next, we suggest using a thermometer to keep an eye on your milk as you’re heating this. Because we’re scalding the milk and not boiling it, you’ll need to bring it up to 181 degrees F, instead of the traditional 155 to 165 degrees we’d typically look for when steaming milk.
- Lastly, if you want to make an iced Spanish latte, we suggest using cold brew coffee concentrate and cold brew ice cubes. Because there’s such a high coffee-to-milk ratio, it’s important not to water the drink with regular iced cubes.
How to Make a Spanish Latte
A Spanish latte, or cafe con leche, is made with espresso, milk, with a few tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk. This drink is the perfect complement to any afternoon pick-me-up or morning breakfast.
So, let’s make it.
1. Prep Your Mug with Sweetened Condensed Milk
First, place two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk into a 16-ounce coffee mug.
2. Grind Your Coffee Beans
First, measure and grind 15 grams of coffee beans to a fine espresso grind. You can use either a manual or automatic coffee grinder for this step, and you’re good to go if it produces a uniform, fine grind for espresso.
Pro Tip: Fifteen grams is the normal amount we’d use for a typical doppio, but this amount can vary. Follow the directions for your machine’s portafilter, stovetop espresso maker, or the JOEPRESSO’s filter basket.
3. Scald Your Milk
Bring 3 ounces of whole milk to a very gentle simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. As the milk is heating up, occasionally stir with a whisk to ensure the milk doesn’t burn.
Since you’re looking to scald the milk and not just steam it, keep checking the temperature with your thermometer until it reaches 181 degrees.
If you don’t have a thermometer, watch for the slightest hint of bubbling and pull it from the heat. Keep a close eye on this because if your milk starts to boil, you’ll have to start over with fresh milk (1).
Pro Tip: If you want to streamline your process, you can bring your milk to temperature on medium-low to low heat while you’re prepping other parts of this recipe. Be sure to stir every two minutes to keep the hot milk from burning.
4. Pull Your Espresso Shots
As your milk is heating on medium, measure fifteen grams of medium-fine to fine-ground coffee into the portafilter or JOEPRESSO filter basket.
For the evenest extraction, tamp and polish your puck before brewing. If you’re unsure how to do this, you can read more about using an espresso machine here.
5. Aerate Your Scalded Milk
Your 3 ounces of milk should be ready to aerate by this point. If you have a latte machine, you can combine steps two and four to aerate and emulsify the milk. But these two steps are separate if you’re using a frother or any method that doesn’t introduce steam into your milk.
To aerate or stretch the milk, you have a few options. You can use the pressurized filter basket of the JOEPRESSO to create frothed milk with the milk you’ve scalded. Alternatively, you can introduce air into your milk with a whisk or French press.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a milk frother or steam wand, you can still make beautiful latte art with frothed milk in a French press. Watch as Lance Hendrick demonstrates this technique.
6. Assemble Your Spanish Latte Coffee Drink Recipe with Sweetened Condensed Milk
Once your milk is sufficiently aerated and emulsified, it’s time to assemble your Spanish latte.
Pour two shots of espresso or strong coffee into the 16-ounce coffee mug. Then, hold back the foam using a spoon and pour in your scalded milk.
Next, spoon an additional ounce, or two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk over the scalded milk, topping the drink off with the rest of the foam.
You can use whipped cream or more sweetened condensed milk to garnish.
And there you have it: a delicious Spanish Latte recipe. As with all our recipes, this is just the traditional Spanish latte. Use this as a base recipe for any other espresso-based latte.
Did you make this drink using our guide? If you did, we’d love to hear from you in our Facebook group and in the comments.
You can make this perfect Spanish latte dairy-free by using almond milk or other dairy substitutes. To do this, use 3 ounces of your dairy substitute of choice, and follow the instructions above for aerating and frothing. However, because of the differences in fat, sugar, and protein content, your dairy substitute may not scald at 181 degrees.
You can make iced variations of this latte. Feel free to use this recipe as a base for other delicious drinks, like our iced coconut milk latte, an iced Spanish latte, or our lavender latte recipe. For even stronger coffee drinks, look at our list of different coffee drinks.
If your cafe con Leche has a strange taste, your milk is the first place to look. When the milk reaches 203 degrees, proteins denature or break down. Along with an unpleasant taste, you’ll often notice a filminess in your drink.
Unfortunately, when your milk proteins denature, you’ll have to start with fresh milk. If you’re worried the second time around, feel free to bring your milk to temperature on medium-low to low heat.
- Raper, A. (2017, March). The Science Behind Perfect Steamed Milk. Clive Coffee; Clive Coffee. https://clivecoffee.com/blogs/learn/the-science-behind-perfect-steamed-milk