Caffe Misto: What is It and Tips to Make It (2022 Guide)

By Forrest | Last Updated: February 27, 2022

Have you ever heard of a caffe misto? You might be wondering what it is, how to make one, or how it’s different than other coffee drinks.

If you like Starbucks caffe misto, you can make it at home with the right ingredients. To make a coffee shop quality caffe misto at home can take skill. But if you follow the steps below, you can do it without fail.

In this post, I’ll explore what a caffe misto is, the differences between caffe misto and latte, and how to make the perfect caffe misto at home. Let’s get started!

Caffe Misto

What is Caffe Misto?

Caffe misto is something you may have heard whenever you visit a Starbucks. This is better known as café au lait (or coffee with milk). It can also by the name café con leche.

No matter how it’s named, one thing is for sure: it tastes absolutely great. Whether it’s at Starbucks or a local independent coffee shop, you’ll be able to enjoy it. Where did it come from originally?

Let’s talk about what may be the origin of caffe misto and how it came about as one of the most popular coffee drink on the planet.

Where did it come from?

The history of caffe misto may be disputed by coffee enthusiasts alike. It is said that it may have come from China by way of a Dutchman named Johan Nieuhof. He was known for attempting to mix coffee with milk during his time as the Dutch Ambassador to China in the middle 17th century.

However, the presence of caffe misto is believed to actually originate in Vienna. Caffe misto was mostly known as cafe au lait. For this reason, there is believed to be a French connection to it. Specifically, it may have been invented in France centuries ago.

café au lait uses hot milk and mixes it with brewed coffee. But there are different variations that exist even to this day. If you drink a Starbucks caffe misto, you’ll probably notice that they use steamed milk or milk foam to make it nice and rich. In the 20th century with the appearance of the steam wand, it’s served with steamed milk or similar.

Caffe Misto vs Latte

Caffe Misto and Café Latte: What’s the difference?

One of the common mix ups is that caffe misto and café latte are the same. The reality is that it isn’t. Yes, both coffee and milk are involved. However, the methods of how its made is completely different.

So let’s explain the major differences between misto vs latte:

The brewing method

If there is one major difference between caffe misto/café au lait and cafe latte is the way it’s brewed. Latte is brewed with the use of an espresso machine. With caffe misto, the coffee will either be made from a drip coffee maker or a French press.

One thing you’ll notice is that a latte will be more expensive than caffe misto/cafe au lait. This could be due to the brewing method itself. While there is a difference in methods and prices, the looks are similar to one another.

Caffeine content

When pitted against one another, the caffeine content content is actually the same. Caffe misto/cafe au lait and cafe latte have at least 150mg of caffeine. If you are looking for more caffeine, these two are no different from each other.

In the battle between misto/cafe au lait vs latte, this is one part where they fight to a draw. If you are craving caffeine, you cannot go wrong with any of them.

The ingredients (and how much is included)

The ingredients and how much is included will be key. Caffe misto simply includes hot milk and equal parts brewed coffee in a 1:1 ratio. So it’s a half cup of coffee and a half cup of steamed milk.

Café au lait uses simply half brewed coffee, so there may be a slight difference in how its made compared to its caffe misto counterpart.

When making a latte, one shot of espresso, hot milk, and one layer of foamed milk. This layer of milk foam will be a little thinner than what you’ll find in a cappuccino.

The milk foam needs to be thin or it will also overpower the espresso that is included. You’ll want to taste the espresso without adding more milk to it. With the misto vs latte battle complete, let’s see how the former stands against a similar challenger.

Related: Are Lattes Hot Or Cold?

Misto vs Cortado: Are they the same?

One other coffee drink that gets mixed up with cafe misto/cafe au lait is cortado. Cortado is a Spanish version of what might be the same coffee drink. This is intended to reduce the acidity of the espresso shots that is included without the loss of flavor.

The difference here is that Cortado uses espresso coffee. Plus the flavor is much bolder than caffè misto has. Cortado is equal parts espresso and milk. Caffe misto is equal parts coffee and milk.

Misto vs Café Con Leche:

We’ve mentioned cafe con leche earlier. We would be remiss if we didn’t include this classic coffee drink. Here’s the big surprise: cafe con leche is basically the same thing. Except, it’s the Spanish version of caffe misto/cafe au lait.

Because of it’s Spanish name, do not confuse it with the Cortado. Again, the difference between the two lies in what’s included for its ingredients. Cafe con leche does not have espresso, but cortado does. Remember this the next time you want to order one of the other from a coffee shop.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s jump right into what you are really here for. How to make this awesome coffee drink yourself.

How to make caffe misto/cafe au lait at home

So now that you know some information about caffe misto/cafe au lait, we’ll show you how to make it at home. We’ll show you what to include and the equipment that you need to use. If your local coffee shop inspires you to make it, then why not give it a shot.

Let’s show you how it’s done:

Ingredients needed:

Brewed coffee

First, you are going to need either a French Press or a Drip Coffee machine. It should be something that will allow you to brew coffee that is strong or medium strength. Our favorite coffee beans include Java, Sumatran, or Brazilian. A strong coffee flavor will do you better than nothing at all.

If the coffee is too strong, you can bring it down a bit by adding something like warm milk or even almond milk. But don’t weaken the flavor. It still needs to be a little strong, but not too weak.

Heated milk

Using a separate saucepan, you’ll want to begin heating the milk. It doesn’t need to be boiled or anything like that. What you need to do is whisk it so that you can make the milk a lot more fluffier for that rich taste.

Add the steamed milk or frothed milk

Once it’s hot enough, add the steamed milk to the freshly brewed coffee and enjoy it. It might not turn out perfect at first, but what matters is that you gave it a shot. You might make it next time and put your own creative twist to it. You can use a milk frother or a steam wand (depending on whichever is easier).

Additional considerations

If needed, you can add more coffee or milk to the mix. It all comes down to whatever you prefer. Most recipes may call for equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk. You don’t have to follow the recipe to the letter if it doesn’t fit your personal preferences.

As mentioned before, you can also include other alternatives including whole milk, soy milk, oat milk or even cold milk. Also, if you want to add a bit of flavor, you may add flavored syrups that you’ll like.

Either way, it’s all up to how you want to try it. If you want to switch up the coffee side of things, there are plenty of options to choose from. You can choose a darker roast coffee or a full bodied coffee that you enjoy.

If you want to cut down on how much caffeine you want to consume, you are welcome to do that. If you want a bit more of a boost, you can add espresso shots (but not too much). If you are a coffee lover with a unique taste, you know exactly how you want your coffee.

If it’s different from all the recipes you find online, then there’s no harm done. You can add how much coffee you want or change up the milk ratio if you need to without harming the flavor.

If you want to choose between a French Press or a Drip Coffee Machine, that’s also up to you as well. Keep in mind that French Press is great if you are opting for a more bolder flavor. But it can be expensive in terms of price.

If you want something budget friendly and a lot easier, there is no denying that a drip coffee machine will be the better option. It all comes down to how simple you want the process to be. At the end of the day, your caffe misto will turn out just fine.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Now that you know how to make caffe misto at home, let’s take a look at the following frequently asked questions:

What is the caffeine content in coffee?

It will depend on the coffee you are drinking. On average, a cup of coffee will have approximately 90mg of caffeine. An iced chai latte from Starbucks (grande) will roughly have the same amount of caffeine.

The caffeine content may differ based on brand and even the serving size. For example, if you get a grande caffe latte from Starbucks, it’ll have at least 150mg of caffeine. A venti Pike Place Roast will have an astounding 410mg of caffeine. The more coffee you drink, the higher the caffeine content.

How many calories are there in a caffe misto/café au lait?

Based on the serving size of 16 fl. ounces, there is 110 calories in caffe misto or café au lait. This number may change depending on certain factors such as the type of milk or coffee you are using. Adding flavored syrups or whipped cream may add more calories.

When do I pour milk on my caffe misto or Café Latte?

You can pour milk after the brewed coffee is added in your cup. If you are making a Café Latte, make sure that you add a layer of frothed milk or whipped cream on top afterwards.

Where can I find a French Press?

You can find a French Press locally at any retail store or online. You can find different French Press coffee machines based on your preferences and budget. Find the one that fits you best and you can be able to enjoy a café misto in no time at all.

Related: How to Dispose of Coffee Grounds from French Press

Is caffe misto an espresso based drink?

Because it does not include espresso shots, caffe misto is not one of the espresso based drinks you can find on a Starbucks menu or on any menu at your local coffee shops. Espresso coffee may work better if you make a latte instead of a caffe misto or cafe au lait.

Can I use a milk frother when making caffe misto?

Yes. You can use a milk frother. Choosing one can be a challenge since there are different types. Find one that fits your budget, needs, and personal preferences. Especially if it makes the process of making caffe misto or any coffee drink drink easier. This can be a good substitute if you don’t have a steam wand

What kind of coffee beans are great for cafe misto?

As mentioned before, Java and Sumatran are the most popular coffee beans that you can find. Brazilian is also a good one too. If you have tried either flavor, it can come down to which one you prefer best.

Final Thoughts on Caffe Misto

Now that you know how to make a caffe misto, you can try it out for yourself as soon as right now. If you do not have the right equipment yet like the right coffee machine, get one that fits your budget. This coffee drink may be something that you can enjoy every day.

You can skip the line at Starbucks or all the busy coffee shops in town and make it yourself. The best part is you can enjoy this kind of coffee at any time. Just follow the simple recipe above or find others online that include different variations of ingredients such as the type of milk you like or flavored syrups.

There really is no wrong way to drink coffee. Whether it’s cream and sugar, black coffee, or part coffee and milk, it’s all up to you. But if you really want try something that’s awesome, a caffe misto at home (or a cafe au lait) will be something you don’t want to pass up.