9 min read FEB 18, 2024

Venturing into your neighborhood coffee spot or a Starbucks, you're often greeted by an extensive array of caffeinated beverages on their menu. At first glance, these coffee offerings, with their exotic names and enticing descriptions, can be overwhelming. A classic case of this confusion often arises when choosing between a Caffe Misto and a Latte. Both beverages share foundational ingredients - coffee and hot milk. Additionally, their appearance can be strikingly similar, leading to further perplexity.

So, how does one distinguish between these two popular coffee concoctions? The following sections aim to demystify the subtle yet impactful differences between a Caffe Misto and a Latte. Equipped with this knowledge, your subsequent cafe visit can transform from a guessing game to an opportunity to impress your companions with your coffee connoisseurship.


A Caffe Misto, often known as a "café au lait " is a drink that achieves the balance of brewed coffee and steamed milk, with each component constituting exactly half of the beverage. With its origins rooted in French culture the name literally translates to "coffee with milk " highlighting its nature.

Unlike its relative the Latte, where espresso is used, a Caffe Misto relies on press or drip brewed coffee for its coffee component. There are no guidelines on how to blend the coffee and milk which makes it easy for anyone to recreate this delightful beverage right in their own kitchen.Coffee shops often put their spin on the drink with some choosing to steam the milk to create a frothy texture while others prefer to heat it.

Regardless of the method they use, the defining feature of a Caffe Misto is that it doesn't have foam and is made with milk. This sets it apart from coffee, which is traditionally made with cold milk.


The uninitiated often conflate lattes and caffe Mistos due to their uncanny visual similarity and the fact that both essentially mean "coffee and milk" in different languages. However, a closer inspection reveals key differences. At its heart, a latte is a rich, creamy beverage created with a single shot of espresso, unlike the brewed coffee used in other milk-based coffee drinks, and topped with a smooth layer of milk foam. The same principle applies when crafting an iced latte but with the use of chilled coffee and milk.

The Latte's unique composition involves one part espresso, four parts milk, and a touch of milk foam. The relatively high milk proportion results in a smooth and creamy drink, perfect for those who prefer a milder touch to their espresso drink. However, one must be cautious not to dilute the coffee flavor excessively with milk, which may inadvertently lead to a lukewarm, coffee-flavored milk concoction.

Contrary to popular belief, the creation of a latte does not necessitate special equipment. A latte can be hom e-crafted by adding a single or double espresso to your coffee, then pouring five to six ounces of steamed milk into an eight-ounce cup. The final touch is a crowning layer of milk foam. For those desiring a tailored taste, various syrups such as vanilla, hazelnut, or matcha can be added, leading to a delightful variety of flavored lattes.

A latte is more than just a coffee drink; it is a canvas for creativity, where skilled baristas can exhibit their artistic prowess through latte art. Using the milk foam as their medium, they can create intricate and aesthetically pleasing designs, adding a touch of whimsy to your coffee experience.


To make a café latte one crucial ingredient is milk. The process usually involves using a steam wand for frothing, which you can typically find on an espresso machine.

Instead you can use a device specifically designed to froth milk. This device uses steam to incorporate air bubbles into the milk giving it a texture.

If you go to your coffee shop and order a caffe Misto you'll notice that they also use milk. Unlike a latte, which has a layer of milk, on top a caffe Misto only requires milk without any froth. You can easily recreate this process at home by warming some milk on the stove or in the microwave and adding it to your brewed coffee.

Now you have your own homemade caffe Misto ready for you to enjoy. Here's a tip for you; if you're a fan of dairy milk, be careful when adding it to hot drinks. Some types, like almond milk and soy milk can curdle when mixed with coffee ruining your latte experience.


The caffeine content in your caffe Misto will largely depend on the coffee beans you select. Lighter roasts tend to contain a higher caffeine content, whereas darker roasts, despite their robust flavor, may not deliver as much of a caffeine jolt. The brewing method also plays a significant part, with drip-brewed coffee yielding a higher caffeine content compared to a French press or pour-over.

Since lattes are espresso-based, the amount of caffeine in your drink will be constant, depending on the number of double espresso shots included. Although lattes generally contain less caffeine than a caffe Misto, they tend to be pricier at coffee shops due to the concentrated nature of espresso shots.

To illustrate, Starbucks' caffeine guide indicates that a 12-ounce latte carries 75 mg of caffeine, contrasting with the 115 mg present in a 12-ounce Caffe Misto. However, when comparing larger servings, both a 16-ounce latte and a 16-ounce caffe Misto contain an equal amount of caffeine at 150 mg. This similarity underscores the importance of portion size when considering caffeine content.


The nutritional comparison between a Latte and a Caffe Misto, both served in Starbucks' standard serving size of 16 ounces, reveals some interesting contrasts. With its creamier texture and richer flavor, the Latte packs in 190 calories per serving, accompanied by 30 milligrams of cholesterol.

On the other hand, the lighter, more subtly flavored Caffe Misto offers a more modest 110 calories and 15 milligrams of cholesterol per 16-ounce serving. This disparity in nutritional content can primarily be attributed to the different amounts of milk incorporated in each beverage.


Now let's talk about making your own caffe Misto at home. It's actually quite simple and doesn't require any equipment or specialized knowledge. It's a luxury that any coffee lover can enjoy.

Start by preparing your coffee according to your preference. Choose how you want to brew it – whether it's using a press pour over method or a traditional drip coffee maker – and select your coffee beans to add that personal touch.

While your coffee is brewing, take a moment to prepare your milk. Gently warm it on the stove while using a whisk to achieve a textured consistency. It's important not to let the milk reach boiling point; just heat it enough so that it blends perfectly with your coffee.

After you've brewed your coffee to your liking it's time for the steps. Pour the coffee into your cup until it fills half of it then add the remaining half with your milk that has been whisked.. There you have it! Your homemade caffe Misto is now ready for you to enjoy.

If you're someone who prefers a more systematic approach, find the simplified step-by-step guide below for your convenience:

  • Brew coffee using your preferred method.
  • Warm milk on the stove and whisk for texture.
  • Combine equal parts of coffee and heated milk in a cup.
  • Enjoy your homemade caffe Misto!


Absolutely! The foundation of a caffe Misto consists of coffee and milk. However, you can explore a wide range of possibilities to enrich its taste. Add flavored syrups such as pumpkin spice, vanilla, or hazelnut to infuse sweetness into your drink. A generous spoonful of whipped cream can also lend your caffe Misto a richer and smoother texture.

These enhancements can also be applied to a latte, but be mindful that you will require a steam wand to froth the milk adequately if you are preparing it at home. Don't be afraid to experiment with different flavorings in your pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee.


That concludes our discussion. Now you should have an understanding of the distinctions, between a caffe Misto also referred to as a café au lait and a latte. The primary difference lies in the coffee to milk ratio.

Although they may seem similar it's important to remember that a latte is made with espresso whereas a caffe Misto is created using brewed coffee. Typically a caffe Misto offers a coffee taste compared to a latte and can be easily prepared at home.

If you enjoy a creamier drink you might appreciate the steamed milk and foam in a latte. Why not give both options a try the time you visit a coffee shop and see which one suits your taste buds? You could even take on the Cafe Au Lait, vs. Latte vs. Flat White challenge to do a comparison of how milk enhances types of coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the key difference between a caffe Misto and a latte?

What sets apart a caffe Misto from a latte is mainly their coffee to milk ratios. A Caffe Misto, also known as a café au lait is made by combining parts brewed coffee with milk.On the side a latte typically consists of one to two shots of espresso, steamed milk and a thin layer of foam, on top.

How does the caffeine content of a caffe Misto compare to a latte?

The amount of caffeine in both these drinks can vary depending on the serving size and the type of coffee bean used. On average a 12 ounce caffe Misto has caffeine (115 mg) compared to a sized latte (75 mg). However for sizes, like 16 ounces, both a latte and a caffe Misto have an amount of caffeine (150 mg).

Can I make a caffe Misto at home?

Absolutely! Making a caffe Misto is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is brew your coffee, warm up the milk (but don't let it boil) and then mix parts of the coffee and warmed milk in a cup. If you like you can personalize it by adding flavored syrups. Maybe even a dollop of whipped cream.

Which has more calories - a caffe Misto or a latte?

Generally speaking a latte tends to have calories. For example if you order a 16 ounce latte from Starbucks it typically contains around 190 calories. On the other hand a sized caffe Misto only has about 110 calories.

Can I add other ingredients to my caffe Misto?

Absolutely! You can definitely tailor your caffe Misto to your liking and experiment with ingredients as per your taste preference. You have the option to incorporate syrups, like pumpkin spice, vanilla, hazelnut or even a dollop of whipped cream to enhance the flavor and create a velvety texture.

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