Feb 17

Café au Lait Day

Café au Lait
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Café au Lait
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"I'll have some cafe au lait ... only, um, make mine black."

~ Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966)

Confused by coffee? Sneered at by snobby barristas? Café au lait is made of brewed coffee and steamed milk with a 1:1 ratio, instead of espresso and milk (also, no foam as in a latté). However, this distinction only exists in the US; in Europe, café au lait is made of espresso instead. Even more confused? American café au lait is often made using scalded, rather than steamed milk. And in France, a distinction is made in serving style as well, with café au lait served French style in a white porcelain cup or bow, or Italian style in a glass. More coffee! ☕☕☕

By designer Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan are the colours of a morning wake up call.  


Supposedly, a French doctor in the 1600s suggested adding milk to coffee to strengthen his patients' constitutions, beginning a tradition with many regional variants:


  • In Europe, “café au lait” stems from the same continental tradition as “café con leche” in Spain.

  • In Poland it is referred to as “kawa biała” (“white coffee”).

  • In Germany it is referred to as “Milchkaffee” (“milk coffee”).

  • And in the Netherlands it is referred to as “koffie verkeerd” (“incorrect coffee”)!

  • In the French-speaking areas of Switzerland, a popular variation is the “café renversé” (“reverse coffee”), made by using the milk as a base and adding espresso, in reversal of the normal method of making a “café au lait”.

  • In the United States, a New Orleans-style café au lait is made with scalded milk, rather than with steamed milk, often with the addition roasted chicory root.   

For some amusing infographics on coffee and coffee drinkers, click the café au lait.

Officially registered tartan graphics on this site courtesy of The Scottish Tartans Authority.  Other tartans from talented tartan artists may also be featured.

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