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Iced Café Au Lait: What Is It & How to Make It?

Iced Café Au Lait
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Iced café au lait is a delicious beverage that enchants you with its creamy milkiness and strong black coffee base. It is the perfect mix between robustness and elegance, and if you like opposing flavors, it will stimulate your senses. So, what is iced café au lait, and how to make it? 

To make iced café au lait, you need to fill the coffee cup with ice, pour black coffee halfway through and fill up the rest with warm milk, frothed milk, or milk foam.

Often mistaken for a cold latte or a cappuccino, even though globally famous, iced café au lait rarely takes the spotlight. In the following paragraphs, I will explain what iced café au lait is, what is regular café au lait, and how it differs from the coffee types it is frequently mistaken for. 

What Is Café Au Lait?

Café au lait comes from the French language, which means “coffee with milk,” which is just what it is. In essence, café au lait is black coffee mixed with hot milk. While the black coffee is still hot, hot milk is poured into the cup. 

Café au lait is easy to make at home; you don’t have to run to the café to get a cup. You can make this coffee at home using regular black coffee, mixing it with hot milk. The black coffee-milk ratio is approximately half and half. 

In cafes, they make this coffee using espresso as a base, and then they top it with hot milk, frothed milk, or milk foam in the same half and half proportion. 

It is essential to underline that café au lait is not the same thing as white coffee. While white coffee is brewed in black coffee with cold milk and coffee whitener added, café au lait is black coffee mixed with steamed milk and no coffee whitener.

Iced Café Au Lait vs. Iced Coffee: What Is the Difference?

The main difference between iced café au lait and iced coffee is the milk. Iced café au lait contains milk, most often frothed, while iced coffee is just black coffee with ice.

You can also add milk to iced coffee, but not frothed and not in the same quantity as with iced café au lait. Usually, the amount of milk in the café au lait is larger compared to the milk amount in iced coffee. Milk isn’t mandatory in iced coffee; you just pour the coffee over the ice, while iced au lait has to contain milk because otherwise, it won’t be coffee au lait. 

How to Pronounce Café Au Lait?

As I previously mentioned, “café au lait” is of French origin, meaning “coffee with milk .” The pronunciation is a bit of a tongue twister, but after a few repetitions, you’ll get the hang of it. 

The phonetic transcription is the best one to explain the pronunciation of “café au lait”; the other one is an approximate explanation of how this phrase should you pronounce. If you are a fan of the International Phonetic Alphabet, here’s how café au lait looks phonetically transcribed as “kæfeɪ oʊ ˈleɪ .” On the other hand, if you don’t want to bother with phonetic symbols, the pronunciation goes something like this “kafe ou lei .”  

Café Au Lait vs. Cappuccino: What Is the Difference?

Cappuccino and café au lait mainly differ in terms of milk. The cappuccino has a smaller amount of milk and a larger amount of foam. While the café au lait contains lots of milk, the cappuccino is just the opposite if it is frothed a little foam. 

Both cappuccino and café au lait use the same coffee base. However, while café au lait can be made with regular black coffee and espresso, the cappuccino mandatorily contains espresso. The amount of milk added in the cappuccino is smaller than that in the café au lait, and the amount of foam in the cappuccino is significantly larger than that in the café au lait. 

Café au lait doesn’t typically have foam on top, though it isn’t unusual for the baristas to flirt a bit with the tradition and garnish it with some foam floating on top. 

While you can effortlessly make café au lait at home, you need equipment to make cappuccino, and therefore you cannot make it home as quickly, if at all. 


Frappuccino vs. Cappuccino vs. Latte: Differences

How to Make Iced Café Au Lait?

Café au lait is very easy to make at home and is, of course, available in cafes worldwide. You only need two ingredients and a little time to make it, while the effort is minimal. 

You’ll need black coffee, milk, a milk substitute (soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, or another non-dairy milk substitute), sugar, or a sweetener. The milk-coffee proportion should be half and half. 

Iced Café Au Lait

Iced Café Au Lait Recipe 

Author: Laura Bais
Easy to make at home with you needing only two ingredients and a little time to make it.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American, French
Servings 1 cup
Calories 95 kcal


  • 1/2 cup black coffee
  • 2 tbsp ice
  • 1/2 cup milk steamed (or milk substitute)
  • 1 tsp sugar or sweetener


  • Brew the black coffee
    Iced Cafe Au Lait 2
  • Steam the milk
    Iced Café Au Lait
  • Put the ice in the cup
  • You can pour the coffee first and then add the milk or pour them both simultaneously
    Iced Café Au Lait
  • Mix the coffee and milk with a spoon and let the foam form naturally
    Iced Café Au Lait
  • Add sugar or sweetener if you want to, and enjoy your café au lait
  • Adittional tip: sprinklin some cinnamon on top of your café au lait and use a French coffee blend if possible


Serving: 1cupCalories: 95kcalCarbohydrates: 10.7gProtein: 4gFat: 4g
Keyword cafe au lait, coffee, milk and coffee
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