Last Updated on June 28, 2023 by brewthatcoffee
If you’re a fan of milk-based drinks at Starbucks, you may have heard about the caffe misto. Sitting in the same corner as lattes and cappuccinos, it provides the drinker with a special milky coffee treat. But if cappuccinos and lattes are similar, what is a caffe misto, and what makes it different from the other coffee beverages?
Caffe misto is a Starbucks creation. It consists of drip or French-pressed coffee as a base topped with equal parts of steamed milk. Dark roasts are preferable as the robust flavors compensate for the dilution ratio. It’s an interpretation of the French café au lait.
The preparation and coffee used are what differentiate the drinks. Unlike some other Starbucks drinks that need specialized machines to recreate your favorite cup of joe, the caffe misto is home friendly and can be easily recreated in your kitchen.
What Is A Caffe Misto?
Caffe Misto is a coffee drink of equal parts of coffee and milk. It’s an adaptation of a French favorite, Café au Lait, with a twist, of course, to the European style café au lait made with dark coffee and warmed milk.
A caffe misto uses a 1:1 ratio of drip coffee or French press coffee with an equal part of steamed milk. Darker roasts are preferable to use in a caffe misto to compensate for the dilution of the coffee.
The term caffe misto is still relatively young. Created by the coffee chain giant Starbucks in 2016, they made an adaptation to the French café au lait, which is known by different names in other European countries.
The original café au lait originated in France around the 1600s. During the Civil War, coffee was scarce, and extending the coffee with milk allowed them to stretch their supplies longer. Adding chicory root also helped to strengthen the flavors and add more body to the coffee.
This method of adding chicory to coffee was brought to Louisiana, which became a trendy drink in New Orleans.
A caffe misto is simple yet delicious, with only two ingredients needed. It consists of equal parts of freshly brewed strong coffee, either drip style or French pressed and steamed milk.
The flavors can be altered depending on the type of roast that you use. Generally, a dark roast is preferred to compensate for the dilution from the milk.
What A Caffe Misto Tastes Like
The taste greatly relies on the type of roast that you use. Dark roasts are preferable with this type of coffee as it offers a more robust flavor than lighter roasts.
Because a caffe misto is made with drip coffee and not expresso like in lattes, the flavors are milder and not quite as bitter.
Steaming the milk caramelizes the sugars in the milk, elevating the sweetness in the caffe misto. The milk also enhances the natural flavors and characteristics of the brewed coffee.
Calories, Sugar, & Caffeine Info
Nutritional values can differ depending on the type of milk, coffee bean origin, and roast you use.
Starbucks Caffe Misto uses 2% milk and contains 110 calories. The 10 grams of sugar come from steamed milk, while the caffeine content can change depending on your coffee bean and roast. The Starbucks Grande cup contains 150 milligrams of caffeine.
Based on Starbucks Caffe Misto grande cup using 2% milk.
- Calories 110g
- Sugar 10g
- Caffeine 150mg
But like any other drink on the Starbucks menu, you can alter the ingredients, so here is a list of different kinds of milk that you can substitute and how many calories are in a half cup of each;
- Whole Milk 150 calories
- 2% Milk 120 calories
- Skim milk 80 calories
- Oat milk 130 calories
- Almond milk 40 calories
- Soy milk 110 calories
- Coconut milk 552 calories
This is calculated for a half cup in a grande, so 8 fluid ounces.
Caffe Misto vs. Other Starbucks Drinks
A caffe misto is a Starbucks version of the French Café au lait, but there are other drinks that Starbucks offers that also provide a milky treat. However, there are some subtle differences in the preparation method.
Caffe Misto vs Café Au Lait
Caffe Misto and Café au Lait are both popular coffee beverages that combine brewed coffee and steamed milk. While they share some similarities, there are also some differences between the two.
While both Caffe Misto and Café au Lait involve a combination of coffee and milk, the main difference lies in the preparation method. Caffe Misto uses equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk, while Café au Lait combines brewed coffee and scalded milk.
The choice between the two often comes down to personal preference and the desired taste and texture of the beverage.
Caffe Misto vs. Cappuccino
Caffe Misto and Cappuccino are both popular coffee drinks. Still, they have distinct differences in terms of their ingredients and preparation methods.
Caffe Misto is a coffee beverage that combines equal parts of brewed coffee with steamed milk, resulting in a balanced and creamy drink. It’s milder in flavor than espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos because it uses regular brewed coffee and has a higher milk-to-coffee ratio, making it smoother and less intense.
Cappuccinos are Italian coffee drinks made by pulling a shot of espresso and adding a similar amount of steamed milk and foam. The espresso provides a strong and concentrated coffee flavor. At the same time, the steamed milk adds creaminess, and the milk foam adds a frothy texture on top, which can be artistically decorated.
Cappuccinos can also be referred to as having a drier texture due to the higher portion of foam used.
Caffe Misto vs. Latte
The key differences between Caffe Misto and Latte are the type of coffee used, the ratios of coffee to milk, and the resulting taste and texture. Caffe Misto uses regular brewed coffee, while latte uses espresso.
Caffe Misto, as previously mentioned, is made by combining equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk. It is a diluted coffee beverage that uses regular brewed coffee instead of espresso.
Latte is made with a single shot of espresso, or more depending on your preference, and a larger amount of steamed milk. The typical ratio for a latte is one part espresso to three parts steamed milk.
The espresso provides a strong and concentrated coffee flavor, while the steamed milk adds creaminess and a silky texture. The addition of thin milk foam on top adds a decorative element and a slight frothiness.
Lattes also have a slightly lower caffeine content depending on how many espresso shots you add to your drink.
The Starbucks Caffe Misto Latte Hack – Does It Work?
According to some die-hard Starbucks fans, the Starbucks caffe misto latte hack is a real thing; @lyellgirl on TikTok and the Notorious better banking guy on YouTube both show how you can order a caffe misto latte using the 50-star hack on the Starbucks app.
Milk is more expensive than coffee, so ordering a latte means extra cash out of your pocket since lattes use 3 to 4 times more milk to coffee ratio. You can order free drinks on the Starbucks app using your earned stars, but a latte is a 150-star item.
Supposedly, because a café misto is still recognized as a brewed coffee which you can find in the menu section under hot coffee, it only costs 50 stars, and you can make as many additions as you want.
You can add extra espresso shots to increase that caffeine hit and customize your drink as much as you want. When it’s time to cash out, a ten-dollar drink with all the bells and whistles will cost you nothing except the 50 stars.
So, instead of spending 150 stars on a full house latte, you can go and customize a café misto for only 50 stars and save those extra stars for another day.
However, from my experience and many others on Reddit, this hack does not work. I have personally attempted to redeem my Starbucks rewards points for a customized caffe misto unsuccessfully. This means Starbucks has caught onto the hack and changed their rewards redemption rules.
Easy Caffe Misto Recipe
A caffe misto is a basic recipe for brewed coffee and equal parts steamed milk. This can provide a foundation for creating your very own caffe misto creations at home. Experiment with additional flavors and syrups, adding sauces and whipped cream or sprinkles to make festive drinks for the holidays.
- 1 Cup favorite brewed coffee (best is to use dark roasts)
- 1 Cup steamed milk (you can also opt for non-dairy milk if you prefer)
1. Brew your coffee using your preferred methods, such as a percolator or French press.
2. While the coffee is brewing, heat your choice of milk in a small saucepan or use a milk frother until it is steamed and hot, reaching a temperature of between 175-190⁰F.
3. First, pour brewed coffee into your mug.
4. Slowly pour an equal amount of steamed milk into the mug.
5. Gently stir to combine the coffee and milk.
6. As an optional extra, sprinkle cocoa powder or cinnamon on top for added flavor.
Caffe Misto FAQs
Need more info on caffe misto? Here are some frequently asked questions about the milky coffee drink.
Starbucks’ version of the café au lait, known as a caffe misto, has its roots in France. While it may bear some resemblance to lattes and cappuccinos, both popular milk-based coffee beverages, this drink comprises equal parts of brewed coffee and milk. Preparation also plays a role in differentiating it from other beverages. But its simplicity makes it that much more enjoyable and delicious due to the ease of making it at home.