What Is Caffe Misto: Meet Your Favorite Starbucks Coffee

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caffee misto

Caffe misto is a drink known to many as a cafe au lait.

It’s a great drink that elevates your regular cup of brewed coffee

For whatever reason you’re wondering about caffe misto, I’ll go over what it is, how it’s made, and answer a few key questions about this delicious drink.

Let’s get to it!

What is Caffe Misto?

To keep it simple, a caffe misto is equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk.

Easy, right?

The caffe misto is the American version of a cafe au lait. It’s a popular breakfast drink that’s similar to a latte, with a few key differences.

A caffe misto is also called a cafe au lait. Chances are your barista is familiar with both terms, but double check when ordering that your drink is made the way you want.

Caffe misto is usually made with some foam on top, but it can be adjusted to personal taste. Sometimes that means warmed milk with no foam, or maybe a higher coffee to milk ratio.

The basic ingredients always stay the same: brewed coffee and warmed milk.

Caffe Misto Vs Latte 

a person pouring milk in coffee

A caffe misto is always made with brewed coffee and warmed milk. Sometimes that milk has some foam, other times it doesn’t.

A caffe latte, on the other hand, is always made with espresso and foamed milk.

The key difference between a caffe misto and a latte is the coffee. A latte always has espresso and a caffe misto always has brewed coffee.

The milk is a secondary difference. There is more variety in the kind of milk added to a caffe misto. Anything from a lot of milk foam to no foam at all can be added to brewed coffee and called a caffe misto.

The rules for a latte are more strict. A latte always has espresso and follows about a 1:3 coffee to milk ratio. The milk in a latte always has a little foam and enough buoyancy to create latte art.

A caffe misto, because it is made with brewed coffee, usually won’t have any latte art.

How To Make Caffe Misto

The benefit of caffe misto is that it is especially easy to make at home. You don’t need a fancy espresso machine to create a great caffe misto.

The process is super easy, and I will show you the best way to do it.


You’ll only need a few things to create a caffe misto: 

  • Your favorite brewed coffee
  • Your favorite way to brew coffee
  • Your preferred milk
  • A way to heat your milk

That’s it. And trust me, even if you don’t have special equipment, you can make a phenomenal caffe misto at home.

Brewing process

The brewing process is simple.

Start by brewing up a cup of your favorite coffee.

Next, heat up your milk to just under boiling. If you don’t have a dedicated milk frother or steamer, don’t worry! You can warm milk on the stove.

It’s easy to tell when stove-warmed milk is at the right temperature because slow bubbles will form around the edges. Once you see some bubbles forming, take your milk off right away to make sure it doesn’t boil.

If you have a way to froth your milk, do it just before adding it to your coffee to get the richest flavor.

Finally, add your warmed milk to your brewed coffee to get about a 1:1 coffee to milk ratio, and enjoy!

Extra tips

  • If you have a French press at home, you can make frothed milk. Add your warmed milk to your French press. Then, lightly pulse the plunger up and down a few times until you work in some air. Small bubbles will start to form at the top, and you’re done! But that’s not the only way to make frothed milk at home.
  • When brewing your coffee, don’t be afraid to brew it a little stronger than normal. With a 1:1 ratio of coffee to milk, the coffee taste will be a little diluted. Brewing a little stronger than normal can help balance the taste and give you a nice coffee flavor.
  • Play around with the temperature and ratio in your caffe misto. This is a drink that’s based entirely on personal preference. I prefer my caffe misto with just a little bit of hot milk instead of the 1:1 ratio.
  • When ordering a caffe misto in a coffee shop, check with your barista on how they make it and be clear about your preference.
  • Try adding flavor to your caffe misto! Adding your favorite flavored syrup to the milk while you warm it up is a great way to add some additional flavor to your coffee drink.

What Does Caffe Misto Taste Like?

woman drinking coffee

Chances are you know the flavor of latte, and that’s a good starting point for explaining what a misto coffee tastes like.

Because a caffe misto isn’t made with espresso, it won’t have as bitter a flavor as a latte. Instead, the flavor of the steamed milk will shine and balance out some of the strength from the coffee.

Think of it kind of like hot chocolate. In a hot chocolate, you’re not drinking just melted chocolate. The milk in a hot chocolate makes up a lot of the flavor and helps dilute the strength of the milk.

The same is true of the caffe misto. The milk in a caffe misto helps to dilute some of the coffee flavors and create a balanced, smooth, and enjoyable type of coffee drink.

Because it is made with brewed coffee instead of espresso, the caffe misto is a great drink for someone who doesn’t like the strength of espresso.

That’s the general taste of a caffe misto, but don’t forget that you can change it to how you like it!


You might still have some questions about the caffe misto. I’ll answer some of the most common questions in this section.

How much caffeine is in a Caffe Misto?

A cup of coffee has around 95mg of coffee. Because a caffe misto is often made with a little less coffee, it has between 60-80mg of caffeine.

The caffeine content changes based on how much coffee is used, but generally won’t be higher than 90mg.

Is Caffe Misto a flat white?

Cafe misto and flat white are very similar drinks. But they are different. A flat white is made with espresso and a cafe misto is made with brewed coffee.

The milk in both drinks can look very similar. A flat white has hot milk with almost no foam. Warmed milk with minimal foam is very common in caffe misto, making these two drinks similar.

Does Starbucks caffe Misto have sugar?

Starbucks caffe misto does have some sugar. But only about 10 grams.

That’s because Starbucks doesn’t add any flavor or heavy cream to their caffe misto. The sugar comes from using standard 2% milk. The sugar content can change if you use different milk.

Final Thoughts

The caffe misto, also known as a cafe au lait, is a simple drink. 

Made from brewed coffee and warmed milk, it’s a great choice for someone who doesn’t like espresso. It’s also good for someone who wants a more diluted and balanced coffee taste.

It’s super versatile and incredibly easy to make at home. Just brew some regular coffee, warm some milk, and you’ve got a caffe misto!

Play around with it to find your preferred ratio of coffee to milk, and how much foam (if any) you want.

Want to expand your drink-making skills? 

Check out our guide on how to make a latte at home!

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Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.