Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Cafe Con Leche (Abuela’s Coffee with Milk)

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
Servings: 4-6 people
A quick and delicious coffee drink, cafe con leche, that will transport you right back to your abuela's kitchen.

As simple and as uncomplicated as this recipe for cafe con leche (coffee with milk) seems, it is one of my most cherished recipes to make. I mean, who doesn't remember the first time their abuela (grandmother) let them have that first sip of coffee?

I immediately have flashbacks of my abuelita Sarita entering the room, screen door slamming behind her, as she walked into the kitchen. Toting a cobalt blue enamelware pot filled with fresh warm milk from milking one of the few cows she still owned.  To me, she was the heart of our family. My abuelita, in her 70's, still cooking, still going through her daily routine, taking care of her family.

I will admit that the cafe con leche she would prepare for the kids was mostly milk, but it was the best coffee drink I have ever tasted. For today's recipe, I am sharing my version of  my abuela's cafe con leche, with added cinnamon and a bit more coffee. Nowadays, you would pay up to five dollars for a coffee drink similar to this at your local coffee bar. I always knew my abuela was ahead of her time. So very wise!


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  1. In a sauce pan, add the milk and cinnamon stick. Heat to medium.
  2. When a good amount of bubbles begin to form around the edge of pot, add sugar to taste. Start with one or two tablespoons. Mix well after each addition.
  3. Stir in 4 tablespoons of instant coffee until well combined. Add more as needed to suit your taste. I typically will add 1 tablespoon per 12 ounces of milk.
  4. Pour into 12 ounce cups and garnish with fresh ground Mexican canela (cinnamon).
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