To complete the Mexican theme of yesterday’s brunch, I had a cup of cafe con leche with the potato, chorizo and chili dish. What is cafe con leche? The literal translation is coffee with milk but the name doesn’t do justice to this wonderful anytime-of-the-day drink.
Just so I don’t get accused of being politically incorrect, let me say that there are many versions of cafe con leche, it is popular in many Latin American countries, and it appears to originate from Spain. While all versions contain the basic ingredients of coffee and milk, usually in a 1:1 ratio, the Mexican version includes a stick of cinnamon — not as a mere decoration, mind you, but as an essential part of the beverage. Nothing overpowering but just a hint of flavor and aroma of cinnamon.
- 1/2 cup strong coffee
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cinnamon stick
- sugar to taste
First, prepare your coffee. Half a cup. Strong brew. If you have a coffee press, use it. If you want to use a percolator, do so. If you have a fancy espresso machine, that'll do too. How the coffee is brewed is secondary. What's important is that you get strong brewed coffee as a result.
Then, pour half a cup of milk into a small pan and add a stick of cinnamon. Boil the milk gently for about a minute, stirring often to prevent the formation of a skin on the surface.
Remove the cinnamon stick with a slotted spoon.
Pour the hot milk into the coffee. Serve the cafe con leche with the cinnamon stick. Add sugar to taste and — here’s the cool part — use the cinnamon stick to stir the sugar into the coffee until dissolved.