What Is Milchkaffee? - German Café au Lait

Hands pouring steamed milk into coffee cup.
Hands pouring steamed milk into coffee cup. Photographer Thomas Northcut - copyright Getty Images

Milchkaffee is a coffee drink you can order in almost any café or pub in Germany. It is strong, filter coffee topped off up to the rim of the cup with hot milk and sometimes milk froth.

Cocoa powder is often sprinkled on top. It is served unsweetened and is sweetened to taste before drinking by the lucky drinker of this warming beverage. It also is often served with a little Danish butter cookie from the tin.

 

The proportions are 50% milk and 50% coffee. It predates all the fancy espresso drinks at today's modern coffee shops.

You Say Melange, I Say Milchkaffee

Milchkaffee is known by several different names, depending on which country you are in when ordering.

Austria: Particularly in Viennese coffee houses, a milchkaffee is called a melange and is made from a mokka or a kleinen schwarzen, which is a regular, strong coffee very similar to espresso, and milk. Wiener melange is made with frothed milk.

A großen braunen and kleinen braunen (large and small browns) are terms for large and small mokkas with whipped cream.

Switzerland: A milchkaffee in Switzerland is named after the vessel it's served in -- schale. Sometimes milchkaffee is served as separate milk and coffee, with a lot of space in the cup to pour the milk in to your liking.

More Hot and Cold German Beverages

It wouldn't be winter or summer without one of these drinks to warm the tummy or slake the thirst in Germany:

  • German Hot Cocoa vs. Hot ChocolateThis popular German beverage is made with cocoa powder, not chocolate, and can be drunk hot or cold. Heiße schokolade is not made from cocoa powder or mixes. It is made from real chocolate (like a chocolate bar) which can be melted and stirred into milk or water. It often has added sweetener and cap of whipped cream.
  • German Ice Cream and Coffee Recipe: This refreshing not-too-sweet mixture of cold coffee, ice cream, and whipped cream is more of an adult treat than a kid's sundae that is served at cafés and pubs in Germany.
  • German Coffee with Rum RecipeGerman pharisaeer kaffee has an interesting back story so be sure to check out the recipe for this beverage made with strong coffee, dark rum, and sugar cubes.

International Coffee Drinks

Here are 7 more ways to drink hot and cold coffee in Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, France and Portugal.