What Is Caffè Misto? Answered

Are you puzzled seeing this item on a Starbucks menu board and wondering, what is caffé misto? Let’s find out more about this delicious coffee drink.

Caffè Misto
It is light in calories, strong in caffeine, and perfect for any occasion with a balanced coffee flavor

Have you ever walked into Starbucks, looked at the menu board, and wondered, what is caffé misto? The franchise is beloved for having fun twists on all kinds of drinks.

In this instance, the Starbucks caffé misto drink is half brewed coffee and half milk. It’s light in calories, strong in caffeine, and has a balanced coffee flavor that makes it suitable for any occasion. Given that a recent survey discovered that only 18% of coffee drinkers prefer their brew black, like drip-brewed java or an Americano, you can see why caffé misto and other milky coffee drinks are so popular.

If you’re never sure what size to order, check out our article on Starbucks cup sizes to solve all your doubts. Now, let’s learn more about this type of coffee.

What Is Caffè Misto?

You don’t need to doubt your coffee knowledge if you’ve never seen caffé misto on a menu outside of Starbucks. The coffee giant likes to create new names for drinks that already have one.

So, what the brand calls caffè misto is more commonly known as cafe au lait elsewhere. Cafe au lait means “coffee with milk” in French, and that’s exactly what this drink is. If you love milky coffee, you might also be interested in our Spanish latte explainer.

It’s worth noting that cafe au lait doesn’t necessarily feature steamed milk. Some coffee shops may simply use hot milk – which is not a mistake, as there’s no fixed recipe regarding this drink. When it comes to caffè misto, it’s always served with a nice frothy foam on top, but latte art is rare.

Caffé Misto Vs. Lattes & Cappuccinos

As mentioned earlier, the coffee-to-milk ratio is 1:1, so you get a rich, velvety beverage. While it might seem similar to cappuccino or latte, these two drinks are rather different from caffè misto.

Both cappuccinos and lattes are made with a shot of espresso, while caffè misto is made with brewed coffee. This makes it perfect for the average home barista as you can use your favorite home brewing method, be it French press, drip coffee, or pour-over.

Not only that, but caffé misto has more coffee than these espresso-based drinks. A cappuccino has a 1:1:1 ratio of coffee, froth, and steamed milk, while a classic latte is closer to 1:4 espresso to steamed milk, with a little foam.

Since caffè misto uses both ingredients in equal amounts, the strength of brewed coffee is perfectly paired with the creamy texture of milk.

How To Make Caffè Misto At Home

Pretty glass bottles containing hazelnut, vanilla and caramel coffee syrups for flavoring a drink
Vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel are classic flavors that go well with caffè misto

The beauty of this drink lies in the fact that you can easily make it at home as the recipe is customizable. The recipe asks for black coffee, which can be made using your favorite brewing method. So, unlike lattes, cappuccinos, or flat whites, which require espresso machines and milk frothers, you can easily make this milk-based drink using any coffee maker, like a French press, pour-over brewer, or a Moka pot.

While any coffee beans will do, medium and dark roasts go wonderfully with frothed milk. The creaminess allows some of those bolder notes to come through while balancing out the bitterness.

The amount of coffee you need depends on the brewing method you’re using because different methods use different coffee-to-water ratios. So for instance, a Moka pot requires a 1:10 to 1:13 coffee-to-water ratio, while pour-over goes anywhere from 1:14 to 1:20.

As mentioned earlier, caffè misto asks for equal parts of coffee and milk. If you plan on filling up your 8-ounce mug, you need to brew four ounces of coffee and steam the same amount of milk. This isn’t a hard rule, you can always adjust the ratio to be more up to your liking.

Finally, if you find your coffee taste is lacking that special something, a pump of your favorite flavored syrup or a sweetener can elevate the drink and make it richer and smoother. Vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel are classic options that pair well with the creaminess and boldness of caffè misto.

Can You Make This Drink With Any Kind Of Milk?

As for milk, there are also no bad options. Since you’re steaming it, not frothing, it’s unnecessary to go with the option that best holds foam.

If you’re using cow milk, whole, semi-skim, and skim are all fine options. While whole milk is luxuriously creamy when steamed, skim is the healthiest option of the three.

You can also still enjoy this drink if you don’t consume dairy. Oat milk is arguably the best option when it comes to steaming, as it creates a lovely velvety foam. Coconut and almond milk are both great choices for those who want a more interesting flavor to their cup of coffee.

With so many plant-based milk options available, choosing the right one for your coffee is not an easy task. If you want to play safe, go with the “barista” versions of these milk alternatives. These products are purposefully created to make a nice milk foam.

Caffè Misto Recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • Brewer of your choice
  • Pan
  • Whisk or French press


  • Brewed coffee
  • Milk


  • Make coffee using your preferred brewing method.
  • While the coffee is brewing, add milk to the pan and place it on the stove on medium heat. Alternatively, you can heat your milk in the microwave. Just make sure to do it in short intervals of 30 seconds or less to prevent the milk from boiling over.
  • The bubbles will start forming on the surface right before the milk starts boiling. Once that happens, whisk the milk a few times to add some air before removing it from the stove.
  • For better results, you can put your warm milk into a French press and push the plunger up and down to create a nice velvety foam. Make sure to only fill it halfway as the milk expands more than you would think.
  • Fill the mug with brewed coffee, then top with steamed milk.

Caffè Misto Nutritional Value

Woman adding milk to fresh aromatic coffee at table, closeup
It is a coffee drink made with half coffee and half milk, similar to a latte but with a higher coffee-to-milk ratio

So, you might be wondering – how much caffè misto is too much? As you know, coffee by itself has virtually no calories. However, coffee makes up just half of the beverage, the rest being milk.

Naturally, exactly how many calories your drink has depends on the type of milk used. Whole cow’s milk has more calories and saturated fat than any other type of milk. To put that in numbers, 4 ounces of whole milk has roughly 75 calories.

Skimmed and soy milk have about 40 calories per 4 ounces, while unsweetened almond and coconut milk have less than 25 calories.

It’s also worth noting that cow milk is higher in carbs than plant-based counterparts. While 4 ounces of cow milk contain roughly 6 grams of carbs, soy milk has just 2, and almond has 0.5 grams!

Let’s not forget that different types of milk contain different vitamins and minerals. So, for instance, whole milk is an excellent source of calcium but dairy alternatives will still contain some vitamins and minerals. While other types of milk aren’t naturally rich in vitamins and minerals, they’re often fortified with them to improve their nutritional value.

With all that said, you’re probably not drinking caffé misto to reap any health benefits. It’s nice to treat yourself sometimes.

When it comes to caffeine content, that depends on the type of beans, roast, and the brewing method. Therefore, an 8-ounce caffè misto can have anywhere between 80 and 150 milligrams of caffeine.

If you liked this post, you might also be interested in learning what a breve latte is.


  • Viktoria

    Viktoria is a writer and a journalist on a lifelong quest to find the best cup of java. When not writing about it, she's tuning her coffee-making technique and trying out coffee beans from all over the world.