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café con leche

anyone know why a cafe' con leche tastes so much better than anything Starbucks has to offer? I remember the taste so well and have tried to figure out a way to get a similar taste in the states and simply cannot do it! Personally I think it is the milk. ultra pasteurized just does something different... of course it might be the total exhaustion under which one staggers out in search of the first cup. If anyone has found a substitute I'd love to hear about it. :shock:


Staff member
frmikeminn wrote:it might be the total exhaustion
I think that has a lot to do with your perception of things...for example:

Both VT and I will stand toe to toe with anyone on the merits of Vino tinto, or other beverage of choice (until we fall down that is). We may also agree that water, while an option...we know what whales do in it.

That said, when I was walking the AT years back and, the temps were in the high 90's...there's nothing more refreshing than a liter of ice cold water drawn from a rushing stream along the side of a tree covered mountain. Exhaustion disappears immediately!

Now, as to Cafè con leche. I haven't had a cup of coffee since my first day on the AT...that would be (oops, go to take my shoes off) 1 March 1996. And, I can not do many milk based products.

Even m favorite Italian restaurant makes LTF Gilato for me...I love Angelo!

Buen tea for me please Camino,



Active Member
frmikeminn said:
anyone know why a cafe' con leche tastes so much better than anything Starbucks has to offer?
Man, everything tastes better on vacation - especially when your senses have been sharpened by hunger and exertion... :wink: But pretty much all the Spanish bars I patronized made their coffee in large espresso-type machines, vs. our lousy drip-machines. That's got to be a plus. :arrow:
I’m a coffee lover and addict . One of my concerns on my second camino last April/May was the possibility of starting out a day without my strong cup of coffee along with the probability of getting headaches from "caffeine withdrawal". The solution was found in Pamplona at the Candy department of El Corte Ingles' supermarket: Solano brand sugarless espresso coffee flavored caramels sold in a little plastic bag for a few euros.

They taste very good and you get enough to spare with fellow coffee lover pilgrims who also miss their early morning coffee. The hot cup of cafe con leche would come a few hours later as soon as we reached the first open bar.

Now that I just learned how to insert a photo, here's one for anyone interested.

Enjoy and buen camino to all! :arrow:



several caminos- '03-'13
I don't know where you're from frmikeminn, but there may be more to it than just being on vacation and being exhausted as the following experience suggests:
I was sitting in an albergue one morning having breakfast and talking with other peregrinos - from Germany and France. One young woman was planning a trip to the US the following year (I'm from Canada). In all earnestness she asked me if I knew about the coffee in the US. I said I didn't but asked her why she was asking the question. She said that she had heard that the coffee was REALLY BAD in America and that everyone told her to be sure to take coffee with her. All the others - both French and German-solemnly assured her that it was indeed the case and in the end I did have to add that we have awful coffee in Canada too compared with "cafe con leche".
Something to do with how the bean is roasted??
Happy caffeinating your caminos.
i'm from Minnesota, Cecelia. Living in the cold north as you do! :) The coffee in America is good as long as you are willing to look around and find the places that treat coffee right, places that roast their own and know a thing or two about how to make it well. But, that said, coffee on the Camino was special and I do not think it was just that I was walking every day and tired and in some degree of pain. I do think the way it was made, the beans and the milk made a difference for me. Most mornings my Cafe' con leche just tasted great. personally I think it's the milk.
Hello frmikeminn,

One of the main harvest in my grandfather's farm in Puerto Rico was coffee. Processing and drying was conducted on location and sold to a coffee company. For family consumption, he set aside a few barrels, saving the dry beans and roasting enough quantities for a week’s supply. It would then be stored in closed canisters to preserve the coffe oils and all the aroma. Grinding was done in a hand operated grinder just prior to brewing.

From a coffee lover: the difference lies in the coffee bean, the roast, the coffee maker and the right mix of 2 tablespoons of espresso coffee grind and 2 ounces of water during brewing process.

The drip method frequently used in the US makes for a watered down version that dilutes both the taste and the aroma. Adding more of less milk modifies the color and the strength as well.

For my taste, a perfect cafe con leche would be 2 tablespoons of coffee, 2 ounces of water and 2 ounces of milk per cup. Ummm, i can smell that in the morning!!


Active Member
Lillian Rodriguez said:
Adding more of less milk modifies the color and the strength as well.
I've heard that adding cold milk to a hot drink will scald the milk and mar the taste. In Spain they tended to heat the milk before adding it to the coffee, thus avoiding that pitfall...me gusto mi cafe con leche! And it wasn't bad with cognac mixed in, either... :)
In Spain a lot of the roasted Coffee beans are "Torrefacto" which means the beans are roasted with some added sugar.This creates a caramel glaze around the beans and is said to protect the essential oils, I find it quite bitter and very strong and I prefer the "Mezcla" coffees which are a blend of normal and Torrefacto roasted beans.
Torrefacto Roasted Coffee beans are hardly ever seen outside of Spain except in places such as Argentina and Mexico.
Personally I am looking forward to quaffing some Albarino wines on my next visit to Galicia.

Regards Ron
vinotinto said:
"I've heard that adding cold milk to a hot drink will scald the milk and mar the taste. In Spain they tended to heat the milk before adding it to the coffee, thus avoiding that pitfall...)
Yes VT,
Warm milk always! If you don't have an espresso machine with a milk frother, the best trick is to beat/whip it up with a hand mixer for about 10-15 seconds and then warming it up in the micro. Just don't beat/whisk in excess or it will spill over as you warm it.

Add the freshly made coffee and voila, you get a very frothy cup of coffee!

Buen camino to all :arrow:
Why bother with milk.Here in Valencia we have Cafe Carihuela, First warm a glass,then add some sugar,pour in a very large shot of brandy,and then add a small shot of strong black coffee,warming the glass is very important,I tend not to go back to the places that don't do that. Wakes you up in the morning.
Lots of different ways of making coffee here in Spain, too many to mention I think, but one or two are Cafe Cortado,Cafe BonBon,Cafe Tiempo and Cafe Americana.

Cheers and Bottoms Up, Ron
p.s. Just finished a very nice bottle of 2007 Spanish Rose so felling very mellow.
it may seem an odd thing about which to be concerned but I must admit that it has been a minor niggle for a while. To the point that I've started trying to drink coffee again after nearly 25 years of not doing but i simply don't like it! I'm hoping that hot chocolate will fill the gap and might even bag one or two tea bags
Well, the Cola Cao should suit you down to the ground. And you ask for it by name, not as chocalate caliente. They give you hot milk, and you just tip the powder in, stir, and voilà!

But if you want a real hot chocalate, and you can wait until Santiago, there is a place on the Rua Vilar, half way between the Pilgrim Office and the Tourist Office, but on the opposite side. Don't know the name, but from the outside, it looks like a clean, modern patisserie. Go through the cake shop bit, and there is a modern cafe at the back. Only €1.80 for absolute heaven - you could almost stand your spoon up ! We only found this because we were looking for somwhere open on New Year's day this year, and were directed there by a someone from the town, otherwise, it is just a cake shop.



Staff member
Spanishlancer wrote:quaffing some Albarino wines
Look, I haven't had a cup of coffee since 96' and I agree with everyone about the various additives (brandy, etc) I am a tea drinker and will find a way on the Way. That said, there's so many super things to drink...why worry!

Now, to those Albarino wines......eeeeemmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Buen Con...well everything! Camino,
Jane - even modest bars will have tea and many will have camomile - in Spanish "manzanilla" which is slightly confusing because there is a wonderful dry sherry of the same name which is served all over Spain. Infusion is what distinguishes the two - so you can ask if they have infusiones and you may be surprised.

Lemons are ubiquitous so you can ask for tea and a lemon ( limon natural ) and make your own lemon tea.

Lots of possiblities.
Johnnie - I'd forgotten about manzanilla! I was given a bagful of camomile flowers newly picked on a Spamish hillside and drying on the bar when I asked for manzanilla several years ago, thank you for the reminder. It's odd what the mind decides is an important 'worry factor', I shall put that one away, at least.
I'm always surprised by how much I love cafe con leche... I've worked a lot as a barista (both in Europe and in the US), and the way they make cafe con leche theoretically shouldn't taste good but I just love it.

The coffee is an overextracted espresso shot, and they generally reheat the milk and often burn it, but somehow it is always good.

And there is good coffee in the US. You just need to know where to go and where to get it :). The problem is, yes, filter coffee is gross. You can find good espresso usually at a coffee shop that is run by europeans or is fair trade/organic, with really talented baristas. Yes, there is talent in pulling a perfect espresso. Just my 2 cents!

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