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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:
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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,

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:


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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!!
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 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
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk. Discount is taken at check out, only by using this link.
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
Camino Way markers in Bronze
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk. Discount is taken at check out, only by using this link.
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.

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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Out here in Western Canada our local Starbucks will make you a Caffè Misto. If you order a short Caffè Misto it will contain a shot of espresso (choice of medium or dark roast) that will be topped up to the 6 ounce level with steamed milk. Floating atop this coffee with milk will be an adequate head of foam. Despite the essential ingredients that for me include a packet of sugar, sipping it from a paper cup in my car on the way home from town or sitting in Starbucks gazing out at today’s snow-covered local scenery, the Caffè Misto isn’t quite a clone of the Spanish cafe con leche served in a crockery cup and saucer and topped with a leafy design. However, I think the difference is in me, and in the experience lacking the quality of me being in a state of utter physical exhaustion brought about by walking endless miles, plus the burning anticipation of savouring the caffeinated infusion hours after setting out in the early morning having had no available coffee at that hour. The excitement factor of being in Spain on the Camino and meeting other pilgrims from everywhere in the world seems a critical component too. I’ve heard of a couple of cafe-bakeries and coffee sources with a variety of brewing methods in Vancouver that offer cafe con leche, but that search would involve several hours of driving and a lengthy quest for parking in the city. Somehow I know within myself that Spain is the ultimate and authentic destination for cafe con leche. I want to return some day.
We travel quite bit in the USA and trying to get a decent "cup of coffee' or an espresso is not easy. We have talked to many small cafe owner and it is just hard to keep anyone on staff that will learn to make it correctly. We will not go to Starbuck or any other corporate coffee place. Even micro roasters are not equal. It all starts with the beans...location, variety, roasting etc. So much goes into making a great shot, from grind to machine and keeping the machine clean. There some places in the USA but hard to find. We mainly drink at home and have a professional machine and are on a constant search for great beans. Coffee is much like fine chocolate or cheese. As I say there are three food, chocolate and cheese. :)
On this matter coffee overseas is roasted differently. If you are a coffee lover why do you drink Starbucks overly sugared artificially treated coffee? And that for really a lot of money. In my opinion the best roasted and selected coffee in the world comes from Rome. It has a light chocolate aroma you can make it in the little stove top coffee maker. Tazza doro from Rome Pantheon you can order it online they ship.
Once you had the real thing.
On the Camino the little coffees they serve in Portugal come close to the Italian. That’s because their closeness to Brazil.
On the walk I used to make myself Greek style frappe. Take a 1/2 l bottle of cold water sip some out of it add an envelope or two of Nescafé and shake very well until it’s foaming. You can add milk if you have it or sugar if you need it. that what my friends drink in Greece. Simple and inexpensive.
I got a milk frother from my mum as a present's the first time since the Camino that I've found something that tastes as good! I'm not addicted and go through gallons of milk every week at home.
I don't drink coffee in Ireland but I love a Cafe con Leche when in Spain and they were only gorgeous on the Camino! I am an Irish Tea drinker and bring teabags with me in my bag when abroad but only used them at breakfast time on the Camino.
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