iced café con leche

When our family went up to Isabela a couple weeks back, we stopped at a coffee shop for my afternoon fix. I ordered an iced café con leche, and then watched, dismayed, as the guy scooped up a bunch of ice with a plastic cup, filled it almost to the brim with whole milk, and then topped it off with about two tablespoons of coffee. What the —?! I wanted coffee, not a coffee-flavored drink. 

Irritated, I paid the three dollars, grabbed a couple packs of sugar, and walked out, my husband following behind, laughing at me all the while. Three dollars for a cup of ice and some milk? Hahaha! Heeheehee!

Shut up, I snapped, but I was laughing, too. The whole thing was so ridiculous.

In the car, I took a sip of my overpriced icy milk and paused. Hey, this is actually pretty good! I took another sip. It’s really, REALLY good! 

In spite of the pale, milky color, the drink was, astoundingly, ALL coffee: dark, earthy, rich. (And then, because it’s not good manners to drink and rave in front of others, I had to let everyone take sips of my drink, grumble-grumble.)

Since then, I’ve been making my afternoon coffee just like they did in that shop. (Before, I’d been saving coffee from the guys’ morning pot, just adding sugar, cream, and ice. And before that, I’d been religiously making my cold-brewed iced coffee…until I got short on fridge space and tired of always thinking ahead — we drink a lot of coffee.)

I really have no idea why the flavor is so different. It seems that coffee is all about process: a different process, a different drink. It’s kind of fun, really.

My method is as follows: While the water comes to a boil, I fill a glass with ice and milk. In my aeropress, I swirl a wee-bit of the boiling water with the coffee grounds before quickly pushing it through. (The longer the water sits with the grounds, the more bitter it gets.) I add a bit of sugar to the thick, dark coffee concentrate, stir until it’s dissolved, and then dump the sweet coffee syrup over the iced milk.

Voila, iced café con leche! So delicious.

Iced Café con Leche 

While my aeropress doesn’t make authentic espresso, it’s the next best thing, I think. If you have neither an aeropress or an espresso maker, try swirling the grounds with hot water in a mug and then pouring it through a cheese cloth. Or buy a colador — they’re super popular here.

a couple tablespoons of super strong coffee
1-3 teaspoons sugar
whole milk

Stir the sugar into the hot coffee syrup. Pour the milk into an ice-filled glass. Top off the glass with the sweetened hot coffee syrup. Give it a quick stir and enjoy!

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (7.31.17), injera and beef wat, my deficiency, a pie story, joy, blueberry torn-biscuit cobbler, a quick pop-in, shrimp, mango, and avocado salad, braised cabbage.


  • Lizzy

    I showed this post to my son, who adores his morning coffee. We've had an uncharacteristically hot summer here in Wales. This has become a fast favourite with him, and so easy! Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Jennifer, are you using Bustelo?
    All of my friends from PR drink it here in Philly.

    Also- so enjoying your adventures there. Thank you for sharing with us!

    -Kim from Philadelphia.

    • Jennifer Jo

      I've seen Bustelo here (and I buy it in the states for my cold-brewed coffee), but I've actually been using just regular Puerto Rican coffee.

      Interesting fact: In the grocery stores, the coffee is kept behind locked doors, along with the wine and tobacco — still haven't quite figured that one out….

  • Lana

    I make my iced coffee pretty much just like that but we do have an espresso machine. I add 2 T of vanilla syrup or chocolate syrup instead of sugar. When I make them for visitors they are blown away that it is so easy and does not involve Starbucks!

Leave a Comment