Posted on

Coffee-Milk: The Regency Café au lait

It is rather impertinent to suggest any household care to a housekeeper, but I just venture to say that the coffee-mill will be wanted every day while Edward is at Steventon, as he always drinks coffee for breakfast.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
June 11, 1799

Regency coffee and milk has been part of the European kitchen since the 17th century (there is no mention of milk in coffee pre 1600 in Turkey or in the Arab world). ‘Caffèlatte’, ‘Milchkaffee’ and ‘Café au lait’ are domestic terms of traditional ways of drinking coffee, usually as part of breakfast in the home. Public Cafés in Europe and the US it seems has no mention of the terms until the 20th century, although ‘Kapuziner’ is mentioned in Austrian coffee houses in Vienna and Trieste in the 2nd half of the 1700s as ‘coffee with cream, spices and sugar’ (being the origin of the Italian ‘cappuccino’).

Café au lait is a French coffee drink. The meaning of the term differs between Europe and the United States; in both cases it means some kind of coffee with hot milk added, in contrast to white coffee, which is coffee with room temperature milk or other whitener added.



The following recipe, offers a lovely, creamy version, perfect, as it says, for a very fine breakfast:

Coffee Milk.
Boil a desert-spoonful of ground coffee, in nearly a pint of milk, a quarter of an hour; then- put into it a shaving or two of isinglass, and clear it; let it boil a few ‘minutes, and set it on the side of the lire to grow. This is a very fine breakfast; it should be sweetened with real Lisbon sugar of a good quality.
Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell, A New System of Domestic Cookery, 1806

Visi0 Epicurious.com for a modern adaptation.

Historical information from Wikipedia.com

Leave a Reply