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National Cafe Au Lait Day – February 17 National Day- Cafe Au Lait Recipe

If you love coffee, National Cafe Au Lait Day is for you! Read on for a cafe au lait facts, and more info on this February 17 national day.

Maybe you’re a die hard espresso fan, or maybe you like a strong cup of Irish coffee. No matter your coffee preference, join us in celebrating National Cafe Au Lait Day!

Don’t forget to check out the cafe au lait recipe at the bottom of the post so you can make your own at home!

Six cups of coffee with different amounts of milk arranged in a color gradient with a text overlay for National Cafe Au Lait Day.

National days of the year are a fun way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with. Be sure to check out my national day’s guide for more fun days to celebrate.

What is a cafe au lait?

If you speak French, the cafe au lait meaning will be no mystery to you. Café au lait is a French term which literally means coffee with milk. It is traditionally made with hot coffee and steamed milk.

A cafe au lait in a white cup with coffee beans around it.

This warm, caffeinated, delightful, coffee beverage what National Cafe Au Lait Day is all about! The coffee fueled national day falls annually on February 17.

The origin of this national day is unknown, but coffee lovers would admit, it’s a pretty special day to celebrate!

Cafe au lait meaning

As mentioned above, café au lait means coffee with milk in French. However other areas have different words to describe the same drink.

A cafe au lait and croissant with the Eiffel Tower in the background to celebrate the cafe au lait meaning.

In Spain this drink is also called cafe con leche (also literally translating to coffee with milk). Sometimes this version uses espresso, and sometimes it uses coffee, but always in the one to one ratio.

In Poland the drink is kawa biała which translates to white coffee. In Germany the same drink is called Milchkaffee which translates to milk coffee.

Cafe au lait vs latte

In the battle of cafe au lait vs latte, we can’t tell you which one is better, but we can tell you how they’re different.

A barista making a cafe au lait to end the cafe au lait vs latte debate.

The cafe au lait recipe is simple. It is one part hot coffee to one part steamed milk. The coffee is poured first, then the milk is added second.

Lattes have more variety – they can be made either hot or iced, unlike the cafe au lait which is traditionally served hot.

With a latte, espresso shots are pulled into a cup, and then topped with milk (either steamed or cold). The ratio of milk to espresso is up to your preference, but a latte normally is more heavily milk than espresso. 

Cafe au lait facts for National Cafe Au Lait Day

Brush up on your knowledge of National Cafe Au Lait Day with these fun facts. Some may surprise you!

A woman holding a to go coffee cup after learning how to make a cafe au lait.

  • In Louisiana during the Civil War, coffee was in short supply. They mixed coffee with chicory to extend the supply. Though we have moved past wartime rations, Cafe au laits in New Orleans are still frequently made by mixing coffee and chicory and topping with scalded milk.
  • While café au lait is the French name for this beverage, other places have different names for it! For example, in Spain, the same beverage is called cafe con leche.
  • It is not traditional to put foam on top of a cafe au lait, though you may find that coffee shops sometimes add foam to their cafe au laits. I can’t complain, I enjoy it both ways!
  • Don’t be surprised if you order a cafe au lait in France and it arrives in a small bowl. White porcelain cups and bowls are the traditional serving vessels for this drink.

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How to celebrate this February 17 national day

Would you like to celebrate National Cafe Au Lait Day in a special way? Try one of these ideas.

A graphic of different coffee images with text in the middle that says "enjoy your coffee".

  • Switch your normal coffee order to a cafe au lait today to celebrate this coffee fueled national day.
  • Make a cafe a lait at home. There’s a printable cafe au lait recipe at the bottom of the page that’s easy to follow!
  • Plan a trip to France, and order a cafe au lait there!
  • If you can’t travel to celebrate, embrace the French roots of this drink by listening to French music while drinking your cafe au lait.
  • Purchase a coffee menu to hang in your kitchen.
  • Spread the word on social media using the hashtag #NationalCafeAuLaitDay. Here is a tweet to get you started:
Celebrate National Cafe Au Lait Day by switching up your regular coffee order. Head to Always the Holidays for more info on this national day, and a cafe au lait recipe. ☕️ ❤️#NationalCafeAuLaitDay Click To Tweet

How to make a cafe au lait for National Cafe Au Lait Day

So you’re ready to celebrate this February 17 national day, let’s start by teaching you how to make a cafe au lait!

A cup with a cafe au lait in it, and a biscotti beside it on a saucer on a burlap cloth with a text overlay reading "cafe au lait recipe".

I like to start by preheating my cup with boiling water so my cafe au lait stays hot longer. Once the cup is warm, discard the water.

Fill the cup half way up with hot coffee. Finish by pouring steamed milk on top of the coffee. Ideally, a cafe au lait has a 1:1 ratio of coffee to steamed milk.

Stir to combine and serve while hot.

More national days in February

There are nearly 2000 national days in the year and more than 150 of them are celebrated in February.

Visit these posts to see a list of national days in February, as well as the February word search printable of national days.

Hot chocolate and a wrapped present on a national days in February calendar with Valentine's Day circled.

Are you a foodie? Each day of the month also has a food or drink associated with it, too. You can find all the February food holidays here.

If you liked learning about this national day, be sure to also check out these national days this month:

  • National Football Hangover Day – Do you love the Super Bowl? Read about this national day that celebrates calling out of work the day after the big game.
  • National Chocolate Mint Day – Do you love the combination chocolate and mint flavors? If so then check out this post, it has fun facts, a recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies and more!
  • National Tortilla Chip Day – Who doesn’t love the salty crunch of the perfect tortilla chip? Head to this post for facts about tortilla chips and a list of various chip and dip recipes.
  • Galentine’s Day – Have you ever participated in a Galentine’s Day? Head to this post to learn the origin of the day and ways to celebrate.

More February 17 national days

Did you enjoy learning about National Cafe Au Lait Day? Well you’re in luck, February 17 is host to more than just one national day. 

A cafe au lait and biscotti on burlap to celebrate National Cafe Au Lait Day.

Here is a complete list of all the February 17 national days:

  • National Café Au Lait Day  
  • National Random Acts of Kindness Day
  • National Cabbage Day
  • National Public Science Day
  • National PTA Founders Day
  • My Way Day
  • Who Shall I be Day
  • World Human Spirit Day
  • National Indian Pudding Day (the official date is November 13 but it is also celebrated by some on June 27 and February 17)

Pin this post on National Cafe Au Lait Day for later

Would you like a reminder of this post for National Cafe Au Lait Day? Just pin this image to one of your food and drink boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

A cafe au lait splashing out of a mug with a text overlay reading "National Cafe Au Lait Day, what is a cafe au lait, ways to celebrate, and cafe au lait recipe".

Yield: 1

Cafe Au Lait Recipe

A cafe au lait and biscotti on burlap to celebrate National Cafe Au Lait Day.

This hot caffeinated beverage is equal parts hot coffee, and steamed milk.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 4 oz hot coffee
  • 4 oz steamed milk
  • Sugar to taste (optional)


  1. Brew coffee.
  2. Steam your choice of milk using either an espresso machine or a milk steamer.
  3. Preheat your coffee cup, by pouring boiling water into it, and letting it sit until warm (approximately 45 seconds).
  4. Discard the hot water once your cup is warm.
  5. Pour 4 oz of freshly brewed coffee into your cup.
  6. Top with 4 oz of steamed milk.
  7. Optional: Add sugar to taste.
  8. Stir to combine and serve while hot.


The step to preheat your cup is optional, but I find that doing this ensures your cafe au lait will stay warmer longer!

Don't feel obligated to buy an espresso machine to steam milk for you cafe au lait. A small milk frother works perfectly well, and is much less expensive! I've linked one below.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 80Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 66mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g

Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.

Jess author photoAbout the author

Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.

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