A coffee discussion on the SF was vearing too much into a general coffee drink discussion.
Anyway, moaning about how much I hate those big bowls used for cafe au lait (and confusing it with cafe latte), I did some searching for the difference.
Café au Lait - let's just say drip coffee and warm milk. There's a lot of different definitions ... with two-thirds hot frothed milk ... 50/50 ... milk served warm and in a separate pitcher.
There's even a Cajun style cup of café au lait, using a dark roast that includes chicory. Someone from New Orleans learned to his dismay that it isn't made that way elsewhere in the country.
Caffè Latte - espresso combined with about three times as much hot milk topped with froth ... or so one definition says.
The link at the bottom has a decent explanation of quite a few coffee drinks and at least an explanation for those big bowls ... "This open-mouthed vessel is convenient for dunking brioche and croissants. It is also useful for warming one's hands while seated outdoors."
Well, at least that makes it less of what seemed a silly affectation to me. I still don't like it served that way because the coffee cools too soon, but its an explanation.
Searching the web turned up dozens of ways these drinks are defined though.
In the 'Italian Cooking for Dummies' it says that caffe latte in Italy isn't the same as the American version. It is just brewed coffee with steamed milk and not espresso ... which seems to me the same as the French au Lait.
Never knew there was a term for a wet cappucino - ESPRESSO LACHINO. Yeah, that will get me far. As it is, sometimes I have to explain what I mean by a wet cappucino and why I don't want it.
This was a cute little link that had some terms I had not heard before ...
NIENTA (Why Bother)- Decaffeinated cappuccino with nonfat milk. Cute. I'll use that next time I want that drink at Starbucks and they are trying to get me to use those silly terms like vente for coffee size.
There's also a 'harmless', 'cake in a cup', 'latteccino'. and 'no fun' . Put that 'on a leash'.
A 'speed ball' (coffee with a shot of espresso) is also a Shot in the Dark, Red Eye, Bellman, Boilerhouse, Depth Charge, and Cafe M.F.
This site has the coffee term glossary used almost everywhere on the web.
I'm always surprised when traveling when a different term gets me a different result. I learned immediately in Europe to preceed the word 'latte' with 'cafe' or I would get warm milk.
Back on the East Coast the first time I ordered a regular coffee - meaning regular-sized black, not small or large - I got cream and sugar in it. To me yuck.
And it's so hard to think before that first cup of coffee.