Café au lait
In Europe, "café au lait" stems from the same continental tradition as "caffè latte" in Italy, "café con leche" in Spain, "kawa biała" ("white coffee") in Poland, "milchkaffee" in Germany, "koffie verkeerd" in Netherlands, and "café com leite" in Portugal, "coffee with milk" or "white coffee" . In northern Europe, café au lait is the name most often used in coffee shops. At home, it can be prepared from dark coffee and heated milk; in cafés, it has been prepared on espresso machines from espresso and steamed milk ever since these machines became available in the 1940s.
In many American coffeehouses, a café au lait is simply made with strong drip brewed or French pressed coffee substituted for espresso, though a French roast or similarly dark coffee may be the base of the beverage.
In the United States, caffè latte and café au lait are served as two distinct coffee beverages.
This is not the case in Europe, where the two terms are used more as an indication to whether the beverage is served in the "French" or the "Italian" way (the former being in a white porcelain cup or bowl, the latter in a kitchen glass, and always served from the espresso machine).
Drip brewed coffee with milk has no name in Europe.
The term misto (literally, "mixed") is also used to refer to a café au lait, most notably by Starbucks.
New Orleans style
Café au lait in New Orleans has been popularized in part by Café du Monde. There, it is made with milk and chicory, giving it a strong, bitter taste. Inclusion of roasted chicory root as an extender in coffee became common in colonial Louisiana, and eventually was incorporated in its local variant of the French-style coffee drink. The bitterness of the chicory offsets the sweetness of the powdered-sugar-covered beignets, a common accompaniment.