Latte vs. Cappuccino – Difference Between These Coffee Drinks

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The world of coffee-based drinks is continually expanding. Various coffee houses will have an assortment of names for their specialty espresso drinks, which can make things confusing when placing your order.

However, no matter how many coffee options are there, Latte and Cappuccino are always on the menu. So, if you are curious about the differences between them, we can help.

Here, we break down all the details of both latte and cappuccino to simplify them.

What Is A Latte?

The popularity of lattes tends to fall with individuals who enjoy a coffee drink but do not want a robust espresso-style choice. Originating in Italy, caffè latte translated to coffee and milk and was a traditional breakfast drink. Although individuals around the world now enjoy lattes at all times of the day.

Lattes are similar to cappuccinos since they are espresso coffee drink that combines espresso shots with steamed milk and milk foam. However, a caffè latte is more in volume than a cappuccino and has a sweeter taste.

One fun fact is that February 11 is National Latte Day, giving anyone who needs another reason to drink up the perfect opportunity. [1]

what-is-a-latte

What Is A Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is also a coffee and milk drink that uses a shot of espresso shot with steamed milk and milk foam. It is smaller in size than a caffe latte and carries a stronger coffee flavor, perfect for anyone who wants a caffeine drink with a more distinct, bold flavor.

Although a similar drink already existed in Vienna, the cappuccino came to be in Italy in the 1930s and got its name from Capuchin friars since the froth resembled the same color as the monk’s robes. [2]

Because of its smaller size and robust flavor, many individuals prefer enjoying a cappuccino in the morning or early in the day.

Interestingly, cappuccinos also have the spotlight during the year. November 8 is National Cappuccino Day for individuals who prefer this bold coffee drink.

what-is-a-cappuccino

Difference Between Latte And Cappuccino

There is a distinct difference between latte and cappuccino drinks, from their ingredients to the brew method and how a barista serves them.

Ingredients

Latte and cappuccino include the same essential ingredients, including espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, as many other espresso drinks, such as flat white, latte macchiato, and café au lait. However, they are pretty different from one other once you prepare and serve them.

espresso and milk

What’s In a Latte

A traditional latte contains an espresso shot, which measures 30 ml (1 ounce) total for a single serving. The other ingredients are 170 to 225 ml (5.75 to 7.6 ounces) of steamed and frothed milk.

Modern coffee shops also offer more variations, such as chai latte. Or create an amazing coffee flavor using vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, chocolate syrup, or whipped cream.

What’s In a Cappuccino?

A traditional cappuccino includes a single or double-shot espresso. However, it is common to have a double shot totaling 60 ml (2 ounces) which will be almost half of the total drink volume. It will have approximately 85 ml (2.8 ounces) of steamed milk with a thicker topping of milk froth.

Milk Ratio and Texture

The latte’s milk ratio is essentially one-third espresso, two-thirds of steamed milk, and a topping of milk foam. This combination creates a velvety-smooth texture where the aerated milk is light.

The milk for this popular drink is usually 2% or similar since lattes do not need as much milk fat as cappuccinos. It will also steam and froth differently with less fat content. However, you can choose almond milk, oat milk, or other alternatives when you order a latte at Starbucks or make it at home.

hold-the-milk-pitcher-properly-while-steaming

With cappuccinos, the milk ratio is significantly different, which causes a bolder taste. An ideal cup of cappuccino uses equal parts of espresso and steamed milk with a foamy layer to top it off.

Because there is less milk, cappuccinos have a creamy texture that is slightly bitter with a hint of sweetness. They also will typically use whole milk for its added fat content. This extra milk fat aids in providing a more dense foam when steaming.

Brew Method

Although the brewing process is similar for each coffee drink, the difference occurs in the milk steaming step, contributing to their overall taste and resulting texture.

How Is Latte Made?

A latte requires you to pull an espresso shot with an espresso machine as the first step. Next, start with 5 to 7 ounces of cold milk, add air and create a light creamy texture until it reaches 135 to 150-degrees. It should have a bright sheen like wet paint. The hot milk should have a light layer of microfoam.

Gently pour the steamed milk into the espresso, so it mixes effectively, and enjoy! A professional barista can pour aesthetically pleasing latte art on top of the drink.

If the latte is served over ice, you have an iced latte.

How Is Cappuccino Made?

Making a standard cappuccino will include pulling one or a double shot of espresso. Steaming the milk will vary as it consists of more aggressive steam methods to stretch the milk for a smooth, pillowy texture rather than airy. The temperature of the heated milk will reach between 150 and 155-degrees.

If there are any residual air bubbles on the top, you will want to remove those and keep the dense steamed milk to add to the espresso. To finish off, scoop some foam and gently add it to the top of the drink. Cappuccinos have a more layered consistency than lattes.

Traditional cappuccino typically is served hot, now you can find iced cappuccino in many coffee chains.

Serving

Traditional latte cup tends to be larger than standard cappuccinos. They are typically 8 ounces or more in size. At Starbucks, you can order a venti size (20 fl oz) latte.

You can expect a latte served in a glass or larger cup in most coffee shops. This drink will be significantly larger than cappuccinos since it contains more steamed milk.

latte-look

A cappuccino will be 6 ounces or less in volume and come to you in a smaller cup at a lukewarm temperature. In a fancy coffee shop, it may be served in a ceramic cup with a napkin underneath and on a saucer.

cappuccino-look

The Look

Lattes and cappuccinos may look similar to the untrained eye. But once you know what to focus on, you too can quickly tell the difference like a pro.

It is most likely a latte if you have a more prominent hot coffee and milk drink over 8 ounces in volume. Additionally, baristas will often include latte art on top. Their light and airy foam is a clear, distinct element of this hot drink. This mixed coffee and milk beverage are also lighter in color.

While cappuccinos may also contain some latte art, their foam is denser and will not appear as light. Additionally, they will be smaller in comparison, although some major coffee chains also offer cappuccinos in larger sizes, which goes against traditional servings.

Finally, because of the higher concentration of espresso and less steamed milk, cappuccinos will sport a darker hue than lattes.

latte-vs-cappuccino-look

Flavor

The flavor between lattes and cappuccinos is quite different due to their milk content.

Lattes will taste less intense, provide a smooth, velvet texture, and be relatively sweeter. In addition, the airy foamed milk helps bring out the sweetness in the milk during the frothing process, aiding in making lattes less bitter from the espresso it includes.

Alternatively, cappuccinos carry a bolder, more distinct espresso flavor. The lower milk volume allows a slightly bitter taste to remain in the drink. However, the excessive milk fat helps balance out the boldness with a slight hint of sweetness.

Caffeine Content

The caffeine content of these two drinks depends on how many shots of espresso they use. Generally speaking, one single shot of espresso contains 75mg of caffeine. Therefore, if they use the same amount of coffee, the caffeine content of a cappuccino and a latte is the same.

Conclusion

Once you compare the aspects of latte vs. cappuccino drinks, it is easy to see how each one is suitable for different tastes and circumstances. For example, choose a latte if you prefer a lighter, less intense coffee and milk drink. On the other hand, if you enjoy the deep, robust coffee flavor and a creamier mouthfeel, a cappuccino is more likely to your taste.

Both of these popular coffee drinks have been a staple during the mornings for individuals all around Europe. Although many people will not drink these specialty coffee beverages after 11 am, plenty of other individuals love to enjoy them at all times of the day.

References:

  1. National Latte Day – https://nationaltoday.com/national-latte-day/
  2. Where Does the Name ‘Cappuccino’ Come From? – https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/where-do-we-get-cappuccino-from