There are many different types of coffee drinks out there besides a traditional black cup of Joe. If you’ve been asking yourself about cappuccino vs latte, get ready to see what they are and how they measure up. In the United States, Starbucks has made specialty coffee trendy and available nearly everywhere. However, many of these drinks originated in Italy, especially the espresso-based ones.
If you’ve ever seen the fancy drinks at the coffee shops, you know that espresso drinks are very popular but can sometimes seem a bit complicated. Coffee lovers all over the globe have been enjoying coffee drinks for many years, but it seems like in recent years, it’s become more accessible than ever before.
In the world of milk-based coffee drinks, cappuccino and latte are at the top of the list. What’s so special about this coffee beverage? And what is the difference between the two? Let’s take a look into these popular coffee drinks, how they are prepared, and how they stack up to one another.
Understanding Espresso-Based Drinks
First, let’s take a look at espresso-based drinks. Each of these drinks has one thing in common: they are a mixture of espresso and milk. Some may have different flavors or ingredients added to them, some have a little milk, and some have a lot of milk, some have blended milk, and some have foamed milk, but the base that they all share is that they are coffee + milk.
Espresso and milk-based drinks are good for people who have sensitive palates or who can get a little stomachache from strong coffee because the milk tones down the coffee. How much it is toned down varies depending on the type of drink.
Next time you’re in the coffee shop and faced with so many amazing choices and coffee styles, you’ll have a better understanding of what they are and what’s in them. This will help you make the most informed decision for your own tastes.
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What is Cappuccino?
So, what is a cappuccino? This is probably one of the most well-known espresso drinks, but that alone doesn’t make it any less complicated to understand. Cappuccino is an espresso-based drink that originated in Italy. It’s made from 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 wet foamed milk.
A traditional cappuccino has one shot of espresso and 1 oz of steamed milk as well as 1 oz of micro-foam milk. The common recipe for a cappuccino is equal volumes of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. The perfect cappuccino starts with the best beans and a great brewing process that allows you to preserve the delicious flavor from those quality beans.
You will probably love a cappuccino if you love the flavor of coffee, enjoy espresso but just want a tad of milk to take the bite out, and enjoy rich and bold coffee drinks. You can also make your cappuccino stronger with a double shot of espresso. When making at home, you can do this to taste and find the perfect mixture to suit your palate.
What is Latte?
Latte is an espresso-based milk drink that typically has a one-to-three espresso to milk ratio, although can also include up to a one-to-nine espresso to milk ratio.
A traditional latte is prepared in an 8oz cup or mug, with one or two shots of espresso (1 shot = 1 oz), around 5 to 6 oz of steamed milk, and any desired flavorings. You pour the espresso in first, then top the cup with a thin layer of frothed milk.
You will probably love a latte if you love milk-based drinks, lighter coffee flavor, and creamier milk drinks. This coffee drink originates in Italy, where it is called café latte.
You may also see baristas do beautiful, unique latte art in the top of the cup. Skilled baristas who have practiced this coffee art can make some amazing designed in the tops of their caffe lattes. This is possible because of the layer of frothed milk at the top and it can add a fun dynamic to the drink.
How Do They Compare?
Now that you have a better understanding of cappuccino and latte, let’s look at how they compare when stacked against each other. They are actually very similar drinks, with just a few small, key differences between them. The milk content is going to be the main difference in the true. One uses only a small amount, where the other one has a higher milk content. Both are of Italian origin, and both start with a base of delicious espresso.
The main difference between a cappuccino and a latte is the amount of milk used in them. Latte has a lot of milk, but a cappuccino is a stronger coffee. The coffee ratio in the cappuccino is about 1 to 1.5. Cappuccino has the bold flavor of strong espresso but toned down slightly with the milk.
A cappuccino uses less milk than the latte, which is one of the key differences between the two. Both can have a thin layer of foam on the top. Both will have an espresso shot (or more, depending on the drink). It has a smooth texture and a bold taste, where the latte is a bit creamer and the espresso is toned down more.
When it comes to flavor and quality of these two espresso drinks, a lot of it depends on the quality of the coffee beans used. When making espresso drinks, it always tastes better to use fresh beans and when the coffee beans are not grinded until you’re ready to use them.
Many at-home espresso machines you can buy today will do all of this for you, making it easier than ever before to enjoy these delicious coffee specialty drinks at home.
Other Espresso-based Drinks
Your local coffee shop probably makes some other espresso-based drinks like the mocha and the macchiato. If you have an at-home coffee bar, you’ll also be able to make all of these drinks, in addition to the cappuccino and the latte. Whatever type of coffee drink you enjoy, being able to make it at home can save you time and money.
While we won’t go too deeply into detail on this, we feel it’s important to cover the basics of these two popular espresso drinks and show how they compare to the cappuccino and the latte.
Mocha – Mocha is another espresso-based coffee drink but this one is known for its strong chocolate flavor. You will love mochas if you love coffee and chocolate. It’s made with 2/5 espresso, 2/5 hot chocolate, and 1/5 steamed milk. The most common recipes you see in coffee shops will contain 2 espresso shots, 2 oz of hot chocolate, 1 oz of steamed milk and an optional thin frothed milk layer on top.
Macchiato – Macchiato means “marked” and in the case of espresso, this means marked with foamed milk on top. Typically, it has only about a spoonful of foamed milk at the top of the coffee drink. Today, we also see it come in many flavored versions, especially at popular coffee shops like Starbucks. Some flavors include caramel, vanilla, and apple crisp. There are also many variations on the macchiato like the latte macchiato.
Some other espresso-based drinks include the flat white, mocha latte, and a mochaccino. It might sound confusing at first, but once you have an understanding of the basic coffee drinks, the blends and variations will all make sense to you.
Milk for espresso-based drinks
As you have seen from this post, these espresso-based drinks require milk. What kind of milk is used? It can be whole milk, or it can be reduced fat milks or creamers. Sometimes cold milk is used, but for cappuccino and lattes, you’re going to see steamed milk and frothed milk listed.
The easiest way to achieve this at home is with an espresso machine that can steam or froth the milk for you and make the perfect coffee drink every time. You can also buy a special milk frother if you want to make these drinks at home by hand but need to froth your milk. The main difference in the types of foamed milk is the amount of bubbles that get introduced to the milk.
Lastly, if you like to do things old school, you can buy a stainless-steel manual milk frother. It’s simple, reliable, and gets the job done right every time – although it will require a bit more work on your end. Sometimes hot milk is required, but many espresso machines take care of this step for you.
While typically a traditional cow’s milk is used, there are milk alternatives like oat milk or even rice milk that can be used instead. If using a dairy-free milk or a milk substitute, keep in mind that it may not froth up the same way a lactose milk will. You may want to test it with your frother or your espresso machine to be sure it’s going to work for your needs.
Cappuccino vs Latte Conclusions
When a regular coffee just won’t do, and you want something a bit different or fancier for the occasion, consider an espresso drink like the cappuccino and the latte.
Now that you know the difference in a cappuccino and a latte, as well as how each is made, you are prepared to try these milk-based espresso drinks for yourself. And if you really love them, you might decide you want to get an espresso machine for your home, so you don’t have to head out to the coffee shop every time you want to enjoy your favorite coffee drink.
Hopefully this answered all the common questions about cappuccino vs latte but if there’s anything else you want to know, drop us a comment and we’ll get back to you. Enjoy!