Cappuccino vs Latte: What is the Difference?

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The wonderful world of coffee contains unlimited amounts of possibilities. There’s sure to be something nearly anyone can enjoy, but learning the difference between the various styles, tastes, and preparations may be overwhelming.

Cappuccino vs Latte? What is the difference between these two drinks?  It is a wonder that so many different-tasting drinks can be made from the same two ingredients –  coffee and milk.    

Let’s look at the differences, the ingredients, and the preparation process for Cappuccinos and Lattes.

So, What’s The Difference Really?

The primary difference is that a Cappuccino has more foam than a Latte because steamed milk has less foam. Latte’s thick layer of steamed milk and a thin layer of foam are combined; the foam layer disappears after a few sips, but it leaves a lasting impression of the drink on your overall taste and texture.  

In terms of taste, you might think they are almost identical. However, the blending of the steamed milk with the espresso makes the Latte taste milder and not as strong tasting as a Cappuccino. While the Cappuccino has a stronger espresso flavor, it can also taste sweeter if you have it served with chocolate powder. The result is two distinctively different tasting drinks. 

The difference in texture will also be quite apparent when you drink them. Cappuccinos tend to taste thicker because they have more foam, and you can enjoy them by clearing away the foam with a spoon. You will find the Latte to be a smoother drink and quicker to consume since there is less foam.

In order to compensate for this, different sized pours are used for each drink, the Cappuccino usually being smaller (5 to 6 ounces) and the Latte usually larger (8 to 12 ounces). Even though the size difference does not affect flavor, the amount of foam will give you a different texture perception. 

Cappuccino vs Latte: Here is an Overview of their Differences:

  1. Milk Content: Cappuccinos are made with equal proportions of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. More steamed milk is used in a Latte, along with a tiny amount of foam. This gives them a very different appearance when served.
  2. Coffee: both drinks use the same amount of espresso. However, in Cappuccinos, the espresso and milk are not mixed. In a Latte, the espresso and milk are blended together, giving it a milder taste.
  3. Serving Size: Cappuccino is served in smaller cups (5 to 6 ounces) and the Latte in larger cups (8 to 12 ounces).

A Little Espresso History

The espresso machine was invented by Angelo Moriondo back in 1884. He was an entrepreneur who came up with the idea of making coffee faster to help companies reduce coffee break times. 

The Cappuccino, which uses espresso as its base, evolved after and has been around now for over 100 years. Both Cappuccino and Latte use espresso as a base. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to make espresso at home!  

The Cappuccino

cappuccino vs latte

The history of the Cappuccino dates back as far as the 1700s, where a variation of this famous beverage started popping up in Viennese coffee houses under the name “Kapuziner.” However, it wasn’t until the popularization of the espresso machine in the early 1900s that the original Cappuccino started making headlines in Italy. By the 1930s, Italy’s creation was a hit amongst cafes across the country.

While there are conflicting theories about the origin of the name ‘Cappuccino’, one legend claims that the name was derived from monks of the Capuchin order. 

Capuchin means cowl or hood in Italian, and it is a term used to describe the hooded robe worn by the Capuchin monks. The early Cappuccino drinks had a brown color similar to these hooded robes, and the drink gradually adopted the name ‘Cappuccino’.  

In the mid-1990s, upscale coffee bars like Starbucks began opening up across North America, making Cappuccino more widely known and available to North Americans. 

Previously, Cappuccino was only common in places like Europe, Australia, South America, South Africa, and more cosmopolitan regions of North America.

The Cappuccino has been prepared in many ways throughout its history. However, the version we enjoy today is considered the proper blend of the following: 1/3 espresso coffee, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foamed milk. When served, the espresso coffee is not mixed with the milk but rather lies on top of the coffee, making the espresso taste “strong.”

A Cappuccino cup holds approximately 5 to 6 ounces of Cappuccino, while a cup used for Lattes holds about 8 fluid ounces. The perfect balance of espresso flavor with the exact amount of milk is really important to ensure the smoothest cup of coffee. 

Cappuccino foam can be either dry (also called microfoam) or velvety (also called whipped foam). Bubbles in dry foam tend to be big and bulky, whereas, in velvety foam, the bubbles are much smaller and barely noticeable.

Usually, a Cappuccino is made by following these steps:

  • Pour a double shot of espresso shot into the cup
  • Pour the steamed milk
  • Then carefully pour 0.5 to 1 inch of the foamed milk
  • Top it off with a pinch of chocolate or cinnamon powder (optional)

Adding chocolate powder to Cappuccinos is a question that has generated some debate. You won’t get such a powder, for example, if you ask for a Cappuccino in Italy. 

But if you visit the United Kingdom or Australia, you will find it served with powder on top. In the United States, it will vary depending on what cafe you visit.

In terms of preparation, there is no standard recipe. A lot depends on what your customers expect or demand, depending on where you are located.

Try your Cappuccino with and without the chocolate powder to decide which way you like it best.

The Latte

cappuccino vs latte

Although known by many different names in different countries, the Latte is a beverage invented in the United States. This beverage is basically a mixture of coffee and milk (liquid milk). Latte is perhaps considered to be the big brother of Cappuccino, and it has everything to do with the soft, silky foam that’s so characteristic of the beverage. 

On the whole, it is prepared with one-third espresso base, and two-thirds steamed milk, then finish off with a tiny layer of foam (no more than half an inch) on top. It is important to think about the texture of Latte when speaking about this beverage since it will add to its visual appeal. 

Usually, a Latte is made as follows:

  • Add espresso into the cup
  • Pour in the steamed milk
  • Then add a narrow width of milk foam on top
  • Swirl the milk foam to decorate like a piece of art (optional)

Using a spoon, pour the steamed liquid milk into the espresso base so that the foam does not mix with the espresso.

The Evolution of Cappuccinos and Lattes

With trends moving away from milk consumption, you’ll find alternatives like oat milk and almond milk commonly available at popular cafés. Almond milk is much creamier than oat milk. These substitutes don’t affect the texture or consistency, but they do change the taste quite a bit. 

It just becomes a matter of preference. Cashew milk and macadamia milk are also tasty options. If your local coffee shop offers them, give them a try. 

These are also a great option for those who are Lactose intolerant since they seem to be more commonly available than lactose-free milk.

Cappuccino or Latte? What Will You Make?

A Cappuccino is what you would make if you like the strong coffee flavor with a lot more foam and maybe some chocolate powder on top. If you prefer your coffee to be not too strong with a bit of milk taste, then a Latte might be your go-to.

Now that you know the difference between Cappuccinos and lattes, you can confidently determine which you prefer. You are now all set to make these delicious drinks with confidence.

So, tell us, will it be a Cappuccino or Latte will you make?

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