As a coffee shop owner, while running the shop, I had encountered the same question from various customers several times, which is about the difference between cappuccino vs latte. I would tell them that the amount of foam and steamed milk is the fundamental difference between latte and cappuccino, the cappuccino has more foam while the latte has more steamed milk.
However, before getting into their similarities and further details like their individual properties and each of their cold versions, let me first introduce a little background about their names.
Where Did the Words Latte and Cappuccino Come From?
The word latte means milk and caffe latte is a combination of coffee and milk, but later people only use latte to ask for coffee with milk.
The latte was created and been present a few decades ago. Italians made it and resulted from the mixture of espresso with hot or steamed milk. There were rumors that latte was made for American people as cappuccino was too strong, they added steamed milk into this traditional coffee.
Lattes were originated from cafe au lait, with the original formula of coffee with milk, in French. It was an Italian custom where they prefer their coffee in the morning served this way. It also comes in a latte cup that is ideal for making latte art.
But around WW2, espresso was introduced among European, and with that cappuccino also became popular. As espresso became a regular drink, the latte was created similar to the original coffee with milk except for the foamed milk.
Origin of Cappuccino
Among the theories of the source of the term cappuccino, is that it comes from the Capuchin Friars. They wear robes with the same color as the cappuccino.
But basically, it is a coffee drink with hot milk. The milk is whipped up with pressurized steam. Cappuccino is to be a simple coffee drink; hence it contains equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and froth milk. It features a creamy milk blend but doesn’t overpower the other flavor.
Cappuccinos were always the same. They became more popular when espresso was not only recognized by Italian but also by those who live outside Italy. Though before they don’t care about cream or foam, the taste of it has always been the same. But apart from the right combination of ingredients, the cup also plays an essential rule in achieving its right taste and texture. The foam can be dry or velvety, which means there are no bubbles or not visible.
To achieve the perfect cappuccino is to combine the milk and the other ingredients correctly to get the right texture. Also, making a cappuccino differs on whether it is done automatically with a machine or by a barista. The best taste can also be achieved if served in a cup made of ceramic or porcelain and not in a to-go paper cup.
What Are the Similarities of Latte and Cappuccino
Latte and cappuccino both use espresso for the base. They come in 1 or 2 shots depending on how you can manage it. They say that in the U.S., double shot espresso drinks are the most common, and that is what I serve in my shop. I use a Brazil-based coffee, which is an excellent base for flavored coffees. It has low acidity and offers a nutty pleasant bittersweet chocolate taste that will perfectly blend with milk.
Milk serves as another essential ingredient, and both the lattes and cappuccinos use it or other milk alternatives. Whole milk is the most recommended because, aside from it has a richer taste, it is also easier to froth. We use a chilled stainless steel frothing pitcher to create the foam. Frothing the milk can be difficult, but when you get the hang of it, it will be much easier.
Another similarity of cappuccino and latte is that both can be made using an espresso machine. The machine usually comes with a frothing pitcher and a steam wand. But if you want to go with cheaper equipment, you can also use Aeropress in a pinch and a frother for the milk or Electric Milk Frother.
What are the Differences Between Latte and Cappuccino
We already know the fundamental differences between latte vs cappuccino. They are likely similar, but latte has a lot of milk, while cappuccino has a strong coffee base. To achieve these two different drinks, we have to be mindful of their ratios and textures.
Both of these coffee drinks use espresso as a base, but the difference is the ratio of it to steamed milk and frothed milk. A cappuccino contains equal parts of the three ingredients, while the latte made with a single or double shot of espresso equivalent to a third of the drink and two-thirds\ steamed milk with a small layer of frothed milk.
But there are two types of foamed milk. The regular foam and the microfoam, how they are achieved is mostly based on the barista’s skills. The microfoam uses the smallest air bubbles. Thus it is denser while the regular foam is light, airy and creamy.
Cappuccino is a little drier because it has a small amount of foam. While latte has a little steamed milk and a lot of microfoam where latte art is done, a pattern or design on the surface of the latte, it is also flavored, whether you are buying from a cafe or a popular store.
Cappuccino uses regular foam, which results in a drier top. Some cafes may also offer it with a microfoam on top, depending on the barista. Though they are given with recipes, giving a slight modification to it is still acceptable as long as the customers like how their coffee was made.
However, the mixture for a latte is less steamed milk and more microfoam. You can barely see regular foam on it, and this is how brilliant latte arts are achieved.
What is Iced Cappuccino or Iced Latte?
The cold version of both drinks is the best, especially in warm or during summer, especially for people who are living in sunny areas. They are refreshing to drink like cold coffee drinks such as macchiato and flat white, and they come in the menu as iced latte and iced cappuccino. Both are made by layering the espresso, the steamed milk to create foam, and topped with frothed milk.
The cold versions and the hot versions both contain espresso, but the cold versions are without foam or steamed milk. They are not traditional coffee drinks, and you could expect that they taste different.
At my shop, I usually froth milk only for a minimal time. Then I pour it over espresso with ice. The result is something everyone wished for an iced latte or iced cappuccino. Aside from those, we also serve macchiato, flat white, and other coffee drinks.
Cappuccino Comes in a Smaller Cup than Latte
Cappuccino is usually smaller but not too small, like an espresso macchiato. The most common serving among cafes is 5oz/150 ml cups except for popular establishments or refreshments like Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Dunkin Donuts. Their servings are usually larger. It’s because cappuccino is a small drink with a layer of milk and milk foam unlike long drinks enjoyed in numerous sips.
Lattes are served on 8 oz/235 ml cups in most cafes. But you can also find them in a larger size of about 16 oz/470 ml up to 20 oz/600 ml in other cafes. Considering that, it’s the typical drink to buy when going on a road trip.
However, it may come less flavored or has a smaller amount of caffeine, so if you are looking for a more concentrated coffee flavor, it is recommended to have your coffee in cafes.
Lattes come in flavors
Lattes are made by layering the three ingredients, the espresso, and the frothed milk, and then steamed milk is poured into the espresso to create a layer of foam. A single or double shot is used depending on the size of the cup of drink. It is often flavored and spiced, drizzled, or sprinkled are some of the best choices. Also, maybe because milk goes with a lot of flavors, lattes are more likely to be modified. So if your taste is a flavored drink, your best choice is a latte.
Some stores also serve cappuccino flavored drinks, but there are only a few. This may be because cappuccino is a traditional coffee drink and is meant to be served simply or preferably as is. Other coffee-based drinks that come in flavors are macchiato and flat white.
Cappuccino has a strong espresso flavor
Since there is a small ratio of milk to espresso for cappuccino, it has an intense flavor. Cappuccino has a 1:3 to 1:5 ratio of espresso to milk and doubles that ratio for the latte.
That is why some cafes make their latte with double shots of espresso to maintain the coffee taste so that it may end up like a large cappuccino, but still, it’s your choice just let the barista know how much espresso would you like to be added to your drink.
What is Espresso-Base?
Espresso has the ideal full flavor, which makes it a perfect base for any coffee beverage. Hence, espresso machines are in high demand among popular coffee shops and the busiest equipment in cafes. The taste of coffee cannot be overpowered even in a 12-16 ounce coffee cup of steamed milk and other ingredients.
As the coffee house becomes popular, it also has developed different beverages to choose from, such as macchiato and flat white. But both the flat white and macchiato, also these popular drinks are also espresso-based.
One of the top picks for a professional espresso machine is Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine. It comes with a tamper, a burr grinder, and frothing pitcher.
How To Make A Latte?
The same with a cappuccino, the latte is made by layering the three ingredients.
- Steamed Milk
- Foamed Milk
- Coffee machine with steam wand/arm
- Milk jug
- Ready the espresso (single or double) in a latte cup
- Fill ⅓ of the milk jug — I recommend whole milk
- Quick purge the steam arm before attempting to steam the milk
- Before you brew the espresso, first foam your milk, pay attention to creating a nice smooth microfoam
- When you are done frothing your milk, wiggle or gently tap the jug to prevent or remove any unwanted large air bubbles
- Start pouring the foamed milk to your espresso from a relatively high position
- Observe proper angle as you pour the milk and make sure there’s only a little amount of milk foam sits on the surface of the cup after pouring
- Enjoy your Latte!
How To Make A Cappuccino?
- Steamed milk
- Foamed Milk
- Coffee machine with steam arm/wand
- Milk jug
- Whip the right amount of milk to create a foamy texture. Note that we need more foam than steamed milk.
- Make single or double espresso (as per taste or order) and pour in the serving cup
- Swirl the milk carefully to release any large air bubbles
- To ensure a smooth drink, try to pour the milk over the espresso from a low height going up
- Transfer the foam from the milk jug to the cup to top off your cappuccino
The right layering of these three ingredients determines the best taste and texture of the cappuccino. In my shop, I use Lattissma Cappuccino Maker Best Pod Machine which is one of the best cappuccino maker.
Is Cappuccino Stronger Than Latte?
Both drinks have the same amount of espresso, either one or double shots. For Americans, they usually have two shots as they use bigger cups.
If it is made from the same shop and of the same amount of espresso, they could have the same strength of flavor. But the ratio of their mix is one of the differences between these drinks. The latte has more steamed milk, while cappuccino has more foam than milk giving it a defined layer and will have a strong espresso flavor. Since there’s a low amount of steamed milk, there are little chances to dilute the flavor.
Moreover, latte will be much creamer resulting in a more subtle espresso flavor.
What Is Better For Latte Or Cappuccino?
Considering the ingredients of each drink, we can say that they don’t differ, but since latte has a more milk in its mix, you can get more calories from drinking latte than a cappuccino. But if you are on a diet but want to drink coffee, then cappuccino is the best for you.
However, there’s only about 63 calories difference between the two so you can freely choose depending on your taste and just burn that extra calories through walking or going up and down the stairs.
Which Has More Caffeine Content Cappuccino Or Latte?
When speaking of caffeine content, both of these drinks contain the same amount of it.
Before cappuccinos and lattes are made using one espresso, shot, and that is 63.6mg of caffeine per cup or 127.2 mg if made with two shots.
But if we disregard all these myths and legends that cappuccino or latte has more caffeine over the other and vice-versa and let’s just depend on the taste, then we can say that cappuccino has a stronger taste. It is because latte has more milk used in the mixture than the cappuccino, thus the milk can dilute the espresso flavor resulting in a less intense taste than the cappuccino.
Cappuccinos and lattes are coffee-based drinks commonly served in cafes and coffee houses. Both bottles are made with espresso, but they differ in the amount, texture, and temperature of milk that they both contain. A cappuccino should have equal parts of warm milk and foam, while latte should have 60% of steamed milk and only 20 percent of foam.
The diverse property of latte makes it available to be modified, especially such as adding flavors and other ingredients including chocolates, fruits and also offers a unique form of art. While cappuccino has a traditional property and should be consumed at the ideal temperature to enjoy its real taste and texture, therefore, we can say that neither of the two is better than the other. Still, sometimes our choice may differ or will be affected by the barista, the cafe, or a friend as they may serve as influential elements.
Since there are little differences between cappuccino vs latte, these results, and properties that you have learned will help you enjoy your coffee in different ways.