What’s the Difference Between a Coffee Latte and a Cappuccino?

If you are anything like us, then drinking coffee is one of the ways you ‘espress’ yourself. We are coffee addicts. We simply cannot function without that added buzz of caffeine coursing through our bodies every morning. How did we ever get things done without it? 

One of the best things about coffee is that there are so many different options, flavors and styles to enjoy! Ask George Clooney. There’s the simple Americano, the cortado, the shot of espresso, the classic cappuccino, the loveable latte...so many we can’t even begin to list them all. How are you supposed to pick one when you’re in the middle of a morning rush at your local coffee shop?

What’s the difference between a coffee latte and a cappuccino?

The most well-known and favored options are the cappuccino and the latte. These two coffee beverages have bewildered us for years. (Don’t even get us started on what the difference between them and a flat white is.) 

The vague descriptions from menus and coffee baristas have led us down the path of coffee confusion. Some people will tell you there is no difference between the two and that they taste the same. They could not be more wrong! Let’s straighten a few things out. 

A cappuccino and a coffee latte are two of the most popular coffee beverages in the world. They are composed of the same ingredients, but your barista will tell you that they can be made very differently, depending on the craftsmanship of the drink. Both contain a shot of espresso and both use foamed and steamed milk, but the preparation and composition can alter the flavour immensely. 

What’s the Difference Between a Coffee Latte and a Cappuccino?

Both coffee lattes and cappuccinos are Italian in origin, and use the same basic components, but the differences depend on the blending and layering of those ingredients together.  

Coffee lattes are widely considered to be an introductory coffee beverage or the ‘safe option’. The term ‘coffee latte’ is a derivative of ‘caffe latte’ in italian, which literally means coffee with milk. That is basically all it is! Its smooth taste is a firm favorite as the espresso and milk are perfectly combined for a sweet flavor that'll still wake you up in the morning!

Coffee Latte

The perfect hot latte consists of:

  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 6-10 oz. of steamed milk
  • A small topping of foamed milk

Europeans have been drinking ‘caffe lattes’ and cappuccinos for years, but the addition of the shot of espresso is an American touch. We do love our little cup of joe. The milk blends in with the espresso to create a silky, smooth drink without the bitter aftertaste. 

Lattes are often some of the most customizable coffee options. They are top of the coffee food chain (and always at the top of the menu) as they can be tailor made to your particular tastes with added flavors. The most popular case of this is the ‘pumpkin spice latte’, which is a roaring success every fall. 

Lattes often have coffee art, made with the extensive levels of milk inside. So if you’re after that perfect insta shot of your morning coffee, go for the latte! Coffee lattes have even progressed on to become a ‘frappe’ style drink; the iced latte! The possibilities with its simple recipe are endless.

On the other hand, the cappuccino is also a much loved coffee choice, picked for its creamy consistency and foamy, frothy topping that’ll warm up any cold heart. It’s an American-breakfast staple that we will keep choosing time and time again. 

However the cappuccino did not originate in America. The term ‘cappuccino’ allegedly comes from the term ‘Capuchin’. The coffee was given this name by italians as its brown and creamy hue reminded them of the Capuchin monks and their hooded robes. The cappuccino didn’t spread to the US until the 1950s through Italian-American neighborhoods, and have quickly become a menu staple in all coffee houses.

The main factors that set it apart from the coffee latte, is that there is often more espresso, lots more foam and less milk. This can generally give it a stronger and richer taste than a latte as the coffee flavoring is not diluted by the milk.  This also makes it a much healthier option than the latte as less milk means fewer calories! 

Cappuccino

A cappuccino is made up of:

  • 1-2 shots of espresso
  • 2 oz. of steamed milk
  • 2 oz. of foamed milk
  • A sprinkling of chocolate dusting

There are a few subtle hints that you can look out for when deciding on whether it is a latte or a cappuccino. A cappuccino is distinct in the way that it is layered. This usually means that the espresso is at the bottom, followed by steamed milk and topped with foam. The cappuccino has a coffee-based flavor that tantalises the taste buds. This is very different to a latte as the espresso and milk is blended together into one smooth milky beverage.  

Lattes have a beige color with a creamy consistency, and are often served in a tall, see-through glass. Whereas cappuccinos are lighter with a foamy, velvety texture; traditionally served in a small mug or cup.

So what about you, are you team latte or team cappuccino? 

If you’re still undecided, the basics come down to this:

A latte is ⅓ espresso shot and ⅔ steamed milk, with the tiniest layer of foam to top it off. It is served hot in a tall glass, often with latte art to finish it off. 

The cappuccino is much more balanced with ⅓ espresso, ⅓ steamed milk and ⅓ frothed milk, served in a small mug or cup. So, now you know! 

Put your barista skills to the test. Tomorrow, order one of the country’s favorite coffees with confidence and a smile. You’re a pro who knows exactly what the difference between a latte and a cappuccino is!

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3 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between a Coffee Latte and a Cappuccino?”

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