Any espresso-based beverages comparison would be incomplete without looking at cappuccino and latte.
Although seemingly identical, of Italian origin, they are different, yet both are made with milk and espresso. The difference between these highly popular drinks is the milk content. A good cappuccino is very strong in terms of coffee content, whereas a latte has lots of milk. Drinks like latte are great if you have a sensitive stomach as the higher milk content tones down the effects of the coffee.
An espresso machine is certainly the best method of making that great-tasting cup of cappuccino or latte. A widely held perception is that you can only get a delicious cup of espresso at a cafe, that you cannot achieve that perfect brew without exotic coffee beans, expensive machines and the hassle of enduring long brews. Whichever route you choose — French press, Moka pot, or AeroPress, you can have your caffeinated drink at home without breaking the bank.
Because the ingredients needed to make either of these drinks are pretty easy to get, you can easily brew them at home using an espresso machine or some little ingenuity. Both drinks are also quite versatile and can be favorably paired with a variety of added flavors.
Both drinks have 1-2 espresso shots (the second espresso shot being more common in the US as they generally tend to use bigger cups). A latte, however, has more steamed milk mixed into the espresso while a cappuccino has less milk and more foam. Because the milk in a cappuccino is not mixed, it gives defined layers.
Although of Italian origin, cappuccino ultimately arrived in the Americas and Europe around 1980. It is an espresso-based beverage made with 1/3 espresso, 1/3 wet foamed milk and1/3 steamed milk.
To make a standard cappuccino you will need:
- 1 shot of espresso
- 1 oz steamed milk, and,
- 1 oz micro-foamed milk.
If you get your ingredients right, your cup of Joe should have low acidity and a rich airy feel. It’s common to see cappuccino blended with cinnamon or a fine chocolate dusting.
Latte is popular as the coffee content is usually much diluted and you can tweak the recipe by adding diverse various flavorings, effectively making it a dessert. A latte’s layers of frothed milk are appealing to the drinker’s eye and palate.
Compared to cappuccinos, lattes are normally served using larger 8-ounce cups. You will need:
- 1-2 shots of espresso (a shot = 1 oz)
- 5-6 oz. steamed milk
- Top up with a thin frothed milk layer – check out these awesome milk frothers!
- Add flavorings as you desire.
In a latte, the texture of the foam is very important as it is what gives this particular cup of Joe its distinct feel in the mouth and that great look.
Unless you are a skilled barista or an ardent coffee aficionado, it’s not easy to know or spot the difference between different coffee drinks on a menu by their names alone. The main difference between a cappuccino and a latte is found in the proportion of foamed milk to espresso. The ratio in a cappuccino is about one part espresso to 2 parts milk while in a latte, the ratio is around one to 3, and the milk may contain less foam.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.