Cappuccino is arguably one of the world’s most popular espresso-based drinks. This highly acclaimed beverage traces its origins in Italy. It is aptly named after the Capuchin monks who not only popularized it but whose light-brown religious robes were made of the same color as the drink.
Cappuccino is a creamy, double espresso drink with a layer of steamed milk and an additional layer of milk foam that floats on top of your coffee. It’s close to a latte, but smoother to sip because of the milk foam. Today, we have two main variations of cappuccino, wet and dry, depending on your personal preferences.
Before you order a Cappuccino at your favorite café or decide to brew it yourself, it pays to know what variants are available and perhaps more importantly, what are their similarities and what makes them different.
Steamed Milk Content
Both types of cappuccinos contain shots of rich espresso plus a foamed smooth layer of milk. Wet cappuccinos, however, contain more steamed milk as well as less foam. When made with less foam and more steamed milk, you get a “wetter” cappuccino.
It’s important, however, to note that the line between a latte and a wet cappuccino is very thin. If you make a cappuccino with extra milk or one that is “very wet”, then what you have is a latte.
The exact opposite is true for a dry cappuccino. It has the standard two espresso shots, but little milk and then topped off with lots of milk foam.
Ease of Preparation
A key difference is an ease of creating these two drinks as they vary to a degree. It’s much simpler to prepare a wet cappuccino largely because it only needs a thin milk foam layer. Making a dry cappuccino, especially a bone dry one is more difficult as you spend more time creating the foam. It’s also more expensive as you need lots of milk for a dry cappuccino.
The Foam Effect
Although many drinkers don’t usually take note of it, the foam of a cappuccino affects the level of enjoyment they receive from it. It is the foam that gives the drink a creamy sensation in the mouth. Even more importantly, the air bubbles pop to release aromas which are responsible for triggering your sense of smell thus enhancing your perception of the drink’s flavor. That could perhaps explain why some people enjoy “bone-dry” cappuccinos more or one made with no steamed milk and only milk foam.
In addition, there is a dry cappuccino, which comes as bone dry. In making a bone dry cappuccino, the process starts with a shot of espresso. You then add a very thick milk foam layer and stop there. The total absence of milk is what qualifies this drink as “bone dry.”
The common feature among these two cappuccino variants is that both contain shots of rich Espresso. The principal difference between the two would be the milk content. In fact, nothing changes except the ingredient ratios. It’s the amount of steamed milk as well as the subsequent foam that will differ depending on what you choose. However, bone dry cappuccino only contains shots of express and no steamed milk.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.