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Latte Vs Cappuccino | What’s the Difference?

Latte VS Cappuccino

The latte and cappuccino are two of the most popular espresso-based drinks in the whole world. However, most of the time people get confused with which is a latte and which is cappuccino, since they practically look the same, and they’re made out of exactly the same ingredients. Both of the drinks are of Italian origin, crafted with a shot of espresso and milk. 

So if these drinks are made the same, with the same ingredients, what’s the point in them both existing? Why would you order a latte over a cappuccino? The latte vs cappuccino is a popular topic, and we will cover everything you need to know. 

There in fact some key differences between these two drinks, and although they have the same ingredients, they taste completely different. This is only covering the basic latte and the basic cappuccino, some coffee chains like to make up new names for coffees, even though they are the same!

What Is a Latte?

A latte, also known by its complete coffee term café latte, is a strong and rich espresso-based drink with sweet and creamy steamed milk, and a layer of microfoam on top. The term café latte came from the Italian word “caffé e latte” which literally means coffee and milk. 

Different countries have their version of coffee. In the Spanish and Latin American culture, they refer to coffee and milk drink as Café con Leche. Café con Leche is often served with sugar or any sweetener to add to the taste. Just like the Italian version of caffe latte, café con leche is served during breakfast because of the milk content. 

In French culture, Café au lait is the term for coffee with milk. Although the traditional way of making a latte is using a shot of espresso, café au lait may use a strong and dark brewed coffee instead. 

The standard way to create a latte is to use either a single or double shot of espresso, which will make up 1/3 of your drink. A rich and creamy steamed milk is then added to the drink, which should make up about 2/3 of your drink. 

To complete the drink, a small layer of milk foam is then added to the top, just enough to blanket the drink. This is where baristas can show off their skills and add some latte art to the cup. This is where a design is created using the coffee and foam, to look visually appealing.

The latte is very popular with syrups, such as the pumpkin spiced latte, hazelnut latte, and vanilla latte. There are also many popular iced versions of the latte, also commonly mixed with syrups to avoid the bitter coffee taste.

Discover more about what is a latte?

What Is a Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a perfect combination of a shot of espresso, velvety steamed milk, and smooth milk foam. It is often served with a sprinkle of cocoa powder on top for a sweeter taste.

Unlike most of the coffee varieties which are named either from how they’re made or the ingredients they include, the cappuccino was named due to a different reason. The term cappuccino came from the red-brown color of the robe which Capuchin friars of the Capuchin order wear.

There are several variations when it comes to cappuccino. Some people use cream instead of steamed milk, while others use non-dairy alternatives. Other cappuccino variations include iced cappuccinos, wet cappuccinos, dry cappuccinos, and flavored cappuccinos.

Also, there are cappuccino variations that make use of flavored syrups, which are very popular in the United States. Most flavors include chocolate, mocha, vanilla, peppermint, cinnamon, and caramel. To make the drink more visually inviting, some people create art on top of the milk foam or sprinkle the milk foam layer with cinnamon or cocoa. 

Latte Vs Cappuccino | What’s the Real Difference?

A latte is not the same as a cappuccino, here are 4 distinct differences the two drinks have: 

1. The Ratio of the Steamed Milk and Milk Foam

This is one of the most important factors that will differentiate latte vs. cappuccino. Although both drinks use the same three ingredients, the disparity between the two drinks boils down to the ratio of steamed milk and milk foam.

Latte: Is made out of 1/3 shot of espresso (or two shots), and 2/3 steamed milk. The milk foam Is only a small layer blanketing the steamed milk. However, there are so many variations of this drink, you may find it is prepared differently around the world.

Cappuccino: Is traditionally made out of equal parts of each ingredient which are 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 milk foam. There are actually cappuccino variations that tend to change the ratio of the ingredients. 

If you prefer more foam on your cappuccino, then you should order a “dry cappuccino”. If you prefer more steamed milk and lesser milk foam, then you should get a “wet cappuccino”.

2. The Taste of the Coffee Drink

Latte: When It comes to the coffee taste, lattes tend to be sweeter compared to cappuccinos because of the amount of steamed milk added to the mix. The strong flavor of the espresso still lingers with every sip, but it’s usually masked by the amount of steamed milk and milk foam used.  

Cappuccino: These drinks have a bolder coffee flavor with hints of sweetness. The coffee drink offers a bolder espresso flavor compared to a latte, as they consist of less steamed milk and more milk foam, which allows for the espresso flavor to breakthrough. 

3. The Size of the Coffee Drink

Latte: When It comes to the drink size, a latte is traditionally larger than a cappuccino. It is traditionally served in a large, tall glass, which is usually about 200 to 300 ml. 

Cappuccino: A cappuccino is served in a mug, which is generally smaller at about 150 to 180 ml.

4. The Amount of the Milk Foam

Latte: The amount of milk foam you need for a latte is way different from that of cappuccinos. Some people enjoy milk foams, others don’t. For a café latte, you only need a small layer of foam on top of the steamed milk.

Cappuccino:  If you prefer to have a fluffy and thick milk foam, then you ought to choose the cappuccino. This coffee drink is known to be foamy, sometimes you have to tilt your mug nearly upside down just to reach the coffee underneath!

How to Choose – Latte Vs Cappuccino

The whole point of learning the difference between these two popular coffee drinks is to know which one you should choose. Ultimately, unless you are VERY particular about taste or a coffee fanatic, you won’t really care about which one you order. But to decide what to choose, consider:

  • Stronger Coffee Taste – Cappuccino
  • Milky Coffee – Latte
  • Sweet Coffee – Latte
  • Enjoy Drinking Foam – Cappuccino
  • Long Lasting Drink – Latte
  • Smaller Coffee Hit – Cappuccino
  • Hint of Chocolate – Cappuccino
  • Don’t Like Coffee but Need Caffeine – Latte
  • Like to Have Variations – Latte

The Final Sip

Latte vs Cappuccino: These are two drinks that have the same ingredients but have different flavors and are prepared differently. One is sweet and creamy, the other is bold and foamy. IF you prefer the taste of milk but still want that caffeine, then you should get a latte. But if you want to savor that espresso shot but still with some milk to mask the bold espresso flavor, then a cappuccino is highly recommended. 

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