What’s the Difference Between Latte and Cappuccino?

Cappuccinos and lattes are very popular coffee-based drinks, but for people who perhaps aren’t regular coffee drinkers or are used to one particular drink and are looking to try some new beverages, a common question is what’s the difference between a latte and a cappuccino? The difference is in their origin and their milk content.
Cappuccino vs. Latte: What’s the Difference Between Latte and Cappuccino?

Cappuccino vs. Latte: Cappuccinos and lattes are very popular coffee-based drinks, but for people who perhaps aren’t regular coffee drinkers or are used to one particular drink and are looking to try some new beverages, a common question is what’s the difference between a latte and a cappuccino? The difference is in their origin and their milk content.

Read also:

Cappuccino vs. Latte: Top 7 Differences

To quickly see the differences in cappuccino versus latte, have a look at our table.

BaseCappuccinoLatte
Quantity of milkContains less steam and a less textured milkContains more steam and a more textured milk
Serving StyleServed in a ceramic cup with a saucerServed in porcelain, or, more contemporarily, in a tall latte glass
OriginatedItalyItaly
NameFrom Capuchin Friar: their tonsured whiteheads and a ring of brown hairLatte, meaning Milk
TypesIced, wet, dryIced
FlavorCommonly vanilla, chocolate, caramel, peppermint, raspberry, cinnamonCommonly vanilla, butter rum, butterscotch, Irish crème, amaretto, almond, English toffee, cinnamon
Foamed MilkThick layerThin layer

Cappuccino versus Latte: Definitions

Before we look at the cappuccino and latte differences, let’s define the two.

What is Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is an Italian drink made of a double shot of espresso and milk which has been frothed and teamed. It is popular for breakfast and in Italy rarely drank afternoon. It’s common to see shaved or powdered chocolate on top, sometimes in an artful design.

What is Latte?

A latte is also of Italian origin, made again from espresso but with a larger milk content. It is also popular during breakfast and is very commonly found iced. Lattes are also popular for milk substitutes, such as soy or nut-milk lattes. While lacking a topping of chocolate, latte art is common, with the milk poured in a way to create shapes and patterns.

Cappuccino vs. Latte: Pros and Cons

As each coffee is similar, it is interesting to explore the pros and cons of a cappuccino vs a latte.

Cappuccino Pros & Cons

Cappuccino Pros

  • Good for a sweet tooth, especially when paired with a biscotti.
  • Rich, intense flavor.
  • Often available iced if it’s a hot day.

Cappuccino Cons

  • Sometimes it can be harder to find than a latte if not in a dedicated coffee shop.
  • They can be very sweet, sometimes topped with raw sugar.

Latte Pros & Cons

Latte Pros

  • It can be varied with a range of flavor syrups.
  • Latte art is fun! Allow your barista to practice new art.
  • Often available iced.
  • Quite a tall drink: good for warming up on chilly winter mornings, particularly with a croissant or a muffin.

Latte Cons

  • Milder than a cappuccino in taste.

Similarities of Cappuccino and Latte

With both drinks becoming increasingly popular and diverse in their flavors and milk-substitutes, it’s interesting to explore the similarities between a cappuccino and a latte. Their biggest similarity is that they both contain foamed and steamed milk. Making a coffee with cold milk, especially in the quantity needed for a cappuccino or a latte, will result in the drink being colder than desired (unless iced, of course), and the texture of the milk will be different. While the ratio of foamed and steamed milk, and of milk to coffee, is different in each of the drinks, milk is a vital component of both. 

They are both desirable to drink in the morning, particularly with a breakfast pastry or muffin.

They are both palatable when a milk substitute is used. Soy lattes are particularly popular, especially among a younger demographic. This makes both a cappuccino and a latte favorable for vegans or people with lactose intolerances, as they can still enjoy a latte and a cappuccino using nut- or plant-based kinds of milk.

Latte vs. Cappuccino: Key Differences

Of most importance, however, is the latte and cappuccino’s differences.

Cappuccinos contain less steamed milk than a latte. When milk is steamed, small air bubbles appear, known as a microfoam, and this creates a smoothness in both taste and structure. A cappuccino has more espresso than a latte. The ratios are:

Cappuccino Recipe

  • 1/3 espresso
  • 1/3 steamed milk
  • 1/3 foamed milk

Latte Recipe

  • 1/6 espresso
  • 4/6 steamed milk
  • 1/6 foamed milk

As can be seen, a latte’s ratio includes half as much coffee as a cappuccino. This means that a cappuccino will taste stronger, and provide more caffeine in less drink. Lattes have twice as much steamed milk in its ratio than the cappuccino does, but half so much foamed milk. It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean a latte has twice as much steamed milk as a cappuccino when purchased at a coffee shop, as it is dependant on the sizes of the beverages.

This is the key difference, as the differences in milk and espresso ratios will drastically change the taste, sweetness, and smoothness of the drinks. Cappuccinos will give you a stronger coffee taste.

Latte and Cappuccino Artworks

A minor difference is in the artwork, as latte art is very popular, but as identified above, chocolate patterns are quite common on top of a cappuccino. Of course, these are your drinks, and nothing is to stop you from putting chocolate in a latte if you desire. In fact, many coffee shops have powdered flavors available with the sugar: chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla, are popular choices to add a little something to your drink. You can also, depending on the coffee shop, request syrups added to either a latte or a cappuccino to change the flavor further.

Comparison Chart

Cappuccino vs. Latte: Difference, Recipe, Pros & Cons
Cappuccino vs. Latte Comparison Chart

Comparison Video

Cappuccino or Latte: What is the Difference?

Conclusion

To conclude, although both latte and cappuccino are espresso-based drinks, their milk quantities are much different. All said, both drinks are relatively cheap, particularly to people who drink coffee every day. Why not try both, and see what is more palatable for you?

Image Courtesy

  • Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash
  • Photo by Isabela Martins on Unsplash
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