Make Fancy Coffee Drinks Without The Expensive Equipment

Download our FREE guide to making the best espresso drinks without owning expensive equipment. Just enter your email address to download the guide today!

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Get our FREE Coffee Lover Newsletter

Sign up for a free newsletter to help you brew amazing coffee at home.

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.
  • Cappuccino vs Latte Showdown

    CLICK HERE to subscribe to our weekly emails on finding and brewing amazing coffee!

    How many drinks can you make by mixing steamed milk, foam, and espresso? More than you’d think. Think flat whites, Americanos, macchiatos, cappuccinos, lattes, and more.

    Today we’re comparing two that seem nearly identical: the cappuccino and the latte.

    Just so you know, if you click on a product on RoastyCoffee.com and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

    Okay, while any expert-level coffee fiend would gape at the idea of someone saying these two drinks are the same thing, for the average Joe, they can be hard to differentiate. But for those who’ve got it figured out, there’s a pretty harsh split between those who are team cappuccino and those who are team latte.

    So, kudos to you for trying to navigate this nitty-gritty aspect of coffee making. Don’t worry though, we’re going to help you out. To assist in your endeavor to pick a team, we’ve put together this easy comparison, so you can know what you’re ordering next time you’re at the local coffee shop.

    cappuccino vs latte

    First, the Ingredients

    …are exactly the same.

    Don’t pull your hair out just yet. Yes, these two Italian drinks both use a mix of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. But we promise there are some important differences that you should know about; we’ll cover those (like Waffle House hashbrowns) later.

    But because the ingredients are pretty easy, you can make either of these at home with a little practice, using an espresso machine or a little ingenuity. Both of these drinks are also pretty versatile and pair well with various added flavors.

    Cappuccino Fundamentals

    As we mentioned, these are both Italian drinks. The cappuccino was born alongside the original hype of espresso and evolved into the drink we know today during the World Wars.

    It ultimately arrived in Europe and the Americas around 1980. Now, they are very structure-oriented drinks, usually served in squat, 6 oz glass or ceramic cups.

    That structure is truly their defining feature. Split evenly in thirds, you can almost feel the quality of a cappuccino by its weight. Ideally, it should be 1/3 espresso, under 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 airy foamed milk. For this reason, cappuccinos are often considered the true test of a barista’s skills.

    If the barista is worth his or her stuff, your drink will have a low acidity and a delightfully rich and airy feel.

    Latte Fundamentals

    Though the English term was first used in only 1867, variations on the latte have been a breakfast staple for centuries. It originated from the Italian phrase denoting milk coffee.

    However, this drink’s presence in cafes is a distinctly 20th century development. Lattes are served in the larger 8-ounce cup as compared to the cappuccino cups. 

    To achieve the latte’s more creamy, velvet-like texture, you mix 1-2 shots of espresso with 5-6 oz of steamed milk. That mixture takes up about 5/6 of the cup and the thin layer of foam sits on top.

    While cappuccinos have their beautiful structure as a defining element, lattes often have equally impressive foam art on top. So if you’re at the coffee shop for a photo-op, order a latte.

    Ratios

    So as you may have guessed by our breakdown, the main difference in these drinks is these drinks is the ratio of the ingredients. With these, the barista must achieve a perfect balance of milk to espresso to foam.

    Both drinks have 1-2 shots of espresso (the second shot is more common in America because they generally use bigger cups). However, a latte will have more steamed milk, which is mixed into the espresso. Whereas, a cappuccino will have more foam and less milk, and the milk is not mixed, giving you defined layers.

    For this reason, a cappuccino is going to have a significantly stronger espresso flavor, both because it’s less mixed and it is less diluted by the steamed milk overall. It’s also going to be more crisp due to the defined layers and lighter foam.

    On the other hand a latte will be much creamer thanks to the denser foam and the increased portion of steamed milk. Thus, the espresso flavor will be more subtle.

    The Barista Factor

    In order to really understand the difference between these two drinks, your barista (or you if you’re at home) must know what they’re doing. Unfortunately, in a lot of high-volume coffee shops they preparation of these drinks can be wildly inconsistent, making them even more difficult to differentiate.

    One issue that may come up is if the milk is frothed the same for both drinks. Ideally, the foam for a cappuccino is going to be more light and airy and the denser, creamier foam on a latte. If you find you aren’t getting that airy texture, ask your barista to make your cappuccino more “dry.”

    In coffee speak, that translates to fluffing and stretching the milk a little more when frothing to get it closer to that classic cappuccino texture.

    Go and Express-o Yourself

    Both of these beverages are classic and delicious. So try both and get a feel for which texture and espresso strength fits your tastes.

    No matter which espresso team you play for…

    Happy Caffeinating!

     

    Recommended Reading

    Decaf Espresso: Cutting the Caff
    Need to cut the caffeine from your routine, but aren't sure if you will be able to go without your daily latte? Read on to find out how decaf espresso could save the day.
    Best Automatic Espresso Machine
    We all aspire to achieve pro-level at-home barista status, and the first step to achieving that is getting a good espresso machine. At Roasty, we've created a list of the best automatic espresso machines out there, so you can make the right decision on the path to caffeination.
    Nespresso VertuoLine vs Original: The Crema of the Crop
    Already know you're going with Nespresso for your capsule-brewing needs but not sure which line to go with? We have you covered with this Nespresso Vertuoline vs Original Line comparison. We look at everything from capsules to the machines and finally the all-important brew.
    Breville Creatista Plus Review: Match Made in Heaven?
    Like the idea of a Nespresso capsule machine but still want a little something extra to spice up the experience? This Breville+Nespresso collaboration machine might be perfect for you. Check out the full story in this Breville Creatista Plus review.
    French Press vs. Espresso – Comparing Two Classic Coffee Brewing Methods
    Both French Press and espresso both give you the caffeine jolt you need, but what are the biggest differences in these 2 brewing methods? Let's dive in...
    Gaggia vs Breville: The Powerhouse Espresso Machine Showdown
    Serious about espresso? Good, we are too. Which is why we've put Gaggia vs Breville to determine which of the powerhouse espresso machine brands is really the best one for you. Read on for a detailed comparison of these brands and some of their top machines.
    Roasty Coffee

    Learn to Make Barista-Level Coffee From The Comfort of Your Home

    The Home Barista Coffee Course 14-lesson video course about brewing consistently amazing coffee at home. Stream or download the entire course to learn how to make coffee as good as your local barista for a fraction of the cost.

    Click Here To Learn More