What Is the Difference Between a Latte and a Cappuccino?
Latte VS Cappuccino: How can the same ingredients create such a different coffee experience?
Can't decide if you should order a latte or a cappuccino? Or, maybe you want to know how to make both drinks at home. Here's a quick summary of these drinks, their differences, and more! Then, we'll go over the beverages in-depth so you'll never have to wonder again. By the way, if you want to make either drink from home, we've got an amazing selection of premium, fresh-roasted gourmet coffee you can browse and order online!
The Difference Between Cappuccino and Latte Drinks
Fundamentally, lattes and cappuccinos are defined by aspects like texture, foam, and coffee-to-milk ratio. Cappuccinos usually have more foam than lattes. In fact, by volume, a cappuccino will have up to 50% more foam. In mathematical terms, cappuccinos are made with 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk, and 1/3 foam. Alternatively, ⅞ of a latte will be a combination of coffee, flavoring, and milk, with only the top 8th being foamy.
Milk Froth and Coffee Ratio
To break it down even further, lattes are usually made with gently steamed milk and just a splash of foam on top. With a latte, there is usually only enough foam to sip initially. This foam is the perfect place for a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dollop of whipped cream. From there, you'll enjoy the smooth combination of mixed steamed milk, espresso, and any flavoring if desired.
On the other hand, the foamy top third of a cappuccino is good at insulating the warm milk and coffee below. Simultaneously, the foam complements the flavor and temperature of the other ingredients. So, although cappuccinos are also made with coffee, milk, and foam, the foam is more of a prominent feature that serves a different purpose.
To summarize, by volume, cappuccinos have more foam than lattes. An easy way to remember this is to translate the word latte from Italian to English. In English, latte simply means milk. In fact, if you order a latte in a high-end Cafe in Italy, they might just give you a glass of milk. So, be sure to order a cafe latte instead!
Ordering a Cappuccino or Latte
Today, many specialty coffee shops train Baristas to add the same amount of texture to steamed milk regardless of whether someone orders a cappuccino or a latte. In situations like this, lattes are often larger than cappuccinos and come with flavoring added. Moreover, cappuccinos are frequently accented with an additional topping of foam, poured directly on a drink from the bottom of the steamed milk pitcher.
If you want a foamier cappuccino, you can try ordering a "dry" cappuccino, which should be airier and come with more foam. Depending on how sophisticated the coffee shop is, you may have to explain this to the barista.
How is cappuccino foam created?
The foam in a latte, macchiato, or cappuccino is created by mixing milk and air. With a macchiato, the milk foam is poured right into the center of the coffee. With a latte, it is mixed in evenly. With a cappuccino, it is poured toward the center to create a ring of coffee mixed in even thirds.
Milk foam is made by infusing hot, steamy air into cold milk. The milk can be whole, skim, 2% fat, or even half & half (as with a breve). Using a steaming spout attached to the espresso machine, milk froth is created. This froth can be used to make latte art as well! When the desired amount of frothy foam is made, it can then be streamed to the desired temperature.
Best Latte and Cappuccino Recipes
The basic recipe for a latte involves steamed milk, espresso, and flavoring if desired. Here’s how to make a 12 oz (small/tall) latte.
Traditional Latte Ingredients:
- 10 oz milk
- Coffee beans in an espresso grind
- Metal steaming pitcher
- Espresso machine with steaming apparatus
- Flavoring if desired
- Liquid thermometer
Step 1: Turn on your espresso machine so it begins heating up.
Step 2: As your espresso machine heats up, pour 10 oz of milk into a metal pitcher with a pour spout or other heat-resistant container (ceramic or metal are best).
Step 3: Begin steaming your milk
Step 4: As your milk steams, pull 2 shots of espresso
Step 5: When the milk reaches 140°F, position the pitcher so that the steaming wand is now in the center to create the desired foam thickness texture.
Step 6: In a mug or cup, pour the espresso. Add flavoring if desired
Step 7: Pour milk into the espresso and flavoring in a circular motion to mix evenly.
Now, here are some of the best latte and cappuccino recipes to try!
Mocha (Essentially a Chocolate Latte)
Flat White (The Perfect Union of a Latte and a Cappuccino!)
Final Thoughts on Cappuccinos and Lattes
No matter how you prefer your coffee, one thing is certain: great espresso is the heart of a delicious cappuccino or latte. So where can you buy great coffee for espresso? Right here! All of our gourmet coffees come freshly roasted in your preferred grind style, including a semi-fine espresso grind. This delicious coffee is the perfect choice for making at-home lattes or cappuccino recipes of the same quality (if not better) than what you’d get from any specialty coffee shop!