If you've wondered about the difference between a latte and cappuccino coffee drinks, you should know that you're not alone! Everything that you need to know about the similarities, differences, and what makes each coffee truly unique and wonderful is shared below!
The ever-evolving world of coffee seems to grow by at least one new drink every time you visit the coffee shop. Do you look at the menu and wonder, latte or cappuccino? How does one make the choice? Actually, how do latte and cappuccino differ anyway?!
A bit confused? We don’t blame you and we completely understand!
Both coffee drinks are Italian in origin, belong to the same group of milk-based espresso drinks, and both are incredibly creamy and delicious. To add up to the confusion, the big names in the coffee business industry keep on adding new, modern twists and flavors to these classic Italian espresso drinks.
The result? We end up standing in front of the menu table, wondering how do these delicious drinks differ in the first place?!
Don’t worry, just keep on reading and you will get some clarity on these drinks once and for all! Until it is your turn to order, you will know the core difference between latte and cappuccino and be able to choose your favorable preference!
What is a Cappuccino?
Traditional cappuccino is one of the most popular coffee drinks worldwide. In the original recipe, cappuccino contains an even distribution of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk.
- To prepare it: you start with adding a bottom layer of one (or in the U.S.A. typically it is two) shot of espresso which is followed by a second layer of steamed milk in an equal amount of the espresso; after it follows the same amount of thick, airy layer of foam milk that gives the drink that luxurious, velvety texture and sweet taste.
- Interesting facts: the name cappuccino originates from the Roman Catholic order of Capuchin monks; when this drink first appeared on the café menus in 18th century Vienna, its color resembled the robes worn by these monks, so the baristas named the drink after the monks - cappuccino. Albeit the name cappuccino originated in Vienna, Italy proudly takes credit for the invention of the modern style cappuccino! Further, in Italy cappuccino is considered exclusively a morning drink. Interestingly, this cultural quirk is not observed in any other place!
What is a Latte?
Latte is another espresso-milk-based drink that got popularized by western countries; it has the same espresso base as the cappuccino but contains relatively larger amounts of steamed milk.
- To prepare it: you start the same way – with adding a bottom layer of one (or in the U.S.A usually it is two) shot of espresso in a cup; then you add steamed milk - double the amount of espresso! The texture of the milk is responsible for giving the distinct taste of the latte; the milk should be steamed until it is as shiny and consistent as fresh paint. The steamed milk is blended completely with the espresso and only a small layer of fine foam gets on the surface of the drink.
- Interesting facts: Lattes originally got popularized in the ’80s and 90s in the US. In northern Europe and Scandinavia around the same time, a similar ‘trend’ emerged, as café au lait became popular, which is the same as a latte, as it is prepared with espresso and steamed milk.
In Italy, if you order a latte you will be served a glass of milk! That is because latte in Italian means milk; and if you want to order a hot latte, you should order a cafe latte. Further, they rarely order cafe latte at coffee shops, they almost always prepare it at home, and mostly for breakfast!
What is the difference between Cappuccino & Latte?
Cappuccino and latte have an Italian origin and the golden combination of espresso and milk in common. Nevertheless, these two drinks do differ.
Interestingly enough, in their names lies the key to their difference: “café latte” means “coffee milk”; this highlights the main difference between cappuccino and latte, which is, the latte contains double the amount of milk; also, in a latte, the espresso and the milk are mixed, while in a cappuccino there is distinct layering between the two.
This is how these two key differences manifest and further define the drinks:
Cappuccino vs. Latte: what are the flavor differences?
Cappuccino has a stronger espresso flavor due to containing less steamed or textured milk and foam than the latte. The latte is lighter, creamier, milkier, and mellower in flavor because it contains more steamed milk.
Cappuccino vs. Latte: what are the look differences?
Speaking traditionally, cappuccino is mostly served in a glass on a saucer with a napkin. On the other hand, a latte is served in porcelain cups with better heat retention properties. Moreover, cappuccino is distinctly layered, while in latte the expresso and steamed milk are mixed.
The distinct layering in the cappuccino is one of the reasons why originally, baristas prefer to serve it in glass that clearly shows off the distinct layering.
Cappuccino vs. Latte: which one is stronger?
The general rule is, the more distinct the coffee layers are, the stronger the coffee flavor is. Meaning, the cappuccino being more layered will taste stronger. But here, the accent is on taste.
Bear in mind that both drinks typically contain the same amount of espresso, so in terms of caffeine content, they are equally strong. But since cappuccino’s layering of espresso and milk is more distinct, while in a latte the espresso is mixed with milk, the cappuccino will taste stronger than the latte.
The latte will have a mellower taste even though it is equally strong.
Cappuccino vs. Latte: which one is sweeter?
Neither of these two drinks is traditionally served sweetened, so how sweet it is, entirely depends on the amount of sugar you decide to add to it.
That being said, if we were to split hairs, we would say that because latte contains a higher ration of steamed milk compared to cappuccino, and when steamed milk’s natural sweetness gets to shine through, the latte will taste sweeter than the cappuccino.
Cappuccino vs. Latte: which one is healthier?
Both drinks are healthy as there is nothing inherently unhealthy about either of them. However, if we are speaking strictly in terms of calories and fat, a cappuccino will be considered the “healthier” option as a latte contains double the amount of milk.
More milk means more calories and fat. But again, both drinks are healthy. If you want to make either of these drinks ‘healthier’, you should just use low-fat milk or a milk substitute.
In the end, choosing one over the other is just a matter of personal preference. Now that you know the key differences, let us know, which one you prefer more?