difference between latte and cappuccino

Cappuccino Vs. Latte - The Real Difference!

A couple days ago I have decided to spoil myself with a coffee drink at the coffee shop nearby. But as usual, I have had a hard time making the right choice with all those options that are offered.

As I stood there and read the menu, I noticed that I don’t even know the exact difference of the basic coffee drinks – the difference between latte and cappuccino for example.

Certainly we all know that there are espresso and milk involved. However, if you had asked me in the shop, I would not have been able to explain to you what makes a latte a latte – until today!

Today I will share everything with you, what I have learned about latte vs cappuccino.

Furthermore, I have had a glance at some history books to understand where the latte and cappuccino actually come from.

And last but not least I have prepared an infographic about all the differences between a latte and cappuccino at the end of this post.

Before I go into details let me clarify that different countries may use different ways to create a cappuccino or latte drink.

Commercial coffee shops in the US may not even take it very seriously to prepare you a real cappuccino or latte.

So if you are not happy with the preparation of your coffee drink, I would recommend you to pay a visit to one of your local coffee shops or simpy make your favorite drinks at home.

All you need is a good espresso machine and a milk frother.

Coincidentally I have the perfect guide for you to pick the best espresso machine and the best milk frother, just in case.

History Of Latte

The term caffè latte simply means milk coffee.

Even before William Dean Howells used this term the first time in his essay “Italian Journeys” in 1867 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary), it was not unusual, that coffee and milk have been used together long time before.

The Caffe Mediterraneum on the other hand claims, that their owner and barista Lino Meiorin brewed the first caffè latte in the late 1950’s.

His Italian style Cappuccino was too strong for the local customers in Berkeley, California so he yelled at his barista’s to add more milk. And since he spoke Italian, he used the word latte.

As a consequence, he added this highly demanded coffee drink on the menu and called it caffè latte.

What Is A Latte Made Of

Cafe Latte with latte art

By now it should be no secret anymore that a caffè latte consists of espresso and milk.

A latte is usually served in a large glass or wide cup. In the United States, you can expect a latte to be at least 12 ounces.

Additionally the milk and espresso are already mixed together and not been visible as layers.

The glass will be filled almost completely with steamed milk. Based on preferences you either add one or two shots of espresso. To finish the caffè latte, about a spoonful of foam is added on top.

In short, a caffè latte is made of a lot of milk with one or two shots of espresso and a hint of froth.

Baristas usually serve the latte with some nice looking latte-art. In this case, they pour the espresso first and then add the milk.

History Of Cappuccino

The cappuccino as we know it originates in Italy.

However, rumor has it that at the end of the 19th century, Austrian soldiers had been deployed to Italy but didn’t want to leave without their specialty coffee, the “Kapuziner”.

The Kapuziner is a shot of mocha coffee with as much liquid whipped cream until the color is similar to the cowl of the Kapuziners.

The Italians though preferred milk over whipped cream.

And in the early 20th century, when the Espresso machines became more and more popular, the frothy version of the Cappuccino originated.

What Is A Cappuccino Made Of

Cappuccino

Since I live in the USA, I will explain the cappuccino as it is known here in the states.

Related: American Made Coffee Makers

One chapter below, I explain the difference between the Italian and American cappuccino so don’t stop reading.

A cappuccino is a perfectly balanced coffee drink made of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 milk froth.

Typically a cappuccino cup holds not more than 5 to 7 oz. altogether.

Start with the espresso and then add the steamed milk. Preferably the froth should be “wet”, which means it’s a milky froth and not just plain foam.

Italian Cappuccino Or American Cappuccino

Remember the story about the Austrians in Italy? Their “Kapuziner” coffee consists of mocha and whipped cream.

The Italians replaced the whipped cream with milk.

In other words, a typical Italian cappuccino is an espresso shot with steamed milk – period! No extra foam, no latte art, no chocolate powder or anything else.

Of course, I cannot guarantee that all Italian Cafes make it this way.

Latte Vs. Cappuccino - Infograph

latte vs cappuccino infograph

Latte Vs Cappuccino - My Conclusion

Here’s my honest opinion.

As long as the latte or cappuccino tastes wonderful, I would not mind if it’s served with a little more or less froth.

However, if it is important for you that a coffee shop should offer authentic cappuccinos then focus on the key factors I have described in this post.

With knowing these differences between latte vs cappuccino, you are hopefully able to recognize if the barista did an excellent job or not.

Please share with me your thoughts about the difference between latte and cappuccino!

About the Author Thomas

Coffee lover and Dad on a budget. Since the wishes of my beautiful wife and two charming kids are of course of much higher priority than my own ones, I always keep an eye out for coffee products which give me the biggest bang for the buck!

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