Cappuccino vs. Latte: Uncover the Surprising Gap

Every coffee enthusiast should know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino. The iconic coffeehouse staples look almost identical on the surface, but they’re not quite as similar as they appear.   

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Cappuccino vs. Latte 

Cappuccinos and lattes are both hot coffee drinks made with the same ingredients. So what’s the difference? Let’s break it down:

  • The similarities: Cappuccinos and lattes are both made with espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. 
  • The differences: A cappuccino is layered and it has equal amounts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. A latte, meanwhile, has more steamed milk and a lighter layer of foam. Also, in a latte, the espresso and steamed milk are mixed together. 

What Is a Cappuccino? 

A cappuccino is a hot coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The ratio of ingredients is usually:

  • ⅓ espresso
  • ⅓ steamed milk
  • ⅓ milk foam

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Cappuccino Origins

The cappuccino first appeared on a menu in a Viennese coffee shop in 1805. The soft brown color of the cappuccino resembled that of Capuchin monks’ robes, hence the name. Though it was named in Austria, the drink is Italian in origin. 

What’s In a Cappuccino? 

A cappuccino starts with a shot (or two) of espresso that is topped with a layer of steamed milk, then finished with a layer of milk foam. 

What Does a Cappuccino Taste Like? 

A cappuccino typically tastes stronger than a latte because it has less milk to dilute the bold espresso flavor. The thick layer of milk foam on top of the drink gives it a velvety texture.

How to Make a Cappuccino

Follow these simple steps to make a cafe-worthy cappuccino at home: 

  1. Brew the espresso. 
  2. Foam the milk.
  3. Pour the foamed milk over the espresso. The milk will quickly settle, leaving you with equal parts espresso, milk foam, and steamed milk. 

What Is a Latte? 

A latte is a hot coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and a thin layer of milk foam. The ratio of ingredients is usually:

  • ⅓ espresso
  •  ⅔ steamed milk
  • A light layer of milk foam (a centimeter or less)
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Latte Origins

“Cafe latte” first appeared on a menu in Florence, Italy in the early 1800s. Italian immigrants brought the drink to the U.S. in the 1950s. It was a popular choice for American coffee consumers, many of whom found the strong taste of Italian espresso unpalatable.  

What’s In a Latte? 

A latte is made with espresso, steamed milk, and a light layer of milk foam.

What Does a Latte Taste Like? 

Lattes are creamier than cappuccinos because they have more milk. Sugar and flavorings (such as vanilla and cinnamon) are often found in lattes, so they tend to be sweeter than cappuccinos.  

How to Make a Latte

Learn how to make a perfect latte with our top-rated recipe. Here’s the gist: 

  1. Brew the espresso. 
  2. Foam the milk.  
  3. Pour the foamed milk over the espresso, holding back the foam with a spoon. 
  4. Spoon the foam over the top.