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Cappuccino VS Latte: What’s The Difference?

cappuccino vs latte - the differences explained - cup of caffeine

It’s easy to get confused when there are several coffee cousins, as most of these are made by mixing steamed milk, foam, and espresso. Among these are cappuccinos, flat whites, cortados, lattes, macchiatos, and more. All of these pretty much look identical on the surface. However, there are some key differences and similarities between these drinks.

In a cappuccino vs latte match up how can you tell which is which and what to order? Today, we’ll be comparing the cappuccino and the latte to get some clarity on these drinks. So you can be confident about what you’re ordering next time you’re at the local coffee shop.


So in order to understand the difference between lattes and cappuccinos, let’s start by exploring the world of both of these milk-based espresso drinks.

What Is A Cappuccino?

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Cappuccino is an espresso-based drink that’s incredibly popular around the world in the coffee community. The term “cappuccino” is derived from the Italian cappuccino, named after the brown hood that Capuchin Friars wore, as it was similar to the light brown color of the mix of coffee and milk. Nowadays, cappuccino is a popular beverage in Europe, served at breakfast. Traditionally, it is about 6 oz in volume and is made with an espresso shot, steamed milk, and foamed milk. Its cup is 5 to 6 ounces, smaller than a caffe latte.

Proportionally, a cappuccino is meant to be a perfect ratio of 1/3 espresso and 1/3 steamed milk, topped with 1/3 milk foam. In Italy, cappuccino is a breakfast drink. A cappuccino is different from a latte because the former will have more foam and less milk, and the milk is not mixed into the espresso.

It is loved and adored by coffee drinkers due to its flexibility of customization and ingredients. You can customize it in many ways by adding flavors such as syrups, cocoa powder, spices, and chocolate, or using cream instead of milk for an even more indulgent drink.

In Italy and Australia, baristas add a sprinkle of cocoa powder on top of the cappuccino.

Origin Story

The modern-style cappuccino is believed to have been invented in Italy, though the name was first used in Vienna. After the invention of espresso machines in the 19th century, cappuccinos became popular at cafes and restaurants across the country. It has now become an integral part of everyday Italian coffee culture. Traditionally, Italians consume once per day, exclusively for morning pick-me-ups.

In the 1700s, the name “Kapuziner” was used in Viennese coffee houses for the Viennese milky coffee, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. The name comes from the brown color of the drink, similar to the robes worn by the Capuchin (‘Kapuzin’) friars in Vienna. “Capuchin” means cowl or hood in Italian, and it was named after Capuchin monks for their hooded robes.

After World War II, modern cappuccino was born through improvements and simplifications to espresso machines in Italy. Cappuccinos became popular across Europe and England. Later in the 1980s, the drink started growing in popularity in America. Nowadays, the drink is enjoyed throughout the entire day rather than only in the morning. Finally, it became popularised across the globe, mainly due to Starbucks. Nowadays, there is hardly any region left where a cup of cappuccino is not served.

Given the millions of cups consumed each day worldwide, it seems that the popularity of the cappuccino is here to stay.

Caffeine Content & Nutritional Value of Cappuccino

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Both the drinks contain the same caffeine content since the milk doesn’t have any additional caffeine, and each is made using a shot of espresso. A medium 16-ounce (475-ml) cappuccino contains about 173 mg of caffeine per serving.

And as far as the nutritional value is concerned, the cappuccino will be slightly lower in calorie count because it contains less milk. A medium 16-ounce (475-ml) cappuccino will have 130 calories and 5 grams of fat. Alternative milk like almond, coconut, or oat milk and any sugar or sweeteners added will further influence its nutrient contents.

What Is A Latte?

cappuccino vs latte image of latte by cup of caffeine

A latte is another espresso-based drink that originated in Italy. The term “caffè e latte” is an Italian word that means “coffee milk .” Latte is an excellent choice for those after a thick, sweet, creamy milk and rich, robust espresso. It’s a globally recognized drink with countless variations available like turmeric latte, beetroot latte, carrot cake latte, rainbow latte, and even mushroom lattes. In terms of health benefits, a cup of latte also assists preventing heart diseases and burns fat.

To prepare a latte, one perfect espresso shot is added with five to six ounces of steamed milk, topped with a thin layer of either a milk foam, frothed cream, or whipped cream to create a rich, creamy milk drink with a milder espresso taste. What sets apart a latte from a cappuccino is that a latte has more steamed milk mixed into the espresso and a thin layer of microfoam. A latte can also be ordered iced if that’s your preference.

The great thing about lattes is that you can customize your drink, including both hot and cold, according to your liking and taste. You can add vanilla, mocha, caramel, or other syrups or use non-dairy milk substitutes or alternative milk types like almond, soy, coconut, or oat milk.

Origin Story

Latte has many disputed origins, so it’s hard to pinpoint its actual source. It is thought to have originated from Italy though milk coffee has been quite popular across Europe since the late 19th century, with regional varieties. However, the commercial latte we enjoy today is an American invention. Though the term “caffè e latte” first appeared in 1987, this drink has been around for centuries. It can be traced back to the 17th century when Austrian cafes started offering a drink named the Kapuziner, made up of espresso with whipped cream and spices.

The reason for adopting the word “latte” is because it is a shortened version of the Italian “caffè e latte.” In France, the latte is called “Café au lait” and consists of a double shot of espresso. In Germany, the drink is called “Milchkaffee,” which translates to milk coffee. If you order a latte in those countries, you’ll get a glass of milk. In Italian cafe culture, a latte is exclusively a breakfast drink consumed once a day.

Caffeine Content & Nutritional Value of Latte

The caffeine content in a latte is lower than the straight espresso since the steamed milk dilutes the drink. A latte contains around 173 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce (475-ml) serving.

The latte has a higher proportion of coffee to milk than a cappuccino and is highest in calories, fats, and protein. A medium 16-ounce (475-ml) latte has 206 calories and 8 grams of fat.

The Bottom Line

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There you have it! Differences In Your Favorite Coffee Drinks, Cappuccino vs. Latte! Both of these beverages are delicious and live up to the hype. The main difference between cappuccino vs. latte is the ratio of coffee to milk. With some practice, you’ll be able to create cappuccinos and lattes flawlessly in no time.

Trying to figure out which is right for you in the cappuccino vs. latte debate? If you like a thick, creamy milky drink, a latte is the answer. But if the latte is too milky for you and you are after a bold coffee taste with a creamy texture, try a delicious, frothy cappuccino.

Happy Caffeinating!

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