The Single Real Difference Between A Cappuccino And A Latte?
We will explain how these coffee drinks are made and the difference between a cappuccino and a latte.
There are distinct differences between a latte and a cappuccino.
The latte is possibly enjoyed more by those who do not drink coffee regularly.
It should be remembered that both of these coffee drinks are variations on the espresso. Both the latte and the cappuccino are a mixture of espresso with milk.
The mixing of coffee and milk has been part of the European drinking culture since the 17th century. The latte, as we call it today, originated in Italy and is derived from the Italian “caffé e latte” meaning coffee and milk.
Up until fairly recently ordering a “latte” in Italy would have resulted in a glass of heated milk being delivered to your table. Latte literally means milk.
The cappuccino originated in Italy but was essentially unknown outside of Italy until the 1930s.
The cappuccino was named after the Italian Capuchin friars. The color of the espresso combined with the frothed milk was similar in color to the Capuchin robes.
Isn’t it interesting how names come into being?
The Viennese, however, had a drink called a “Kapuziner” as a coffee drink. This was served with whipped cream and spices as early as the late 1700s.
A fairly similar sounding name for an ancient coffee brew compared to our modern day variation.
Now let’s look at cappuccino vs latte.
What Is A Cappuccino?
The cappuccino is the smaller of these two espresso and milk combination drinks since less milk is used.
The cappuccino is also the most famous of the espresso & milk combinations. There is hardly a location in the world where it is unknown or not enjoyed.
It has a stronger coffee flavor than the latte but is still enjoyable to those who do not drink coffee regularly.
It is easily recognized by its top layer of thick microfoam.
What is in a cappuccino?
The traditional cappuccino consists of either a single (30 to 50ml) or a double (60 to 100ml) shot of espresso. Poured first into the bottom of the cup, it is then followed by 89 to 118ml of steamed milk.
It is then topped with a thick layer of microfoam. This layer of foam is employed to create the same “latte art” that this drink is well known for.
If you happen to be a vegan or lactose intolerant, cow’s milk can be replaced with either soy milk or almond milk. Soy milk foams better than almond milk.
The coffee to milk to foam ratio is traditionally 1:3 or 1/3 (1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk, and 1/3 foam). Ratios in Italy and Europe may vary slightly towards a stronger coffee flavor though.
What Foam Do You Get On A Cappuccino?
Approximately 1/3 of a traditional cappuccino is milk foam made using the espresso machine’s steam wand.
The same “latte art” that is common with the latte can be created using this foam layer for the cappuccino.
You can make delicious foam at home with a hand pump milk frother or an electric frother.
Origins Of The Cappuccino
The traditional cappuccino originated in Italy.
It did not become popular outside of Italy until the early to mid 20th century.
What Is A Latte?
The latte is the largest of the espresso and milk combinations. This is because it contains the most milk.
For this reason, it tends to be the more popular coffee drink with new coffee drinkers or for those who do not drink coffee regularly.
Due to the larger portion of milk, the strong espresso coffee flavor is more muted.
A variation of the latte originating in Australia is known as the Flat White. It is essentially a latte without foam.
What is in a latte?
The traditional latte consists of either a single (30 to 50ml) or a double (60 to 100ml) shot of espresso.
Poured into the bottom of the cup first it is followed by 237 to 444ml of steamed milk. This is then topped with a thin layer of microfoam.
This layer of foam creates the famous patterns and decorations known as “latte art”.
In Italy, privately at home, the latte coffee is traditionally poured into a cup already containing heated milk. As with a cappuccino soy milk or almond milk can replace cow’s milk.
Great for those who are vegans or lactose intolerant.
For a standard 240ml cup, the coffee to milk ratio is traditionally 1/8 coffee to 7/8 steamed milk for a single shot of espresso.
1/3 coffee to 2/3 steamed milk is used for a double shot of espresso.
Does A Latte Have Foam?
Yes, a latte does have a layer of foam, but much thinner than that of a cappuccino.
This layer is only 10-12mm thick in a latte as opposed to 20mm or more in a cappuccino.
Origins Of The Latte
Most probably in Italy. History is a little vague even though latte is derived from the Italian “caffé e latte”, or coffee and milk.
Is Cappuccino Stronger Than A Latte?
Of these two coffee and milk drinks, the cappuccino has the stronger coffee flavor.
Both call for the same quantity of coffee, either a single or double shot of espresso. Double shots of espresso are much more popular nowadays.
The reason lies in the ratio of steamed milk added.
The ratio of milk used in a cappuccino is smaller than that in a latte, thus the coffee flavor is less diluted.
Even though the cappuccino has a stronger coffee flavor it is still a very approachable coffee drink.
What Is The Presentation Difference Between A Cappuccino And A Latte
Both cappuccinos and lattes are served in a traditional ceramic coffee cup or mug.
Today many establishments and coffee cafés serve the latte in a tall glass on a saucer.
In other establishments, lattes come in a bowl. If this is done in Europe, particularly Scandinavia, your milky coffee is referred to as a “cafe au lait”.
Lattes have even been presented in partially hollowed out avocados, believe it or not.
The serving style is not standardized. Mostly you will have your cappuccino or latte served in the traditional coffee cup.
Decoration: How Is This Done?
There is a good reason that quality latte art is only created by experienced baristas. It requires skill.
It is thought that this form of art developed independently around the world, but most probably originated in Italy.
The most common latte art is the heart and the rosetta or fern. However, very complex and creative “foam” art has developed over time.
More recently there has been a move away from overly complex art designs back to a concentration towards producing the best-flavored coffee drink.
Latte art, is not restricted to lattes, but can be done with any coffee drink that is topped with microfoam.
Two elements create microfoam. The coffee crema and the milk microfoam.
The crema is an unstable mixture of coffee oils and brewed coffee. Microfoam is a mixture of air and heated milk.
Latte art is created by bringing these two elements together in a precise way.
This is traditionally done in one of two ways, namely “free pouring” and “etching”.
Free pouring is the most popular method employed in the United States.
With free pouring the artwork is created during the pouring of the steamed milk and foam onto the espresso.
This method requires a barista with experience to create magical designs on top of your coffee.
With etching, the artwork comes to life after pouring by using a wand or other tool. Etching typically results in more complex forms of art than that possible with free pouring.
Etched art can range from simple geometric shapes to complicated drawings and patterns.
Of the two art forms, the designs created using free pouring, last longer in your cup of coffee.
There is no difference between a latte and a cappuccino when it comes to decoration – both can be just a beautiful as the other!