Welcome to our cappuccino vs. latte guide. Here at CoffeeKrave, we’re always cautious about putting anything unknown down our throats. This is why we’re amazed at how many people don’t know the difference between a cappuccino and a latte. Both are espresso drinks that taste great– that’s for sure. It’s important to know what you want and what you’re getting whenever you order at a coffee shop or buy your own equipment, however. With that in mind, get ready for CoffeeKrave’s cappuccino vs latte showdown.

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What is a cappuccino?


A cappuccino consists of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 foamed filk. The name derives from the Italian word, Capuchin, which means “small cap.” It is traditionally served in Italy as a breakfast drink, but coffee aficionados now drink it all day. A cappuccino should also traditionally be no more than 6 fluid ounces. Commercial coffee houses such as Starbucks serve “cappuccinos” in much larger sizes, however. Often times these larger drinks simply contain more milk instead of additional coffee, so that super grande may not be such a bargain after all. Variations of the cappuccino include an iced version with no foamed milk called Cappuccino Freddo and babyccino, a cappuccino with no coffee intended for small children. Chocolate is often added.

What is a latte?


Latte is a shortened version of the Italian caffè latte, which means “coffee milk.” It consists entirely of espresso and steamed milk. In Italy, the coffee is brewed at home (usually with a moka pot) and consumed with breakfast. Lattes are typically bigger than cappuccinos (up to 20 ounces) and may contain multiple shots of espresso. They have a thin layer of frothed milk. A latte is basically a super-sized cappuccino without gobs of foam. The main difference here is size. You may also know a latte as that drink with the pretty little art. The art forms are created when you pour steamed milk on top of espresso. This not only requires a good hand, but properly-prepared milk and espresso as well. Latte art isn’t easy at all!

Unfortunately, the rapid commercialization of specialty drinks has made the distinction between lattes and cappuccinos mute. Many chains do not differentiate between the two, and American versions generally contain a lot more milk then their European counterparts. Stick to an independently-owned coffee house if at all possible. Chances are good your barista at Starbucks might not know how to prepare a latte versus a cappuccino. If you want a classic latte or cappuccino, now you can make them on your own. Both drinks are best made with an espresso machine that can steam milk, though.

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Photo 1: Ian Britton
Photo 2: Vlad Tsirushkin
Main Photo: CoffeeGeek

When Daniel picked up his first Aeropress in 2008, it was love at first site. Several years later in 2011, he founded Filterbrew with the mission that no one should have to drink a bad cup of coffee. Daniel is also an entrepreneur, published photographer and avid traveler.



August 31, 2011

It’s almost time for bed and this is making me want cappuccino!



August 8, 2012

Interesting article, however, a cappuccino freddo is an iced version of a capuccino WITH frothy milk. An espresso freddo is the iced version without milk. At least in Europe, anyway. 🙂



September 7, 2012

moot (not mute) – thanks for this excellent explanation btw



August 11, 2013

My understanding is that, though moka pots are often casually called “stovetop espresso” pots, they don’t actually make espresso. For espresso, coffee is extracted from the beans with steam, whereas in a moka pot steam forms to push liquid water through the beans; the steam is not what passes through the beans, so it’s not espresso. But hey, you get a buzz either way.


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