It seems like there are endless possibilities for coffee beverages these days. You can order a flat white, a mocha, a caramel frappe latte, a macchiato. Even a half-sweet pumpkin spice cappuccino with extra whip cream.
But what is the true difference between all these coffee-based drinks? How can anyone possibility decide what to order, when there are so many variations of coffee drinks?
The fact is, there are huge differences between these caffeinated beverages. Because there are so many types of coffee drinks, and we need to start somewhere, we’ll begin by going over the 3 most interesting differences between a latte and a cappuccino.
This will at least help you make an informed decision between two types of coffee drinks. (You have to start somewhere!).
It’s hard to know what type of coffee to order when you don’t know the differences between drinks.
Before we get into the differences between a latte and a cappuccino, there are some factors you’ll want to think about in order to select the best beverage for you.
1. How Much Caffeine Do You Want?
How much coffee and espresso can you handle in one day? Are you trying to limit your caffeine intake? If you are, you will want to select a beverage with more milk, foam, or even hot chocolate than espresso.
If you need a little caffeine energy to start your mornings off right, go with a beverage that doesn’t have a big ratio of milk or foam. Drinks that are focused on espresso are typically smaller in size, allowing you to drink your beverage quicker, and get the caffeine energy you desire faster.
Luckily, most coffee beverages are modifiable these days. Normally you can ask for a “short shot” (also known as a Ristretto) if you want only a little bit of espresso – this shot is just ¾-ounce. If you want lots of caffeine, ask for a double shot, which is 2-ounces of espresso.
2. What Are Your Dietary Needs?
If you are trying to lose weight, you’ll want to be mindful of the amount of calories in your coffee beverage. You should pick a drink with the fewest possible calories. These drinks tend to be heavy on espresso, and don’t have much milk or cream.
Most cafés carry an assortment of milk options: soy, almond, skim, 2%, and whole. Normally, you can ask for your coffee beverage to be customized with the milk option of your choice, no matter if you order a latte or cappuccino.
If you are trying to lose weight and limit calories, skim, almond, and soy milk are your best options. If you aren’t concerned about your weight, you can select whatever milk option your taste buds like best.
3. What Is Your Coffee Drinking Style?
Do you enjoy your coffee beverages hot or cold? In a glass or in a porcelain cup? Do you enjoy taking your time, and sipping your beverage, or do you want to drink it fast and move on with your day?
Not all coffee beverages translate well from hot to cold, so you’ll want to pay attention to which drinks are suitable to be iced (if you like a cold drink).
Different coffee beverages are traditionally served in different ways, so if you stick around at a cafe instead of getting a to-go cup, you’ll have a different type of drinkware depending on the beverage you select.
4. What Are Your Taste Preferences?
Last but not least, you’ll need to think about your taste preferences. Do you like the bitter, bold taste of espresso? If so, you’ll want a drink with at least a single shot (if not a double), and little milk and foam.
If you like your morning beverages to have a creamy texture, pick a drink that is heavy on milk, foam, and cream. If you aren’t a fan of bitter espresso, look for a drink with more milk and cream, so the bitter espresso taste will be altered. Drinks with more milk and cream taste sweeter as well.
1. Amount of Milk
Cappuccinos contain less milk than lattes. Cappuccinos are often referred to as a “balanced” drink, because it is equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foam. The size of your drink will dictate how much espresso, milk, and foam you get – but each ingredient will always be 1/3 of your beverage.
Lattes are creamier than cappuccinos. Typically, lattes are two-thirds steamed milk, with a shot of espresso and a 1 cm layer of foam. For a standard-size drink, a latte will normally have 6 to 8 ounces of steamed milk.
2. Calorie Content
Lattes have more calories than cappuccinos. A standard medium-size 16-ounce latte with 2% milk contains 190 calories, and a 16-ounce cappuccino with 2% milk contains 120 calories. If you ask for skim milk, a medium latte will contain 130 calories, and a cappuccino only 80 calories.
You can save calories by going a size smaller. A small 12-ounce latte with skim milk only has 100 calories, and the same size cappuccino a mere 60 calories!
3. Serving Style
Traditionally, lattes are served in porcelain cups for good heat retention. Nowadays, how a latte is served really depends on what café you go to. Lattes are a good drink to have iced; since they are made up with a large amount of delicious milk, they translate well to a cold drink.
Cappuccinos are traditionally served in a glass tumbler, on a saucer. Much like lattes, how a cappuccino is served today depends on the coffee shop you go to. Cappuccinos do not translate well as a cold beverage, largely because the drink depends on a fair amount of hot, steamed foam.
We hope this article helped you understand the complex world of espresso beverages a little bit better. Every espresso drink has its advantages and disadvantages, and to select the right drink for your needs, you need to understand the differences between latte and cappuccino; a macchiato and a mocha, a flat white and a London fog.
There is plenty more to learn about espresso beverages, but you know how the foundational knowledge of the difference between latte and cappuccino. You can head out to your location cafe with a bit more confidence, knowing you can select a beverage that is right for you.
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My name is Miguel Garriga and I’m a self-made barista! Coffee is my passion and I made this website to share that to the world!