Do you know your cappuccino from your espresso? If you’ve ever been confused by the difference between the three, this article is for you!
We break down the key differences between cappuccinos, espressos, and lattes so that you can decide on your next coffee order.
Read on to discover the subtle nuances between each type of coffee so you can choose the one that best suits your taste!
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
What Is Cappuccino?
Cappuccino is a coffee beverage made with espresso and hot milk and topped with steamed milk foam. It originated in Italy during the late 19th century and was popularized worldwide by Italian immigrants. 
Cappuccino is traditionally served in a ceramic cup or glass mug. The drink gets its name from the foam on top that looks like the hoods worn by Capuchin monks in Europe centuries ago.
The cappuccino was developed as an alternative to regular coffee drinks such as lattes or mochas, which had become increasingly popular at European cafés.
What Is Espresso?
Espresso is a coffee brewed by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. It originated in Italy and is one of the strongest and richest-tasting coffees.
It can also be an ingredient in many different drinks, such as lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, macchiatos, and Americanos.
Espresso is made with a high-pressure machine that forces hot water through finely-ground coffee beans at high speeds, resulting in an intense flavor experience that has become popular worldwide.
What Is Latte?
Latte is a coffee beverage made with espresso and steamed milk, usually topped with foam. It originated in Milan in the early 1900s and has become one of the most popular types of specialty coffee drinks worldwide.
The word “latte” actually comes from an Italian phrase meaning milk coffee. Latte can be served hot or cold and typically contains 1-2 shots of espresso mixed with 2-3 ounces of steamed whole milk.
To customize its flavor profile, the drink may also include flavored syrups, spices, or other additives.
Cappuccino Vs. Espresso Vs. Latte
Taste And Flavor
A cappuccino has a thick foam layer; its taste is slightly bitter with sweet notes. The texture of the espresso and steamed milk combine for a creamy, velvety feel in the mouth.
Espresso’s flavor is rich, robust, and full-bodied, with slight bitterness from the roast used. The texture is silky smooth and velvety due to numerous crema bubbles on top when served correctly.
Whereas latte has mild acidity combined with caramel or nutty flavors from the roasted bean variety used to make it. Its creamy body will have less texture than cappuccino due to fewer bubbles in each sip.
Cappuccino, espresso, and latte are all different coffee drinks that require unique brewing methods to prepare.
Cappuccino is a coffee drink combining equal parts of espresso, steamed, and frothed milk. To brew cappuccino, the first step is to extract a shot of espresso using an espresso machine.
Then the barista will steam milk until it reaches 150-155°F and pour it into the cup with the extracted espresso. Finally, the barista adds frothed milk on top.
Espresso is a concentrated coffee prepared by forcing hot water under high pressure through finely-ground coffee beans. The result is a rich, strong flavor with a crema layer.
To brew an espresso shot, you need a machine that uses around nine bars or more pressure to force hot water through tightly packed grounds at high speed.
Latte is another popular coffee drink made from Espresso shots combined with steamed milk in 1:3 ratios (one part Espresso shot to three parts Milk).
The brewing process involves extracting two shots of Espresso into your cup before topping it up with freshly-steamed, silky smooth textured microfoam.
For a cappuccino, steamed milk is first created by frothing the desired amount using an espresso machine. The steam from the wand mixes air into the milk to create a thick and creamy foam.
This foamy milk is poured over an equal part of one shot (1 oz) of espresso in a cup or mug. A cappuccino usually has less liquid than a latte, with about half steamed milk and half espresso.
As for espresso, you don’t need any additional ingredients for an espresso. You don’t need to prepare anything beforehand. All you have to do is pull your shot and enjoy.
To make a latte, start by frothing 2-3 ounces of cold whole or skimmed milk using an espresso machine’s steam wand until thick foam forms.
Ensure not to overheat the milk or let too much air escape during this process, as otherwise. It will be too thin or lack flavor.
Cappuccino, espresso, and latte are all coffee beverages that can provide a caffeine kick. But one of the most common questions is, ‘Which has the most caffeine?’
Generally speaking, espresso has more caffeine than cappuccino or latte simply because it contains higher coffee beans per unit volume.
In terms of comparison between cappuccino and latte, they contain similar amounts of coffee but differ in milk content – cappuccinos have more foam. In contrast, lattes contain more steamed milk which dilutes their overall strength.
Regarding health, there are some differences between cappuccino, espresso, and latte. Cappuccinos have the least amount of caffeine.
Espressos have twice as much caffeine as cappuccinos but still half as much as lattes. Lattes contain more calories because they’re made with milk instead of water, like espresso or cappuccino.
So if you’re looking for a healthier option, that would be the espresso!
A Comparison Table
Here’s a comparison table summarizing the differences between cappuccino, espresso, and latte:
|Taste and Flavor||Slightly bitter with sweet notes, creamy||Rich, robust, full-bodied, slight bitterness||Mild acidity, caramel or nutty flavors, creamy body|
|Brewing Method||Equal parts espresso, steamed milk, frothed milk||High-pressure extraction of finely-ground coffee beans||Espresso shots combined with steamed milk|
|Milk Preparation||Steamed milk with creamy foam||No additional ingredients required||Frothed and steamed milk, silky smooth textured microfoam|
|Caffeine Content||Less caffeine than espresso, more than a latte||Higher caffeine content than a cappuccino, less than a latte||Less caffeine than espresso, more than cappuccino|
|Health Considerations||Least caffeine, fewer calories||More caffeine, fewer calories than a latte||More caffeine, more calories due to milk content|
More Cappuccino Comparison Guides
- Cappuccino Vs. Macchiato Vs. Latte: A Guide To The Differences
- Cappuccino Vs. Americano Vs. Latte: What’s The Difference?
In conclusion, cappuccino, espresso, and latte have unique characteristics and appeal.
Cappuccino offers a balanced blend of espresso and milk with a creamy texture.
Espresso provides a concentrated and robust coffee experience. Latte combines espresso and steamed milk for a smooth and milky taste.
While all three drinks have their merits, the best choice ultimately depends on individual preferences.
Personally, espresso’s rich and intense flavor holds a special place for coffee enthusiasts seeking a strong and pure coffee experience.
Which Is Stronger: Latte Or Cappuccino?
Regarding strength, espresso is the strongest coffee component in latte and cappuccino. However, if we compare the ratio of espresso to milk, a cappuccino has a higher concentration of espresso, making it slightly stronger than a latte.
When Should I Drink Espresso Vs. Cappuccino?
Espresso is often enjoyed as a standalone shot or as the base for other specialty drinks. It is popular for those who prefer a strong and concentrated coffee experience. Conversely, Cappuccino is commonly consumed as a morning or daytime beverage due to its balanced flavors and creamy texture.
Which Coffee Is Best For The Morning?
For many people, a cappuccino is an ideal choice for the morning. Its combination of equal parts espresso, steamed, and frothed milk provides a balanced and refreshing start to the day.
However, personal preferences may vary, and some individuals may opt for a strong and pure shot of espresso or a smooth latte to kickstart their mornings.
What Is The Best Coffee To Drink In The Evening?
When it comes to the evening, a latte is often a popular choice. Its combination of espresso and steamed milk provides a smooth and comforting beverage to unwind.
A latte’s slightly lower caffeine content than an espresso makes it a suitable option for those who prefer to limit their caffeine intake in the evening.