When running the coffee shop I had many people come in, look at the “options” board and ask “What is the difference between a Latte and a Cappuccino”? I would explain to them the basic differences of the 2 and about how the milk is frothed, and how much steam and foam goes into each cup.
In essence I would tell them that: The difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the amount of steamed milk and the amount of foam that each one has. The Cappuccino has more milk foam and the latte has more steamed milk.
But before I go any further, lets wait and not get ahead of ourselves. Let me first start with a little background information on the their names to get us warmed up and then I will move on to how they are similar before going into each on individually and finally giving you some notes on the cold versions of both.
History of The Latte and Cappuccino
Comes from Italy (where else? ) and is basically made by mixing espresso brewed coffee with hot or steamed milk and does not have quite the history of Cappuccino, although there are rumors that say it was created for Americans because the traditional Cappuccino was too strong so more steamed milk was added.
The basic word latte means milk and so when one says Caffe Latte (more often then not we don’t say Caffe) it simply is asking for a coffee with milk.
Although there are a couple of theories on where the word came from, the most popular one is that it comes from the Capuchin Friars and the color of their robes and hoods since the colors of a Cappuccino are very similar.
The basic work Cappuccino means basically that it is coffee made with milk which has been whipped up with forced steam.
Similarities Between Latte and Cappuccino
Both the Latte and Cappuccino both use espresso as a base. Depending on how strong you want them, they will come with 1 or 2 shots. The standard in the U.S. is probably a double (no evidence to prove this) and was what I used when I made either of the drinks. At my shop I would use a Brazil based coffee for the espresso that was a medium dark roast, has very low acidity and has a chocolate nutty taste that blended very well with the milk.
They both use milk or a milk alternatives as the 2nd ingredient. I would recommend whole milk as its easier to froth and has a richer taste to it. It probably going to take you a few tries to get the hang of frothing milk but if use a chilled stainless steel milk frothing pitcher.
To Make either a Latte or Cappuccino you need an espresso machine with a milk steam wand and a milk frother for the amount of milk you are going to froth. On a extremely tight budget, you COULD use a Aeropress in a pinch but you will still need a way to froth the milk with something like a Electric Milk Frother.
Differences Between The Latte and Cappuccino
The traditional cappuccino is broken up into three parts:
- 1/3 Espresso
- 1/3 Steamed Milk
- 1/3 Milk Foam
With a Cappucinno they should be served in a cup that is narrower at the bottom then a latte cup and has a wider rim. I would recommend that you have it served in a porcelain or ceramic cup with a saucer and try to avoid drinking it in a paper to go cup.
The traditional latte, on the other hand is broken up into these three parts
- 1/3 Espresso
- 2/3 Steamed Milk
- A THIN layer of foam
In addition, Latte cups are shaped more like a bowl and are ideal for making Latte art with the milk such as hearts and rosettas which are the most common. As with the Cappuccino, I would recommend that you have it served in a porcelain or ceramic cup and try to avoid drinking it in a paper to go cup.
Is There a Iced Cappuccino or Iced Latte?
Either one can be refreshing to drink as a cold coffee on a sweltering day. If you live in a warm climate or during the summer time where you live, you might want to think about making in iced version of either one of these.
Of course, these drinks are very different from a traditional latte or cappuccino and keep in mind however that they will taste very different from the hot versions.
A cold cappuccino or latte does contain espresso, but they aren’t made with foamed or steamed milk. They are simply a combination of espresso, cold milk, and ice. You’ll find ordinary iced coffee drinks at most coffee shops, but you may not know that you can find iced lattes and iced cappuccinos as well.
What I used to do at the coffee shop was froth milk for a very short period of time so it was barely warm and then pour it over ice with the espresso. The drink came out very creamy and made it seem more like latte or cappuccino. Try it!
As you can see there are a lot of subtle differences between a latte and a cappuccino. With that said, it’s clear that both coffees have a lot to offer people that enjoy milk with there espresso coffee . If you haven’t already try looking at these drinks more closely the next time you place your coffee order at your favorite local coffee shop or try making one at home!