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There are so many kinds of coffee drinks found in coffee shops now that it’s hard to keep track of what’s what. Whether it’s an espresso macchiato, a traditional cappuccino, or a flavored frappuccino, the humble latte and cappuccino are some of the most popular coffee drinks out there. But other than the flavors of the two espresso drinks, are they different in any way? If yes, what’s exactly is that difference.

The key difference between a cappuccino and a latte is the quantity and handling of the milk. To make, a latte requires more milk. Additionally, the milk is just steamed, so it has little foam. On the other hand, a cappuccino has milk aerated and steamed, so it is frothier.

What’s A Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is created from espresso and steamed milk. That said, a cappuccino is not made from as much milk as a latte is. To be precise, a cappuccino uses half the amount. The key to making this drink is in the milk. Cold milk is heated with a steaming wand on an espresso machine and frothed. This process doubles the milk volume as air bubbles and heat are introduced.  From this point, the drink is ready to be assembled. Typically served in only five or six ounces, a cappuccino features three distinctive and equal layers, namely espresso, steamed milk, and strong, airy foam on top. 

When prepared correctly, the milk to foam ratio should be 1-to-1. This is aptly determined by the baristas based on the weight of the beverage. There is typically one espresso shot in a cappuccino, but it’s not unheard of to ask for or be served a double shot.

It’s good to note that cappuccino has gone through quite some change over the years, especially with the introduction of espressos. Unlike the original beverage containing coffee, sugar, and cream, today’s cappuccino is made up of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.

What Is A Latte?

A latte is an espresso with even more steamed milk (7 ounces more to be exact than a cappuccino). Lattes typically use two espresso shots and have a distinct texture to the milk: commonly described as somewhat thick and creamy.

When a latte is made correctly, it will come out having a perfect blend between the espresso, smooth steamed milk, and a layer of pleasant froth on the top.

Though a latte still contains the espresso flavor, the use of more steamed milk helps to hide the acidic taste. This is what makes this a favorite coffee drink for many people. 

You’ll find that flavored syrups are generally paired with lattes. Caramel, vanilla are just a few. Some even add chocolate syrup, but one could argue that you’ve effectively made a mocha once you start adding chocolate to a coffee beverage made with foamed milk.

Most coffee shops will take the time to impress their customers with some latte art, and while this doesn’t impact the coffee taste, it’s a nice touch.

Which is Stronger Between Cappuccino & Latte?

The taste of cappuccino is stronger when compared to that of latte. This is because cappuccinos contain less steamed milk and therefore don’t dilute the strong coffee taste. As lattes are typically made with double the milk, they have a calmer and milder flavor.

That said, the caffeine content and the taste vary from cafe to cafe and coffee bean to coffee bean. The roast used can make a big difference; for example, using a blonde roast will result in a more fruity flavor when compared to the heavy espresso flavor from dark roasts.

Bottom line: Although these drinks are different sizes, if they were made using the same amount of espresso and coffee bean, they’ll be comparable as far as caffeine content. While you’ve probably noticed that a double-espresso Cappucino tastes stronger than a double-espresso café latte, it is not less caffeine. What you are tasting is the difference in how they are made. Less milk in the cappuccino gives the coffee flavor more room to shine.

Which is More Creamy, a Latte or Cappuccino?

Although both the cappuccino and latte require the milk to be heated and aerated, making the milk appear thicker and taste creamier, the latte has way more milk to make it more creamy. While a cappuccino is considerably foamier, it is just foam.

Fun Fact: A dead giveaway of a poorly made cappuccino and latte is when the milk just feels like warm milk from a carton. Well-prepared steamed milk for either of the beverage should feel a little bit thicker than the milk you’d pour in your cereal.

Which Is Healthier? A Latte Or A Cappuccino?

Determining which of these two drinks is healthier can be a bit tricky. The base ingredients are the same: espresso and milk. If healthy is defined as having fewer calories, the cappuccino is the winner because the latter uses more milk.

That said, milk is not exactly unhealthy. A latte or a cappuccino a few times a week shouldn’t be something to worry about if you live a healthy lifestyle and eat well.

Milk does contain unsaturated fats, which can increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood and increase the risk of heart disease. But, the amount of saturated fat varies depending on if you’re using fat-free milk, 1%, etc.

What Can Make These Coffee Drinks Unhealthy?

Toppings. Topping. Topping! Some people like to add sugar to a latte or cappuccino. Lattes can be flavored with the likes of hazelnut syrup, caramel syrup, or vanilla syrups. They are even, at times, topped with whipped cream. While cappuccinos can be made with flavored syrup, too, it’s less common.

Do remember that many of these syrups add sugar and calories to the drink. Even if these syrups are substituted with their sugar-free alternatives, those aren’t much healthier either. Studies have often shown that those who drink diet drinks regularly have more of a risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself now and then. There’s no need to deprive yourself when big franchises release yummy and seemingly irresistible seasonal lattes every year. Just bear in mind that while the occasional flavored coffee drink is not necessarily unhealthy – they are more so than the standard cappuccino or a plain latte.

Enjoy these fun drinks occasionally; it is not a good idea to drink them every single day.

Are There Benefits To Drinking These Espresso Drinks?

There are some health benefits to drinking a latte or a cappuccino.

Milk is a good source of protein! You might not always realize it while drinking coffee, but steamed milk does count as a serving of dairy. It contains calcium which is essential to maintaining food bone health. Milk is also a source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc

As is now widespread knowledge, coffee and caffeine have been linked with boosting energy levels, exercise performance, and concentration. It has also been linked with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia later in life.

While caffeine has even been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, it should go without saying that adding sugar will most likely cancel out any health benefits.

Which one is Sweeter, A Cappuccino or a Latte?

It all depends on who you ask, but a latte is considered sweeter than a cappuccino due to the amount of milk used in preparation.  That said, how much sugar there is in these two drinks depends on the kind of milk used; some milk – whole milk or plant-based is just sweeter than others. It is worth mentioning that the two beverages are usually served unsweetened by default.

Lattes typically begin with more milk than a cappuccino, so, by default, it’s going to be sweeter and contain more naturally occurring sugars.

Although the milk foam on top of cappuccinos is often dusted with a light layer of cocoa powder, cinnamon, and sometimes brown sugar – the difference this makes to sweetness is negligible.

Can you Make a Latte or Cappuccino Yourself?

If you love either cappuccinos or lattes, preparing one yourself can be easy. Thanks to the availability of different bean to cup coffee machines, you can quickly and conveniently grind coffee beans and make your espresso any time of the day. 

Nowadays, you can learn step by step how to make either cappuccino or latte and enjoy your favorite beverage right from the comfort of your home. Espresso makers and equipment needed for steaming milk can be found in lots of homeware stores.

All you really need to do is brew the espresso and froth the milk with a steam wand. Remember, practice makes perfect. You might not nail latte art on your first attempt.

It’s good to note that alternative milk, including non-fat options, can be used to prepare both latte and cappuccino. You can opt for coconut, almond, or even oat milk alternatives, which are excellent options for these caffeinated beverages.

Fun Fact: As you master both the cappuccino and latte, you can try your hand at a not-so-distant cousin: the latte macchiato. The difference between a latte and a latte macchiato isn’t the ingredients but the order in which the coffee is poured into the cup. A latte involves pouring milk into the espresso. A latte macchiato is done the other way round. 

The Bottom Line

While a latte and a cappuccino might be made from the same two ingredients, some key differences include the foam content, the amount of espresso used, and the milk content.

Cappuccinos are usually served in a short round ceramic mug, but some cafes do things differently. Do note that the cups these drinks are served don’t make much of a difference to the taste or quality, but it’s a handy way to differentiate between the two at a glance.

If you like milky coffee with a thin layer of foam and a good kick of caffeine, then you’ll love a latte. If you prefer a more coffee-tasting cup, then try a cappuccino. The perfect cappuccino will be deliciously frothy and still packs a punch that tingles your taste buds – even if there is only a single espresso shot.

If there isn’t a clear winner for you when it comes to deciding between a cappuccino or a latte, it’s time to look at some other espresso-based drinks at your local coffee shop.