A latte or a cappuccino; we may know what we prefer to order, but it’s not until someone asks, what’s the difference between the two, where we find ourselves lost for an accurate explanation. Whilst it may be the perfect opportunity for those inner barista’s or coffee snobs to show off their coffee knowledge, there is still some great ambiguity as to what separates the two milky drinks apart. However, we are here to settle those inevitable coffee conversations with the actual reasons as to why these drinks are in fact, different.
Firstly, it may seem obvious to point out but these two drinks are both espresso-based and include milk. However, the devil lies in the details of how much milk these drinks contain, and, the textures of the milk.
A latte is typically made with a strong shot of espresso, and this can either be a single or double shot. With a latte, the espresso is topped with steamed milk, which fills roughly 2/3 of the cup. Latte’s usually come served in a larger (8oz) cup, compared to a smaller (6oz) cup as seen with a cappuccino. So, essentially, latte’s contain slightly more steamed milk, and are topped with a thin layer of foam that is frequently formed into an art piece. And yes, you know you’ve nailed a latte when it’s Instagram worthy!
Cappuccino’s on the other hand, similarly contain a single or double shot of espresso, however, the milk is split between being half-steamed and half-foam. Whilst that may seem confusing and complex, it essentially involves the cappuccino being split into more layers, thus often requiring more skill from a barista. A successful cappuccino will (hopefully), have a more light, airy taste and texture as the milk is not mixed as such with the espresso, like a latte.
So…in case that didn’t quite explain it clearly, a latte fundamentally contains more steamed milk and does not have a layer of foam as thick as a cappuccino.
Interestingly, over the years, there has been many variations of these two drinks, with people opting for a spiced-pumpkin latte in the colder month of October, or a salted-caramel cappuccino in the Christmas period. Coffee orders have come a long way and just a plain latte can somewhat seem boring compared to an iced caramel latte, however, the fundamental barista craft remains similar nonetheless. With the introduction of flavoured syrups, coffee consumers are often tempted to indulge in a more sugary, sweeter coffee drink. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this (other than the often crazy high-calorie count), we love the taste of a perfectly made latte or cappuccino, without the added flavours.
But…we want to know what your coffee order typically looks like, do you go for a latte or a cappuccino, and why?