If you’re looking to upgrade your daily “cup of joe” but don’t know where to begin, we’re here for you! In this article, we compare two of the most beloved Italian coffee drinks with an espresso and milk base: cappuccino and latte. 

While these espresso-based drinks share staple ingredients, there are several differences that can help you decide between the two. Read on to learn about their ingredients, preparation, flavors, and how you can make your own at home.

What is a cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a coffee drink traditionally made with a single or double shot of espresso and a combination of steamed and frothed whole milk. A cappuccino has instinct layers of coffee and milk. The Italian word cappuccino literally means “little cap”, which is a reference to the foamy milk that sits atop the espresso. 

Espresso base

If you’re really new to the coffee world, espresso is a concentrated form of coffee served as a shot. It’s thicker than regularly brewed coffee and has a creamy layer on top as a result of air bubbles mixing with the oils from the coffee. Espresso forms the basis of several coffee drinks, including cappuccino, latte, americano, and macchiato.

A cappuccino is usually made with 1 or 2 shots of espresso as the base. 

Ratio and layering of milk in a cappuccino

A cappuccino is made with equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. So if a cappuccino has one shot of espresso, there will be one ounce of steamed milk and then an ounce of milk foam on top. If the espresso is made with more shots, the amount of steamed and milk will go up accordingly.  

A cappuccino is always layered with espresso on the bottom, steamed milk in the middle, and milk foam on the top. The layers mix together into a balanced and creamy mouthful of flavorful espresso and subtly sweet milk, which balances out any bitterness from the coffee.  

How are cappuccinos made? 

An espresso machine is used to brew the coffee and a steam wand or milk frother to prepare the milk. The basic steps of making a cappuccino are:

  1. Brew desired amount of espresso in an espresso machine. A single shot of espresso is roughly 1 ounce. 
  2. Pour an equal amount of cold milk into a metal milk carafe and use a steam wand to steam and foam the milk to 65 degrees C/140 degrees F). The milk will approximately double in size and will be thick and frothy.
  3. Pour the espresso into a cup and then pour milk over the espresso shot. Use a spoon to hold back the froth while pouring the steamed milk layer. 

What does cappuccino taste like?

Cappuccino has a bold coffee taste from the rich espresso shot(s) and a bit of natural sweetness from the milk. The milk balances out any bitterness in the coffee. Flavored syrups and sweeteners are not traditionally added to a cappuccino. 

Because it uses less milk and has more foam, a cappuccino has a stronger coffee flavor than a latte. 

What are the different ways to order a cappuccino?

Traditionally, a cappuccino is served in a small glass on a saucer. There may be a sprinkle of cocoa on top. The temperature of cappuccino is very important to the Italians, so they don’t typically ice them. In the US, these rules are bent a bit. 

Types of cappuccinos include:

  • Iced cappuccinos or cappuccini freddo: In Italy, this may be done by adding cold froth milk atop the hot cappuccino. In America, it can be served over ice or as a blended ice beverage.  
  • Wet cappuccinos or cappuccini chiaro: Also called a light cappuccino, these are made with more steamed milk and less foamed milk, so they tend to be a bit creamier and have a milder coffee flavor. 
  • Dry cappuccinos or cappuccini scurro: Also called dark cappuccinos, these are made with less steamed milk and more foamed milk on top. This gives the drink a darker color and a bolder espresso flavor.  
  • Flavored cappuccinos: While non-traditional, these are increasingly popular in US coffee chains. Similar to lattes, flavored simple syrups such as vanilla, chocolate, or caramel are added. They may also be topped with sauces and chocolate or cinnamon powder. 

How to make a cappuccino at home 

If you don’t have an espresso machine at home, you can make a cappuccino by brewing strong coffee in a French press and using a steam wand, handheld frother, blender, or microwave to froth the milk. 

Best cappuccino recipes

For a great step-by-step recipe to make cappuccino with an espresso machine, head over to Spruce Eats. No espresso machine? No problem! Food.com has a great, simple step-by-step recipe for cappuccino without the fuss. 

What is a latte?

Like a cappuccino, a latte is a coffee drink with a base of one or two espresso shots with steamed milk and a layer of foam. While the ingredients are the same, the ratio of milk to espresso and preparation methods make the latte a distinctly different drink than a cappuccino. 

Ratio and layering of milk in a latte

With a latte, the espresso is combined (rather than layered) with several ounces of steamed milk. While the amount of milk may vary depending on the overall size of the drink, the typical ratio for a latte is 1-to-3 espresso to milk, plus a thin layer of foam on top. The ratio may be as high as 1-to-5 for larger drinks.  

Because the ratio of steamed milk to espresso is higher, the latte is a creamier drink with a milder coffee flavor. 

How are lattes made? 

The process of making a latte is very similar to making a cappuccino. The main differences are the ratio of milk to espresso and the fact that the milk is combined with the coffee rather than layered. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Brew desired amount of espresso in an espresso machine. A single shot of espresso is roughly 1 ounce. 
  2. Pour the desired amount of cold milk into a metal milk carafe and use a steam wand to steam and foam the milk. To prevent the milk from cooling the coffee down too much, the temperature can be higher, up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73 degrees Celcius). The texture will also be “wetter” with less foam than a cappuccino. 
  3. Pour the espresso into a cup and then pour milk over the espresso shot, swirling to mix them. Hold back any foam to add on top. 

What does latte taste like?

Latte is creamier than cappuccino due to the higher milk content, which also dulls the strong taste of the espresso. Unlike a cappuccino, flavored syrups and sweeteners are commonly added to lattes, meaning the flavor of a latte can vary greatly. 

The flavors added to lattes are endless, but popular varieties include vanilla, peppermint, chocolate, pumpkin, cinnamon, hazelnut, toffee, and raspberry. 

What are the different ways to order a latte?

In addition to the flavor possibilities, most coffee shops offer a variety of sizes of lattes (such as short, tall, grande, or venti) and an option of iced or hot. You can also request as many espresso shots as you desire (1 or 2 are the most common). Some cafes offer additional toppings, such as whipped cream, chocolate sauce, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. 

Is there a latte without coffee?

Yes! Lattes can be made by adding steamed milk to any type of tea or simply by flavoring the hot milk. Some popular non-coffee latte varieties include matcha latte, green tea latte, rooibos latte, chai latte, cocoa latte, white chocolate coconut latte, and golden milk latte.

How to make a latte at home 

Even without an espresso machine, you can make a latte at home by brewing strong coffee in a French press and using a steam wand, handheld frother, microwave, or blender to froth the milk. 

Best latte recipes

Be Plant Well has a delicious vegan cinnamon dulce latte recipe using the alternative milks of your choice (oat milk and almond milk froth well!) and a wand frother for ease. It’s refined sugar-free, too.

For another lightened-up option, give our Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe a try. There’s also an option to make a pumpkin spice smoothie!

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Summary: What is the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?

Both are smooth and delicious options for getting your caffeine fix. They use espresso as the base with a combination of steamed and frothed milk added. But there are some key differences that can help you decide between a latte vs cappuccino:

  • Ratio of Milk: A traditional cappuccino calls for equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. A latte has a much higher milk-to-espresso ratio and uses little foam.
  • Layering: A cappuccino is made with three distinct layers. In a latte, the espresso and steamed milk are mixed together. 
  • Flavors: A cappuccino has a stronger coffee flavor because it uses less milk and is rarely flavored. Lattes are much milder and creamier and contain flavored syrups.  
  • Temperature: The temperature of the milk added to a latte is generally higher than that in a cappuccino. This 

Now that you’ve mastered the cappuccino vs latte, continue your education of coffee beverages by reading up on the differences between the delicious mocha vs latte! And don’t forget about macchiatos. This macchiato vs latte article has everything you need to know. 

If you’ve got the types of coffee down but are worried about the calories and fat in some of these drinks, check out our Weight Watchers article on 5 Things Never to Order at Starbucks on WW!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What is cappuccino vs latte?

A: A cappuccino is an espresso drink with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. A latte uses espresso with a higher ratio of steamed milk and little foam. 

Q2: Which is stronger a cappuccino or latte?

A: In terms of caffeine, this depends on how many espresso shots are in the drink. In terms of flavor, a cappuccino has a stronger espresso flavor due to less milk. 

Q3: Which is sweeter a cappuccino or latte?

A: A latte is typically sweeter than a cappuccino. Cappuccinos don’t tend to be flavored or sweetened, while lattes often contain sweet flavoring syrups.   

Q4: Is cappuccino the strongest coffee?

A: While it has a stronger flavor due to the espresso, the caffeine content depends on how many espresso shots are used. There is less caffeine in a shot of espresso (about 80 mg of caffeine) than in a cup of coffee (about 120 mg).

No ratings yet

Cappuccino vs Latte: What’s the Difference

By: Drizzlemeskinny
Cappuccino in white cup next to latte in white cup


  • Choose your favorite recipe
  • click the link to find the recipe instructions
  • follow the linked instructions
  • enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Mention @drizzlemeskinny or tag #drizzlemeskinny!

You May Also Like

About Drizzle Me Skinny

Kate founded DrizzleMeSkinny in 2014. Since then she has shared nearly 1000 weight watchers friendly recipes with DrizzleMeSkinny's over 500,000 social media followers.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating