King of the Cup – Cappuccino vs Latte

We’ve all been there at one point, standing in line waiting to order your coffee, gazing up at the menu even though you know what you want already. Then it dawns on you, what is the difference between a cappuccino and a latte?

While most coffee terminology is Italian and translates into understandable terms. For example, Espresso comes from the Italian word for “pressed-out” or Macchiato being short for Caffe Macchiato which translates to “coffee with a spot (of milk).” The term Cappuccino though doesn’t follow this trend.

Cappuccino got its name from the Capuchin friar monks. Known for their missionary work and distinct hooded brown robes. The Italian word for this distinct robe hood: Cappuccio, and thus the friar wearing this hooded robe? A Cappuccino.

When first introduced in Italy, the Cappuccino was named after the Capuchin Friars because the color of the drink matched closely to the color of robes worn by the order.

Latte, on the other hand, is a term widely considered as an American invention. Becoming quite popular in Seattle area coffee shops in the 1980s. Latte, an Italian word, translates to “Milk”, and If you were to order a “Latte” in Italy, you would be given a glass of milk. The equivalent term to the American Latte in Italy would be a ‘caffe latte’ or ‘milk coffee’.

Now after reading all that, surely you are thinking “get to point already, what is the difference?” right? So let’s get down to brass tax!

A cappuccino is 1/3 Espresso, 1/3 Milk, and 1/3 foamed milk. Traditionally served as a breakfast drink. Also, traditionally a cappuccino should never be larger than 6 fluid ounces. Larger sizes offered in modern-day coffee shops generally muddy this perfect 1:1:1 ratio and have additional milk to fill the cup.

A Latte is ¼ Espresso, ¾ hot milk, and a very thin layer of foam. Lattes are generally much larger than cappuccino being up to 20 ounces in size. Modern-day lattes are known to have interesting designs and art created in the top foam. An art very interesting to look at and difficult to master.

When traditionally made, these two drinks are distinguishable. Though with modern coffee houses and large cup sizing, its difficult to differentiate between the two drinks. For a more traditional experience with these two drinks, seek out independent coffee houses or brew them at home.

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