What is the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?

The main difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the ratio of milk to espresso and the type of foam used. A cappuccino has equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, while a latte has a higher proportion of steamed milk to espresso and a thin layer of milk foam or no foam at all.

Both lattes and cappuccinos are delicious coffee drinks with a rich history and complex flavour profiles. Whether you prefer the bold taste of a cappuccino or the creamy sweetness of a latte, there's no denying that these classic coffee drinks are loved by everyone.

Let's delve into the history, ingredients and preparation for each.

History of Lattes and Cappuccinos:

Lattes and cappuccinos both have their roots in Italian coffee culture. The cappuccino, in particular, has a long and interesting history. Legend has it that the drink was named after the Capuchin friars, whose brown robes were reminiscent of the drink's frothy milk and espresso. The cappuccino first became popular in Italy in the 1930s and has since spread around the world as a beloved coffee drink.

The latte, on the other hand, is a more recent addition to the coffee scene. The term "cafe latte" first appeared in English-language coffee menus in the 1980s and quickly became popular across Europe and the United States. Today, the latte is one of the most commonly ordered coffee beverages at cafes worldwide.

Glass of latte coffee with cinnamon sprinkles

Ingredients of Lattes and Cappuccinos

Both lattes and cappuccinos consist of two primary ingredients: espresso and milk. However, the ratio and type of milk used can vary depending on the drink.

A traditional cappuccino consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Espresso is the foundation of the drink, providing a bold and flavourful base. The milk used in a cappuccino is typically whole milk, which is steamed to create a velvety texture. Finally, the milk is topped with a layer of milk foam, which gives the drink its iconic frothy appearance.

A latte, on the other hand, has a higher proportion of steamed milk to espresso. Typically, a latte contains one shot of espresso and a larger volume of steamed milk, resulting in a creamier and more mild taste. Unlike a cappuccino, which has a layer of foam on top, a latte is usually topped with a thin layer of milk.

Preparation of Lattes and Cappuccinos

The preparation of lattes and cappuccinos is another key difference between these two drinks. A cappuccino requires a bit more skill and attention to detail to prepare properly.

To make a cappuccino, a barista must first pull a shot of espresso. Then, the milk is steamed to create a velvety texture, carefully incorporating enough air to create a thick milk foam. The espresso shot is poured into a cup, and the steamed milk is poured in on top. Finally, the milk foam is added to the top of the drink, creating the classic cappuccino layer of frothy foam.

Making a latte is a bit simpler than making a cappuccino. The same process of pulling a shot of espresso and steaming milk is used, but the milk is simply poured over the espresso and topped with a thin layer of milk foam or no foam at all.


There we go - the difference between a latte and a cappuccino! When you next go in your favourite coffee shop, impress the barista with your knowledge - or just order your drink like anyone else.

If you love coffee and want to learn more, you should check out our Brew guides. I recommend starting with a basic filter recipe before going all out on an espresso machine.

Happy brewing!

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