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What’s the Difference Between a Latte and a Cappuccino?

Two lattes sit on a wooden table in a coffeeshop.

Whether it’s a quick run through the Starbucks drive-thru or a nice brunch out, you’ve likely got a go-to coffee order. But sometimes, you want to switch things up. If you’re a latte lover looking to opt for a cappuccino or a cappuccino lover looking to try a latte, how exactly are they different?

As it turns out, cappuccinos and lattes are made of the same core ingredients, but it’s how they’re made and the ratio of those ingredients that define them.

In essence, a cappuccino is foamier while a latte is more creamy with just a hint of foam at the top. Both, however, are made up of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. For a latte, the steamed and frothed milk is poured evenly into the espresso. This gives you a milkier drink with just a small layer of foam. With cappuccino, steamed milk is poured over the espresso, but a spoon is used to hold back the foam. When the milk is poured, the foam is added on top creating a thicker layer.

In terms of flavor, cappuccinos tend to be more espresso or coffee-forward. Since the foam is held back, it’s not as milky as a latte. Plus, lattes are often jazzed up using flavored syrups and sweeteners (think the pumpkin spice latte).

Ultimately, when comparing lattes and cappuccinos, the drinks aren’t different in terms of components. It’s all about what you’re looking for in your beverage. Want something creamy, flavored, and potentially sweet? Go for a latte. Looking for something a bit more coffee-forward with some fun texture? A cappuccino is for you.

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