cappuccino cup

Are you a coffee lover who wants to know the key differences between the cups used for latte and cappuccino? In this post, we're unraveling the key differences in cup size, shape, and material used for these two popular coffee drinks. Get ready to discover how the cup affects your coffee experience and which one will be your new favorite!

Lattes and Cappuccinos: The Basics


A latte and a cappuccino are both espresso-based drinks, and they share some key ingredients, such as espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. However, there are some distinctions between the two in terms of milk-to-espresso ratio and the creaminess of the drink.

  • Latte: A latte is made with a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and a small layer of milk foam on top. The drink is generally creamier and has a milder coffee taste compared to a cappuccino.
  • Cappuccino: A cappuccino, on the other hand, contains an equal distribution of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, resulting in a stronger coffee flavor.

Ratios and Proportions

The main difference between a latte and a cappuccino lies in the proportions of their ingredients. A latte has a higher milk-to-espresso ratio, while a cappuccino has equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.

Drink Espresso Steamed Milk Milk Foam Total Ratio
Latte 1 part 2-3 parts Thin layer Higher milk-to-espresso ratio
Cappuccino 1 part 1 part 1 part Equal parts

These ratios directly impact the serving size and overall taste of the drinks. A cappuccino is typically served in a smaller cup, around 5.4 ounces, as its equal parts make it a more concentrated drink. On the other hand, a latte is served in a larger cup, at least 8 ounces, and contains more milk, making it a creamier and less intense coffee experience.

In summary, the main differences between a latte and a cappuccino are the ingredients' proportions and the serving sizes, which ultimately affect the flavor and creaminess of the drinks.

Differences in Taste and Texture

Flavor Profiles

When comparing lattes and cappuccinos, one can notice distinct differences in their flavor profiles. Lattes typically have a softer and milkier taste due to their larger milk-to-espresso ratio. This results in a mild, creamy flavor that is favored by those who enjoy a balanced mix of espresso and milk. In contrast, cappuccinos offer a bolder taste because of their equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The stronger presence of espresso in cappuccinos creates a more intense flavor, appealing to those who prefer a coffee-forward beverage.


The mouthfeel of lattes and cappuccinos also varies significantly. Lattes tend to have a smoother and creamier texture due to the large amount of steamed milk combined with the espresso. The milk's velvety texture gives lattes a luxurious and comforting feel. On the other hand, cappuccinos have a lighter and fluffier mouthfeel, primarily due to the layer of frothed milk foam on top. The foam adds an airy and delicate characteristic to the drink, providing a pleasant contrast to the rich, full-bodied espresso beneath.


In terms of aroma, both lattes and cappuccinos emit enticing scents due to their espresso content. However, the differences in milk content and preparation lead to subtle variations in their aromatic profiles. Lattes, with their larger volume of steamed milk, often exude a sweeter and more comforting aroma, reminiscent of warm milk and hints of caramel. Meanwhile, cappuccinos possess a more robust and complex scent with the presence of the frothed milk foam, which enhances the espresso's natural aroma, emphasizing notes of toasted nuts, chocolate, and even fruitiness.

In summary, lattes and cappuccinos both offer unique taste experiences for coffee lovers. While lattes provide a milder, milkier flavor with a creamy texture and sweet aroma, cappuccinos deliver a bolder taste, with a light mouthfeel and a more complex aroma. Each of these beverages caters to different preferences and can be enjoyed for their distinct qualities. Moreover, the quality and taste of these beloved drinks can be significantly enhanced when prepared with a top-notch commercial quality espresso machine. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your café or simply want to recreate that perfect coffee experience at home, consider exploring the range of espresso machines for commercial use. The right machine can truly elevate the flavor and aroma of your favorite beverages.

Milk Foam and Froth

When it comes to creating the perfect cappuccino or latte, the milk foam and froth play a significant role in determining the texture, taste, and appearance of these popular espresso-based beverages. This section will delve into the intricacies of milk foam and froth, providing insights into the different types of foam and their role in cappuccinos and lattes.

Foam in Cappuccinos

Cappuccinos are known for their equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, providing a rich and balanced flavor profile. The milk foam is an essential component of a cappuccino, as it adds a distinct airy texture and helps to create the beverage's signature appearance.

Creating milk foam for cappuccinos requires skill and precision. To produce the ideal foam, steam is introduced into the milk, causing it to expand and create tiny air bubbles. This process results in a light, frothy milk foam that sits on top of the cappuccino. The foam not only adds an enjoyable mouthfeel, but it also works as a natural insulator, helping to maintain the drink's temperature.

Microfoam in Lattes

Lattes, on the other hand, have a higher proportion of steamed milk compared to cappuccinos, with a smaller quantity of milk foam. They typically feature microfoam, which is smoother and less voluminous than the foam found in cappuccinos.

Microfoam is created by steaming milk in such a way that it forms a velvety texture composed of tiny, almost invisible bubbles. This type of foam is easy to pour and manipulate, which makes it the ideal choice for creating latte art - a popular aspect of latte culture.

Contrary to cappuccinos, lattes contain less foam and more steamed milk, resulting in a creamier and less airy texture. This distinction allows the rich taste of espresso to blend more seamlessly with the milk, offering a milder flavor when compared to a cappuccino.

In conclusion, the milk foam and froth in cappuccinos and lattes play a crucial role in their overall taste, aesthetic, and mouthfeel. While cappuccinos feature a more substantial milk foam on top, lattes primarily showcase a silky, smooth microfoam. These distinctive foams contribute to the unique attributes of each beverage, making them perfect choices for different preferences and occasions.

Caffeine Content and Strength

When comparing lattes and cappuccinos, it's essential to consider the caffeine content and strength of the beverages. Both drinks are made with espresso as their base, but the ratios of milk and foam differ, which plays a significant role in their taste and potency.

Caffeine content in lattes and cappuccinos primarily depends on the number of espresso shots used. A single shot of espresso contains around 68 mg of caffeine. Typically, the same number of espresso shots is utilized in both beverages; however, how the milk and foam are distributed varies. In a latte, there is a higher milk-to-espresso ratio, around 2 to 1, delivering a milder, creamier flavor. Meanwhile, a cappuccino usually has equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and microfoam, which results in a stronger coffee flavor.

To break it down:

  • Latte: 1/6 espresso, 4/6 steamed milk, 1/6 foamed milk
  • Cappuccino: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 microfoam

In terms of serving size, a cappuccino cup is typically 5 to 5.5 ounces (150 ml to 160 ml), whereas a latte cup is usually around 11 to 15 ounces. This means that a cappuccino tends to have a higher concentration of caffeine per ounce compared to a latte. The strength of each drink will depend on personal preference, but those craving a stronger coffee flavor will likely lean towards choosing a cappuccino.

It's important to note that the actual caffeine content of a cup of coffee or tea can vary significantly due to factors such as processing and brewing time. Additionally, the choice of coffee beans and the roast level will have an impact on both the caffeine content and strength of the final beverage. In summary, exploring different combinations of milk steaming and brewing methods will lead to finding the perfect balance of caffeine content and strength that suits an individual's taste preferences.

Calories and Nutritional Values

Whole Milk vs Non-Fat Milk

When examining the caloric content and nutritional values of lattes and cappuccinos, it is essential to consider the milk used. Whole milk, which is frequently employed in traditional recipes, exhibits a higher fat content, thereby increasing the calorie count. As a result, a 12-ounce cappuccino prepared with whole milk typically contains approximately 130 calories, while a similar-sized latte boasts around 210 calories due to the greater volume of milk utilized.

Nevertheless, those who prefer a healthier alternative can opt for non-fat milk. In this case, both beverages will possess fewer calories and reduced amounts of fat. However, it is important to note that the flavor profile may differ slightly when substituting non-fat milk for whole milk.

Sweeteners and Syrups

Many coffee drinkers enjoy customizing their lattes and cappuccinos with sweeteners and syrups, which can significantly impact the beverages' nutritional values. Natural sweeteners, such as sugar, honey, and agave, are most commonly added to these drinks, but artificial sweeteners, like sucralose or stevia, can also be implemented for those seeking a lower-calorie option. However, the use of any sweeteners will contribute to the overall calories and sugar content of lattes and cappuccinos.

Moreover, syrups also enhance the flavor of lattes and cappuccinos, while potentially altering their nutritional values. These syrups can comprise artificial flavors, sugars, and colorings, which when incorporated into the beverage, can increase its calorie count and sugar content. Consequently, when selecting sweeteners and syrups, it is advised to verify the ingredients and nutritional information to maintain a well-rounded understanding of the beverage's final nutritional profile.

Variations and Customizations

Iced and Cold Drinks

In recent years, iced and cold versions of lattes and cappuccinos have gained popularity. An iced latte is typically made by pouring a shot of espresso over ice, followed by cold milk and topped off with ice. This creates a refreshing and smooth beverage perfect for warm weather. Iced cappuccinos are slightly different, as they involve adding frothed, cold milk to the espresso and ice, giving it a distinct texture and slightly stronger coffee taste.

Alternative Milk Options

Lattes and cappuccinos can be customized to suit various dietary preferences by using alternative milk options. Some popular selections include:

  • Almond milk: A plant-based milk option, almond milk provides a subtle nutty flavor and creaminess, making it a popular choice for those avoiding dairy.
  • Oat milk: Another plant-based milk, oat milk is known for its smooth and velvety texture, complimenting espresso-based drinks without overpowering the coffee taste.

These alternative milk options cater to people with lactose intolerance, vegan diets, or those simply seeking new flavors to indulge in.

Flavored Drinks

Lattes and cappuccinos can be further personalized through the addition of syrups or flavorings, allowing for endless possibilities in taste. Some popular flavor choices include:

  • Mocha: This chocolatey delight is created by mixing cocoa powder or chocolate syrup with the espresso before adding the milk, adding an indulgent twist to the classic latte or cappuccino.
  • Caramel: A popular choice for those with a sweet tooth, caramel syrup is added to the espresso, providing a warm and buttery flavor profile.
  • Peppermint: A refreshing option, especially during the holiday season, peppermint syrup brings a cool and invigorating taste to the beverage.

For an extra touch of flavor, you can also sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa powder on top of the foam, creating a visually appealing and aromatic treat. These variations and customizations allow individuals to enjoy their coffee drinks tailored to their unique preferences, showcasing the versatility and adaptability of lattes and cappuccinos.

Origins and History

The Capuchin Monks

The story of latte and cappuccino can be traced back to the influence of the Capuchin friars, a religious order from Italy. The name "cappuccino" is inspired by the monks' distinctive brown robes with a white hood, resembling the colors of the beverage. These monks are known to have a long-standing connection with coffee and its history.

Espresso Machines and Development

In the early days, mixing coffee and milk was common in Europe, and the term "caffe e latte" first appeared in the 19th century. However, the modern latte and cappuccino as we know them owe their development to the invention of the espresso machine, which was first patented in 1884. The true potential of these machines wasn't realized until the 1940s when the spring-piston lever was invented by Milanese cafe owner Achille Gaggia. The introduction of the espresso machine allowed baristas to create more concentrated and flavorful coffee, which laid the foundation for the latte and cappuccino we enjoy today.


Italian cappuccino emerged in the early 20th century, with its roots in the Viennese coffeehouses of the 18th century. Here, the Kapuziner—a popular drink made of coffee and whipped cream—became the precursor to the modern cappuccino. Italy's rich coffee culture and the skills of its baristas have significantly contributed to the popularity and evolution of both latte and cappuccino.

Espresso Machine Advancements

Espresso machines have come a long way since their early days. Advancements in technology and the growing interest in specialty coffee have allowed baristas to experiment with different brewing techniques and milk-to-espresso ratios, leading to a wide variety of espresso-based beverages.

Espresso-based Beverage Description
Latte More milk than espresso, resulting in a softer and milkier taste
Cappuccino Equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam, creating a heftier caffeine punch

The distinct characteristics of latte and cappuccino are a direct result of the barista's skill, the espresso machine, and the perfect balance of milk and coffee in each beverage. Consequently, these drinks provide unique experiences for coffee enthusiasts around the world.

Latte Art and Presentation

Latte art is a creative aspect of coffee preparation that involves creating designs or patterns in the milk foam on top of a latte. This aesthetic touch can enhance the presentation of the drink and add a memorable experience for the customer. Latte art is achieved by skillfully pouring steamed milk into the espresso, allowing the milk and foam to mix and create contrasts in color and texture. It requires precision, technique, and practice to master.

In the world of latte art, there are two main types: free pour and etching. Free pour latte art is created by manipulating the flow of milk as it is poured into the espresso, creating patterns such as hearts, rosettas, and tulips. Etching, on the other hand, involves using a tool like a toothpick or a stylus to create intricate designs in the milk foam after the pour is complete.

When it comes to presentation, lattes are typically served in a larger cup than cappuccinos, generally holding 8 ounces or more. This size difference allows for a smoother and more balanced drink that highlights both the espresso and milk components. The larger cup size also provides a better canvas for showcasing intricate latte art designs for the customer's enjoyment.

In addition to the cup size, the skill and experience of the barista play a significant role in the quality of latte art and presentation. A well-trained barista can pour consistent designs and maintain a high level of visual appeal in each cup. The practice of latte art has even evolved into a competitive sport, with numerous international competitions showcasing the talent and creativity of baristas from around the world.

While not directly impacting the flavor of the drink, latte art and presentation serve to enhance the overall experience of enjoying a latte. A visually appealing and well-crafted latte can add a touch of sophistication and personalization that sets it apart from other coffee drinks.

Comparisons with Other Espresso-Based Drinks

In this section, we'll explore how lattes and cappuccinos compare to other popular espresso-based beverages. We'll look at different aspects such as taste, milk content, and preparation method for each of these drinks.


A macchiato is an espresso-based drink that typically has a small dollop of steamed milk or foam on top. This addition of milk helps to cut the robust flavor of the espresso, without overwhelming its taste. In comparison to lattes and cappuccinos, macchiatos have a stronger espresso flavor and a much smaller milk-to-espresso ratio.

Flat White

A flat white is similar to a latte in terms of milk content, yet it usually has a thinner layer of microfoam on top. It is made by combining an espresso shot with steamed milk, resulting in a balanced and creamy texture. The primary difference between a flat white and a latte is that the flat white has a higher espresso-to-milk ratio while the latte is creamier due to the milk foam.

Café Au Lait

Café au lait is unique among espresso-based beverages because it is often made with regular brewed coffee, rather than espresso. It typically consists of equal parts coffee and steamed milk, making for a comforting and slightly more diluted drink compared to espresso-based counterparts. In contrast to lattes and cappuccinos, café au lait has a milder coffee taste due to using brewed coffee instead of concentrated espresso shots.


An Americano is made by adding hot water to an espresso shot, diluting the robust espresso flavors and resulting in a beverage that is more akin to black coffee. While Americanos do not contain any milk or foam, like lattes and cappuccinos do, they still offer a rich and bold flavor that is less intense compared to straight espresso shots.

Overall, espresso-based drinks can vary greatly in taste, milk content, and preparation methods. Lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, flat whites, café au laits, and Americanos each have their unique characteristics and flavor profiles, catering to a wide range of coffee lovers' preferences.

Preparing Lattes and Cappuccinos at Home

Moka Pots

For coffee enthusiasts looking to enjoy espresso-based drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos at home without investing in an expensive espresso machine, a Moka pot is a budget-friendly option. Moka pots are stovetop coffee makers that work by forcing hot water through coffee grounds, producing a concentrated coffee similar to espresso. To prepare a latte or cappuccino using a Moka pot:

  • Grind your chosen coffee beans to a fine consistency, as this allows for better extraction
  • Fill the base of the Moka pot with water and add the coffee grounds to the filter basket
  • Place the Moka pot on the stovetop, heating it until the coffee is ready
  • Heat the milk separately in a saucepan or microwave until it reaches your desired temperature
  • For a cappuccino, froth the milk using a milk frother or by vigorously shaking it in a closed container
  • Combine the espresso-like coffee and milk to create your desired latte or cappuccino

Espresso Machines

If you're a fan of espresso-based drinks and frequently visit coffee shops to enjoy lattes and cappuccinos, investing in an espresso machine for your home might be worthwhile. These machines use high pressure to force hot water through finely ground coffee beans, creating espresso. Here are tips on how to make lattes and cappuccinos at home using an espresso machine:

  • Choose high-quality coffee beans to ensure the best flavor and aroma for your latte or cappuccino
  • Grind the coffee beans to a fine consistency for optimal extraction in the espresso machine
  • Insert the coffee grounds into the portafilter and tamp them evenly to create a tight, well-distributed coffee puck
  • Place the portafilter into the espresso machine and start the brewing process
  • Steam and froth the milk using the machine's built-in steam wand for a latte or cappuccino
    • For a latte, aim for a silky, smooth texture by introducing air into the milk while heating it
    • For a cappuccino, create a thicker, more pillowy foam by introducing more air during the steaming process
  • Pour the steamed milk into the espresso, creating your desired latte or cappuccino

Regardless of the method you choose to prepare your espresso-based drinks, remember that using freshly-ground, high-quality coffee beans, and maintaining a clean and well-maintained brewing system will result in the most flavorful and enjoyable lattes and cappuccinos.

CappuccinoLatteLatte information
Tony Barlow

Tony Barlow

Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team

Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.

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