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



I was standing in line at Starbucks recently vacillating between a cappuccino or a latte, and then I saw a new drink, the flat white. I had read a blurb about Starbucks introducing this new menu item but I didn’t know much about it, and then here it was on the menu.

I wasn’t even 100% sure of the difference between my first two choices, and now I had another. A handy chalkboard easel next to the counter gave me the quick 411 on the difference between the multitude of espresso + milk beverages, and I thought I would share. There is a lot more information that exists on the nuances of how to make each of these coffee drinks – their country of origin, when to drink them, and how they should be served (i.e., in what type of cup)…. For this post, I simply wanted to share some very rudimentary quick insight: basically, each beverage begins with a shot of espresso and differs in the amount and type of milk that is added. Here’s a cheat sheet:

  • Latte: Espresso + steamed milk + light layer of foam on top
  • Cappuccino: Espresso + little steamed milk + lots of foam on top
  • Flat White: Espresso (2 ristretto shots which deliver a richer, sweeter flavor) + steamed milk + micro dollop of foam
  • Macchiato: Espresso shot with a small spoonful of steamed milk
  • Americano: Espresso with hot water poured over the top.


– Kristi

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