Amanda Norcross • August 26, 2021
Of all the specialty coffee drinks, cappuccino feels extra-special, doesn’t it? You might order a drip coffee or latte on a random Tuesday and brew a slow pour-over on a Saturday morning. But cappuccino is the drink you reserve for a special occasion, such as a birthday dinner or vacation.
What’s so special about a cappuccino, though? Does it have more caffeine than a regular cup of coffee? Read on to find out.
The correct pronunciation is ka-puh-CHEE-noh, with an emphasis on the “cci” (CHEE) at the end of the word.
Cappuccino is espresso topped with an even layer of steamed milk and milk foam. The popular beverage, which originated in Italy, sometimes comes in variations with cream (instead of milk) and flavoring, such as chocolate powder or syrup (a mocha cappuccino). Traditionally, it’s a 6-ounce drink.
The cappuccino has three layers: espresso, steamed milk, and steamed milk foam. It is not mixed. A latte has more milk, which is mixed into the drink, and less steamed milk foam.
Here’s another way to think about it: The latte is basically the starting point for all milk drinks, since it’s milk and espresso. When you modify it with factors like the quantity of foam (cappuccino) or temperature (cortado), it becomes a different drink.
In terms of caffeine, the content is pretty much the same for both drinks. However, cappuccino may taste stronger than a latte since it has less milk and because the milk isn’t mixed into the espresso.
Macchiato has a shot or two of espresso, just like cappuccino. The difference is a macchiato comes with less milk—just a splash. The caffeine content is similar for both a cappuccino and a macchiato.
Since cappuccino is an espresso-based drink and a double shot of espresso has less caffeine than a cup of coffee, it’s not likely that cappuccino is stronger than coffee. Of courfse, this can vary based on where you order it and the type of coffee that’s used.
Want to try making your own cappuccino at home? Follow this three-step recipe.
You’ll need an espresso machine with a steam wand or an espresso machine AND handheld milk frother. Don’t own an espresso machine just yet? These are our recommendations for espresso machines, all of which have built-in steam wands.
Whole milk works best. But if you’re looking for a plant-based alternative, try oat milk, which has a similarly thick consistency. We always recommend Oatly, Pacific Foods and Minor Figures.
Any coffee will work for espresso, but these coffees are especially good for cappuccino.
Pull a shot with your espresso machine using these step-by-step directions.
Next, steam your milk by holding your espresso machine steam wand just below the surface of the milk. You'll know that your milk is ready to pour when your pitcher or cup is too hot to touch for more than two seconds.
If you're in the mood for a chocolate cappuccino, simply sprinkle some chocolate powder or syrup on top of your drink. Alternatively, you can start with the chocolate, adding a teaspoon or two to the bottom of your mug before pouring the espresso and steamed milk foam over top.