Created for Coffee Lovers.

What is Cappuccino?

Cappuccino is a frothy drink with a creamy top, milky middle, and full-bodied brew at the bottom. You can choose to stir the cup, but it will not serve its purpose. Coffee places can serve it with a delicious double espresso, but that doesn’t mean that you will serve it in a large mug. If you wonder, “what is a cappuccino?” and how it differs from the other roasted bean based beverages, here’s a simple answer. The real beauty of the beverage comes from the flavors. It provides the backdrop and support for a strong coffee espresso taste.

Cappuccino Definition

The number of cafes in the US has increased since 1990, with physical stores growing in size along with the number of beverages on the menu. But in the hopes of attracting a broader market, bars made the shotgun approach and offered different flavors of coffee. It’s part of their goal to make it a hit to many coffee enthusiasts. They’ve been guilty of creating other brand names and made new terms for established brews. It’s a good thing because people can differentiate the differences between them, and it takes this single blog to discuss everything you need to know about it. An Italian would enjoy a fresh cup at home but would order an espresso at the neighborhood cafe first thing in the morning.

What Does Cappuccino Mean

Cappuccino has spread in Europe, Australia, and North America in recent years. This day, cappuccinos are also common in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, and many other unexpected countries.

In Italy, cappuccinos are incredibly popular. Italians drink it early in the day as a beverage to enjoy with breakfast or mid-morning. Whereas Americans usually drink cappuccinos any time of the day and relish them as an after-meal drink.

How Did Cappuccino Get Its Name?

What does cappuccino mean? Cappuccino is an Italian word for a hood, It references Dante's Inferno, which describes doomed hypocrites endlessly trailing their heavy robes, with low hoods, or "Cappucci bassi," over their eyes.

The Cappuccini or Capuchin friars started in the 16th century as a reform movement against Franciscans, calling for a return to their founder's hard and simple life. Friars are roughly dressed and bearded. They got their name from children who shouted "scappuccini" at them in the streets, which means without hoods. The reformers were named Cappuccini in 1535, and they do have hoods.

Today, there are around 11,000 Capuchins in the whole world. Their brown tunics can be where Capuchin monkeys got their name, wherein some of them have brown coats translated to cups of brown instead of black coffee. It was lightened using milk, cream, or even egg.

In the 1930s, Italians used cappuccino to refer to coffee. At the same time, German called their coffee "Kapuziner." Other references to the origin of the term are Marco d'Aviano, a Capuchin and known confidant of Austrian Emperor Leopold I, during the 1680s. In Vienna, the first coffee shops used the term Kapuziner although this was not recorded till later. One piece of evidence is the recipe for "Capuzinerkaffee" by German "Wilhelm Tissot." His 1790 recipe was notable, for he boiled the coffee, then added sugar, spices, and boiled them again before pouring it over egg whites and yolks while whisking. In 19th and 20th century Vienna, Kapuziner meant coffee added with a little milk.

Although Italians accepted the idea of Germans applying the word to their coffee, they insist that cappuccino is an Italian drink. Modern cappuccino is the result of the development of 20th-century machines that make espresso. It heats and foam milk, and for those Italians are to thank for.

In Italy, Cappuccini is mostly served to children due to the amount of milk it contains. Cappuccino is more milk than espresso; for the same reason, very milky tea is served to children in some parts of Europe and India.

"Cappuccinos" Abroad

As the cappuccino spread from Italy to all over the world, its meaning didn't change. Its popularity led many convenience stores and cafes to serve their versions but is related to the original taste of Italian cappuccino. Cappuccinos are prepared through a dispensing machine, which can also make hot chocolate and other hot drinks. Some coffee drinkers use brewed coffee instead of espresso or whip a mixture of powdered espresso-milk. Hence, so many coffee companies strive to create great and authentic cappuccinos abroad. Somehow, the quality of cappuccinos elsewhere has improved immensely in the last decade.

Drink before 10:00 am?

It is the habit of Italians not to have cappuccinos after 10:00 am. They believe that the brew’s milk content would be too heavy to drink past mid-morning. Instead, they served it after breakfast. An Italian would only consume it before lunch or with a mid-morning snack.

With all the confusion from names and offerings, a simple cup of warm beverage has become uncertain. Outside of Italy, cafes offer espresso drinks in small to large servings. Others serve the beverage in larger mugs. Worst is, the coffee shop might not even know the difference between cappuccinos, a shot of espresso or a caffè latte.

People are confused about what exactly is served to them. Some customers believe that they are still getting the old way version of these coffee mixes. And others mistakenly believe that if one coffee comes from a famous coffee shop, they are correctly created.

Unfortunately, there is confusion between how this Italian coffee is served and how it should be served. Italians serve coffee with tradition and respect. You can serve espresso any time of the day, but you cannot order for other types starting in the afternoon.

The concept behind this beverage is easy to understand but complicated in practice. Sometimes, it takes a professional and expert barista to create a perfect mixture. It is also vital not to order this foamy brew near lunchtime. As the menu suggests, this beverage is one-third hot and steamed milk, one-third frothy foam, and one-third espresso.

What exactly is a cappuccino? The Ingredients

It has only three ingredients. If you correctly made an espresso, the creation of this coffee concoction  is not hard at all. Here are the ingredients.

  • One part espresso shot.
  • One part steamed milk
  • one part of frothed milk.

That's the only three you need to prepare to create this beverage. It requires a one-to-one-to-one ratio of the ingredients above. It would help if you also had a warm cup or mug.

The Fundamentals​

In creating a fresh cup, you need to create espresso first. An espresso machine can help you with that. It will make the espresso easy to prepare and have that exact amount of flavorful shot of coffee. Here's how to make an espresso shot, and you can use any of the best espresso machines today to correctly do it.

  • Finely ground the coffee beans or grains first by tamping it down on the espresso machine holder.
  • Water will be forced through coffee grounds using high pressure.
  • The pressure will evenly penetrate the coffee grounds.
  • The result will give you a coffee syrup with a fair volume of solids.
  • The fluid from the extraction is thick and adds a surface layer of foam for more complex taste and flavor.

To define espresso, it is not the beverage itself but a brewing method. It results in concentrated beverages with a strong aroma and bold flavor. Some believe that it has a higher content of caffeine when compared to regular brewed coffee. But it's not true at all. The traditional espresso has only 120 to 170 mg caffeine. And the steady drip of coffee has 150 to 200 mg caffeine. However, espresso is less than half the volume of a regular cup of coffee.

After you extract the espresso, steamed or hot milk is added on top of it, then a frothed milk of the same volume follows.

With cappuccino, it is served on a 120 to 170 ml preheated bowl-shaped cup or mug. At the top of it is a foamed hot milk with a 2 cm thick layer of milk foam. Creating the right ratio of foam and the other ingredients makes it complicated to prepare. A barista is required to complete a latte art of forming patterns on top of the beverage.

The basic description of  this brew is to top it with espresso and milk and foam too. But there are other types of it, and some use a different version. It depends on where you are precisely in the world. Because of the different preferences and cultural differences, cappuccinos have another way of preparation. It varies from one country to another.

Common variations use chocolate or cinnamon powder on top of the foam. Less common but also a treat, is the use of French vanilla to the cappuccino recipe.

Cappuccino Fundamentals

What is the difference between a Latte and a Cappucchino?​

Take note that cappuccino is far different from the latte. The latter is less demanding to do. It is a larger beverage and consists of a single hit of espresso and more milk. The foam can be more or less and depends on your desire. It is also served in a larger cup or mug.

Other beverages that are similar to cappuccino are:

  • Latte. Larger to do than a cappuccino. Latte is made with a one-shot of espresso but more milk. The amount of foam varies between cups and coffee shops.
  • Macchiato. It's a shorter beverage than a cappuccino made with one shot of espresso and less milk.
  • Cortado. This beverage came from Spain. It is a slightly shorter beverage. The milk varies from an equal one-to-one ratio with that of the espresso, or up to two-to-one. The foam is not needed on top. It uses fresh milk, while others use condensed milk.
  • Flat White. The flat white is a cross between latte and cappuccino, but with no foam on the top or middle like the most latte. It is a well-known beverage in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Cafe mocha. It is similar to a latte with an espresso base and hot milk. Chocolate flavoring is added along with a sweetener. Variations stem from cocoa powder, or chocolate syrup, while others use dark or milk chocolate for a thick consistency.
  • Cold beverages. Cold or iced variations of the above brews either have cold milk or ice added. Recipes with a scoop of ice cream are also typical.

Is Cappuccino stronger than latte?​

Due to the difference in espresso to milk and cream ratio, the resulting brew is more robust than a Latte. Regardless of the recipe, country, or the beverage's size, Cappuccinos have a strong coffee base and a thick creamy consistency.

What is a cappuccino vs Coffee?​

Keypoints about Cappuccino vs Coffee

Serving coffee with milk or with cream is a far cry from a Cappuccino. For starters, the espresso base has a different and bolder flavor profile than plain brewed coffee. Coffee itself does not have the requisite crema of espresso. 

Fresh brew with cream also does not have the texture and complexity of steamed and frothy milk. It is a creamy combination that is light, flavorful, and adds texture to the brew. In contrast, milk or cream added to coffee has a single flat dimension.

Different Common Cup Sizes​

Traditionally, this caffeine-based beverage is served in 120 ml to 180 ml cups or mugs. They have a different serving option in the US or any American cafes up to 600 ml.


Many would still ask you what a cappuccino is. And based on the explanation above, it is safe to answer them that this drink is an espresso-based beverage. It has a crisp and defined layering of steamed and frothy milk. It provides the espresso with a unique backdrop to easily differentiate the flavor profile. For this drink to be perfect, it needs a skilled and professional barista aside from the fact that you need an espresso machine. There should be a one-to-one-to-one balance of steamed milk to frothy foam and espresso. That perfection is only a skillful barista can do.

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