What’s the difference? Latte vs. Cappuccino vs. Flat White

Cappuccino

A few weeks ago I started what will be a series of blog post talking about the differences between commonly confused drinks.  It happens to all of us =)  and with this growing coffee culture, we all want to feel like we have a handle on the menu items at a coffee shop.

This week I wanted to blog about Lattes vs. Cappuccinos  vs. Flat White. Growing up in Mexico City I used to order a lot of cappuccinos, or at least what I thought were cappuccinos. Once I moved to the States I quickly realized that I had been ordering lattes this whole time. My first time ordering a cappuccino in California was a bit of a shock since my order didn’t resemble what I was expecting.  Next time when I place my order I provided a bunch of  “direction” such as “add more milk” and “ less foam”. It was quickly explained to me that what I actually wanted was a latte. Once I felt I had a hang of these two drinks, enter the Flat White… Though I’ve come a long way from those early ordering days, I am pretty sure I am not the only one that is left confused as to what the difference is and why there are variations from shop to shop. So let’s break it all down:

Cappuccino: This drink item is composed of espresso shots with a little steamed milk and lots of creamy foam. A good cappuccino will feel light but solid.  A variation of this drink would be to order it “dry”, this just means espresso and foam, with little or no milk. Cappuccinos are not sweet, unlike latte I don’t see too many place offering sweet variations of this drink, that doesn’t mean you can’t order a cappuccino with a little sweetness added to it.

Latte: I  had this described to me as a “wet” cappuccino. Hold back the foam with a spoon. Pour the warm milk over the espresso. A dash of foam on top for decoration – hence the latte art trade we see today.  If you love foam you are better off ordering a cappuccino. Lattes aren’t sweet, though most people drink them plain, you can order plenty of sweet variations based on the shop or season.  

Flat White:  This is the somewhat trendy new comer to menus across the country.  This drink has been around for a bit, but you could say Starbucks made it more mainstream due to all the marketing they put behind this item being added to their menus. The drink consists of a double shot of espresso with micro-foamed milk – this means heating the milk consistently to avoid splitting froth and liquid. Due to the frothing needs, the flat white is usually served slightly colder than a cappuccino.  Flat whites are smaller than a latte and cappuccino,  usually served in cups around 160-165 ml in size.  
Hope you are feeling a bit more confident with your drink order next time you go out for coffee!

Next up: What’s the difference? Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee


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