What is a “true” cappuccino?

What’s the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?

Least informed answer: They’re the same thing.

Somewhat informed answer (and the most common): Well, a cappuccino is a latte with more foamed milk on the top. It’s a little bit frothier.

Actual answer: A cappuccino is a drink of three equal parts espresso, milk, and foam. Since a regular double shot is 2 oz., a true cappuccino must be 6 oz. total. (Though I’ve had a few people tell me it could be closer to 7 oz. if you want to be picky.)

So there really isn’t such a thing as a 16 oz. cappuccino. That really would be just a latte with extra foam.

Some people refer to a “wet” or “dry” cappuccino. This is just an adjustment of the milk/foam ratio. A wet cappuccino has more milk, less foam. It’s inching closer to being a latte. A dry cappuccino has more foam, less milk. The coffee is less diluted and is closer to a macchiato.

To your average Starbucks fan, a true cappuccino would be WAY to strong.

“Macchiato” has an even more problematic definition than “cappuccino”. I’ll deal with it later.

Now, I should probably cite my sources for all of this. However, this is a blog, not a scholarly journal, so to heck with it!

From Wikipedia:

Attaining the correct ratio of foam requires close attention be paid while steaming the milk, thus making the cappuccino one of the most difficult espresso-based beverages to make properly.

Very true!

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