What is the Difference Between Coffee and Cappuccino?

People often use the words cappuccino and coffee interchangeably. In reality, the two drinks are very different from each other. While coffee can easily be made at any time in your house, you cannot have a cappuccino unless you own an espresso machine. Apart from that, the two drinks vary in their tastes, caffeine content, brewing method, and other aspects.

A cappuccino is made using espresso and milk foam, while coffee is made using ordinary brewed coffee beans. Cappuccinos are much stronger than brewed coffee and have a more intense taste. While coffee (arabica coffee) originated from Southern Arabia, cappuccinos came from Italy.

What Is Cappuccino Coffee?

A cappuccino is a drink made by combining 1/3 of espresso, 1/3 of steamed milk, and 1/3 of milk foam. The espresso acts as the foundation. It can be made with a single, double, or triple shot of espresso.

Difference Between Cappuccino And Espresso

Before starting the discussion of cappuccino, it is important to know the difference between espresso and cappuccino. The most noticeable distinction between the two drinks is the milk. There isn’t any milk in an espresso. It’s simply a few ounces of black coffee made under pressure. Espresso is simply coffee with no added ingredients. Espresso is distinguished by its pure coffee color, which is dark or light brown. The drink is served in small cups and glasses and can be fairly short. 

 On the other hand, Cappuccinos are made by combining steamed milk and froth with espresso in a 1:1:1 ratio. The foundation of a cappuccino is espresso, which is then topped with hot milk and milk foam to create a creamy consistency. The cappuccino cup is larger, with layers of steamed milk and foam and smoother consistency.

Milk being added to a cup of espresso

Is Cappuccino The Same As Coffee?

No, a cappuccino is very different from coffee. A cappuccino is made from espresso. The espresso is prepared under pressure and is a very concentrated drink with a distinct taste. On the other hand, coffee can be made in a drip coffee maker or even on a stove in a saucepan. Let’s discuss some significant differences between a cappuccino and coffee.

The Differences Between Cappuccino and Coffee
  Cappuccino Coffee
Preparation Method

Made using espresso and milk in an espresso machine.

Requires a fine grind

Made using coffee grounds

Does not necessarily need a machine

Requires medium grind 

Milk And Water Addition

Requires the strict division of espresso and milk in the following quantities

⅓ espresso

⅓ steamed milk

⅓ milk foam

Any combination of milk and coffee as per your preference can be used
Caffeine Content 63 mg – 231mg per 8 oz. cup (depending on shots used) 70-140 mg per 8 oz. cup
Nutritional content

High Calories, Proteins, and Fats

Lower Calories, Protein, and Fats than a Cappuccino
History

Became popular in the United States in the 1980s.

The term ‘cappuccino’ first appeared during the 1700s.

First appeared in Austrian coffee shops in the 1700s as the ‘Kapuziner’Researchers discovered the first account of cappuccino in the 1930s

Initially found by the 9th-century Ethiopian goat-herder Kaldi

Cultivation started in Arabian Peninsula

It was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey by the 16th century. 

To Europe, coffee came in the 17th century. 

Arrived in New Amsterdam (now called New York) in the mid-1600s. 

Preparation Method

The foremost difference between coffee and cappuccino comes in the preparation method. The slight difference in preparation method is what results in a unique taste for both. 

Cappuccino Preparation

Cappuccinos are made using espresso. The espresso for cappuccino is made using finely ground roasted beans compressed into a compact shape by a machine. The grounds are first tamped to minimize air spaces. Under pressure, hot water (not boiling) is pumped through the grinds. The liquid is filtered to ensure that only the liquid and no grains or beans pass through.

Making an Espresso is complicated as compared to making a cup of coffee because you have to be careful about the doses and the pressure, or the drink will not taste as good. Cappuccinos require an extremely fine grind of espresso. It produces a very powerful and concentrated drink than regular coffee. The espresso emerges as shots from the machine (where one shot is about 1 ounce). Steamed milk and milk foam are then added to it to create a cappuccino. 

Coffee Preparation

Drip coffee is much simpler to make as it does not require espresso. It demands a medium grind of coarseness. Coffee refers to any brewed beverage made from coffee beans. Instead of an espresso machine or foaming milk, a simple drip coffee maker is all you need. Operating a coffee maker is far easier than operating an espresso machine and you can rarely go wrong.

You will need to load a paper filter with your (freshly ground) grounds and place it in the machine. When the coffee has absorbed enough water, it will travel through the filter and into a container under the dispenser, yielding two to several cups of coffee. You can prepare coffee in a saucepan on a stove as well. Several varieties of instant coffee are also available where you mix milk/water with the instant coffee, and the coffee is ready. You can also make pour-over coffee by directly pouring hot water over the grinds. 

Coffee being prepared using the pour-over method

Milk and Water Addition

One of the major differences between coffee and cappuccino comes with the milk and water addition. When making regular coffee, you customize it according to your preferences. You can add any amount of milk foam or water to it, and it will still be called coffee. However, you have to be careful in the milk and milk foam addition. A cup of cappuccino is composed of

  • 1/3 Cappuccino
  • 1/3 milk foam (on top)
  • 1/3 steamed milk

These quantities need to be followed very strictly. If you add more milk, then your drink will be called a latte. If you add a little chocolate layer, it becomes a mocha. If you skip the milk and fill the cup with hot water and espresso, then your drink is an Americano. Thus, if you want a true cappuccino, you will need to get the quantities right!

Also, a cappuccino is made using steamed milk. Thus a steam wand is very important. You do not need a steam wand to make regular coffee.

Caffeine Content

A key difference between coffee and cappuccino is the caffeine content. A cup of cappuccino contains almost the same amount of caffeine as a cup of brewed coffee. Since a cappuccino is made from espresso and milk, its caffeine content depends entirely on the espresso shot. A single shot of espresso contains 63 mg of caffeine (which can vary based on preparation). 

Thus, a cup of cappuccino made from a single shot has 63 mg of caffeine, which is less than (or almost equal to) a cup of coffee. However, a cappuccino made with two espresso shots will contain 160 mg of caffeine. If it is made with triple shots, the cappuccino will have a much higher caffeine content (231 mg) than regular coffee.

A regular 8oz. cup of coffee has approximately 95 milligrams of caffeine. This amount varies per coffee drink. According to Healthline, one cup of drip coffee (8 oz) contains between 70–140 mg of caffeine, or about 95 mg on average. Different sources have different estimates, and they are all close answers. According to Medical News Today, most 8–ounce (oz) cups of coffee contain 80–100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. 

However, the exact amount of caffeine in your drip coffee will ultimately depend on the kind of coffee. The following table will help you understand the difference in caffeine content of coffee and cappuccino in a much better manner. 

Difference In Caffeine Contents of Coffee And Cappuccinos
Drink Caffeine Content per 8 oz. coffee
Drip Coffee 70-140 mg (95 mg average)
Cappuccino 63 mg using single-shot espresso160 mg using double-shot espresso231 mg using triple shot espresso

Nutritional Facts

Coffee and cappuccino have different nutritional contents as well. Black coffee itself has very few calories. However, when milk and sugar are added, the calories will increase. Black coffee has two calories in every eight oz. Cup. However, since a cappuccino always contains milk, it contains 80 calories per 8 oz. cup.

An eight oz. cup of cappuccino contains 5.81grams of carbs, 4.08 grams of protein, and 3.98 grams of fat. Black coffee contains 0.05 grams of fat, 0.09 grams of carbs, and 0.28 grams of protein. However, coffee with cream and sugar contains 1.9 grams of fat, 12.24 grams of carbs, and 0.5 grams of protein.

The Difference in Nutritional Contents of Coffee and Cappuccino
  Black Coffee Coffee with cream and sugar Cappuccino
Calories 2 67 80
Fat 0.05 g 1.9 g 3.98 g
Carbs 0.09 g 12.24 g 5.81 g
Protein 0.28 g 0.5 g 4.08 g

History

Historically, coffee came first and all the classes came later. Therefore, an obvious difference between cappuccino and coffee is that coffee is the foundation whereas cappuccino is a branch of it. 

Cappuccino

The cappuccino only became popular in the United States in the 1980s. The coffee culture in Europe was initially based on the Turkish technique of brewing. That is, coffee was drunk without filtering it. Water and coffee beans were boiled together and poured into a cup with sugar added occasionally.

By the late 1700s, the French and British had begun to filter their ground coffee. The term ‘cappuccino’ first appeared during this period. Cappuccinos first appeared in Austrian coffee shops in the 1700s as the ‘Kapuziner.’ Although the word ‘Kapuziner’ was used in Austria (in the city of Vienna), the cappuccino was created in Italy, and the name was changed to ‘Cappuccino.’ Researchers discovered the first account of cappuccino in the 1930s.

Coffee

Legend has it that coffee was initially found by the 9th-century Ethiopian goat-herder Kaldi, according to a narrative recorded in 1671. Thus, the history of coffee is traced to Ethiopia. Proper cultivation of coffee and trade started in the Arabian Peninsula. Coffee was cultivated in the Yemeni province of Arabia by the 15th century, and it was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey by the 16th century. 

European travelers tried the drink and took stories of it back home. To Europe, coffee came in the 17th century. People all over the world were fascinated by then drinks. It arrived in New Amsterdam (now called New York) in the mid-1600s. This arrival led to the popularity of coffee in the United States. When King George III placed a hefty tax on tea (1773), coffee gained even more popularity as people used it as a tea substitute. 

Espresso, cappuccino, and other types of coffees

Do Cappuccinos Have Espresso?

Yes, a cappuccino is made using espresso. Espresso forms the base layer of a cappuccino, and it is then topped with steamed milk and milk froth.

Coffee Cappuccino Vs. Latte

We have already discussed the composition of a cappuccino. While a cappuccino has equal parts of espresso, milk, and foam, a latte has more steamed milk. A latte also has a smaller layer of foam. A latte is lighter and milkier as compared to a cappuccino. Also, a cappuccino has distinct layers of espresso, milk, and foam. A latte’s milk and foam layer are somewhat merged. A latte has a higher amount of calories, protein, and fats too.

Coffee Cappuccino Vs. Latte
  Cappuccino Latte
Composition

⅓ espresso

⅓ steamed milk

⅓ milk foam

⅓ espresso

⅔ steamed milk

Minimal milk foam

Typical Serving Size 150-180 ml 240 ml
Nutritional Content

Lower calories, proteins, and fat content than a latte.

Higher caffeine content

High amount of calories, proteins, and fats.

Conclusion

Cappuccinos may be harder to make, but they taste spectacular. Now that you know the differences between regular brewed coffee and cappuccino, you will be able to pick the right drink on your next café visit! They are both delicious drinks for an immediate caffeine boost.

Bilal Ahmad

Bilal Ahmad

A coffee enthusiast on his way to exploring more about coffee while helping others solve all their Coffee Queries!