Latte vs Traditional Coffee Types – How well do you know the difference?


Milk or no milk, coffee is coffee. If you’re not the biggest coffee afficionado, then the difference between a cappuccino and a latte might seem trivial and you’re not alone in that sentiment.

Both drinks, in this case, traditionally feature either a single or a double shot of espresso with a healthy serving of foamed and steamed milk.

But the next time you’re bayside at the cafe, you might just want to know a little more about what your drinking, who knows, maybe you’ll think to change your order! Arguably, the latte remains the worlds iconic coffee cup, a drink second only to water.

If you’re a coffee connoisseur, take that to the test, how well do you know the difference between a latte and traditional coffee types?

And as a side note, you don’t need any special equipment for these coffee types, all you need is a solid espresso machine with grinder.

What the Difference Between Coffee and Latte?

Caffe latte lies near the top of the coffee consortium, loved for its richer than americano, creamier than cappuccino and milkier than mocha. There’s a big bit of difference between traditional coffee types and lattes.

Firstly, lattes use espresso shots, which is similar to the age-old americano but not like a mocha, made by using its namesake mocha pot. And what does that mean? It means you’re guaranteed an accurately measured amount of coffee and caffeine per cup.

Limited by the size of a machines ‘coffee bed’, a latte either has 1 shot or 2 of espresso. A Turkish coffee, within its limits, can provide much more or less concentration of taste, offering up a much larger opportunity to go wrong.

Past that, you’re not going to see any traits a latte has that it doesn’t share with other coffees, and its simplicity makes it tough to pry from the pack. That isn’t to say though, that as a complete bundle, the latte is of unique taste and origin.

Regardless of its nationwide ubiquity, you might still get tripped up in the laces in a world of countless coffee concoctions. So, if you’ve never really known what differentiates it from all the others, take note!

Also see: Caffè Breve vs Latte – How well do you know the difference?


The americano is a war man’s warm-me-up. Holding its roots among American ranks in World War II, it’s a patriotic brew for the espresso lover who can’t quite cut its, at times overpowering aroma.

Just like the latte, it’s a dilution of an espresso shot. Unlike the latte though, the single shot is disseminated in water. The americano probably predates its own name seeing as it could be callously called a diluted espresso.

The water you add to the espresso isn’t steamed, frothed or creamed, making it simple, elegant and mild.

Both of these drinks are used, both historically and current day, as something to take the edge off a viscous and, to some, unbearably bitter espresso shot.

So, if that’s been your go to get me out of bed beverage, you might want to consider a switch to the lighter side of life with a latte or americano.

But what does that mean for taste and nutrition? Well, if you’re counting calories quite a lot. A latte, with its more than milky flavor, can reach upward of 200 calories per serving.

If you compare that to an americano you’ll notice the calories drop down all the way to a tiny 2.7. And though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, seeing as steamed milk has a long list of positive effects such as hindering certain disease like arthritis, you do need to make sure you don’t overindulge.

It’s also important to be mindful that inorganic milk will often be made by cows that take bovine somatropin, a hormone that ups milk production by up to 50%. Not only that, but its presence in the milk-making process makes what you drink a severe cancer risk.

Knowing your americano from your latte is step one in your coffee-cionado journey. They’re each definitely distinctive, and if you want to know which one you want at the cafe, that’s vital information!


Cappuccino vs latte, these two ancient goliaths of the coffee menu actually share their origins in the same brew. Both beginning in the sprawling vivacious Vienna coffee houses of the late 1600s. Here, they were coined “Kapuziners” and have since evolved into an iconoclast of coffee concoctions.

In their essence, these two drinks have all the same ingredients but different milk to espresso ratio. Your typical cappuccino won’t reach any more than 50% milk, making it a modest latte alternative that works wonders for the waistline.

Expect to receive a smaller portion of the stuff at your local coffee shop that packs a more powerful punch than your traditional latte. So, if you feel lulled by how mild that latte may be, then this might just be your ticket to a more invigorating brew.

Realistically, the similarities within the cappuccino vs latte debate far outweigh the differences, one can only really see those with the countless respective latte and cappuccino spin-offs on the market.

Both drinks are prone to the occasional experimentation, like sugar, hot chocolate powder or rooibos. Marketed more as a sweet treat than the latte, cappuccinos are often made into gourmet gannet material that can use chocolate milk or caramel syrup to enrich the palate.

On the other hand, you’ll often see your latte on the other end of the spectrum, speaking for health cleanse fanatics, containing special ingredients like matcha, turmeric or rooibos.

These alternatives to conformist coffee are in fact grounded in real science, and if you’d like a try, rooibos has shown to greatly benefit tissue and bone recovery, making it a super health option.

The main thing to keep in mind within the clash of cappuccino vs latte is that the latter has more milk and a larger serving size. Past that, I’ll leave you to pick your poison.


The macchiato shares none of the aesthetic fame of a cappuccino or latte, looking meagre and quite literally being titled “stained” in Italian. That said, it’s a powerful, punch-packing brew, with a simple succulent recipe.

One espresso shot and a small volume of foamed milk is all you need to make this coffee. Much less luxurious than the cappuccino vs latte debacle, this drink is for those that want to conserve the concentration and acid flavor of an espresso.

If you’ve been hesitating between cappuccinos and espresso shots, with both seeming too mild or too bitter then this might just be the way to get what you want.

With the milk in the drink being foamed, the macchiato is made of two distinct layers, maintaining the runny honey texture of your espresso while also adding a frothy topping to delight and make mild.

Milk adds a touch of sweetness to your brew, but in the case of the latte, it might just overwhelm it too. Here, you’re possibly making your perfect compromise that your coffee shop is sure to have in store.

If you’re going to want to make one of these at home, then you’re going to need to learn to froth your milk. The difference between frothed and steamed lies within how dense you want your final product.

For me, I much prefer a more voluminous and hence frothed milk. Its inability to mix with the coffee below it makes it like a cream topping vis a vis Chantilly or coffee creamer.


Caffe mocha, mocaccino, mochachino, whatever you want to call it, if you want to know your stuff, then you need to know what makes it different from a latte.

Just like the caffe latte, mocha coffee is a derivation of an espresso shot and hot milk. However, unlike the latte, your average mocha is one for sweet teeth. You’ll often find your mocha containing some sort of sweetener, whether that be cocoa powder, actual sugar or real chocolate.

And not only that, but you might also even find chocolate syrup, cinnamon, whipped cream and a myriad of other sweet pleasures. It might not be something you should have 3 cups of everyday, but it fulfils the purpose of a peppy pick-me-up perfectly.

If you need to gourmandize, then there might not be a better alternative than this drink. Keep in mind however, that the high artificial sugar diet that this might contribute to has been shown to be the prime factor for obesity on the planet.

Also, as mochas, like lattes, have a very high milk content, make sure that you either buy organic milk or a substitute like soy milk that has a variety of benefits to boast like anti-cancer properties and rather high protein content.

But don’t let that discourage you, if you take this information with a pinch of salt and your mocha with a pinch less sugar, you’ll be sure to keep your waistline in check. Moderation is at the heart of any healthy diet, and as long as you don’t overindulge, then your doctor won’t complain.

Though your latte might have a bit of sugar too, that’s the main difference between it and the mocha. So, the next time you order a latte hoping secretly from something sweet toothed, you might just want to bite the bullet and order mocha.

What makes the perfect Latte?

Lattes are known for their creamy and rich yet mild forgiving taste. The secret to the perfect one only really lies in its own simplicity. Its literal translation is “milk” from Italian, containing much more of the stuff than a bitterer cappuccino.

Most importantly, the perfect latte does not need a perfect preparer and that’s probably why they’re America’s favorite. The steps are simple, prepare one espresso shot while you steam milk in a saucer.

There’s lots of ways you can go about getting steamed milk, the first of which being buying your brew premade. If you’re edging towards a homemade job, then you’ll either need a creamer extension or machine.

For those that appreciate the artisanal elegance of making your latte from scratch, you can opt for either an automated creamer or a custom saucer lid. Automated creamers have the benefit of making you something fast and well, they might cost a pretty penny, but believe me, it’s well worth it.

And if you’ve got worker’s hands that want to build your brew from the grounds up with no shortcuts, then you might still want to get a steamer extension for your steamed milk.

This extension, though optional, helps your milk froth and steam much more evenly, producing a lighter, higher volume final product to top your latte treat! And now, all you’ve got left to do once your milk is frothy is get your brown to white proportions right.

This part is often overlooked but incredibly crucial. You don’t want to under-milk your mug, that’s going to leave you with a harsher and more bitter cappuccino. The ideal ratio should be about 2 thirds steamed milk and 1 third espresso, an amount you can experiment with to your own liking if needed.

The cappuccino vs latte debate is a rather raging one online and so keeping this in mind might gain you a good bit of respect.

Now, that’s all well and good, but I’ll admit, tradition can be trying, and you might just be in the market for a sprucier spirited coffee. And that’s where the spin-offs might just peak your fancy.

If you’re one for health cleanses and an earthy, almost musky palate, then you’ve got a turmeric latte to try. This nicknamed golden latte use, espresso and nut milk, a more fat-free alternative to cow’s milk, combined with turmeric, a bitter black pepper-like curry component.

Studies have shown the turmeric within this coffee latte can help relieve inflammation and congestion!

However, the additional health benefits that a turmeric latte may have, have been contested in studies such as Garg and colleagues where claims that it may against inflammation seemed unfounded.

So, did you get all that? Or, at least, did you have all that before? If you knew these differences prior to your coffee blog consumption, then I can certify you really have your brews down to a T.

Either way, next time you walk into that bayside cafe, you’ll come prepared, with knowledge half your baristas won’t even know themselves.

Whether you like your espresso with a mound, or a mild amount of milk, you’ve got the comprehensive list you need to suit your fancy. Up your coffee game today and take control of the brew brouhaha that is a coffee menu.

home > Perfect your Brew > Latte vs Traditional Coffee Types – How well do you know the difference?

Evelyn J Stafford

Evelyn is a Coffee enthusiast and writer for Wins Coffee Bar. Her work has appeared in Bean Scene, The Home Kitchen and other publications.

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