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Cappuccino, Mochaccino, Latte: What's the Difference?

Marcel lives in New Zealand, where she enjoys the cafe culture.

Cappuccinos, lattes, mochaccinos, macchiatos . . . what the heck are the differences? Let's break it down.

  • Cappuccino: Equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The steamed milk and foam can be either poured on spooned on top of the espresso. Some cafes sprinkle cinnamon or chocolate powder on top for garnish. Cappuccinos are for people who like a medium-strong cup of milky coffee.
  • Latte: Espresso and steamed milk served in a tall glass, often with a bit of foam on top. Because these are served in taller glasses, this drink contains more steamed milk than a flat white does. Lattes are for people who enjoy a smooth, milky coffee.
  • Mochaccino: Hybrid between a mocha and a cappuccino. Basically, it's a cappuccino that's made with chocolate powder or sauce. Perfect for the chocoholic who likes a foamy mocha!
  • Flat White: One-third espresso, two-thirds steamed milk, and a very thin, flat layer of foam on top. Flat whites are for people who like a standard white coffee.
  • Long Black: Double shot of espresso poured over boiling water, forming a crema. This drink is popular in Australia and New Zealand. It is similar to the americano in the United States, although the preparation is different. For an americano, the espresso goes in first, and the boiling water is poured over it.
  • Short Black: Single shot of espresso, often served with a small cup of hot water on the side.
  • Macchiato: Single shot of espresso with a dollop of foam on top. Macchiato means "spotted" or "stained." For this drink, the foam is "staining" the espresso.
  • Chai Latte: This drink doesn't actually involve any coffee at all. Instead, chai syrup is combined with steamed milk. Chai syrup is made by brewing black tea with spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between a single shot and a double shot?

Cafes have different standards in terms of how many shots of espresso extract they use for their espresso drinks. Typically, they will use either a single shot (1 ounce) or a double shot (2 ounces). Ask the person at the counter when you order your coffee if they use a single- or double-shot standard. If you prefer a different number of shots in your drink, you can make that request.

  • Single shot = 1 ounce = 30 ml
  • Double shot = 2 ounces = 60 ml
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What temperature should the steamed milk be?

If your drink contains steamed milk, the milk should be steamed to a temperature of 140–150 degrees. If the milk is under-heated, your coffee won't be hot enough—and you don't want to pay $4 for a tepid coffee! If you like the taste of the coffee at a cafe that doesn't serve it hot enough, ask them to make it hotter. If they refuse to, or if the cafe isn't that great anyway, try somewhere else.

How can I tell if my coffee is burnt?

If you ever detect a bitter, slightly caramelized taste to your coffee, the milk may be burnt. If this happens, you can ask for it to be made again. The cafe should be more than willing to make you a new drink; if not, I'd recommend that you don't return to that particular shop. I believe cafes should care about the quality of the drinks they make—and about providing good customer service.

What flavours are common for espresso drinks?

There are many tasty flavoured syrups that can be added to your coffee beverage. Some of the most common ones include caramel, chocolate, hazelnut, coconut, Irish cream, white chocolate, vanilla, and mint.

How do the baristas draw those beautiful designs in the foam?

I know, isn't it amazing what they can do? It's all in the technique of the pour, as the video below demonstrates.

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