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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

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.


Greg on May 30, 2017:

My goodness. So much misinformation.

H on January 15, 2016:

I think coffee is not the second most drink beverage after water. It is tea.

sailasa. on July 13, 2015:

Thanx this greatly helps with my job.Add Your Comment...

Else@coffe on December 10, 2013:

Machiatto is expresso with milk froth not milk.

Doppio the best coffee for keeping someone awake.

Mochachocashake also good to awake and cool someone

jay on September 17, 2013:

Darker roasts have less caffeine. The only reason espresso packs a caffeine punch is because it is more concentrated than regular brewed coffee

Gizmo on May 30, 2013:

Macchiatto means "marked" and you pour the shot down the center of the steamed milk leaving a dark "mark" in the center of the velvety milk

Kristen Mazzola from South Florida on April 16, 2013:

Well done with the breakdown of the different types of coffee! I didn’t know the difference until I started working at a restaurant that served all of the different types and I had to learn how to make them, it was quite difficult to say the least! Voted up!

cazadore02 on October 29, 2012:

I never finished reading the article as there was blatant misinformation right from the start. As someone who used to roast coffee for a living, the darker the roast, the LESS CAFFEINE there is in the coffee. It may TASTE stronger because of the darker roast, but the caffeine content is actually less than a lighter roast.

Stonefly on October 17, 2012:

Your grammar is special. If you're going for an article that comes across as refined and learned, make sure you understand how to use the word "whom". That said, thanks for the clarification.

Nannina on October 10, 2012:

Darker the roast the less caffeine as the roasting process degrades the caffeine. Also if you ask the barista multiple times to make the drink hotter, and then ask for a new one because the milk is scalded you might not get the most cheery reply. Most really good places don't make the milk super hot because you should be able to drink your latte right away, the longer it sits cooling the less good it will taste.

Aileen on July 09, 2012:

Hmm... Steamed milk should be 70 degrees, NOT 120-160 degrees. That's too hot! And you never use boiling water for Long Black, just around 96 degrees

muneeba on May 14, 2012:

This was a very useful guid, thank you vey much I now know little hints and tips and tricks when ordering aa coffee next time. The pictures are good too

Joe on May 10, 2012:

You mean 'crema' not creamer on your long black, right? Long black is known as an Americano in the U.S.

FacePalm on May 02, 2012:

So many errors and so much misinformation. You must be in Australia.

Aravinth on March 30, 2012:

Very useful information are available in your page....

Nik on July 06, 2011:

Hey thanks for the information. This really helps people like me understand coffee better. Now we can take more informed decisions when we order our next coffee..

Spud on June 16, 2011:

Really handy guide, thanks!

Kate on September 01, 2010:

Hello (from France)

Thanks a lot for your explanation.

Yesterday, i was drinking my first macchiato, and i was wondering "what hell is the difference between a macchiato, a cappuccino and a moccacino" (in french of course ;o) ) and here is the answer !

I'll be able to tell everybody and i'll do as if i was a coffee "connoisseur" ! ;-)


Les on August 11, 2010:

Thanks for Info has helped me with my

New coffee Machine.

morgan on March 28, 2010:

lol i also needed this. thanks mas very informative

Duchess OBlunt on January 05, 2010:

Great information and very detailed. My head actually feels like it is spinning! Who knew? Good hub

marcel285 (author) from New Zealand on December 19, 2009:

Lol thanks. It can be pretty confusing just to buy a cup of coffee these days!

rkhyclak from Ohio on December 19, 2009:

Thank you! Your title is exactly what goes through my head when I hear people talking about Starbucks or any other coffee cafe. I feel not so dumb, now!

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