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Starbucks Drink Guide: Cappuccinos

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I've been a Starbucks barista for over 10 years, and I love sharing my coffee knowledge with anyone who will listen.

starbucks-drink-guide-cappuccinos

As a barista at Starbucks, my favorite part of my job is making drinks and helping customers find a beverage that satisfies them. I love answering questions from customers who are genuinely interested in learning about what I do. I've taken to writing a series of Starbucks drink guides for anyone who's interested in learning more about what we offer.

In the previous part of my guide, I addressed a beverage that often gets confused for the cappuccino—the latte. If you're completely new to the Starbucks experience, I recommend starting off by checking out the first part of my guide, which covers the basics like sizes and terminology.

In this installment of my drink guide, I'll be talking about cappuccinos.

Here's an example of a dry cappuccino. The line of separation at the bottom shows where the foam ends and the milk begins.

Here's an example of a dry cappuccino. The line of separation at the bottom shows where the foam ends and the milk begins.

The Recipe

By Starbucks definition, a cappuccino is mostly milk foam, which weighs a lot less than milk. For an average cappuccino, the cup feels about half-full, so if you order one, expect it to feel light when you pick it up.

More specifically, a cappuccino is made up of shots of espresso, half steamed milk (2% by default,) and half milk foam. I talked a bit more about milk foam in my latte guide, but the simplest definition is that it's created by aerating milk, which is part of the steaming process.

The amount of shots of espresso in a cappuccino is the standard amount—the same that goes into a latte.

Although a regular cappuccino is not sweetened or flavored by default, you can add any of the Starbucks syrups you'd like, however, this is where the recipe again deviates from that of the latte. Listed below are how many pumps of syrup per size; it's one less than the standard.

According to Starbucks standards, the consistency of properly steamed foam should be like freshly fallen snow.

According to Starbucks standards, the consistency of properly steamed foam should be like freshly fallen snow.

SizeShots of EspressoPumps of Syrup

Short - hot only (8oz)

1

1

Tall (12oz)

1

2

Grande (16oz)

2

3

Venti - hot (20oz)

2

4

Venti - iced (24oz)

3

5

An example of an Iced Cocoa Cappuccino - a limited edition drink that can still be made in the store with Mocha syrup and Mocha Drizzle or Chocolate Powder.

An example of an Iced Cocoa Cappuccino - a limited edition drink that can still be made in the store with Mocha syrup and Mocha Drizzle or Chocolate Powder.

The Iced Version

There is an iced version of the cappuccino, which has been on and off the Starbucks menu a couple of times. In an iced cappuccino, milk is added first, then shots of espresso, then ice. Finally, the drink is topped with steamed milk foam. As milk is considered a potentially hazardous item in the food service world, it is generally advised not to mix steamed and cold milk or steamed milk with ice. However, the actual dangers in an iced cappuccino aren't really that terrible. I would only recommend someone at high risk to avoid this drink (i.e., if you are pregnant or have a chronic illness.)

That being said, the iced cappuccino is one of my top three favorite Starbucks beverages, but it's not for everyone. The combination of hot foam and ice is something I find very pleasing, and I recommend sipping this drink without a straw to get the full effect if you're adventurous enough to try it. When I order it, I usually add a syrup to it because I prefer my beverages a little on the sweet side.

Another Iced Cocoa Cappuccino. It's harder to see the separation in this picture.

Another Iced Cocoa Cappuccino. It's harder to see the separation in this picture.

Personalizing Your Cappuccino

The cappuccino can be customized every bit as much as a latte. In my previous guide, I went into great detail about what Starbucks offers to give your drink your own personal touch. I'll list some of the options below, but please check out my latte guide if you'd like more information.

First, though, I'd like to talk about two Starbucks terms that apply only to cappuccinos: wet and dry.

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The words wet and dry in Starbucks land refer to exactly how much foam is in your cappuccino; a wet cappuccino has more milk and less foam, while a dry one is the opposite with more foam and less milk. Ordering an extra-dry cappuccino will get you a cup of espresso and foam with just a splash of milk. There's no such thing as an extra-wet, light foam or no foam cappuccino—these are all phrases that would refer to a latte.

Milk:

  • Nonfat/Skim
  • 1%
  • 2%
  • Whole
  • Breve
  • Heavy Cream
  • Soy (vanilla)
  • Eggnog (seasonal)

Sweeteners:

  • Sugar
  • Splenda
  • Sweet 'N Low
  • Equal
  • Raw Sugar
  • Honey

Flavors:

  • Vanilla (available sugar-free)
  • Caramel (available sugar-free)
  • Cinnamon Dolce (available sugar-free)
  • Hazelnut (available sugar-free)
  • Toffee Nut
  • Peppermint (available sugar-free)
  • Raspberry
  • Classic (basically liquid sugar)
  • Mocha (available sugar-free)
  • White Mocha
  • Gingerbread (seasonal)
  • Caramel Brulee (seasonal)
  • Pumpkin Spice (seasonal)
  • Flan (seasonal)
  • Peach (seasonal)
  • Blackberry (seasonal)

Toppings:

  • Cinnamon Powder
  • Chocolate Powder
  • Vanilla Powder
  • Cinnamon Dolce Powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Caramel Drizzle
  • Chocolate Drizzle
  • Molasses Drizzle (seasonal)
  • Whipped Cream
  • Chocolate Whipped Cream (seasonal)
  • Caramel Whipped Cream (seasonal)
  • Marshmallow Whipped Cream (seasonal)
  • Chocolate Curls (seasonal)
  • Graham Cracker Crumbs (seasonal)
  • Sea Salt (seasonal)
  • Caramel Brulee Candy (seasonal)

Review

A gas station cappuccino and a Starbucks cappuccino have literally nothing in common. Here's the quick facts on the Starbucks version:

  • A standard cappuccino is half steamed milk and half milk foam.
  • A dry cappuccino has more foam and less milk.
  • A wet cappuccino has more milk and less foam.
  • There is one pump less of syrup in a flavored cappuccino than in a flavored latte.
  • The amount of espresso in a cappuccino is the same as in a latte.
starbucks-drink-guide-cappuccinos

Questions & Answers

Question: Where does the sugar in a cappuccino come from?

Answer: The sugar comes from the milk.

Question: What is the difference between a wet and dry cappuccino?

Answer: A wet cappuccino has more milk and less foam than a dry cappuccino, so dry means heavy on the foam. A wet cappuccino is close to a latte but still has more foam than a latte.

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