Cappuccino Vs Coffee (Differences + Which To Pick?)

Coffee is the staple of the morning beverage. It’s a great way to get our caffeine kick, but it can be difficult to choose with so many different options around. Of course, we already know of the vast milky coffees available to us, but when you’re just looking for a simple ‘coffee,’ which should you choose?  

In this guide, we will look at the differences in cappuccino vs. coffee and which option is best for you.  

A cappuccino is a common milk coffee that you’ll find in many cafés. It's made up of a 1:1:1 ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The design is simple, but it can take a while to perfect. Most coffee shops will offer a light sprinkle of chocolate on top. 

cappuccino diagram

Different variants include over ice, a ‘wet’ cappuccino with less foam, or ‘dry’ with more foam. A cappuccino is exclusively a morning drink in Italy – because of the milk’s fat content, it’s considered too heavy for the evening. They tend to drink espressos later in the day for energy boosts.   

The cappuccino emerged into the coffee scene from Vienna and Italy in the 1800s as an alternative to the harsh espresso. The word is believed to originate from the coffee's resemblance to capuchin monk's hoods. For those who like strong coffee but with a softer and smoother taste, the cappuccino is an excellent choice. 


What Is Coffee? (Overview & How Is It Made?) 

Coffee is an umbrella term and is much simpler than a cappuccino. It comes in different varieties; from a drip machine, percolator, Chemex, French press, instant, the options are endless! Most Americans are familiar with drip coffee or instant. This is freeze-dried beforehand to be prepared instantly with hot water.  

Essentially, anything that isn't espresso based comes under coffee. It's usually brewed in a large quantity instead of one shot. In a café, the filtered coffee would be this option. It comes with or without milk, and in cold brew.  

coffee being poured

Coffee has been linked to originating in Ethiopia by a goat herder. He noticed that his goats were more alert and active when they ate coffee cherries and so used them to make a drink. Brewed coffee itself comes from the early 1800s when Europeans began to experiment with different ways to enjoy coffee. 


Cappuccino Vs Coffee: Main Differences Explained 

A cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee – it differs significantly from other brewing methods. Brewed coffee can't make a cappuccino as well, because it won't be as strong as is needed. Two other differences include: 

Ingredients 

The coffee/milk ratio is vastly different in a cappuccino. It has a strict method to follow. A coffee can have any volume of milk – depending on your preferences. Coffee uses more grounds than espressos to ensure full, rich flavors. 

Preparation 

Espresso-based drinks extract for 30 seconds approximately for maximum flavors and aromas. Brewing coffee takes up to 3 – 5 minutes to fully extract the flavors from the grounds.  

Other differences are listed below: 


Cappuccino 

Coffee 

Image 

cappuccino coffee blue mug
black mug coffee on wood table

Variations 

Can come as a dry cappuccino or wet. Dry has more foam content, and wet has more milk. 

Very little variation, but your brew will differ depending on the roast you use; a light roast is sweeter, a dark roast is nuttier. 

Caffeine 

An average cappuccino will have 60 – 130mg of caffeine or about 100mg at the standard. 

Coffee varies depending on the method. Average brewed coffee has a range of 70 – 140mg of caffeine. 

Taste 

Milk blended with the espresso will have a more subtle coffee flavor – not as punchy as coffee. 

Bold, strong flavors depending on the roast. Not as bitter as an espresso. 

Convenience

Can be time consuming to make alone, but a barista can make it in minutes. 

Roughly takes up to 5 minutes to brew, plus any extras to include. In a coffee shop, it will already be brewed. 

Milk/Coffee Ratio 

Cappuccino has a 2:1 ratio of steamed and foamed milk, and 1/3 espresso. 

Has less milk – generally, a splash of milk is added to the top rather than the main ingredient. 

Health 

Because of milk content, it is slightly unhealthier than coffee. 

Slightly healthier than cappuccino, as there’s little to no fat content. 


How To Make Coffees & Cappuccinos At Home 

Making coffees at home is relatively simple; if you have the equipment (a Chemex, French press, percolator, etc.), then you should be able to make a brewed coffee with no problem.  

For tips on a coffee at home, see the table below: 

Type 

Brewing 

Taste 

Image 

French Press 

Use hot, not boiling, water. Try using filtered water to remove any sediment from your brew.

Flavorful, rich and strong aromas thanks to no filter. 

french press coffee machine

Percolator 

Use coarse grounds in the basket for no remains in your drink. Brew for 6 to 10 minutes. 

Very strong, bold and bitter flavor. Extra kick for the day. 

percolator coffee machine

AeroPress

Wet the filter beforehand for best filter use. Agitate the grounds before plunging to enhance flavor. 

Softer, less bitter flavors. Retains less of the oils from the ground. 

Aeropress being weighed

Chemex 

Wait for grounds to bloom before pouring more water. Pour evenly to catch all grounds. 

Rich, full-bodied coffee. Less bitter flavors from oils caught in filter.  

Chemex Coffee

A cappuccino can be difficult at home, but if you have an espresso machine with a steam arm, you’re golden. The best cappuccino is 1:1:1 foam, milk, and coffee. When steaming, fill your jug 1/3 with milk, and steam it up another 1/3. 

It’s possible to do without a steam arm, follow these steps below: 

  • Simmer your milk on a stovetop until bubbles form.  
  • Use an electric mixer – whisk towards the surface for better foam.  
  • Use a drip method of coffee for best taste, but you can use pour over or instant.  
  • Pour milk over coffee, making sure the foam sits on the top. Enjoy! 

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Which time of day is best for cappuccinos vs. coffees? 

A cappuccino is drunk exclusively in the morning in Italy. The fat content is too much for the afternoon or evening meals. Coffee is better for the afternoon for a quick boost.  

How does a cappuccino differ from a latte? 

A cappuccino has a ratio of 1:1:1 foam, milk, and coffee. A latte has steamed milk, but the foam sits at the very top. It's mostly steamed milk and with less espresso. 

Is an espresso healthier than pour over coffee? 

An espresso is considered healthier than a coffee because the natural oils are retained in the extraction process. Of course, this could also raise your cholesterol, but it will be significantly less than a French press, for example.  


Conclusion

Cappuccinos and coffees are relatively the same. But in terms of cappuccinos vs. coffees, the time you drink them and their methods are very different. Cappuccinos are better for mornings to keep you tied over until midday. Cappuccinos can be difficult to master for a novice, but a little elbow grease and practice can't hurt! Whatever you choose, you'll get full bodied, fresh and bold coffee each time in your cup of joe.