Espresso vs Cappuccino: What’s The Difference?

Both espresso and cappuccino are iconic drinks in the coffee world. Most people know what an espresso and a cappuccino are, but what about when it comes to the difference between these two beloved drinks?

Even for coffee enthusiasts, it can be hard to know what sets apart espresso-based drinks like espresso and cappuccino.

In this article, we’re going to look at what’s the difference between espresso vs cappuccino.

Let’s break it down. 

What is an espresso?

Espresso originated in Italy where it grew in popularity and became a beloved drink that coffee lovers all over the world now drink.

An espresso is a shot or two (usually an ounce or two) of concentrated coffee served in a small cup. It’s made by forcing pressurized hot water through densely packed, finely ground coffee beans using an espresso machine.

An espresso will have crema on top, which is the foam that forms on top of a freshly made shot of espresso.

Espresso is made from the same coffee beans as coffee but is much thicker, stronger, and higher in caffeine as it’s a concentrated shot of coffee.

What is a cappuccino?

Cappuccino also originated in Italy and has made its way into the hearts of many coffee lovers around the world.

A cappuccino is made of a single espresso shot and hot milk. Cappuccinos are often served in a 6 oz cup, rather than the 1 oz shot glasses espresso is served in.

It’s usually topped off with foamed, frothy milk that adds to its flavor and richness.

Baristas can decorate the frothy topping with artistic designs, also known as latte art to make for a beautiful drink.

Espresso vs Cappuccino: Similarities and differences

Although many differences set apart espresso and cappuccino, the two drinks do share similarities as well.

To help you better set the two drinks apart, we’re going to go over the similarities and differences between espresso and cappuccino.

Espresso vs cappuccino: what's the difference

1. Caffeine

The amount of caffeine in both espresso in cappuccino depends on the size of the serving for each beverage.

Since a cappuccino is made of 1-2 shots of espresso as its base, both drinks have the same amount of caffeine in them.

The only difference is that a cappuccino has milk in it, which makes for a higher volume than espresso has.

2. Taste

Espresso has a strong, rich, and flavorful taste to it that many love and a frothy crema on top.

A cappuccino, on the other hand, is thick, creamy, and frothy. You will still taste the espresso in a cappuccino, but it will be a lot more subtle because of the milk.

Cappuccinos often have airy, frothy milk on top that adds sweetness to their flavor. 

3. Calories

If you’re looking for a drink that’s low in calories and a healthier caffeinated drink, espresso may be the better choice.

A single shot of espresso has about 2 calories, while a double shot of espresso will have around 5 calories.

An 8 oz-sized serving of cappuccino, on the other hand, has 74 calories.

Although the calorie content of a cup of cappuccino depends on the size of the serving, the kind of milk used, and sugar content, a cappuccino has many more calories than espresso.

4. Quantity

A single shot of espresso is 1 oz served in a small cup, while a double shot of espresso is 2 oz served in a small cup.

A small cup of cappuccino contains 4 oz, a medium cup 6 oz, and a large 8 oz.

A cappuccino will have much more volume than espresso because it is mixed with milk.

5. When to drink

The best times to drink a cappuccino and espresso are very different.

In Italy, caffeinated beverages that have milk are drunk in the morning, while beverages with no milk are saved for the latter half of the day.

Cappuccino is a very popular morning beverage and is often served with a croissant or other pastry.

In Italy, cappuccinos are strictly a breakfast beverage.

Espresso, on the other hand, is drunk in the afternoon or evening, especially after a large meal as the caffeine kick helps with any tiredness after eating a meal.

Final thoughts

Both espresso and cappuccino are popular drinks that coffee enthusiasts love to get their caffeine kick from.

Although the two drinks have many differences that set them apart, they are both rich in flavor and staples in coffee menus across the globe.

Whether you prefer a rich shot of espresso or a creamy cup of cappuccino, you’ll be getting a delicious, flavourful cup of caffeine from both drinks.