Espresso vs. Cappuccino: What’s the Difference?

What’s a better way to cure the winter blues than fresh-brewed hot coffee? A cup of espresso or a cappuccino, that’s what. The fancy drinks from far-off Europe can get pretty confusing to us Americans, so we’re here to sort things out for our wonderful customers. Lucky for you, we serve both!

Espresso

Espresso is the base for a variety of coffee drinks, including cappuccinos, so there’s the main difference. This strong Italian drink is served in small cups in the form of a shot, either a single shot or “doppio”, which means “double”. If you’ve ever had a cup of black coffee, espresso is the same thing…but on steroids. It’s darker, it’s stronger and it packs a mean caffeine punch. So, here’s why this tiny, bitter beverage is so popular.

A small amount of nearly boiling water is forced through finely ground coffee beans with a fair amount of pressure. Because of this unique process, espresso is typically thicker than a standard brew of coffee. When you order a shot or two of espresso, expect a white foamy layer to float atop the pitch-black brew.

Contrary to what nearly everyone believes, a standard serving of espresso does not have more caffeine than a regular ‘ol cup of coffee. The caffeine content of an everyday serving of espresso is 120 to 170 mg. while coffee packs between 150 to 200 mg. of caffeine.

Cappuccino

All the great drinks come from Italy, and we’re not just talking about the coffee-based ones! A traditional cappuccino is prepared with hot milk, steamed milk foam and the star of the show: a double shot of espresso. Plenty of people like to add a little flair to their cappuccino, in the form of chocolate powder, cinnamon powder and / or substituting cream for milk. Similar to espresso, cappuccinos undergo a very specific process.

Using an espresso machine, a double shot of espresso is poured in the bottom of a cup, followed by an equal amount of hot milk (which is steamed and texturized using a steaming want attached to the machine). The foam on the top of the drink is typically formed into latte art, which is probably featured in a few pictures on your Instagram feed.

Along with cappuccinos, plenty of other drinks are made with an espresso base. Here’s a list for ya:

Latte

If a cappuccino is ⅓ espresso, ⅓ foamed milk and ⅓ steamed milk, then a latte is a slight variation, with ⅙ foamed milk, ⅙ espresso and ⅔ steamed milk. This is more of a milk based drink than a cappuccino, but the flavor of coffee is definitely still there.

Mocha

Could it get any better than coffee AND chocolate? ⅖ chocolate, ⅖ espresso and ⅕ steamed milk will just about put you in heaven. This is one of our favorite ways to get a caffeine fix in the early morning.

Flat White

Now we’re getting into the fancier drinks. A flat white is extremely similar to a cappuccino, but the milk is frothed differently. ⅓ espresso is mixed with ⅔ frothed milk, but the milk is micro-foamed, which means the drink won’t have a dry foam top.

 

Hey, basically feels like you’re in Europe. Stop into Marker 32 for a little glimpse of Italy, in the form of a shot or two of espresso or a cappuccino. Stick around for a couple glasses of Italian wine while you’re at it!