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Monday, October 24, 2011

Cappuccino vs Caffe Latte

Have you ever wondered about the difference between caffe latte and cappuccino? Many don't know the difference, including the people who serve them.

Let's start with cappuccino. Cappuccino comes from the Capuchin friars - some say it refers to the colour of their robes, others say it refers to the friars' distinctive hairdo - bald in the middle and hair ringed around the head like a headband. Whatever the reason, we have the wonderful caffeinated beverage, coffee, steamed milk, and a large head of foam topped with a ring or a pattern of cinnamon, cocoa or chocolate sprinkles.

Latte, or caffe latte means "coffee and milk". So, unsurprisingly, the drink consists of coffee and a boatload of milk. This is often served in a glass with a napkin wrap to stop you burning your fingers. It is more similar to a flat white than a cappuccino, only the caffe latte contains more milk. According to Wikipedia, the drink was popularised in Seattle in the 1980s and is still hugely popular today.

Which brings me to my daily battle with take away coffees. I love to drink a take away cappuccino, lift off the lid and lick off the foam and chocolate from the inside. Perhaps not the daintiest look, but that's how I do it.  Only a cappuccino can provide this experience, so I order a cappuccino every time I get a coffee.

For some reason, my saying "Cappuccino" sounds distinctly like "Caffe Latte" to the person behind the counter.  I walk out only to find that I have a milky coffee and no foam, no sprinkles, no fun.   Apparently the rise of caffe latte in Seattle was so powerful, that nobody believes you anymore when you ask for a cappuccino.  They think "poor thing, she's obviously not keeping up with the times.  I'll do her a favour and make her a latte so she won't be excruciatingly embarrassed."

I would like to release an open letter to my particular local cafe, however this can apply to cafes around the world:

Dear "Barista",
You are actually Italian, so you should know better than to confuse a cappuccino with a caffe latte.  I know it's hard for you and that I am the only person since 1989 to ask for a cappuccino since everyone is sooo hip to the latte thing, but I-don't-care.  I want my daggy outmoded cappuccino, I want it brimming with foam and chocolate sprinkles.  Kindly make mine frothy, I don't want a hot milk with a dash of coffee in it, I don't care if Kate Moss is doing it.

Proud (if not fashionably challenged) cappuccino drinker


  1. I like cappuccinos too and *always* ask for them. Luckily, they're still very popular here in French-speaking Switzerland.

  2. @Kath - Perhaps I am in the wrong country!!


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