I know that a lot of the drinks on a coffee shop’s menu can sound very similar.
Everyone knows latte, brewed coffee, and macchiato. But cappuccinos and Americanos are also common espresso-based coffee drinks.
So… what is the difference between them?
While an Americano is an espresso shot diluted with hot water, a cappuccino is a shot of espresso mixed with frothed milk and milk foam.
Let’s look at each one.
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What Is A Cappuccino?
We need to figure out what each coffee drink is before we can ask what makes them different. First up is cappuccino.
Cappuccino is a type of coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. It is traditionally served in a small, 6-8 oz cup and is typically made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.
To make a cappuccino, the barista pulls a shot of espresso. Then they froth a small amount of milk using a steam wand to create a dense, velvety foam. The steamed milk and foamed milk are poured over the espresso, creating a layered effect.
Cappuccinos are known for their rich, creamy texture and intense coffee flavor.
They are often served as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up drink and are popular at coffee shops and cafes around the world.
But there are two different kinds of cappuccinos.
A traditional cappuccino is the coffee drink that we just discussed.
It is an Italian coffee beverage made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Typically, that’s 2 oz of espresso, 2 oz of milk, and 2 oz of foam.
A Starbucks cappuccino is often made with a double shot of espresso and served in a larger cup size, such as a 12-ounce "tall" or 16-ounce "grande."
Starbucks cappuccinos can also be made with flavored syrups or spices, which is not typical in a traditional cappuccino.
But the biggest difference between traditional and Starbucks cappuccino is in the foam. Starbucks cappuccinos have a lot of foam-- the drink is mostly just foam.
And that’s far from your typical cup of traditional cappuccino.
Both types of cappuccinos have similar amounts of caffeine.
What Is An Americano?
In terms of caffeine, Americanos and cappuccinos have similar amounts, but that's their only similarity.
An Americano is a type of coffee drink made by diluting an espresso shot with hot water. It is similar to a cup of drip coffee in terms of strength and flavor, but it has a more intense, bold flavor due to the presence of espresso. They are most similar to regular coffee.
To make an Americano, a barista first pulls a shot or two of espresso and then adds hot water to the espresso to create the desired strength and flavor.
The more you add hot water to the coffee, the weaker the flavor will get. The less water that’s added, the stronger the flavor.
An Americano is typically served in a size similar to a cup of drip coffee. It can be enjoyed plain or with milk, sugar, or other flavorings as desired.
Some people may add a splash of cream or half-and-half to their Americano for a richer, creamier flavor.
The truth is that Americanos can be treated like any other drip coffee.
Cappuccino Vs. American: The Big Differences
There are several key differences between an Americano and a cappuccino.
Although both drinks are made with espresso shots, Americanos add hot water, and cappuccinos add frothed milk.
You can think of an Americano as a diluted espresso that tastes like regular drip coffee.
It is usually served in glasses ranging from 8-12 oz. You can treat Americanos like you treat drip coffee. That means you can add cream, sugar, and any flavorings you would normally add to drip coffees.
A cappuccino, on the other hand, is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.
The espresso in a cappuccino isn’t diluted and is mixed with frothed milk instead. And that means you get a creamy espresso flavor instead of a drip coffee flavor.
Can you see the biggest difference?
In terms of flavor and strength, an Americano is typically stronger and more intense than a cappuccino due to the presence of espresso. A cappuccino is generally smoother and creamier due to the addition of steamed milk and milk foam.
Overall, the main difference between an Americano and a cappuccino is the ingredients used to make the drinks and the preparation method.
An Americano is made with only espresso and hot water, while a cappuccino is made with espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.