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Cappuccino vs. Americano: What’s the Difference?

Espresso drinks may seem similar, but preparation methods change the flavor and experience of coffee.

You should know a few hallmarks of the difference between cappuccino vs Americano drinks.

5-Second Summary

Americano beverages are water and espresso, while cappuccino is espresso with milk and foam.

Typically, cappuccinos are creamy and sweeter than Americanos, which are usually between an average cup of coffee and an espresso in flavor.

Below, dive further into the differences for complete understanding.

What Is a Cappuccino?

cappuccino banana sesame

Origin

Cappuccinos originate in Italy [1], and people considered any combination of black coffee and milk a cappuccino. Eventually, frothing became a standard part of the process.

Soon, espresso was also a hallmark. Espresso is a concentrated, highly caffeinated [2], and thicker version of coffee. It adds a bold taste to any espresso drink. It’s a specific brewing method where hot water is pressurized and forced through finely-ground coffee.

How to Make Americano

Today, you can recognize a cappuccino by the hallmark foam. It’s usually thick, creamy, and a bit sweet. Modern versions may amp up the sweetness with flavorings like caramel.

  • To make a cappuccino, begin with two shots of espresso
  • On the side, steam milk until thick and foamy froth forms
  • Pour the milk on top until the cup is full

Typically, a cappuccino is around a third espresso, third milk, and a third foam.

While cappuccinos are creamy and sweet, they still have a strong coffee flavor.

There’s no dilution from water, just sweetened with plain milk in original cappuccinos. It is one main difference between cappuccinos vs Americanos.

Additionally, cappuccinos may have designs in their foam. They often come in large cups to show off their creamy top and can come with a light coating of cocoa powder.

What Is an Americano?

americano

Origin

The Americano is another espresso drink, and as you may expect from the name, its history has links with Americans.

Although the exact history is up for debate, a well-known theory dates the invention of Americano coffee to World War 2 [3].

According to this story, American soldiers, unused to the strong flavor of Italian espresso, would add water to make it taste closer to the standard brews at home. Today, the Americano remains very similar in principle.

How to Make Americano

To make an Americano add one to two espresso shots to your cup and then fill it with hot water. The exact ratio can be different depending on the brewer and personal preference.

The more water in the cup, the closer the drink will be in flavor to traditional filter coffee.

Still, the espresso might give the beverage a darker taste than other brewing methods. Generally, an Americano is stronger than cappuccinos or drinks with cream or sweetener.

Usually, the ratio between water and espresso is around half, with espresso being the smaller portion.

Cappuccino vs Americano Differences

Here’s a total breakdown of the differences between cappuccino vs Americano for easy reference and to help decide the best for any situation.

coffee comparison

Preparation Method

First and foremost is the preparation method. When looking at espresso drinks, this is the most influential factor in how the final beverage will taste.

Americanos and cappuccinos both start with usually one to two shots of espresso. Occasionally, Americanos will contain even more espresso.

Once the espresso is in the cup, cappuccinos vs Americanos become drastically different. Cappuccinos add only milk, and Americanos only add water.

Flavor

Water and milk have drastically different flavors, so it’s no surprise these drinks will suit individual tastes.

Americanos have a bold, black taste that is diluted espresso. The cup packs a punch while tasting closer to average brews of filter coffee. The flavor overall will be richer than you may expect.

Cappuccinos, on the other hand, are creamy and sweet. The espresso still adds a strong coffee flavor, but you’ll enjoy it with a layer of milk.

Cappuccinos vs Americanos are heavier and often come with added flavorings.

Best Pod Reviews of Each

Now that you’re familiar with the differences between cappuccino vs Americanos, you may want to try both or know which one you prefer.

Either way, here are two great options for bringing the espresso home with coffee pods.

Best Americano Pods: Skinnygirl Coffee Pods Americano

Creating an espresso drink can be time-consuming, but popping in a quick Americano pod makes it simple. These pods brew in short periods and create high-quality coffee.

Brewing an Americano has never been more accessible than with these Keurig-compatible pods.

The pods deliver rich and consistent flavor. It has well-sourced coffee that is Rainforest Alliance certified. Despite the branding, these Americano pods pack a hefty punch for any coffee enjoyer.

However, there is some focus on cutting calories with a stevia sweetener which some people may dislike.  

Occasionally, the pods may break apart and cause a mess. Be careful handling your pods and machine, as they can be hot.

Benefits

  • Convenient and simple
  • Strong flavor from high-quality coffee
  • Keurig-compatible pods

Cons

  • Stevia sweetener
  • Cups may break apart

Best Cappuccino Pods: Original Donut Shop Cappuccino

Cappuccinos are very difficult to create at home, as you can need an espresso machine and a milk frother.

Alternatively, you can cut the steps and tools by using cappuccino pods. These come with espresso and milk all in one.

These pods are Keurig-compatible and can brew a sweet, creamy cappuccino in minutes. It has a decadent flavor that some may even find too sweet. Still, it’s an easy way to have a treat.

The Original Donut Shop coffee delivers bold, quality coffee in a recyclable pod.

However, you may be disappointed if you expect a replica of handcrafted cappuccinos from cafes. It’s almost impossible to have the standard thick foam without a separate frother.

Benefits

  • Keurig-compatible pods
  • Recyclable pod
  • Espresso and cream in one step

Cons

  • Potentially too sweet
  • Isn’t an exact cappuccino

FAQs About Cappuccino And Americano

Have more questions about cappuccinos vs Americanos? Check out a few answers to FAQs.

Is Americano stronger than cappuccino?

Typically an Americano will have slightly more espresso than a cappuccino, so yes. The flavor will also be significantly more intense.

Does a cappuccino or Americano have more caffeine?

Usually, Americanos contain more espresso, so an Americano has more caffeine.

Do cappuccinos keep you awake?

Yes, the caffeine in cappuccinos can help you temporarily feel more awake [4]. Caffeine has many impacts on the body, raising alertness.

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I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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