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Cappuccino Vs. Coffee: What’s the Difference?

It can be hard to determine what coffee drink is best for you when walking into a cafe. As someone who finds less-milky coffee can stain my teeth, I’ve grown accustomed to ordering a cappuccino from local cafes.

You need to ask yourself how much caffeine you want or how creamy you prefer your coffee, so this cappuccino vs. coffee guide will help you determine which of these drinks is right for you.

What is a Cappuccino?

If you’re wondering “is cappuccino a coffee?” the answer is yes. Cappuccino is a type of coffee drink. It is made with espresso, milk foam, and a little steamed milk. The ratio works out at one-third espresso, one-third milk, and one-third foam.

It is usually topped with cocoa dust. Many cafes also offer syrups to flavor their cappuccinos, such as caramel, vanilla, or hazelnut.

cappuccino banana sesame

Cappuccinos typically have one or two espresso shots. A traditional Italian cappuccino only uses one espresso.

However, many cafes use a double shot in their drinks by default. So, if you want more or less caffeine, ask the barista how much they use when ordering.

What’s the Difference Between Coffee and Cappucino?

A cappuccino is a type of drink made with coffee, but when people ask for a cup of coffee, they rarely mean a cappucino.

Coffee, in this instance, refers to black coffee, and does not contain foam; so the drink is just made from water and coffee.

1. Espresso

Now that we have answered, “is cappuccino a coffee,” we need to look at the kind of coffee in cappuccinos. Cappuccinos are made from one to two shots of espresso.

A regular cup of coffee is made from brewed coffee and water; not to be confused with an Americano, an espresso drink made from an espresso shot and hot water.

Espresso can taste stronger and more bitter than brewed coffee. However, the milk in the cappuccino will take the edge off.

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2. Preparation Method

cappuccino art

A cappuccino is made with a coffee machine in a cafe. The barista pulls the espresso shots and then froths the milk. The frothed milk is poured over the espresso. It is common to see latte art on cappuccinos.

A cup of coffee can be made with ground coffee beans in a French press, an Aeropress, a percolator or even with instant coffee.

3. Milk Content

Cappuccinos are always made with foam and steamed milk, whether dairy milk or plant-based milk.

While many people add some milk to cool down their coffee, milk is not a necessary ingredient. If they add milk to coffee for the taste and to cool it down, it will not nearly be as much as in a cappuccino.

4. Flavor

Cappuccinos are also often flavored with syrup or topped with cinnamon or cocoa dust. While coffee may be sweetened with sugar, there are no additional flavors or syrups added to the drink.

A cappuccino will also taste much milder due to the high volume of milk and milk foam which masks the natural flavor profile of the espresso.

5. Caffeine Content

When it comes to cappuccino vs. coffee caffeine content, it varies drastically depending on whether espresso was used, how many shots, and the roast.

Cappuccinos are usually made from a medium roast. Coffee can vary, but the most common options are medium to dark roasts. A medium roast will end up with slightly more caffeine than a dark roast due to the difference in density between these beans.

Two espresso shots contain around 180 mg of caffeine. An 8 oz cup of coffee can contain approximately 150 mg of caffeine.

FAQs About Cappucino Vs. Coffee


Is cappuccino stronger than coffee?

A cappuccino is stronger than coffee in terms of caffeine content. A double-shot cappuccino typically has 180 mg of caffeine, while coffee contains an average of 150 mg of caffeine.

However, when it comes to taste, coffee will taste stronger. This is because the milk dilutes the strong espresso flavor in a cappuccino, so you’re left with a much milder tasting drink.

Are cappuccinos unhealthy?

By default, cappuccinos are not unhealthy. They only contain espresso and milk, which is not necessarily bad for you; milk is a great source of protein! You can even opt for low-fat milk in many cafes.

They are, however, naturally higher in calories, sugars, and fats than a cup of black coffee will be. Even coffee with added milk will probably be lower in calories.

However, they only verge into unhealthy territory if you add sugars and syrups. For example two tablespoons of coffee syrup will add an additional 95 calories and 25 grams of sugar [1] to your cappuccino.

Do cappuccinos keep you awake?

It will keep you awake because of the caffeine.

You can always ask for a decaf cappuccino or a cup made from one espresso shot rather than two to half the caffeine content.

Decaf only contains around 8 mg of caffeine. So while it’s not entirely caffeine-free, this much is unlikely to disrupt your sleep unless you are exceptionally sensitive to caffeine.

If you add sugar, sugary syrup, or chocolate, you will feel extra jittery. Chocolate contains caffeine, while a sugar rush can give you a quick energy boost.

Final Words

If you’re not a fan of strong, bitter coffee drinks, then you will love cappuccino. Plus, it will wake you up more.

But, if you value simple flavors and don’t have much of a sweet tooth, regular coffee is the drink for you.

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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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