Updated: Jun 23, 2022
To the untrained eye, it may seem that there aren’t many differences between a cappuccino and a latte in the world of espresso-based drinks. However, those familiar with coffee culture know that certain distinctions make it easy to understand which is which and why it matters. If you’re hunting down the best coffee in India, knowing the difference between the two will help you get exactly what you want from a gourmet espresso drink.
Cappuccino vs Latte: A Brief History
In a commercial setting, the cappuccino became a specific preparation of espresso and stiff milk foam with very little steamed milk making it into the cup. The dark and rich reddish-brown hue this produced borrowed its name from the Capuchin order of monks, whose distinctive robes became synonymous with this itself.
By contrast, the latte is almost always equal parts espresso and steamed milk with a thin layer of wet foam at the top. Certain historians consider the latte an American invention despite the fact that homes across Europe would regularly serve their coffee with warmed milk in much the same way as present-day cafes serve lattes.
Evolution of Modern Day Popularity
The exact definition of cappuccino as we know it formalized around the turn of the 20th century when the first espresso machine became commercially viable. By the 1950s, these early Italian prototypes were perfected to brew not only espresso but to steam milk into frothy clouds of foam. There, the distinction between cappuccino’s austere use of foam and the latte’s milkier composition was refined.
Considering its own history with frothy concoctions of black coffee, milk, and sugar, it’s no wonder that the traditional culture around coffee in India can make room for Italian espresso-style preparations like the cappuccino and latte. Some of the best coffee in India found in cafes that specialize in preparing these drinks with regionally sourced Indian coffee beans.
As the popularity of espresso drinks evolved, so too did variations on the old traditions. Now, a latte is used as a casual name for any espresso drink made with milk, but it may include flavored syrups, be served over ice or blended into a frozen concoction much like a milkshake.
Tips and Tricks for Enjoying Espresso
Because a proper cappuccino and latte require a few key factors to go right to keep from tasting terribly wrong, look for shops that use industrial-grade espresso machines that brew their shots fresh. Any claim to making the best coffee in India means nothing if they’re letting a perfectly pulled extraction turn stale before serving. No amount of clever or cute latte art can save a stale shot of espresso.
True aficionados of coffee culture know that not only should espresso be freshly extracted, it should be ground just before it’s meant to be brewed, and you should be using recently roasted and cured coffee beans. Try a few coffee shops that favor Indian coffee producers which is guarantee to give you the best combination of freshness in the roast, grind and brew quality.