So you love coffee? Me too. With that said, sometimes knowing what to order can be a little complicated. I mean, is there really a difference between a latte, a cappuccino, and a macchiato?  

Well, yes. All have different proportions of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Yeah that's right cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos are made with espresso, not your average coffee. While espresso and coffee are made from the same beans, the extraction and flavor of the product is different. Confusing, huh?

Don't worry. To clear it all up, I've done some research. I'll break down the contents of the common coffee drinks so you can make an informed choice next time you're in line at your favorite coffee shop.


milk, espresso, cappuccino, coffee
Julia Kaplowitz

A cappuccino is the epitome of balance when thinking about an espresso drink. It contains equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. A cappuccino is sweet from the milk, frothy from the milk foam, and strong from the espresso. 


A macchiato is steamed milk, two shots of espresso, and milk foam. A macchiato is unique because the steamed milk is added before the double espresso shot, and it also only sports a thin layer of milk foam. 


The latte is the creamiest espresso beverage of them all. It contains a one to two ratio of espresso to steamed milk, making it a much milkier drink. It is always topped with a small layer of milk foam. 

Cafe Au Lait (Cafe Misto)

Not keen on the espresso train? If you're looking for a coffee-based beverage with the same creamy satisfaction of a latte, the cafe au lait would be a great choice. It's made with coffee, steamed milk, and milk foam. 

Flat White

mocha, milk, espresso, cappuccino, coffee
Gabby Phi

A flat white is similar to a latte but has a little less milk and a little more espresso, giving it an extra boost of caffeine. Additionally, the steamed milk in a flat white and a latte is different, resulting in different foam and taste on your palate. In a flat white, the milk is poured throughout the entire drink, resulting in a "velvety" texture. 


An americano is a shot of espresso with hot water added directly to it. While many confuse an americano for being the same thing as regular drip coffee, the two are different in both taste and preparation.


The mocha has the same proportion of espresso, steamed milk, and foam as a latte but has chocolate syrup or cocoa powder for added flavor and sweetness. Looking for something really sweet? Many cafes offer a white mocha, made with white chocolate, or flavored mochas like peppermint or salted caramel.

All of this said, I have to admit, almost every photo in this piece looks the same to me. While they look delicious, I'm a purist when it comes to coffee—I like it black and unadulterated. Unless, of course, a butter pecan flavor swirl from Dunkin' Donuts is an option