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Latte, Cappuccino, Flat White, Macchiato - Do You Know the Difference?

Coffee with milk, right? That's all these drinks are? Well, technically, sure. But what IS the difference between them?

various types of prepared coffees

Start With Espresso

Each of these drinks, the latte, cappuccino, flat white, and macchiato, are all built on the base of a quality espresso. A gourmet espresso lends a flavorful foundation to a plethora of coffee drinks. Head over to our espresso page to choose one of our espresso blends. We suggest our Espresso Gold or our Organic Espresso.

Add Your Milk

Once you decide on your espresso, the next step is to choose your milk. You can, of course, use cow's milk, but really any milk substitute you prefer should work just fine. Soy and almond milk are the typical replacements, but coconut, hazelnut, and oat milk are all fine choices.

The Cappuccino

When it comes to the actual drinks, let's start with the basic cappuccino. Like most good drinks, the story behind the cappuccino may be more embellished than factual. The cappuccino was the first of the espresso drinks and was invented in Italy. Though the name cappuccino was used in Vienna around a hundred years before the espresso machine became popular, that cappuccino described a slightly different drink.

The Viennese cappuccino was considered a coffee with milk and cream with the addition of spices in some locations. The name came from the color of the coffee and milk, which resembled the color of the robes Capuchin monks wore. In 1900, the Italians began making the cappuccino as we now know it. Good espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk combined to create a drink that spread around the world during World War 2.

Make a cappuccino at home: the perfect cappuccino has equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. Start with the steamed milk topped with espresso and finished with the foamed milk.

The Cafe Latte

Typically, here in the US, we shorten the name of the Cafe Latte to the simple Latte. Be aware... if you ask for a latte in Italy, you will receive a warm glass of milk. The cafe latte was designed for the palates of visiting Americans who didn't enjoy how bitter espresso and cappuccino tasted. The cafe latte was made with much more warm milk to help temper the strong flavors in espresso. In Seattle, WA in the 1980s, the cafe latte became standardized into the drink we know today.

Make a cafe latte at home: the cafe latte starts with one part espresso, two parts steamed milk, and one part foamed milk.

The Flat White

Not surprisingly, we have another drink with questionable origins. The flat white has been claimed by both Australia and New Zealand. Australian Alan Preston claims to have created the term in 1985 at his Sydney cafe. In New Zealand, barista Fraser McInnes claims he coined the term flat white. In 1989, the frothed milk for his McInnes' cappuccino didn't froth properly which made it "flat."

Make a flat white at home: make your flat white similar to your cappuccino but instead of a big head of foam, make it a short foam.

The Macchiato

There is no romantic story behind the macchiato, which is not surprising for this original utilitarian coffee drink. The name macchiato means marked or stained and was used to describe this coffee drink due to the small dash of steamed or frothed milk that graces the top of the espresso. Today's macchiato has evolved into something decadent, sweet, and creamy.

Make a macchiato at home: to make the original macchiato, start with a shot (or two) of espresso and spoon a small dollop of milk foam on top.

Which of these delicious espresso drinks do you prefer? Let us know!

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