Difference Between Coffee and Cappuccino. Explained

Any drink that is made by brewing coffee beans can be called coffee. But to make things easier (at least that’s what they thought!), we gave different names to coffee beverages. The naming sometimes depends on how the coffee is made or what ingredients they contain. In the case of finding the difference between regular coffee and cappuccino, it is quite both. Both have very different methods of making and ingredients used in them. 

Compared to coffee, cappuccino has a lot more milk, which is the major difference.

Besides that, there are a lot of other minor differences as well. I have discussed all of them here so that you get a clearer picture in your head! So without further ado, let’s dive in. 

What Is Coffee?

Coffee is a caffeinated drink that is made by brewing roasted coffee bean grounds or mixing hot water with instant coffee. For brewing, mainly water is used. 

Some prefer buying roasted beans and then grinding them themselves, whereas some buy instant coffee for a quick and easy solution. 

When we say only “coffee,” we understand a coffee beverage with coffee, hot water, sugar, and creamer (the last two are optional). No such fancy equipment or technique is used for making it. 

What Is Cappuccino?

Cappuccino is an espresso-based drink that contains a few additional ingredients like steamed milk, milk foam, sweetener (optional), etc. The drink is majorly loved by Italian people. 

The ratio of espresso and steamed milk is usually 1:4. Which means, for 25 ml of espresso you add 100 ml of steamed and foamed milk. This ratio can also be 50-50, depending on the preference. 

In a cappuccino, the base layer is of espresso, then steamed milk, and then milk foam. In cafes and baristas, they might also sprinkle some cocoa powder on top of the milk foam to enhance both the taste and presentation. 

Among all the espresso drinks, such as mocha and macchiato, cappuccino contains the highest amount of milk. 

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is the strongest and most concentrated type of coffee beverage. It is served in small and strong shots and is often used as the base of different lighter drinks like cappuccino and mocha. 

Those who drink espresso regularly often keep an espresso machine handy. To make espresso at home, you need to buy coffee grounds and grind them by yourself. For that, you can buy a separate burr grinder or get an espresso maker that has an attached grinder in it.

Once you have your ground ready to make espresso, you need to put the ground in the portafilter and tamp it down. Then you put the filter in your machine and let it do its job. 

A nicely extracted espresso will never taste sour, salty, or too bitter and will definitely have a thick layer of cream on top. If you don’t get your espresso right, it can ruin the taste of the drinks where you are planning to use it as the base. 

Key Differences Between Coffee and Cappuccino

Now that your basics about coffee are clear let us look at the side-by-side comparison of coffee and cappuccino. We have discussed every small difference so that you get the idea right!


In the case of making regular coffee, the ingredients you need are instant coffee powder, hot water, milk/ creamer, and sugar. 

Usually, people like to have coffee this way. In case of cold coffee, you can throw in some ice cubes, and you are good to go. 

To make cappuccino, you will need double shots of espresso, steamed dairy milk, and steamed milk foam. You can also use cream instead of milk. Cocoa powder is optional if you want to go a little fancy! 

The espresso used in cappuccino is typically a dark roast that is finely ground. Cafes usually serve cappuccino with whole milk, but in case you are lactose intolerant, you can switch to plant-based milk like almond and soy milk. 

Used Equipment

For making regular coffee, you don’t need to buy any equipment. A kettle to boil the water is all you need. 

Now making cappuccino is a little trickier since you need to own and master two of the barista-level equipment: the espresso maker and the milk frother

If you prefer buying coffee beans instead of coffee grounds, then you need a coffee grinder for both cases. 


Compared to brewed coffee, if you try to take instant coffee black, it will taste extra bitter, and the taste will definitely seem inferior compared to freshly brewed coffee. This is why most people like to have it with milk and creamer. 

A well-made cappuccino has a very rounded taste with bold flavors of coffee and the naturally sweet taste from the steamed milk. Since its base is espresso, it is usually not that sweet, so people with a sweet tooth like to add a little sugar, syrups, or other sweeteners to balance things out. 

Nonetheless, the texture of the cappuccino is very creamy and silky, which you don’t find in your regular coffee. If you don’t drink coffee regularly, try a single espresso shot in your cappuccino instead of a double. 

Process Of Making 

For making regular coffee, you add one or two teaspoons of instant coffee. Then add a spoon of cold water to it to dissolve the powder. Later add 6 Oz of hot water to it. You can also switch the water with milk and add a sweetener of your preference. 

To make the perfect cup of cappuccino, first, you need to warm up your cup by pouring some boiling hot water into it. Then you need to extract one or two shots of espresso and pour them into that warm cup. 

Once done extracting, you need to steam some ice-cold milk for around 10 secs and add that steamed milk to your espresso. You can either leave it like that or top it off with some milk foam and cocoa powder or cinnamon powder. 

Serving Size 

The industry standard for a cup is six ounces, but in places like Starbucks, you will find people pick the super-sizes (the “Grande”) that are at least 16 ounces. 

On the other hand, cappuccinos are traditionally served in a 5 to 6 fluid ounces cup that is around 150 to 180 ml. Of that 150 ml, around 25 ml is the espresso, and the rest 85 ml is steamed milk and foam. 


If you make coffee at home, that is going to cost you very cheap. But if you buy from cafes, then it can cost somewhere around $3. The prices may greatly vary depending on the size you are buying or the place from where you are buying it. 

Whereas a cup of regular cappuccino will cost you around $5 at a restaurant or cafe. Depending on the city or state you live in, the prices may go higher or lower. 

Percentage of Caffeine 

Depending on what type of coffee you are having, the amount of caffeine will also change. For example, from a 6-fluid-ounce serving of instant coffee, you get 46.5 mg of caffeine. Whereas in the same amount of cappuccino, you get 77 mg of caffeine. Considering it used a single shot of espresso. 

If you get a double shot cappuccino, the caffeine content will double upto 154 mg. 


There are about 48.5 calories in a 6-fluid-ounce serving of cappuccino. But if you take coffee that is brewed in water and has no milk, creamer, or sweetener in it, it will have zero calories

In cappuccino, the milk and cream used in bring all the caloric count. Usually, baristas use whole milk for a better taste, but you can switch to skim milk or low-fat milk to lower the calories. 

Wrapping Up!

Now that you know every little difference between regular coffee and cappuccino, you should not have any confusion choosing between the two. If you are on a low-calorie diet, I would suggest not having it daily. 

You can switch to whole milk with some plant-based alternatives, but it will still add some calories to your diet. Besides, unless you are a coffee enthusiast, it won’t make sense to invest in a coffee grinder, coffee maker, and frother. There are solo machines that can do it all, but they will also make a hole in your pocket! 

So if you like coffee once in a while or aren’t that picky about the taste of the coffee, you can rely on regular coffee from the cafes or make a cup of instant coffee under a budget! 

Frequently Asked Question 

Q1. What Is The Best Coffee For Making Cappuccino?

Dark roast coffee beans that are labeled as espresso blend or Italian roast are the best type of coffee you can pick for making cappuccino. 

Q2. Can I Make Cappuccino Without A Machine? 

Yes, you definitely can! If you don’t have an espresso maker, you can simply buy an espresso shot from your nearest cafe and add steamed milk to it. 

But if you want to make it from scratch and looking for something budget-friendly, you can try this. Add a spoon full of instant coffee to a mug, and add a spoonful of water. Take a coffee frother and froth the mixture till it becomes a little creamy. Then froth warm milk in another cup, and once the milk gets enough bubbles, add the milk into the creamy coffee and stir well.  

Q3. What Flavors Go Best With Capuccino? 

Some of the favorite flavors that go great with cappuccino include vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, peppermint, caramel, and raspberry. 

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