Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Macchiato vs. Mocha vs. Flat White: What’s The Difference?

In today’s world, navigating the menu at your local coffee shop can be a minefield. It seems like every week a new kind of coffee is invented, and if you didn’t get the memo, then the bearded barista at your favorite coffee joint will look at you with scorn if you even dare to ask what it is.

Well, fear no more! Here are the differences between different kinds of coffee, and the debate settled once and for all.


Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Macchiato vs. Mocha vs. Flat White

Evolving from the Austrian coffee drink “kapuziner”, a modern cappuccino is typically a drink consisting of three primary ingredients – espresso, steamed milk and milk froth. A cappuccino usually follows a 1:1:1 ratio of these ingredients.

First, the espresso shot is added to the cup. Following this, hot steamed milk is poured from the jug, with care taken to withhold the froth at this point. Once the correct amount of milk has been poured into the espresso, milk froth is then scooped on top.

Cappuccinos are regarded as stronger than lattes due to the presence of milk foam over milk itself, with the taste of espresso coming through stronger as it not as diluted with milk, and so it is socially acceptable for a man to drink them in public.

It is typical to find chocolate to sprinkled on top, but not compulsory.



“Latte” is the French word for milk, which accurately describes the characteristics of this coffee.

Production is simple; steamed milk poured on top of an espresso, with just a small amount milk froth on top. Unlike the 1:1:1 ratio of the cappuccino ingredients, a latte typically follows a 1:4:1ration of espresso, steamed milk and milk froth.

Often drank in the morning in France and Italy as an accompaniment to breakfast, it is not unusual to see croissants dipped into a latte and eaten, presumably because they ran out of Oreos.

It is common to see often “latte art” on the surface of the coffee, achieved via pouring the milk in a specific way.

Due to the overwhelming presence of steamed milk, it is not a strong coffee, and so it has proven to be popular the world around – especially with old ladies who can’t handle a real coffee.



Regardless of what Starbucks might have you believe, a macchiato is not a tall, sugary drink laced with caramel.

Traditional macchiatos are simply a shot of espresso finished off with a dollop of milk froth. Macchiato is Italian for “stained milk”, implying the milk isstained by the presence of the espresso, which is quite different to the chain-store monstrosities that we see dominating Instagram.

The high espresso to milk ratio means this is a strong drink that is bound to put hairs on your chest if you’re not an avid coffee drinker.



Quite simply, a mocha is a monster. A Frankenstein, if you will; a hybrid of coffee and chocolate that should never have been given life in the first place, and should be chased out of town by angry townspeoplebaring pitchforks and flaming torches.

Once the espresso is in the glass, hot chocolate powder or syrup is added and mixed, before steamed milk is added.

I grew out of drinking mochas, and so should you.

Flat White

Flat White

The Flat White is the current darling of the coffee world, now adorning menus around the world; the chosen drink of the hipster, yet confusion reigns supreme with regards to what it is.

Some people regard it as a small latte, others as a small cappuccino, whilst most baristas are content just to give you alatte regardless and charge more for the privilege. In fact, they’re all wrong.

They were correct about one thing – size. It is typically smaller than a latte and a cappuccino, yet larger than a macchiato. As well as being small, it also contains “micro foam”, which is a more velvety version of the cappuccino and latte’s froth. The texture of the milk is different, due to a different steaming method, and is folded into a double shot of espresso, making it a strong drink than the cappuccino or latte.

The hipsters are onto something good – it’s a silky, strong coffee, and a contender to the latte’s crown as King of the Coffees.

Gregory Tumlin

Gregory Tumlin editor of agreatcoffee.com has worked in the coffee industry for 5 years now. He used to work at Coffee and Espresso Bar in Princeton, NJ and have done some side coffee consulting and training through Barista School. He is also a husband and father of a young boy as well as a masters student. In whatever spare time he has left, Gregory enjoys running, cycling and reads just the right amount of trashy romance novels.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
brijesh - July 27, 2017

could you pls make me undersatnd with ratio diffrence in it.

Dan - September 12, 2017

Just to let you know, “latte” is the Italian word for milk, not French!

Ryan - January 7, 2018

LATTE means milk in Italian. The French word for milk is “lait”.

Bry - January 24, 2018

What do you mean with “Socially acceptable for a man to drink it in public?” Are they not allowed to drink something sweet or not strong? Can men drink alcohol free beer or that’s also not socially acceptable


Alberto - February 20, 2018

Macchiato = stained
Latte macchiato = stained milk (milk stained with espresso)
Caffè macchiato = stained coffee (espresso stained with milk)


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