What is a Cappuccino: Description & Types


The is a large diversity in the world of coffee drinks so one may get confused when deciding what to order in a cafe.

That’s why I thought it would be useful to write a series of posts that describe the most common and not-so-common caffeinated beverages.

In this guide, you will find out what a cappuccino actually is and how it compares to another classic espresso-based drink – the latte.

Furthermore, we’ll dive a bit deeper and go over some cappuccino variations, such as the dry, bone dry, Australian, French Vanilla, and the Cappuccino Freddo.

So let’s stop wasting more time and dive into the essential part!

What is a Cappuccino: A Simple Definition


The cappuccino we now know was developed in Italy from the Viennese drink “Kapuziner” – brewed coffee, mixed with milk and cream.

Kapuziner’s brown color had the same shade as the robes of Capuchin monks.

Nowadays the cappuccino has its classic definition which guides baristas around the world when they prepare it.

So here’s what a cappuccino actually is:
A cappuccino is an espresso-based hot coffee beverage, served in a 5 fl. oz. (150 ml) to 7 fl. oz. (200 ml) cup.

It’s made of a shot of espresso and steamed and frothed milk.

A classic cappuccino generally contains equal amounts of milk foam and steamed milk.

Traditionally, its surface has a brown ring and a white milk stain.

With that being said, at many places, a cappuccino is topped off with a latte art pattern.

The depth of its milk foam is 0.4 in. to 0.6 inches (1 cm to 1.5 cm).

Compared to a cappuccino, a classic cafè latte has a thinner foam layer and it’s served in a larger cup (8 fl. oz. to 12 fl. oz., 240 ml. to 350 ml.).

Since the latte contains more milk, it has a less intense coffee flavor compared to a cappuccino, even though both drinks are prepared with the same amount of espresso.

Wet, Dry and Bone Dry Cappuccino

To order a cappuccino that matches your taste and needs best, you may want to become familiar with the terms ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ (often used to describe slight tweaks in the way the drink is made).

A wet cappuccino has more steamed milk and less milk foam, compared to a regular one.

Contrarily, a dry cappuccino contains more milk foam than usual.

The wet version has a more mellow and creamy taste, while the dry – a more intense espresso flavor.

A bone dry cappuccino is made with a shot of espresso and milk foam up to the rim of the cup – no steamed milk whatsoever.

This foamy cappuccino is pretty similar to the topped-up macchiato.

Nevertheless, the latter is served in a smaller 2 fl. oz. to 3 fl. oz. (60 ml to 90 ml) demitasse cup.

What’s a Freddo Cappuccino

The Freddo Cappuccino is an iced cappuccino, served in a glass, made of a double shot of espresso and cold milk foam.

To make a Freddo Cappuccino, the barista should do the following:

  1. Pull a double espresso shot.
  2. Pour the espresso into a glass, filled with ice cubes. If a customer wants a sweeter drink, 1-2 teaspoons of sugar may be added to the glass before adding the ice cubes and the espresso.
  3. Pour cold whole milk into a separate cup and froth it with a drink mixer until a thick foam is formed.
  4. Pour the frothed milk on top of the espresso.

The Freddo Cappuccino originates from Greece and it’s an excellent alternative to their Caffè Frappe, which is made with instant coffee.
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Australian Cappuccino

Unlike the classic cappuccino, the Australian cappuccino is made by dusting the espresso shot with cocoa powder before pouring the steamed and foamed milk on top.

This adds a pleasant chocolate hint to the flavor of the drink.

The Australian cappuccino is usually topped off with latte art.

The cocoa powder also serves a decorative purpose, as it makes the pattern on top of the drink stand out even more.

Flavored Cappuccinos

At some coffee shops and large coffee chains such as Starbucks, Dunkin’, and Costa, you can get a flavored cappuccino.

Two of the most common such beverages are the French Vanilla and the Caramel Cappucino.

The French Vanilla Cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee beverage, made of a shot of espresso, vanilla extract (or vanilla syrup), equal parts of steamed and frothed whole milk, and cinnamon powder.

Many people prepare this flavorful and cozy drink at home, even if they don’t own an espresso machine.

Instead of espresso they use strongly brewed coffee (such as Moka pot coffee) and heat the cinnamon-vanilla-flavored milk in a saucepan on the stove. To froth the milk at home, you simply need a drink mixer, such as this one by Zulay.

The Caramel Cappuccino is made by adding caramel syrup to the espresso and pouring steamed and frothed whole milk on top. This coffee drink is often topped off with caramel sauce.

Over to you

I hope that you found this drink guide useful and you now know what a cappuccino is by definition.

Furthermore, I made sure to include information on its different types to make it easy for you to order the espresso beverage that matches your taste best.

Related Drink Guides:

Leave me a comment below and share which cappuccino you’re going to get next time when at a coffee shop.

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