Isn’t cappuccino just a snooty way of saying coffee? Aren’t they the same thing?
The Short Answer
Cappuccino is Coffee, but it is prepared differently.
The Long Answer
To truly understand the difference between coffee and cappuccino, one must first understand the difference between coffee and espresso. (Thankfully, we’ve covered that subject extensively.)
For those of you who haven’t read that article yet, I’ll cover it briefly here.
Coffee is made when coffee beans (they’re actually bean-shaped seeds) are ground up and mixed with hot water. The mixture briefly steeps and strains out the liquid. Nice and simple.
The same beans are used to make espresso, though the process is very different. Espresso is ground finer than traditional coffee to make ready the special brewing process that it uses. The grounds are compacted into a puck and hot water is forced through under high pressure. The end result is a much more intense flavor and higher caffeine content. That’s why espresso is traditionally served in tiny little cups.
Coffee is most often served in an 8 oz. mug, but the average espresso shot is little more than 2.5 oz.
Cappuccino is made when a double shot of espresso is mixed with steamed milk foam. Some variations use cream, along with cinnamon and chocolate powder. It was first created in Italy and derives its name from the color of habits worn by the Capuchin friars.
A cappuccino’s most defining feature is the thin layer of foam on the top of it.
So, you have two beverages. Both of them perk you up when your eyes start to droop. They’re made from the same seeds that come from the same plants. They’re prepared in completely different ways. It’s like asking if eggs benedict and scrambled eggs are the same food. Or fried chicken vs. baked chicken. At the core, they’re the same thing, but alterations in preparation make them completely different.
This is one of those judgment calls that I’m often forced to make on this site.
So, but the power vested in me, I hereby decree that all cappuccino is coffee, but not all coffee is cappuccino.