Cappuccino and latte (also called Caffè latte) are the two most popular Italian coffee drinks and are both prepared using hot milk. The difference is that cappuccino is prepared with less steamed or textured milk than caffe latte. In a cappuccino the total espresso and milk/foam makes up roughly 6 oz in a 12 oz drink.
edit Differences in Ingredients and Preparation
A latte is prepared with coffee and hot steamed milk. The coffee can be replaced with another drink base like tea, mate or matcha. In Italy caffè latte is often prepared at home for breakfast. The coffee is brewed on stovetop Moka or caffettiera and poured into a cup containing heated milk. The Italian latte does not contain foamed milk. Outside Italy, caffe latte is prepared using 1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk and a layer of foamed milk of 5 mm thick on top. Another version of latte is made with strong or bold coffee mixed with scalded milk in the ratio of 1:1. Though this is similar to a Cappuccino, the milk foam layer is of 2 cm in a Cappuccino.
Cappuccino is prepared with espresso, hot milk and steamed milk foam. The texture and temperature of milk is of prime importance here. Milk is steamed to produce micro foam (created by introduction of tiny air bubbles into milk) giving the milk a velvety texture and sweetness. The hot foamed milk is poured into the espresso which results in a 2 cm thick milk foam layer on top. Cappuccino has its variations where use of more milk gives rise to the cappuccino chiaro or white cappuccino and the cappuccino scuro or dry cappuccino which results due to less use of milk. Cappuccino Freddo is the cold version of the coffee drink and is usually topped with small amount of cold frothed milk.
edit Origin of Latte and Cappuccino
Terms caffè and latte were first used in 1847 and later in 1867 they appeared in William Dean Howells essay "Italian Journeys". Latte originally means milk in Italian and the caffè version of this drink is an American invention. Caffè latte originated in Caffè Mediterraneum, a café in Berkeley, California and was brewed in its current form by Lino Meiorin for the first time. He added more milk to this otherwise strong cappuccino and called this new drink "caffè latte".
Cappuccino in commercial form was introduced at the beginning of 20th Century when the patented espresso machines were introduced by Luigi Bezzera of Milan in 1901. These machines made the cappuccino very popular in cafes and restaurants and the current from developed by the 1950s.
edit Latte Art
Latte art refers to the style of pouring steamed milk into the espresso and create a pattern or design on surface of resulting latte. This can be achieved by embellishing the top layer of foam. The art is difficult to be created consistently and is dependent on experience of barista and quality of espresso machine. To pour is the challenge of the latte artist.
The following video shows how to create beautiful yet simple latte art:
Prices for coffee and the equipment used to make cappuccino and latte are available on Amazon.com: