Espresso vs Cappuccino

Coffee is now loved by both older and younger generations. Coffee has become a lifestyle drink of modern people of various backgrounds. However, for someone who is new in the coffee world, the different types of coffee drinks may seem confusing. This article will help you understand the differences between two popular coffee drinks, espresso vs cappuccino.

These two coffee drinks are very different from each other. Below, you can learn more about:
– What are espresso and cappuccino,
– The differences between espresso vs cappuccino,
– The flavor profile of each coffee drink, and
– The recommended coffee drinks for different people.

Espresso: Overview
Espresso is typically a rich and strong coffee drink that is served in small cups or glasses called shots. It is actually not a specific roast or varietal. Instead, it refers to the brewing method. It may use any coffee varietal or blend, including the ones that are commonly used for regular coffee, although it typically requires finely ground coffee. See also: Espresso vs Latte.

Espresso has a small volume and is thicker than other coffee drinks made using other brewing methods. It is very rich and strong, which is why it is very popular among hardcore coffee lovers. The richness and strength also make it a suitable base for other coffee drinks.

When served, espresso usually has three distinct layers. The uppermost foam is the crema, which is made from the various oils extracted from the coffee. The middle is usually brown, and the lowermost is black. However, the three layers begin to merge within about ten seconds. Some people prefer to keep the layers separate, but some baristas and coffee drinkers tend to mix the layers into one.

Espresso: How to Make
Espresso is made using an espresso machine. There are manual and automatic espresso machines available in the market. You need a machine in order to create the necessary pressure to force the water through the tightly packed coffee. Models with 15-bar pressure pumps or higher are generally more preferred.

With an espresso machine, you need to fill the water reservoir first and turn on the machine to boil some water. Then, put some finely ground coffee into the portafiler. Tamping is necessary for even water penetration. Tamp them until they clump loosely while still feeling gritty when rubbed.Afterwards, put the portafiler to its place on the grouphead. Now, you can start brewing the espresso. Usually, 2 floz (30 grams) water is used for a shot of espresso.

There are also ‘instant’ espresso drinks which come in powder or granules. It is indeed much easier to make, as you only need to mix one spoon coffee with some hot water. It is handy for making a base for other coffee drinks at home. However, most people believe that the flavor is not as good as ‘real’ brewed espresso.

Espresso: Flavor Profile
The flavor of espresso vs cappuccino can be quite complex. It greatly depends on the varietal or blend used. Most beginners and first timers may describe it as extremely bitter or acid, but this is not exactly true. Espresso is certainly rich and strong. It can give you the most complete profile of the varietal or blend used in the brewing. It may have a combination of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness.

Espresso is much stronger than other coffee drinks. The strength may make you think that it has higher caffeine levels, but that’s not true. Espresso does have higher caffeine per unit volume, but the total caffeine amount is still lower than regular coffee. This is because it comes in much smaller volume. A shot of espresso usually only has 120 – 170 mg caffeine.

Cappuccino: Overview
On the other hand, cappuccino is a coffee drink that is typically made from double espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam. Just like the espresso, cappuccino is made by following a specific process. According to Wikipedia, it is named after the Capuchin friars due to the brown color being similar to their habits.

At first, cappuccino may look similar to latte. They both are made by mixing espresso with milk. However, cappuccino typically has smaller volume than latte with a much thicker layer of milk foam. This is because cappuccino uses espresso, milk, and milk foam in similar amounts.

There are many variations that you can make with the drink. For example, you can use cream instead of milk. You can also add a topping of cinnamon or chocolate powder atop the thick foam. Many professional baristas often make a latte art on the foam, too.

Cappuccino: How to Make
Some people prefer to use a specific ratio to make cappuccino. It consists of 1/3 part espresso, 1/3 part steamed milk, and 1/3 part milk foam. This ratio can already give you a good idea about how to make good cappuccino.

However, the brewing process can be tricky and difficult. As mentioned above, you need an espresso machine to create the espresso base, although it is possible to use instant espresso for the sake of convenience and practicality. Some espresso machines nowadays come with an integrated frother/steam wand for making lattes and cappuccinos.

First of all, pour double shots of espresso to the bottom of the cup. Then, steam and texturize some hot milk using the integrated wand on the machine. You need to create thick foam on the top using high temperature.If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can use a manual frother to prepare the milk. Next, pour the milk carefully into the cup while holding the foam using a spoon. Add the foam last as the uppermost layer.

Cappuccino: Flavor Profile
Cappuccino has a very distinctive flavor. It has a noticeable coffee flavor, but the milk has toned down the strength and acidity. As the effect, the coffee flavor becomes ‘milder’ with slight sweetness from the milk. It is more suitable for people who can’t take full-strength coffee. The texture is typically smooth and velvety due to the thick foam.

Since cappuccino is made from double espresso shots, it may contain higher caffeine levels than a simple shot of espresso or a serving or regular coffee. This is something to consider if you need to reduce your caffeine intake.

Espresso vs Cappuccino

EspressoCappuccino
- Rich, strong coffee drink that is extracted using pressurized water- Made from double espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam
- Used as a base for many other coffee drinks- Uses espresso as the base
- Usually served in a shot (a small cup or glass)- Usually served in a large cup
- Liquid yet thick texture, black or dark brown color- Smooth velvety texture, brighter brown color
- Full-strength coffee flavor that is a combination of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness- The coffee flavor is toned down by the milk

Conclusion
Espresso vs cappuccino are two very different drinks. Espresso is a rich and strong coffee drink made by extracting coffee using pressurized water. It is much stronger than other coffee drinks, and it is often used as a base for other coffee drinks. Meanwhile, cappuccino is a coffee drink made from espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Cappuccino has a milder toned-down flavor with a smooth, velvety texture.

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