Cappuccino vs. Black Coffee: What’s the Difference?

Samanta Fryer
Samanta Fryer
Samanta Fryer is our senior editor and content writer, at CoffeeVibe. Apart from writing and reading, she’s fond of the coffee brewing process and enjoys tasting new coffe read more
Reviewed By
Ryan Hendricks
Ryan Hendricks
Ryan Hendricks is our tester, who puts products through their paces. He used to be a barista and is now a full-time coffee enthusiast. He’s always testing out new gadgets, read more
Last updated: August 12, 2023
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Thanks to its incredibly high versatility, coffee has turned into one of the most famous beverages around the world as it’s ideal for meeting new friends, making conversations, and starting your mornings. However, though the years, many different ways have been invented to help enjoy your coffee, ranging from instant coffee to milk combinations and artisan coffee – the possibilities are just endless.

With that said, we would now introduce you to cappuccino, which is actually a type of coffee, as opposed to what some people believe. In fact, cappuccino is one of the most popular coffee brews to date, being a concoction produced from the brewed liquid from coffee beans with milk froth and milk. For people who people who desire the strong coffee taste made a little milder with the soft touch of milk, cappuccino is likely to be their beverage of choice.

This being the case, you may be curious to know the difference between a cappuccino and a regular coffee. If that’s true, we assure you that you are not alone as there are a lot of coffee enthusiasts in the world who’re keen on knowing how each is different from the other. Of course, we have got you covered as usual. Our ultimate guide has been designed to explain and make you understand everything you may want to know about these drinks.

What is a cappuccino?

Cappuccino, as it’s widely called, is an espresso-based drink. Apart from that, it also contains foamed and steamed milk, which means you get only one regular round of espresso, with three to five times more frothed and steamed milk. Based on the quality of where you are buying from, the milk may be a flavorless, dry foam or it may be microfoam actually, which is extremely hot milk that is thickly packed with small air bubbles.

Cappuccino vs. Black Coffee: What's the Difference?

Typically, the cappuccino is served in a six-ounce glass that showcases its layering, which allows experienced baristas to quickly differentiate a well-made cappuccino from a poorly made one. To prepare cappuccino, you need two shots of steamed milk and two shots of espresso, balanced with the milk foam.

What is coffee?

The coffee is actually an umbrella term for every drink produced from roasted coffee beans. While we all know coffee, there are different types under various names. Brewed coffee, drip coffee, filter coffee, stovetop coffee, and Moka pot coffee are some of the different types of coffee we know. While each type is brewed using a different method, the result is usually similar – not espresso.

A regular American coffee is a lot simpler in comparison to cappuccino. For its preparation, you don’t need frothing milk or an espresso machine. Instead, you need only a basic drip coffee maker. The best part of all this is that this machine can be easily operated even by a beginner to prepare a nice cup of coffee is it only involves a couple of simple steps.

What’s the difference between cappuccino and espresso?

This section is actually the most important part of the article as it talks about the main subject for which the article was written. As you might have guessed, we have pitted the cappuccino and the traditional American coffee against each other, using different variables.

Brewing method

The process involved in generating and roasting the beans provides each coffee with its unique flavor. Thereafter, the roasted beans are grounded and then sold to different coffee shops. Meanwhile, the instant beans are usually differently produced from the liquid that has been brewed.

Cappuccino, on the other hand, is produced with a machine that has roasted beans that are compressed into a small puck-sized shape. Afterward, while under pressure, hot water will pass through this puck. Then, the liquid will pass through a filter than permits the solution only without the grains. The liquid gotten from this process is referred to as espresso or black coffee.

Milk and foam

Cappuccino vs. Black Coffee: What's the Difference?

A cappuccino needs a balanced mixture of espresso and milk products for a remarkable drink. In fact, cappuccinos are usually one-third of espresso, one-third of steamed milk, and one-third of milk foam, which results in a noticeably layered drink. You can only attain a solid cappuccino if you’ve utilized these milk products precisely. It can also be a little difficult since using a higher amount can turn it into a latte, and if less amount is used, it can end up tasting like a macchiato.

Likewise, milk products aren’t really important for traditional American coffee. most times, an American coffee will be a drip coffee cup that is served black if it’s ordered from somewhere. It usually depends on people’s personal preference to add cream or milk into the coffee as black coffee actually can be too much for beginners. However, those who drink this traditional American coffee are used to it and usually drink it without putting any milk.


For the coffee coverage, it’s super important for the beans to be ground well. Apart from the grinding being important, the beans are of similar importance as well. Thus, in order to make a quality drink, you have to ensure the beans are freshly roasted and are of high-quality for the best taste. To help you out here, we suggest you take it upon yourself to grind the coffee to guarantee the freshness that’s needed for a better drink.

In the event that you don’t own a grinder, then you need to either borrow one or go buy one. It’s important to have your own grinder in these circumstances as you will have the freedom to brew multiple types of coffee beverages such as Latte, traditional American coffee, cappuccino, and numerous others.

For cappuccino, an extremely fine grind is required as this is the only way you can make a strong drink that will offer the intensity that a regular coffee can not have. In the same way, the drip coffee needs a medium crudeness, which allows you to get a fairly strong cup. Besides, this prevents the brewing system from clogging with it as well.

Caffeine content

To be honest, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, and we don’t think there will ever be. Every method of brewing usually extracts caffeine and flavor from the already ground coffee that you use. Therefore, some may do it a bit better while some may do it a bit less. The thing that is more important than the method of brewing is the coffee beans you use, and its quantity. Besides, there is no fixed recipe for any brewing method. While it’s true that an espresso is often produced using seven to nine grams of coffee, this may result somewhere between 60 milligram caffeine to 130. Based on your coffee bean and how you end up using it, you may get a bit more caffeine or a bit less caffeine.


Cappuccino vs. Black Coffee: What's the Difference?

Bitterness and acidity usually depend on the kind of coffee, of course. When you add milk, the flavor of the coffee usually reduces. However, it’s important to note that cappuccino has an extremely strong taste. In fact, the ratio of the coffee to milk is about 1:1.5 in a cappuccino, bearing in mind that foamed milk is double in volume at least in comparison to streamed milk. In the end, cappuccino usually has a bold and rich flavor, as you would expect from any espresso. However, the steamed milk is likely to tone it down.

Time of day

While you have all the freedom in the world to choose the kind of drink you want at different times of the day, you can’t against the fact that some drinks are suitable only at particular times of the day. For example, cappuccino is usually taken at breakfast time. Hardly will you see anyone taking it at dinner or lunch, except if the person is really craving it or the person knows nothing about the timing.

The reason why cappuccino is often taken in the morning is because it contains a higher amount of milk products that induce indigestion.

The traditional coffee, on the other hand, is ideal to take in the morning and late in the evening. In other words, you can use it to start your day or use it to end your day, or even both. In fact, some consumers even drink drip coffee throughout the day, but we must mention that it reaches ultimate popularity just around lunchtime. For example, coffee is served mostly with breakfast and lunch, and it’s taken at dinner course sometimes, for feasts and other events like that.

Calories and nutrition

Apparently, it’s important to talk about calories and nutrition as well. According to the nutrient database of USDA, a traditional coffee cup contains a few calories, about two calories in an eight-ounce cup. However, consumers usually have a tendency of drinking multiple cups at a time. Some even add sweeteners, which is certain to increase the number of calories in a coffee cup. Therefore, everything depends on your particular preference.

Using tablespoon, the measurement for calories are: cream contains 52 calories, while sugar contains 48 calories. When it comes to nutrition, it’s enough to drink one or two cups of coffee. However, if you finish a whole pot using a few spoons of sugar or dairy, it’s not good at all.

On the other hand, cappuccino usually contains fewer calories. It must, however, be noted that two-third of milk-based portions contains higher number of calories. A classic cappuccino has six grams of fat and 110 calories. Likewise, the Starbucks 16-ounce cappuccino contains about 140 calories. The additional sugar and cocoa powder will, however, quickly shoot up the number of calories. Thus, a regular cappuccino isn’t bad for your health at all. Flat whites and lattes, however, contain a higher number of calories and may have damaging effects.

In conclusion

Cappuccino vs. Black Coffee: What's the Difference?

Whether you want to admit or not, it was important to settle the differences between a traditional cappuccino and American drip coffee, especially as there’s a lot of people wondering why they are different and how they are different. While this article has already detailed everything you should know about each of them, we’ll do a little recap here.

In a nutshell, cappuccino is an accurate espresso-based beverage with milk foam and steamed milk, and it is ideally served for breakfast. American drip coffee, on the other hand, is a weaker drink that’s often served black. However, it can be taken with cream or sugar added. Unlike cappuccino, American drip coffee can actually be served anytime in the day, depending on your personal preference.

Therefore, after reading this article, it will no longer be a problem for you to choose between a Cappuccino and an American drip coffee. While experts recommend different times to take each drink, the time you take each beverage totally depends on your individual preference.

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