The cappuccino is one of a coffee drinker’s most coveted beverages. Classic, culturally cherished, and creamy.
But does a cappuccino have caffeine? The answer should delight most: Yes.
For the uninitiated, what is a cappuccino and what’s in a cappuccino? Cappuccino ingredients include a combination of espresso and milk that are steamed together to a point of adding a layer of foam. The creation of the foam is a chemical process that happens during the heating and not a product of an added ingredient.
As a brief history, the word cappuccino comes from the Italian language and refers to, surprisingly, nothing coffee-related at all. It refers to friars, or more specifically, the brown color of their hooded robes—the Capuchin robe.
The drink migrated from Italy to Western Europe in the 1700s—though not called a cappuccino there at the time—and emerged as a popular drink in the 1900s after the World Wars. The drink was eventually perfected as brewers came to develop more able espresso machines that came closer to how cappuccino is made today. By the 1980s, coffee shops in the United States had transformed the cappuccino into a trendy coffee drink alongside lattes.
Caffeine in a Cappuccino
How much caffeine a cappuccino boasts is entirely dependent on the amount of espresso used. All of the drink’s caffeine content comes from the espresso, not milk.
As for how to make a cappuccino, the recipe is deceivingly simple. A cappuccino, in its smallest (and some would argue more traditional) size, comes with at least one espresso shot—or 1 ounce of espresso. That amounts to anywhere from 40-64 mg of caffeine, depending on the espresso used and how it was prepared.
At a coffee shop, you’re more likely to be served a cappuccino in an 8-ounce container, or a 12-ounce, amounting to two 1-ounce shots of espresso and 80-128 mg of caffeine. Order a large cappuccino (which is not an especially common option) and you’re likely to consume 3 ounces of espresso, or 120-192 mg of caffeine.
Cappuccino vs. Latte
Similarly, a latte—or a macchiato, or mocha, etc.—will all have caffeine content that is dependent on the amount of espresso combined with the milk. In terms of caffeine content, the difference between a latte and cappuccino is variable. The amount varies based on what a coffee shop decides to pour in the drink or what espresso they’ve selected.
However, you can reasonably assume that you’ll get more of a caffeine jolt from a cappuccino than a latte by way of how quickly it’s consumed. Lattes are made with sipping in mind. Conversely, cappuccinos and other small espresso-based beverages, like a macchiato or cortado, are designed to be drank quickly and harken back to Italian culture of drinking espresso at a bar, not taking it to-go.
For how many calories exist in a cappuccino compared to a latte, consider that more milk is added to a latte than a cappuccino. Going by traditional sizes, a cappuccino will be served in a 6-ounce ceramic cup and contain equal parts espresso, milk, and foam—or, simply stated, approximately 2 ounces of espresso and 4 ounces of milk (2 ounces being milk and 2 ounces being foam). A latte will have, in an 8-ounce size, 2 ounces of espresso and 6 ounces of milk.
The calorie count also, of course, will go up or down based on the milk you decided to use and whether you add sugar.
However, in terms of caffeine, while you may be able to finish your espresso faster than you would your latte — getting that burst of caffeine faster — both beverages contain the same amount of caffeine. An 8-ounce latte will contain more milk than a traditionally-sized 6-ounce espresso. Yet, there is no caffeine in milk. A cappuccino contains 2 ounces of espresso, which packs a 128 mg punch of caffeine. Similarly, a latte also only contains 2 ounces of espresso and the same amount of caffeine.
While a cappuccino contains a concentrated blast of caffeine — and rich, espresso flavor, you can get the same amount of caffeine in a latte, it would just take you a little longer to finish your beverage and process that caffeine over time. Ultimately, it depends on the type of coffee beverage you’re in the mood for, flavor wise. Sip and enjoy, then reap the benefits of the caffeine later!