A cappuccino, is an Italian coffee drink traditionally prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk foam. Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano defines cappuccino as a beverage prepared with 25 ml espresso, and 100 ml steam-foamed milk. In coffee shops in North America, cappuccino is prepared with a doppio espresso and frothed milk up to 6 fl oz.
The milk content is about two thirds of the total beverage volume. However, half of the milk is simply steamed milk, while the other half is foamed milk, which serves mostly as decoration. So in effect, the total content of milk is about the same as the content of coffee. Cappuccino is often confused with latte, which has a greater milk quantity.
There are some major differences between cappuccino and latte. Latte is a North-american beverage, while cappuccino is a traditional Italian coffee drink. The most important aspect of cappuccino is the milk quantity. The relatively small milk quantity makes the coffee stand out, and we can still taste the espresso shot. In beverages with a higher content of milk, (such as latte), the milk drenches the espresso, and covers the coffee taste.
Visually, cappuccino has a dome that sticks out of the cappuccino cup. This dome is made of the frothed milk, and is an important part of the preparation. Traditionally, cappuccino is not decorated, because foamed milk can not be poured as with lattes. Many cafes use stencils to decorate with cocoa powder, however, this is not an important part of the traditional preparation process.