milk ratio in types of capuccino

How Much Milk is in a Cappuccino ( #1 Complete Guide)

There are many kinds of milk coffees around the world, but none can beat the popularity of a cappuccino! The drink is so popular that even non-coffee drinkers know all about it.

“Did you know there’s even a National Cappuccino Day? That says volumes about the love for a hot cup of cappuccino among coffee lovers.”

All you need for a cup of cappuccino is milk and coffee.

But the quantity of milk, coffee type, ingredient ratios, and making style all are important in making your cappuccino go from good to great.

Here we’ll help you get all the information you need to amp up your cappuccino-making skills!

In this article, we are talking about all things milk. How much milk you would need for different cappuccino sizes, how to create milk froth and how to do it the way your favorite coffee place does it are all questions we’ll tackle here.

So if you ever thought it was all too complicated before, not to worry. Get ready to learn!

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What is the ratio of coffee to milk in a cappuccino?

The ratio of coffee to milk in cappuccinos is a shot or two of espresso, milk, and a thick layer of milk foam(one-third each). For a 12 oz cappuccino, you add about 6-7 oz of steamed whole milk and finally 3-4 oz of foam. Modern cappuccinos- the kind you get in Starbucks- are typically sweeter and creamier.

First, what exactly is a cappuccino?

It is an espresso-based coffee drink prepared with milk. The components of a cappuccino are simple enough: Brewed coffee, hot steaming milk, and velvety milk foam.

While the quality of the ingredients needs to be top-notch, it is also vital to get the measurements and mixing ratios accurate to get a flavorful drink.

Let’s start with the ingredients.

Traditional cappuccinos– those made in Italy back in the day- consisted of mixing brewed espresso-style coffee with creamy milk until you got the desired color(the color of the robes of Capuchin monks, hence the name!).

More recently, cappuccinos have a shot or two of espresso, milk, and a thick layer of milk foam(one-third each). Modern cappuccinos- the kind you get in Starbucks- are typically sweeter and creamier.

They are also customizable and let you play with the ratios of milk, espresso, and sweetener depending on your flavor preferences.

How much milk is in a 12 oz cappuccino?

Cappuccinos are usually available in multiple sizes that range from 6 oz to 20 oz, depending on where you get your drink.

In the US, you can expect a 12 oz cup instead of the 6 oz serving that is usually consumed traditionally (like in Europe).

The larger size is telling as it is milkier and has less intense caffeine flavors when compared to traditional cappuccino.

The generally accepted ratio for a cappuccino is one-third espresso, one-third milk, and one-third milk foam.

While not always followed to the dot(there are many different opinions on what constitutes a real cappuccino), the Specialty Coffee Association of America advocates this standard.

So how much milk do you need for a 12 oz cup of cappuccino? Ideally, you’ll use a couple of espresso shots, which is a total of 2 oz.

Then you add about 6-7 oz of steamed whole milk and finally 3-4 oz of foam.

The milk content is higher, but it mustn’t be so high that it overpowers the espresso and turns your cappuccino into a latte or a flat white. 

The milk for a cappuccino is specially prepared to give it a higher amount of aeration and texture. We’ll talk more about that in another section.

How much milk is in a Starbucks cappuccino?

If you are in the mood for coffee, nothing beats making a fresh cup at home.

But if you’re a coffee novice craving a cappuccino, the best place to get one is at your nearby Starbucks!

Starbucks houses four sizes of cappuccinos – 8,12,16, and 20 oz.

They usually use 2% milk (whole milk and other substitutes are available) and use a whole lot of milk foam.

Starbucks loosely follows the ratio of thirds to concoct their cappuccino, but they use almost equal quantities of milk foam and milk.

The special Starbucks cappuccino recipe calls for 50% milk and 50% foam over a shot of espresso and even some cinnamon or chocolate shavings on top.

A 12 oz cappuccino (without any additives or sweeteners) comes to around 100 calories and costs about $3.65. 

How much milk is in other types of coffee?

We talked about how much milk you need for a cappuccino. You might be wondering then – what about the other coffee types? The differences between these coffees might seem minimal at first glance. But it is essential to be precise in measurements and mixing to achieve the perfect taste for a cappuccino or the drink of your choice. Take a look:

Regular brewed coffee

It’s all about your taste buds and coffee affinity. Brewed coffee by itself is quite bitter and acrid, and adding milk makes it sweeter and milder. Depending on how intense you like your coffee, you could add a splash of milk, a third, or even half of a cup if you prefer something creamy. 

Regular brews like filter coffee, french press, and espresso do well with plain, whole, or skimmed milk(or substitutes) and are not required to be crafted in layers. Unlike other specially crafted coffees, the milk foam is not considered necessary.


Like cappuccino, a latte is an equally popular coffee choice that follows a specific milk-coffee-foam ratio. Unlike cappuccino, latte is more milk-forward and consists of 1/3rd espresso, 2/3rd milk, and a smaller foam layer. The milk is not as aerated as in a cappuccino.

Macchiato: Macchiato has a more intense caffeine profile with 2/3rd espresso and only 1/3rd milk. It could be a dollop of milk or just thick foam.

Flat white: It is pretty similar to a latte but has slightly higher levels of espresso. A thick layer of smooth microfoam goes in place of the steamed milk.

How do you make the perfect milk for cappuccino?

Cappuccino may be a coffee-based drink.

But it is the milk and foam that gives it its characteristic taste and texture. Well-aerated and textured milk is key to getting the cappuccino’s consistency right and for the drink to taste smooth and creamy. 

Milk type

As you might expect, whole dairy milk is a go-to choice for creating a rich cappuccino drink. The fats and proteins in full-fat milk are vital to creating the perfect foam. The creaminess of the foam also depends on the freshness and quality of the milk (grass-fed, pasture-raised milk tastes better). However, if you want to avoid whole milk for your cappuccino, there are other options for you to try.

 Alternatives to whole milk

2% milk or skimmed milk usually works fine. Of course, you will have to forgo some of that creaminess whole milk provides. The air bubbles might also appear larger when you use low-fat milk. For a non-dairy or vegan cappuccino, plant-based milk such as almond milk and oat milk can also be used.

Milk temperature

Many professional coffee preparers often use cold milk and even a cold flask to begin the aeration process. Why? Because cold makes the fat molecules harden and it takes a longer time for the steaming process to reach a high temperature. And the result – smaller, smoother bubbles.

Aerating and texturing

This is the most important part of creating that perfect cappuccino-ready milk. For a barista or someone with a professional espresso maker, that is all you need to make thick frothy milk. The steam arm of the espresso machine heats the cold milk and injects air bubbles into it.

The steam wand acts like a mini whisk that rapidly whips the milk adding air to it and simultaneously increasing the temperature. It is critical to have the temperature optimal at all times, for overheating can break down the foam and even ruin it completely.

Steaming the milk stretches and aerates it and increases its volume. So when filling the milk jug, make sure to leave enough space for it to rise. To texturize milk for a cappuccino, the steam wand is inserted deeper at an angle to create a whirlpool until the foam is airy yet stable. You would let the steamer work a little longer for a cappuccino than a latte.

When done right, the perfect temperature for steamed milk would sit between 55–65°C (139–149°F). It might sound complicated, but if you want to do this on your own, all you have to do is follow a few instructions to a T, and luscious milk will be ready in no time!

Or you can get milk foam in 2 minutes using a milk froth machine like this one by Thereye.  

How long to froth milk for a cappuccino

Ideally, frothing for around 20 seconds should give you well-aerated, textured milk. The milk pitcher needs to be held at an angle under the steam wand and swirled around constantly to help the foaming process.

Unlike a latte, a cappuccino needs a thicker stabler foam, which means the foaming process needs to be a few seconds longer. This ensures that the milk is heated to a higher degree and is much thicker.

Frothing milk at home

There’s no denying that it’s easier to create a well-crafted cappuccino at home if you have an espresso machine. But if you don’t, no need to worry. With a few easy techniques, you can create a delicious cappuccino at home even without professional tools.

  1. Shake it up with a mason jar
  2. Whisk up hot milk with a manual or electric whisk (our top recommendation is this whisk here)
  3. Pulse the milk using an electric blender
  4. Use a french press- make both coffee and milk foam!
  5. Buy a milk frother – They are compact and inexpensive, check this one here!

The foam created with these methods might not give you a professional-tasting cappuccino, but it will definitely make a tasty drink.

And when you feel ready to take the next step into advanced coffee making, a coffee machine would be a worthy investment.

Milk for different cappuccino styles

Cappuccinos have been around for a while now. You’ll find it relatively easy to find a coffee shop anywhere around the world that serves cappuccino or at least an inhouse version of the drink. We already talked about the traditional and the modern styles of cappuccinos. But did you know that several variations of cappuccinos are possible simply by playing around with milk? Here are some of them:

Wet cappuccino

A wet cappuccino uses more milk(usually full-fat) and relatively less foam. Aeration is significantly lower when compared to a classic cappuccino which makes the coffee not as dry.

A ‘wetter’ cappuccino or one that’s very wet is almost identical to a latte and is sweeter and creamier because of the high milk content.

Dry cappuccino

A dry cappuccino is the opposite of a wet cappuccino in that it uses less milk and more foam. The espresso flavor is more intense and the coffee is a lot less milky. If you’re someone who loves a sweeter coffee without too much milk, this would be a drink you would enjoy.

Bone-dry cappuccino

is an even drier variation of the cappuccino. It has no steamed milk and is served with dollops of thick foam. It is similar to a traditional style of Macchiato and is very espresso-forward in taste. 

Iced cappuccino

An iced cappuccino is essentially similar to a regular cappuccino, except that it is a cold and blended beverage. Another big difference – instead of steaming hot milk, cold milk is added to the espresso shot and topped with spoonfuls of foam. 

This drink is very similar to an iced latte but is more foam-heavy. A Starbucks-style iced cappuccino uses an innovative cold foam made of nonfat milk and very little milk over ice and espresso. The result is a delicious and refreshing summer drink!

Cappuccino with non-dairy milk alternatives

Whether for health reasons or dietary requirements, many coffee drinkers opt for non-dairy substitutes over milk. Unlike regular coffee which works well with many dairy substitutes, a cappuccino is a more complex drink that requires a foaming milk alternative. 

Almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk score higher on creaminess, sweetness, and foam stability and these work well with espresso in creating a delectable non-dairy cappuccino.

Conclusion on how much milk is in a capuccino

As we said, the measurement of ingredients makes each coffee drink different from the others. The key to understanding and preparing your favorite cup of cappuccino lies in getting your ratios right and keeping them consistent. Adding flavorings and toppings is a fun way to keep experimenting with cappuccinos.

With your newfound knowledge, you now know about the various types of cappuccinos and how the milk and foam quantity and texture vary for each of them. Be sure to find out your favorite cappuccino blend the next time you visit a nearby Starbucks or your neighborhood coffee joint!

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How much milk is in a cappuccino

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