The classic cappuccino is synonymous with coffee. It will always have a place on the menu, be it early morning in your local cafe, or after dinner in an upscale restaurant.
But you may have overheard other nearby patrons ordering their after-dessert cappuccino a little differently.
So what does it mean when someone orders:
- A Wet Cappuccino
- A Dry Cappuccino
Well, if you’ve always been curious, but never felt comfortable asking your local barista, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s discover the ins and outs of what exactly a “wet” or “dry” cappuccino is, and which style might be your personal preference for future coffee creations.
Here’s how we’ll break it down…
- Wet cappuccino vs dry cappuccino flavor
- Differences in texture (this is a big one!)
- Who will love each type of cappuccino more
- A pro and con summary for each style
Answers to all your cappuccino questions ahead!
First And Foremost: What Counts As A Cappuccino?
This is important to know for later. A cappuccino is a traditional espresso-based drink that is prepared with steamed milk and milk foam (or microfoam).
And just like many other coffee menu items, it's all about the ratios.
The cappuccino is usually served as one part espresso, one part steamed milk, and one part milk foam. It is served in a smaller cup than a latte. Cappuccinos feature a fantastic harmony of delicious coffee flavors and creamy milk—a balanced, artful drink.
Sometimes you might even get a shake of chocolate on top and a cookie on the side, but for now, let's focus on the espresso and milk!
What is a Wet Cappuccino?
In case it’s not obvious, a wet cappuccino is just that; a little bit more ‘wet’.
When ordering from the barista, they will serve you more steamed milk liquid than in comparison to your run-of-the-mill cappuccino. There is less microfoam but the same size cup.
The flavor and texture of this drink is more creamy, smooth, and rich. You’ll wonder if this might be the smaller brother of the beloved latte.
Since the wet cappuccino is all about the creamy texture and flavor, full fat milk can be best for this concoction, creating an even more velvety and smooth experience.
Due to the higher ratio of steamed milk to espresso, this mix will result in a more homogenized and sweeter flavor profile.
The espresso is balanced out by the liquid milk, which can soften the more bitter notes of a darker espresso shot but may mute the flavors of a lighter, more nuanced roast.
To create more milk foam, you have to create more milk stretch.
Have you ever been chatting to a friend in a busy coffee shop and heard the strange sound of tearing paper? Yet, when you quickly look around, no one nearby seems to be destroying the complimentary magazine selection.
What you are hearing is the barista steaming and ‘stretching’ the milk, spinning it with a high powered steam wand on the coffee machine.
This incorporates air and heat into the cold milk to create the next line of hot drinks.
When making a wet cappuccino, there is less air introduced into the milk than a normal cappuccino. This results in less bubbles and a more smoothly textured drink of milk mixed with espresso.
Due to the change in ratio of milk to foam, the beverage you ordered will more resemble a flat white or latte in its texture, and it may likely have some latte art on top because of the controlled consistency of milk.
Who Will Love it?
A wet cappuccino is great for people who enjoy a latte but are looking for something with less milk. Or a drink that lets the flavors of espresso show through more without losing texture. It’s also ideal for flat white fans who are looking for a little bit more foam and texture.
- Steamed milk that mixes more with the espresso, resulting in a velvety, creamier texture
- A less bitter and more sweet flavor
- Milk and espresso are less likely to separate because of the extra milk, so it can be left to cool for longer
- Latte art on top, perfect for social media!
- The extra liquid milk can mask the flavors of lighter roasts
- Not seen as “traditional”
What is a Dry Cappuccino?
If you have ever graced the seats of a traditional Italian cafe, the dry style may be the cappuccino you are more visually familiar with.
It’s bouncier texture and heaped milky foam almost wiggle in the cup.
Ordering a dry cappuccino translates to asking for less steamed milk liquid and more of that famous bubbly micro foam on top of your espresso.
Due to lower volume of steamed milk, the espresso flavors will be more pronounced and richer than in the wet cappuccino counterpart.
And since there’s less liquid milk and more microfoam, there will be less of that creamy dairy flavor overall.
Many baristas say that it is easier to achieve a lighter, better foam when using a low calorie milk because of the low fat content.
Due to the extra air added to the milk while it is being stretched, the result in both the barista’s jug and your cup can be very foamy.
This can produce a very bubbly, light, and sometimes meringue or powdery texture.
Lots of bubbles also result in a less smooth mouthfeel, which is perfect for people seeking foamy moustaches. There will also be a strong contrast of texture between the separate layers of foam and milk/espresso mixture.
Who Will Love it?
A dry cappuccino is perfect for people who are interested in trying out a foamy moustache before growing their own. It’s also great for people looking for a macchiato style type of foam with a bigger dollop of airy foam.
- Lower calories due to less liquid volume
- Excellent if you are looking for a light drink while still craving a milky espresso drink
- A more clear and rich flavor of espresso
- This version can be the more familiar and common way of drinking cappuccinos
- If the beans used are very dark, you will have less creamy milk to mask it, resulting in a harsh bitter taste
- A powdery and dry texture to the overall drink if quite dry
- A strong contrast of textures from espresso and foam
- Foam dissolves quickly, so drink up!
What is a "Bone Dry Cappuccino"?
To put it simple, no milk and all foam! When ordered, the barista will steam and tear cold milk in a large pitcher until it’s all foam and very little else. This can result in a very powdery tasting milk, if it tastes like much at all.
They will then take a spoon and dollop the foam on top of the espresso, filling the cup up to or over the top of the rim. Mountain of foam, anyone?
Which One is Best for You?
- Wet Cappuccino — Do you enjoy the texture and creaminess of flat whites and lattes, but with a little more foam? Or if you enjoy cortados but want a more milky flavor, a wet cappuccino is for you.
- Dry Cappuccino — If you prefer macchiatos and getting a little bit of milk foam on your nose, or enjoy a clearer and richer flavor of espresso, then a dry cappuccino is for you.
It’s All About the Coffee You Use
At the end of the day, wet or dry milk comes second to the coffee beans you use to brew the espresso. If you brew with low-grade beans, no amount of milk foam or liquid will cover up with burnt, bitter flavors.
That’s why we created the JavaPresse Coffee Club!
Our curated lineup of coffee beans is roasted and shipped within TWO HOURS, so you’re always brewing with hyper-fresh and super-flavorful coffee.
No matter how you like your cappuccino, when you start with fresh, specialty-grade coffee, you can’t really go wrong. Discover the range of freshly roasted flavors under the microfoam here.
Our subscribers get to experience the best, most flavorful coffees and cappuccinos in the world. You can see what they have to say about it here.