Cappuccino has been a popular coffee drink for several decades, but various cappuccino varieties have recently emerged, such as the wet and dry cappuccino.

The main difference between a dry cappuccino and a wet cappuccino is that dry cappuccinos do not contain steamed milk and have a considerable foam pillow on top. Wet cappuccinos use a bit more steamed milk than traditional cappuccinos but have less foam on top.

These are the critical differences between wet and dry cappuccinos.

This article will give a brief explanation of wet and dry cappuccinos and will discuss their key differences.

What is a wet cappuccino and a dry cappuccino?

Both wet and dry cappuccinos contain one or two espresso shots with foam on the top. They are generally served in the same size cup and look similar if you glance at them briefly.

Wet cappuccinos are similar to traditional cappuccinos, but they contain more steamed milk with less foam on top. They are similar to lattes but contain less steamed milk. Dry cappuccinos, in contrast, do not contain any steamed milk, and they have a much larger foam pillow.

A side-by-side comparison between a wet cappuccino and a dry cappuccino.
Wet cappuccino on the left. Dry cappuccino on the right

Wet cappuccinos are so-called because they contain more milk but less foam than traditional cappuccinos.

Baristas consider milk foam to be a dry substance. Dry cappuccinos have the perfect name since they don’t contain any milk (only a foam layer) and have a grainy and gritty texture.

Wet vs. dry cappuccino, how do they differ?

Now that I’ve briefly explained the wet and dry cappuccino concepts, we can look at the differences between the two.

Wet and dry cappuccinos are similar in that they both contain one to two espresso shots with foam on the surface. Baristas can create coffee art on both dry and wet cappuccinos, making them look similar.

This, however, is where their similarities end and they differ from each other in the following ways:

Wet cappuccino: Bone dry cappuccino:
The traditional way of making cappuccinos A modern take on cappuccino-making
Typically includes whole or low-fat milk plus milk foam Contains no milk, only milk foam
Has a less dense foam layer Has a thick foam pillow on top
Smooth, silky, rich, and creamy texture Powdery, grainy, and slightly dry texture
Sweeter and more diluted espresso taste due to the milk content Rich, bold, and somewhat bitter taste
Higher calorie count due to the higher milk content Fewer calories due to less milk
Easy to make at home More complex to prepare
Cools down faster as the heat escapes through the thinner foam layer Stays hot for longer due to the insulating effect of the thick foam pillow
Most coffee shops have regular cappuccinos on the menu Many coffee shops do not offer bone dry cappuccinos

Taste

When it comes to taste, both wet and dry cappuccinos taste like coffee but in different ways.

Since wet cappuccinos contain steamed milk, this camouflages the espresso’s harsh and bitter taste.

The steamed milk gives a wet cappuccino a creamy, mild, and slightly sweet taste. A wet cappuccino will likely mask its subtle flavor profile if you use a light roast bean for the espresso.

Some coffee shops make flavored cappuccinos by adding coffee syrup. It is far more common for a wet cappuccino to be flavored than a dry cappuccino, as baristas don’t usually make flavored espresso.

Most cappuccinos have a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or cocoa powder added before it is served:

Dusting a cappuccino with cinnamon.

Dry cappuccinos, on the other hand, contain only espresso and foam. The foam typically doesn’t mix with the espresso. Once you have enjoyed your dry cappuccino foam, you are left with only espresso.

This allows you to appreciate its bitter and strong taste, in addition to the coffee bean’s other flavor notes.

Many espresso beans have notes of cocoa and berries, with slight earthy overtones. When drinking a dry cappuccino, you’re more likely to notice these subtle flavors.

Tip: Learn how to make a dry cappuccino in under five minutes using this recipe!

Caffeine content and strength

When making a cappuccino, baristas typically use either one or two espresso shots, regardless of the type of cappuccino being made.

Dry and wet cappuccinos, therefore, contain the same amount of caffeine.

If the cappuccino contains one espresso shot, the caffeine content will be between 30 and 50mg (0.001 and 0.0017 oz). For two espresso shots, the amount of caffeine is between 60 and 100mg (0.002 and 0.003 oz).

Single and doppio espresso next to each other.
Single espresso on the left. Double espresso on the right

Although dry and wet cappuccinos can be equally as strong in terms of caffeine content, a wet cappuccino can taste weaker because of the milk.

Coffee fans who enjoy the strong taste of espresso may prefer a dry cappuccino as the taste is not watered down.

Milk content and calories

If you’re watching the number of calories you consume, an easy way to cut back is by drinking lower-calorie beverages.

When comparing wet and dry cappuccinos, there is a significant difference in calories, primarily due to the amount of milk used.

Wet cappuccinos typically contain between 85 and 100ml (two to three fluid ounces) of steamed milk.

Most baristas use full-fat milk to make cappuccinos, which will bring the milk’s calorie count to 53 calories (for 85ml or two fluid ounces) or 62 calories (for 100ml or three fluid ounces).

Whole milk makes the creamiest and best-tasting foam for cappuccinos and is the most commonly-used milk type in coffee shops. For a vegan-friendly option, oat milk is a great alternative:

Oatly oat milk.

When making a dry cappuccino, it is recommended that you use 300ml (or ten fluid ounces) of milk to make the foam. Baristas typically use half this amount for a wet cappuccino’s foam.

Including the foam and milk, a wet cappuccino requires around 250 ml (eight and a half fluid ounces) of milk in total.

On the other hand, dry cappuccinos need 300ml (or ten fluid ounces) for the foam only, making them higher in calories as the espresso has negligible calories.

Availability

Any good coffee shop will sell a traditional cappuccino or a latte. Most coffee shops will also offer wet cappuccinos as these are easy to prepare and are halfway between a traditional cappuccino and a latte.

However, not all coffee shops offer dry cappuccinos, as it is still a relatively new coffee concept.

Amount of foam used

One of the main differences between wet and dry cappuccinos is the amount of foam used.

A wet cappuccino contains a thin layer of foamed milk, which is less than that of a traditional cappuccino. Still, a dry cappuccino typically has double the amount of foamed milk as a wet cappuccino.

Preparation technique

Wet cappuccinos usually are easier and less time-consuming to prepare than dry cappuccinos.

Creating the frothy layer with a steam wand requires a unique technique and involves holding it at an angle just beneath the milk’s surface.

This can take a while to get right, and it’s easier to create the small amount of foam required for a wet cappuccino than the more significant amount needed for a dry cappuccino.

Homemade wet cappuccino.
Wet cappuccino

Aside from the foamed milk, wet cappuccinos need steamed milk, while dry cappuccinos don’t require any. Heating the milk for a wet cappuccino is easy as this can be done using a microwave.

You can check out these six techniques to froth milk at home if you want to learn more.

Temperature

Both wet and dry cappuccinos are prepared using the same temperature espresso. Espressos are normally brewed at temperatures ranging from 195 to 205°F (90.6 to 96°C).

When making a wet cappuccino, most baristas recommend heating your milk to around 150°F (65.6°C) as this is the optimal temperature for cappuccinos.

Both wet and dry cappuccinos contain a layer of foam and, because a dry cappuccino has a much thicker layer, the underlying espresso remains warmer for longer.

If you usually take a long time to drink your cappuccino, a dry cappuccino will be a more enjoyable coffee experience.

Texture

Dry and wet cappuccinos differ significantly in their texture.

Since dry cappuccinos consist of only espresso and milk foam, this provides an interesting texture contrast.

Drinking a dry cappuccino allows you to enjoy the airy, bubbly, and lightweight texture of the foam and then the syrupy bitterness of the espresso.

Homemade bone dry cappuccino.
Dry cappuccino

Since there is no milk to soften the espresso’s texture, you experience its full grainy and slightly gritty texture.

Depending on the coffee bean type used to make the espresso, the texture can also be powdery and dry.

Wet cappuccinos contain less microfoam than a dry cappuccino, and the steamed milk often combines with the espresso for a silky and smooth texture. There is less of a texture contrast with wet cappuccinos.

When drinking a wet cappuccino, the first texture experience is with the airy foam layer but is short-lived.

You are then treated to the drink’s creamy texture, making for an easy and gentle coffee-drinking experience.

Tip: Learn how to make a wet cappuccino by following these easy steps!

Which is better? A dry or wet cappuccino?

Now that you’ve learned about the differences between wet and dry cappuccinos, you are in a position to determine which one is better.

However, when it comes to coffee, there is no best type, and it all depends on what you prefer.

If you usually like lattes, you may enjoy a wet cappuccino. Also, if you’re looking for a low-calorie, creamy, mild, and easy-to-prepare cappuccino, a wet cappuccino would be your best bet.

Flavored coffee lovers may prefer wet cappuccinos as some coffee shops sometimes use coffee syrups in wet cappuccinos. Espresso fans looking to try a new take on their favorite drink may find dry cappuccinos delicious and exciting.

If you love savoring the taste of espresso and tasting its subtle flavor profile, a dry cappuccino would be an excellent option.

Related coffee comparison articles

Are you wondering how the cappuccino compares to other coffees?

Great! Check out the articles below for more in-depth coffee comparisons:

And to compare more coffees, visit the coffee comparison hub!

Final thoughts

Wet and dry cappuccinos are similar as they both contain espresso. Both have the same caffeine content because they use the same amount of espresso.

Dry cappuccinos have only espresso and a very thick milk foam layer. They remain hotter for longer, have a gritty texture, and taste bitter and rich.

Wet cappuccinos, in contrast, contain steamed milk, a thin foamed milk layer, and espresso.

Their taste is slightly sweet and creamy, and the texture is silky and smooth.

Dry cappuccinos are more challenging to prepare, have higher calorie content, and are less widely available in coffee shops.

More espresso-based recipes to try

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On my coffee blog you will find everything you need in order to start brewing coffee at home. Ranging from the basics; to the newest coffee recipes everybody talks about! You can learn more about me here.

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