If you've ever wondered about the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, you should know you're not alone. There can be a lot of confusion about the differences between espresso-based drinks, even with seemingly commonplace orders like a latte vs. cappuccino. (Or maybe it's cappuccino vs. latte? And, like, what is a flat white, anyway? You see how many questions need to be answered here?) Knowing what's in your favorite espresso drinks can be really helpful even if you never have any intention of becoming a barista, because if you know how your favorite drink is made, you can make sure it's made to your preferences every time. And learning the differences between a latte and a cappuccino or a cortado and a flat white doesn't have to be rocket science, especially if you've got our help.
All espresso drinks are basically made with some combination of the same two ingredients: steamed milk, either with or without foam, and espresso. So the difference between espresso drinks has to do with the ratios of milk to foam to espresso. There are, of course, occasionally other additions to the drink. (I'm looking at you, affogato.) But for the most part, if you understand these ratios, you'll be able to order the perfect coffee every single time.
So stop panicking about what you're going to order the next time you step up to your barista, because we've got the only guide to espresso-based drinks you'll ever need.