The Difference Between a Wet and a Dry Cappuccino

Cappuccino drink

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When it comes to the language of coffee and espresso drinks, there's quite a bit of terminology to consider before placing an order. In fact, there are so many terms out there that constant jokes are made about the complicated and ridiculous-sounding orders coffee drinkers request, like a triple half-caff, low-fat, no foam latte with a caramel drizzle. Or a 1/3 decaf, non-fat, extra foam, soy cappuccino with four Sweet'N Lows and whipped cream.

Learning a few main terms to order your coffee with can make the difference between finding a new favorite drink and tossing a pricey beverage in the trash. Change things up with a coffee drink that you truly understand.


A cappuccino is a popular coffee drink that originated in Italy and is named after the Capuchin monks whose light-brown robes were the same color as the drink. This double espresso beverage has a layer of steamed milk plus another layer of milk foam on top of the coffee.

A typical cappuccino recipe calls for roughly equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. However, as with many coffee beverages these days, there are variations on the type of cappuccino you can get.

Wet vs. Dry

Words matter when it comes to coffee, and whether you're craving a mocha, a latte, or a cappuccino, these descriptive terms can make or break your drink order—especially when it comes to cappuccino drinks. The two key terms to know when it comes to cappuccinos are "wet" and "dry." A "wet" beverage is more creamy because it has more steamed milk, whereas a "dry" drink has more frothed milk. A wet cappuccino will also be slightly sweeter because there's more steamed milk to dilute the bitter espresso, while a dry cappuccino will make the espresso's bitterness more pronounced.

The foam in dry drinks keeps them more insulated, so they stay hotter longer. Both wet and dry cappuccinos can feature latte art—which isn't reserved just for cafe lattes.

To add a little bit of complexity to your order, ask for a cappuccino that's "bone dry," which calls for only espresso and foam—with no steamed milk at all. A bone dry cappuccino will take a while for your barista to prepare and will require a lot of milk because of the large amount of foam that needs to be created.

On the opposite end of the wet-dry continuum, a "super wet" cappuccino is simply called a latte, since lattes consist of a mix of espresso and steamed milk.

Personalize Your Order

After choosing your type of beverage, you can personalize your drink with many different ingredients. The first step is to choose your milk. There's an array of different kinds of milk to choose from, so consider its taste, thickness, and flavor. You can go for nonfat/skim, a classic 1 percent, 2 percent, or whole milk, seasonal eggnog, or something nondairy like vanilla soy milk or unsweetened almond milk.

Then, you can choose a sweetener. Go for all-natural raw sugar or honey, regular sugar or an alternative like agave syrup, or sugar-free sweeteners such as Splenda, Sweet'N Low, or Equal.

After you've chosen a sweetener, decide on the overall flavor of your coffee beverage. Choose a strong base flavor like vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, raspberry, or pumpkin spice. You can always think about what's in season if you're unsure of what to choose, or pick something on the board you've never had before—it just might turn up a new favorite order.

Once you've settled on the main flavor, you can add a fun topping to your cappuccino, like a powder, drizzle, or whipped cream. There are many flavors to whip up, like cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses, marshmallow, and sea salt.