The Perfect Cappuccino

Cappuccino
J Shepherd/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
Ratings (47)
  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 1 serving
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
73 Calories
4g Fat
6g Carbs
4g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Light, foamy cappuccinos are a favorite drink for many a coffee lover. With two basic barista skills (pulling shots and foaming milk), you can learn how to make cappuccinos yourself.

A cappuccino is an Italian coffee drink that is traditionally prepared with double espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam on top. Cream may be used instead of milk and is often topped with cinnamon. It is typically smaller in volume than a caffè latte, with a thicker layer of microfoam.

Microfoam is frothed/steamed milk in which the bubbles are so small and so numerous that they are not seen, but it makes the milk lighter and thicker. As a result, the microfoam will remain partly on top of the mug when the espresso is poured correctly as well as mix well with the rest of the cappuccino.

Cappuccinos are usually made using an espresso machine. The double espresso is poured into the bottom of the cup, followed by a similar amount of hot milk, which is prepared by heating and texturing the milk using the espresso machine steam wand. The top third of the drink consists of milk foam; this foam can be decorated with latte art made with the same milk.

Ingredients

  • 2 shots espresso (a double shot)
  • 4 ounces milk

Steps to Make It

  1. Pull a double shot of espresso into a cappuccino cup.

  2. Foam the milk to double its original volume.

  3. Top the espresso with foamed milk right after foaming. When initially poured, cappuccinos are only espresso and foam, but the liquid milk quickly settles out of the foam to create the (roughly) equal parts foam, steamed milk, and espresso for which cappuccino is known. 

  4. Serve immediately.

Difference Between Cappuccino and Caffè Latte

Cappuccino is traditionally small with a thick layer of foam, while a latte traditionally is larger. Caffè latte is often served in a large glass while cappuccino mostly in a small cup (usually a 5-ounce cup) with a handle. Cappuccino traditionally has a layer of textured milk microfoam exceeding 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) in thickness.

What's in a Name?

In Italian, cappuccino means "little cap," which perfectly describes the head of foamed milk that sits atop the drink's espresso base.

It also allegedly derives from a religious sartorial inspiration. With their iconic brown hooded cowls and shaved heads, the monks of the Capuchin order are a pretty close human resemblance to the ring of crema and white foam that tops the classic beverage. An offshoot of the Franciscan Catholic order, these friars struck out on their own in 1520, adopting the coffee-colored cloak, or cappuccino, as an imitative sign of gratitude to the Benedictine Camaldolese monks, who offered Capuchins refuge while they dodged persecution from church officials.

When expertly poured so that a circle of white is perfectly encircled by the darker coffee, the design on a "traditional" cappuccino is called a monk's head.