The Perfect Cappuccino

Cappuccino
J Shepherd/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 1 serving
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
63 Calories
2g Fat
6g Carbs
4g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 63
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 69mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 161mg 12%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 213mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(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 numerous that they are unseen, but make the milk lighter and thicker. When the espresso if poured correctly, the microfoam will remain partly on top of the mug 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

For the Espresso

  • 2 tablespoons coffee
  • 4 ounces water

For the Foamed Milk

  • 4 ounces milk

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this cappuccino is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for pulling shots, steaming milk, and assembling your beverage.

Pull a Double Shot of Espresso

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the water into the boiler of your espresso machine.

  3. Place the 2 tablespoons of coffee into the portafilter.

  4. Tamp (press) the coffee down using a tamper. Do this two to three times to make sure the grounds are packed tightly.

  5. Place the portafilter into your espresso machine's group head and lock in place by turning it to the right.

  6. Place a demitasse cup or the glass carafe that came with your espresso machine under the group head and pull the shot for 23 to 30 seconds. Typically, there is a lever, switch, or button to start this process.

  7. Once the shot is pulled, foam the milk.

Foam the Milk

  1. Place the milk into either a glass measuring cup or a small metal pitcher.

  2. Insert the steam wand into the container with the milk, just under the surface of the milk

  3. Engage the steam wand on your espresso machine. (You may need to read your espresso machine's manual for this, as each espresso maker is a little different.)

  4. Make sure to keep the tip of the wand towards the side of the container. This will create a vortex with the milk.

  5. Move the container higher, lower, closer, then further so that the steam wand can incorporate the air into the milk, making the foam. The bubbles should get smaller and smaller as you do this.

  6. Once the milk has foamed to double is size, turn the steam wand off.

  7. 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.

Tip

  • We recommend using filtered water, as bad quality water can affect both the taste of your espresso shot and possibly damage your machine.

Difference Between Cappuccino and Caffè Latte

Cappuccino is, ideally, equal amounts of espresso, milk, and foam. Whereas a latte is mainly espresso and steamed milk that has been topped with a thin layer of foam.

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.

According to history, it also allegedly derives from the dress of the Capuchin order of monks. With their iconic brown hooded cowls and shaved heads, Capuchin monks 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.