The Perfect Cappuccino

The Perfect Cappuccino

The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
63 Calories
2g Fat
6g Carbs
4g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
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 coffee lovers. Once you acquire 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 equal parts double espresso, steamed milk, and steamed milk foam on top. Cream may be used instead of milk. It is typically smaller in volume than a latte, and has a thicker layer of microfoam. Espresso is typically made with a dark roasted coffee and ground finely.

In Italian, cappuccino means "little cap," which aptly 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.

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 is 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's steam wand. The top third of the drink consists of milk foam, which can be decorated with art made with the same milk, or simply sprinkled with cinnamon or cocoa powder.


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 cappuccino recipe, it's 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.

    Cappuccino ingredients

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

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

    pour water into espresso machine

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  3. Place the 2 tablespoons (2 shots) of ground espresso into the portafilter.

    ground espresso in the portafilter

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

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

    Tamp (press) the coffee down using a tamper

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

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

    The portafilter placed into the espresso machine

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  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, or until 2 ounces of espresso is yielded. Typically, there is a lever, switch, or button to start this process.

    espresso pouring into a coffee cup

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  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.

    pouring milk into metal pitcher

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

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

    Insert the steam wand into the container with the milk

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  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.)

    Engage the steam wand on your espresso machine

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

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

    steam wand in the milk container

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  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.

    steam wand in a container of with milk

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

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

    steam wand in a milk container

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  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.

    The Perfect Cappuccino in a cup

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

What's the Difference Between a Cappuccino and a Latte?

Ideally, a cappuccino is ideally comprised of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. A latte comprised of espresso and steamed milk, with a thin cap of foam at the top.


  • Using filtered water is recommended, as the quality of the water can affect the taste of your espresso shot and possibly damage your machine.