The Perfect Cappuccino

The perfect cappuccino in a mug on a wooden table

The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
61 Calories
2g Fat
6g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 61
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 62mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 150mg 12%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 178mg 4%
*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.)

A light, foamy cappuccino is 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 a cappuccino 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 dark roast 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.

A cappuccino is 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.


Click Play to See This Light and Foamy Cappuccino Come Together

"I had never made a cappuccino before testing this recipe. But, wow, am I glad that I tried it out! The creaminess and balance of the milk, foam, and espresso was just spectacular. I can make this in the comfort of my own home, and it makes my wallet happy, too!" —Victoria Heydt

The perfect cappuccino in a mug
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Espresso

  • 2 tablespoons finely ground dark roast coffee

  • 4 ounces water

For the Foamed Milk

  • 4 ounces milk

Steps to Make It

Pull a Double Shot of Espresso

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Perfect cappuccino ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

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

    Water poured into espresso machine

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

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

    Ground coffee (or espresso) in the portafilter for cappuccino

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  4. Tamp (press) the coffee down using a tamper. Do this 2 to 3 times to make sure the grounds are packed tightly.

    Coffee pressed down using a tamper

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

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

    Portafilter locked into place into the espresso machine for brewing

    The Spruce Eats / 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 demitasse cup

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Milk being poured into metal pitcher for perfect cappuccino

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

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

    Frothing milk in a metal pitcher using a steam wand

    The Spruce Eats / 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.)

    Steam wand engaged on an espresso machine to froth milk for cappuccino

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

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

    Milk in a metal pitcher being frothed with a steam wand of an espresso maker

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Milk in a metal pitcher being frothed with a steam wand of an espresso maker

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

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

    Frothed milk doubled in size with a steam wand in a metal pitcher using an espresso maker

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  7. Top the espresso with foamed milk right after foaming. When initially poured, cappuccino is 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.

    Foam pouring out of a pitcher into a mug for the perfect cappuccino

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

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

Ideally, a cappuccino is comprised of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. A latte is 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.