How to make a cappuccino at home
When it comes to knowing your coffee, the cappuccino has to be right up there. It's one of the most popular coffee drinks in the UK, second only to the latte. They made their way into Europe about the same time, and they've been gracing coffee shop menu boards ever since. In this blog, we'll show you how to make a cappuccino at home.
What is a cappuccino, and where is it from?
A cappuccino combines the bitter, rich flavours of espresso with the sweetness of steamed milk and foam. Often thought of as being split into equal thirds, it's this fine balance between the different parts, that makes this type of coffee so popular.
Though the idea of one part espresso, one part steamed milk, and one part foam, sounds like a neat way of making coffee, if it were true, it would be a small drink. Instead, it's helpful to think of it as a base of espresso, with steamed milk poured on top and finished with a thick, frothy top.
Though the cappuccino has links with other European countries, it was the first espresso machines in Italy that made this coffee into the drink we know and love today.
Further cementing its ties with Italy, some people think the word 'cappuccino' actually comes from a Franciscan order of Capuchin monks, whose brown robes were a similar colour to the finished coffee drink.
What do you need to make a cappuccino?
You don't need an espresso machine to make a cappuccino, but it helps. Though it's possible to froth the milk using kitchen utensils, it's easier with the steam wand on a quality machine. We'll show you how to do it with and without a machine.
Here's what you need before you start:
- milk (fresh, whole milk tastes best)
- hot water
- espresso blend coffee beans or finely ground coffee
- espresso machine –or kettle, saucepan and a handheld milk frother or whisk
- toppings (optional – we'll come back to this later)
How to make a cappuccino step-by-step
Once you've gathered together your essential ingredients and equipment, follow our step-by-step guide to making the perfect cappuccino at home.
Step 1 – prepare your espresso
The first step to making a cappuccino is to prepare your espresso using quality espresso beans. You can use one shot or two but remember cappuccino is a coffee dominant drink so choose your cup size appropriately.
We offer a wide range of espresso blend coffee beans at Pumphrey's Coffee.
For the best tasting cappuccino, we recommend using a dark roasted espresso blend. The rich bitterness of the espresso roast coffee against the sweetness of the foamed milk is a delicious combination.
Step 2 – steam the milk
If you've got an espresso machine, then fill a metal jug about a third full with milk and place the steam wand just below the surface of the milk. Steam the milk until it doubles in size and looks foamy, then lower the wand slightly and keep it going until the milk reaches around 65 degrees.
You can use a thermometer to check the temperature or make your best guess. Swirl the milk vigorously and gently tap the jug against the counter to release any stubborn bubbles until you create a velvety smooth ‘Guinness like’ foam.
If you haven't got an espresso machine with a steaming wand, then heat up your milk in a saucepan on the stove, and when it reaches temperature, take it off the heat. To froth your milk without a machine, you can use either a handheld milk frother or a whisk.
Remember, this is a cappuccino, so you want a thick layer of froth.
Step 3 – put it all together
One final swirl to maintain the texture and pour the milk from a low height over the coffee and finish with toppings.
Not everyone agrees with the toppings on a cappuccino, but like so many aspects of this speciality coffee, it comes down to personal preference. You could use a dusting of cocoa powder, ground nutmeg, cinnamon, or chocolate sprinkles.
And that's it, you've made the perfect cappuccino – enjoy!
Take your barista skills to the next level
If learning how to make the perfect cappuccino at home has whetted your appetite and you want to know more, why not look for a barista course near you. We offer coffee training for baristas and home coffee enthusiasts at our dedicated training centre.
You'll find all the information on our training pages.