It’s easy to learn how to make cappuccino, a drink made with espresso, steamed milk and milk foam. There are some that like a lot of foam on top and others who want just a little.
One good thing about learning how to make cappuccino yourself is that you can have it exactly the way you want it without having to explain your preferences to a barista. You will know what ‘double shot’ means, how to froth the milk exactly how you like it, and you will be able to use exactly the best espresso beans you like.
Basic Ingredients Only
You will need some suitable espresso coffee beans, finely ground for an espresso maker. There are several varieties that are worth trying: I prefer the slightly stronger traditional Italian style espresso that often includes a touch of Robusta for depth and a little ‘kick.
But there are very nice espresso coffee brands that are made from 100% Arabica coffee beans, as well.
Pick up some Fresh Milk as well: don’t use milk that has already been heated and cooled as it may affect the flavor. Start with milk straight from the refrigerator. Some chocolate powder, cinnamon powder or vanilla powder for the topping are also tasty.
You will also need a good espresso maker that can produce a strong espresso, with lots of flavor and crema. If you don’t have one, you can look at the alternative methods below. Don’t forget the measuring spoon, a decent sized cup, and sugar to taste.
From Classic to Variations
Authentic cappuccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 foam and 1/3 milk. It’s that simple. But If you double or triple the milk and leave off the foam, you have a caffe latte.
Cappuccino can also have sugar added and some coffeehouses offer additional flavorings, such as vanilla, caramel, etc. So, there are a lot of variations on how to make cappuccino but the original formula is preferred by coffee purists.
Step 1: Get the Coffee Shot
When learning how to make cappuccino at home it’s good to have an espresso machine, (though you can make a fairly decent espresso using a Moka Pot – see later). Pull a shot of espresso, but remember to leave a sufficient amount water in your machine to steam the milk.
Use a cup big enough to hold the milk and foam and pour the espresso into it. Of course, once you have some skill, you’ll be able to make the espresso properly and efficiently. In the meantime, just practice till you know how to get the best shot you can.
Step 2: Steaming the Milk
Using a 9 ounce stainless steel jug, place the steaming nozzle in the jug and open the valve slowly. Once the milk has been heated, pull the carafe down until the nozzle is just barely touching the milk. You will start to see foam being formed; when you have enough foam to your liking, pour the milk into the espresso.
Step 3: Creating your Cappuccino
You can simply pour the foam gently into your cup or you can spoon it on with a large spoon. In fact, many baristas do both. You may even want to sprinkle the top with nutmeg, cinnamon or ground chocolate, though I prefer it with neither.
For those who are willing to try, cappuccino or latte art offers a creative way to decorate your drink. But don’t forget to keep the drink hot enough for drinking. That’s it: it’s really easy to know how to make cappuccino.
Caution: Hot Liquids and Equipment!
Remember that your machine will stay quite hot for a while after you turned it off so keep your hands away from the steamer nozzle. You should also never steam a jug of milk that is more than 1/3 full or you could risk getting a nasty burn, as the milk can get very hot from the steam. Steam after all is already hotter than boiling water.
Other Methods To Know: How to Make Cappuccino part deux
If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can still find out how to make cappuccino. You can try out the other types of coffee makers, and see which really works for you. I can suggest two alternate methods that should work well: The Moka Pot and the French press. Both of these can make strong coffee brews.
Brewing Your Espresso
You could use a Moka pot on your stove top for the espresso or you can brew up some very strong coffee in your drip coffeemaker. It may take you a little while to get the formula correct but the Moka pot can make some seriously strong coffee.
Perhaps even the French press can make a decent brew. But you will need to experiment with the varieties of coffee, the amounts, and the brewing time to get something that satisfies you.
Frothing the Milk
There are curiously several methods that can make frothed milk. You can purchase a frothing jug such as the Bodum Aerius tall milk frother or the Bodum Handheld Turbo Frother. Being hamfisted, I would opt for a metal jug rather than glass. But that’s just me. In my experience, the Aerius type frother makes better froth than the little handheld frothers. But you can try both.
No steamer? No frother? No problem! Just add milk to a saucepan and heat it on your stove top, being careful not to scorch or burn it. When it heats up, use a wire whisk to briskly beat the milk and you will soon start to see foam.
Keep whisking until you get as much froth as you want, remove saucepan from the burner and let it “rest” for about thirty seconds. You can then add it to your espresso or strong coffee. An alternative to heating milk on the stove is to heat it in the microwave and use your blender to get froth.
Alternative Ingredients for Cappuccino
Skim or Lo-fat Milk: If you’re watching your weight you can use skim milk or reduced fat milk; it will be harder to get good foam but it will save you a lot of calories from the fat.
Soy Milk: If you can’t consume dairy products, Soy milk is a popular alternative that is healthy and available in most good coffee shops. You can find out more about the health benefits of soy milk in your cappuccino by reading the article: Nutrition Facts for a Soy Milk Cappuccino at LiveStrong.
Bryanna Clark Grogan at VeganFeastKitchen has done some interesting experiments with Soy vs. other non-dairy alternatives, too. So head over there and check out the alternatives. For those who don’t consume meat or dairy or those who allergic to dairy, it’s important to maintain a quality of life that validates your enjoyment
It’s what’s in the cup that matters!
You can quickly learn how to make cappuccino; whether you have an espresso machine or not if you’re creative and willing to spend a few minutes doing so. Learning how to make cappuccino at home will allow you a treat anytime you like and save you money, too.
If you are interested in making other Italian drinks, check out Italian drinks for more recipes and great Italian food, too.