How to Brew

What Is A Cappuccino?

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Want to keep your coffee routine creative? A delicious, frothy cappuccino may become your new favorite go-to. 

If you’re wondering what a cappuccino is exactly, or even how to make one, read on to discover everything you need to know about this creamy drink. 

Meet The Cappuccino

One of the most popular Italian drinks in the coffee community, the cappuccino is a hot beverage that’s loved and adored by many. It’s espresso-based and has a reputation built off of its thick layer of milk microfoam. The cappuccino is about 6 oz in volume and is made with one shot of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. So proportionally, it has a ratio of  1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 milk foam, and it’s smaller than a caffe latte. 

Many fans of the cappuccino enjoy it because of the flexibility of volume size and ingredients. If a barista offers multiple sizes of the cappuccino, the ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam will remain the same. In addition to this, the cappuccino can also be customized by using cream instead of milk, as well as additional flavorings such as syrups or spices. 

Going Back In Time…

The history of the cappuccino is an interesting one. In fact, the name of the drink actually comes from the brown color of the drink is similar to the color of the habits Capuchin friars wear. The lighter brown color develops when the milk has been added in increments to the darker espresso, creating a pleasant level of crema.

In the 1700s, the name “Kapuziner” is another name for the drink that was created by the people of Vienna, and it consists of whipped cream and spices. However, it wasn’t until the 1930s when the cappuccino made its way outside of its Italian origins. Slowly spreading into Austrian cafes, and then eventually around the globe, the cappuccino has been growing in popularity ever since. 

Drink Similarities

Though it stands out on its own, the cappuccino has several coffee cousins that it is often confused with. Some of the most common drinks that the cappuccino is mistaken for being are macchiatos, cortados, and flat whites. However, there are some key differences between these drinks. 

Macchiato

Another popular espresso beverage, the macchiato consists of one shot of espresso and milk foam. It’s smaller in volume than the cappuccino, but it doesn’t have steamed milk in it. And as far as the caffeine content is concerned, the macchiato is more concentrated because it doesn’t have steamed milk to dilute the strength of the espresso. 

Cortado

The cortado is similar to the cappuccino because it consists of espresso and steamed milk. However, the cortado is made up of about 1/2 espresso and 1/2 steamed milk and is about four ounces in volume (so about 2 ounces of espresso, 2 ounces of steamed milk). Unlike the cappuccino, the cortado doesn’t have any milk foam, so it’s a little more potent in robust espresso flavor. 

Flat White

The flat white is another delicious espresso drink that consists of hearty espresso and steamed milk. This drink has a higher proportion of coffee to milk and has about two shots of espresso and about 2-3 ounces of steamed milk, with a thin layer of microfoam on the top.

The flat white is similar to the cortado as far as ingredients but differs in the milk texture. It consists of a more velvety texture due to the microfoam bubbles. However, the flat white also differs significantly from the cappuccino because it has less foam and a different foam texture. 

Creating A Cappuccino

Now that you know everything about the cappuccino, it’s time to start making it yourself! If you have an espresso machine at home, you can easily begin brewing a cappuccino in the comfort of your own kitchen. To find a visual how-to on how to brew the cappuccino you can watch our video below, or read along with our step-by-step instructions. 

Here are the ingredients you’ll need before you can begin brewing:

  • Espresso machine
  • Milk steamer (optional)
  • Milk pitcher
  • 6-ounce cappuccino cup
  • 16.5 grams ground espresso coffee
  • 3-4 ounces milk

Step One: Prepping

Now, the first thing you have to do is gather all of your brewing ingredients. If you don’t already have ground espresso coffee, then you’ll have to grind enough espresso beans to produce about 15.6 grams of coffee. After prepping your espresso, go ahead and pour about 3-4 ounces of milk into your milk pitcher. 

Step Two: Espresso Brewing

Now, once you’ve finished prepping, you can begin extracting your espresso. Place your 16.5 grams of ground espresso straight into your portafilter, and then place in your espresso machine to extract two shots of espresso. To save a step, just go ahead and brew your espresso directly into your 6-ounce cappuccino cup. 

Step Three: Steaming Milk

While your espresso is extracting, you can begin steaming your milk! The most important part of steaming milk is the technique. When steaming, it should reach about 160°F, and you should move the pitcher in a paced, vertical motion in order to allow the hot steam to thoroughly heat the milk.

Also, since the cappuccino requires a good amount of foam, you should hold the tip of the steam wand closer to the surface of the milk to create that nice layer of foam to go on top of the cappuccino. However, take some caution doing this because steaming at the surface will cause the milk to quickly increase in volume while in the pitcher. Remember, you still need some steamed milk to put in the drink, so your milk can’t only be froth. 

Step Four: Pouring Milk

Once your espresso has finished extracting and your milk has finished steaming, you can pour the two together! When pouring the milk, hold your milk pitcher about 3 inches above the cappuccino cup, pouring in a slightly circular, vertical motion. The current of the milk will help heat and blend the milk with the espresso. The milk froth will be poured into the cup last, but it will top the cappuccino with a fluffy, delightful amount of foam.

Wrapping Up

There you have it! Now you can create your own cappuccino as your own home barista! Since the milk steaming process is a little more complicated in this drink, it may take a few tries for you to practice the steaming process. However, with some time and practice, you’ll be able to create cappuccinos flawlessly in no time.

Happy caffeinating!

what is a Cappucino?

How To Make A Cappuccino

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Known and loved for its hearty espresso and fluffy milk foam, the cappuccino is a classic Italian coffee beverage that's made its way into the hearts of coffee lovers around the world. Refreshing and soothing to sip on, now you can learn how to make your own!

Ingredients

  • 6-ounce cappuccino cup
  • 16.5 grams ground espresso coffee
  • 3-4 ounces milk

Instructions

    1. Gather ingredients. Grind 16.5 grams of espresso coffee and pour 3-4 oz of milk into a milk pitcher.

    2. Using espresso grounds, extract 2 shots of espresso into 6 oz cappuccino cup.

    3. Steam the milk. Heat milk to about 160°F. Make sure milk has decent amount of foam.

    4. Pour milk and milk foam onto espresso. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 6 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 80Total Fat: 4g
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