A cappuccino is a great caffeinated drink to add to your daily routine and coffee repertoire–many people love it for its balanced flavor and velvety texture.
Made with two ingredients, it’s also a simple beverage to prepare—though you may need to know how to pull espresso shots and steam milk to make it perfectly. With adequate skills, good ingredients, and the best cappuccino cups, you’ll be well on your way to making this cafe favorite a staple at home.
What Is a Cappuccino?
A cappuccino is a coffee drink that’s known for its equal proportions of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth. It’s most beloved for its thick layer of froth that gives the beverage a light and fluffy texture.
The typical size of a cappuccino cup is around six ounces, though it can range between 150ml to 180ml. However, its 1:1:1 ratio of ingredients makes it easy to prepare at any size, and you can customize it by adding syrups or spices or even utilizing milk alternatives.
The cappuccino is Italian in origin, and it’s said to be named after Capuchin friars in Rome who wear brown garments in similar shades to that of the drink. In addition to this, their shaved heads resemble the ring of foam on top of the drink, giving reason to the Italian translation of the drink’s name: “little cap.”
Cappuccinos Versus Other Coffee Drinks
Cappuccinos aren’t the only drinks made of just espresso and coffee, and many people confuse them as being the same as beverages like lattes, macchiatos, cortados, and flat whites. Here are some of the differences between these drinks and cappuccinos:
Cappuccino Versus Latte
Both cappuccinos and lattes consist of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth, but the latter has more milk and less foam by volume. Typically, a latte is one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk, with just a bit of froth on top. This makes the drink creamier with a less intense coffee flavor.
Cappuccino Versus Macchiato
A macchiato is similar to a cappuccino, but it doesn’t have steamed milk and is made of a shot of espresso and milk foam, so its caffeine flavor is more concentrated.
Cappuccino Versus Cortado
A cortado is a cappuccino without milk foam. It also follows a 1:1 ratio, but only with espresso and steamed milk–so it consists of one-half of each ingredient. Cortados are usually smaller in size, as well, often served at only four ounces.
Cappuccino Versus Flat White
Flat whites have the same three components as cappuccinos, but they begin with two shots of espresso. Like lattes, they’re heavier on steamed milk and are topped with a very thin layer of foam on top.
How To Make a Cappuccino
A cappuccino is a fairly simple drink, but you’ll need some basic barista skills and a couple of coffee brewing tools to make it properly. You’ll want to have an espresso machine (or another way to extract espresso), a milk frother (optional, but makes things easier), a six-ounce cappuccino cup, and the two main ingredients: coffee beans and milk.
To start, grind your coffee beans–around six to eight grams, tamp them straight into your portafilter, then place them into your espresso machine to extract two shots of espresso. To save a step, you can use your cappuccino cup to catch it.
Next, prepare your milk by pouring three to four ounces of it into a milk pitcher. Bring it to your espresso machine’s steam wand, positioning the wand just under the surface of the milk. Turn the steam wand on, then move the pitcher consistently so that it can incorporate air into the milk to make foam.
Once the milk has doubled in volume, pour it into the cup with the espresso. Finish off the drink by spooning some milk froth on top–now you’ve made a barista-worthy cappuccino!