How to Make a Cappuccino like an Expert

A dash of milk here and a super spoon of sugar there. Sometimes, we think we know how to make a rocking cup of cappuccino. But when it comes to sitting down and drinking it, we realize it was a major flop. There is more to cappuccino than just adding milk or cream to coffee. And you’re going to learn just how to make cappuccino like a barista.

how to make cappuccino in a blue ceramic mug
A smooth creamy cup of cappuccino

What Is Cappuccino

Cappuccino is a cup of coffee topped or mixed with frothed up milk or cream. Oftentimes we mistake an ordinary cup of coffee with milk as cappuccino. When in fact it is a more complicated process than just adding a certain amount of milk to coffee.

Though the ratio of milk and coffee has something to do with making cappuccino, the milk we use is frothed up usually with pressurized steam. Frothing milk is also an entirely different process especially if you don’t have an espresso machine with a steam wand.

Cappuccino is a drink that started in Italy and was popularized throughout the entire world. However, the original Italian cappuccino is far different than the ones we are used to drinking today.

making cup of cappuccino by pouring frothy milk
Second stage of making a cappuccino. Pour the frothy milk from the side of the cup.

How to Make a Western Cappuccino at Home

  1. Preparing the milk. You can use any type of milk that you want. But if you want a really frothy sweet milk, the best option is to use whole milk. In the absence of a steam wand, here are ways you can froth milk by yourself:
    • Jar. You can warm your milk in the microwave and put it in a jar. Close the lid tightly and shake until the milk becomes thick and frothy.
    • French press. With a warmed up milk, pour the milk inside the french press and cover it. Pump the French press as fast as you can until the milk eventually thickens up with foam.
    • Whisk. Pour warm milk in a mixing cup and start whisking until froth forms.

NOTE: The trick here is that you need to be quick. Shaking, pumping, whipping or whisking the milk will quickly cool the milk down. Leave the milk and froth to rest, larger air bubbles will pop leaving you with a creamy thick froth.

2. Brew your coffee. A stronger cup of coffee (if possible espresso) is better. Mix in 2 tablespoons of dark roast coffee ground for every 5 to 6 ounces of water. You can use a coffee maker or a French press in making your coffee.

You can use a moka pot if you don’t have an espresso machine, but in all honesty, the pump driven espresso machine gives you the best results.

3. Preparing the cappuccino. The ratio is ⅓ coffee, ⅓ milk, ⅓ froth. In a cup pour the coffee first. Tilt your cup and slowly pour the milk from the side. With a spoon, gently scoop up some froth and gently put it in the cup.

how to make cappuccino freddo at home starts with coffee with ice

How to Make Cappuccino Freddo

There are many cappuccino variants around the world. Other countries have their own version of this popular Italian drink and one of my favorites is a cold cappuccino freddo. The difference is that everything is cold.

  1. Preparing the coffee. Once you brew the coffee, let the coffee cool down.
  2. Frothing the Milk. Using a frother, mixer, French press or simply a jar, pour cold whole milk and start shaking or mixing. It will take longer to froth the milk and the bubbles would be bigger to start with. You need to be quick and mix it longer to form a thick froth. Let the froth set for 2 minutes.
  3. Preparing the Cappuccino Freddo. In a cup, put two or three cubes of ice. I usually put coffee in the ice cube tray beforehand so that the ice won’t water down my cappuccino freddo. Pour your strong coffee. Tilt the cup and add the milk. Scoop some of the froth and gently top it on your cup. Sprinkle some cinnamon if you like.

Cappuccino is as versatile as any other coffee drink. You can add flavored syrup to make it taste better. Here is a tip, when I want to add a flavor to my cappuccino, I mix the flavored syrup in with the milk and froth them together. This adds an entirely new and tastier frothy milk with a touch of almond, hazelnut, or sometimes even rum.

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