What goes into making a truly memorable cappuccino? As with all good coffee, there are certain aspects that should not be overlooked. Every barista, cafe worker, or coffee expert will tell you a different secret or trick, but when you get to the bare basics behind a cup of cappuccino, only two things matter: espresso and milk. You may say “well, everyone knows that!”, but you would be surprised at how many people lose sight of the fundamentals of any given cup of coffee. At our shop, we try to stay focused only on what’s important, and here we will talk a little bit more about making a great cappuccino.
Cappuccino starts with milk
Anyone who has ever been to a coffee shop and paid attention to the process behind their order when they ask for a cappuccino will know that milk is the first thing that the barista takes care of. The milk pitcher used in shops is made out of metal for better temperature conduction. For a cappuccino, the pitcher should be filled up to about half of its capacity with cold whole milk. Other types of milk can be used, but whole milk produces the best foam and texture when steamed.
Steaming the milk for a cappuccino is all about practice, but as a standard rule of thumb, make sure that the steaming wand isn’t too close to the bottom of the pitcher. Otherwise, the milk won’t froth and steam properly. You want your milk to gain a rich body and foam, but avoid taking it to a boiling point in which it starts to bubble excessively. If you have a thermometer for your pitcher, the sweet spot is around 140 F.
Espresso is just as important
Espresso is the base of most types of coffee drinks, so learning how to make a proper one is essential for any barista. You want freshly ground beans if possible, tightly packed on the metal cap and set on the machine for the amount of cups you’re preparing. The espresso shot is first on your cup, followed by the milk after tapping it a couple of times before pouring to make sure the foam is set. Carefully pour the milk and finish by letting the foam top the cup. If you’re into latte art, right after pouring is your time to shine.
Can I make cappuccino just as good at home?
You can try, but it certainly won’t be the same as the coffee you get professionally prepared at your favorite shop. You can try using a mixer to whip hot milk, but it won’t steam the same, just as a homemade espresso probably won’t taste as rich as the one at the cafe. Believe it or not, machines make all the difference, and if you’re truly desperate to have amazing coffee at home, there are some great super automatic espresso makers out there that can also steam milk to make cappuccino. If your love for cappuccino is that great and you just have to have it the real way at home, you can check out this list of reviewed best cappuccino makers here.