How To Make A Cappuccino

How To Make A Cappuccino

Create a foamy and delicious cappuccino at home and enjoy an authentic classic. Follow our cappuccino recipe and the tips from our expert barista for at-home coffee made like the pros.

Cappuccino Key Ingredients:

Equipment needed:

  • Coffee machine
  • Milk jug
  • Thermometer
  • Mug
  • Spoon or stirrer

Cappuccino Jargon Explained

  • Tamped - Precisely pressing your espresso grounds in the basket of your coffee machine to make them even. This helps achieve an even extraction - the key to a tasty espresso.
  • Aerate – Adding micro-bubbles to your milk to increase its volume. This helps create a silky and frothy milk to add to your cappuccino.
  • Steaming – Adding steam to your milk to achieve the aeration process.
  • Ristretto - This means “restricted” in Italian. By restricting the amount of water that flows through the coffee, you can make a shorter and stronger espresso.
  • Dispense time - This is the time it takes for your coffee machine to brew and dispense your coffee. The optimal dispense time depends on your chosen recipe and the type of coffee you’re using.

How To Make A Cappuccino At Home

Cappuccino Recipe Step-By-Step Method:

  • Step 1: Get your machine going Switch on your coffee machine so it can begin preheating.

  • Step 2: Check and clean Before you make the espresso for your cappuccino, you’ll want to check that key parts of your espresso machine are clean, hot and dry. This includes the shower screen, espresso basket and the spouts.

  • Step 3: Evenly distribute your espresso Either grind or dose your espresso coffee into the basket. Make sure you evenly distribute it so it can be tamped down. You’ll need 7-10g of coffee for a single shot of espresso. A double shot of espresso needs 14-20g of coffee.

  • Step 4: Tamp down Grab a tamping device that fits the basket you’re using, then tamp down the coffee. Make sure you press down evenly on as much of the coffee bed’s surface area as possible. For optimum brewing, press down on the coffee firmly but carefully.

  • Step 5: Brew your shots Brew your espresso shots (whether single or double) using the buttons on your machine. Dispense time is important to consider at this stage. The right dispense time for freshly ground coffee helps with the acidity, sweetness and bitterness. Check online for the ideal dispense time for the coffee you’re using, but you’ll find most recipes call for a dispense time of around 25-30 seconds.

  • Step 6: Aerate the milk For a classic cappuccino, we recommend aiming to grow the milk by two-thirds of its volume through the steaming process. This will help create a deep enough foam for a traditional cappuccino. When steaming, pick a position where the steam jet can swirl the milk inside the jug, and put the steam wand into the milk at a depth of no more than 2cm.

    When you start steaming, listen for a gentle chirping or paper-tearing noise. This means the aeration process is working and you’re adding tiny micro-bubbles to the milk. If you see larger bubbles and the noise is a little deeper or louder, raise the jug to deepen the steam arm in the milk. It usually takes a bit of time to work out the right positioning for effective aeration.

  • Step 7: Stop steaming You’ll want to finish the steaming process at a temperature of 60-65C. Use a thermometer to help with accuracy.

  • Step 8: Don’t forget to clean Milk can dry instantaneously on the steam wand of your espresso machine, so it’s important to wipe it down immediately after use and give it a proper clean.

  • Step 9: Polish your milk Get that smooth and silky texture by polishing your milk. Do this by swirling and gently tapping it on the counter to burst any larger bubbles.

  • Step 10: Pour your milk Within 20 seconds of finishing the steaming process, you’ll want to pour your milk into the espresso to make your cappuccino. This means the milk doesn’t have time to degrade before being mixed with the coffee. For a cappuccino, we advise pouring your milk and foam close to the espresso’s surface by tilting the cup towards the jug - think about it as gliding the foam gently across the surface of the espresso rather than pouring into it.

Expert Tips For Your Cappuccino

Check out some of our best tips for creating that perfect cappuccino at home.

Cappuccino Milk Aeration

Aerating the milk for a cappuccino means creating a deeper foam than for a latte or flat white. Aim to grow the cold milk volume by around two-thirds to get that fluffy, glossy texture.

Pour the milk very close to the brim of the cup to gently rest the milk foam on top of the coffee. This is to avoid the milk just mixing straight into the coffee and losing the classic cappuccino look and feel.

How To Best Serve Your Cappuccino

With a cappuccino, we want a glossy foam top rather than a flat surface as with a latte. Gently swirling the espresso around the cup before pouring in the milk can help to achieve that circle of crema surrounding the white foamy top.

Chocolate powder topping the cappuccino can be a contentious subject amongst coffee drinkers! Of course, the choice is up to you.

Cappuccino Cup Size

A wide and short ceramic cup can help to achieve the glossy white top of foam on your cappuccino and create the sipping experience intended by the original recipe design. This is where you create a ‘milk moustache’ by having a clear division of the heavy foam layer at the top and the silky liquid mix of coffee and milk beneath.

Cappuccino Ratio

The drink ratio for a cappuccino has changed since cafes started to adopt larger cup sizes across the world. Traditionally, the cappuccino was a small drink of 150-240ml cup size. Smaller sizes will bring more intensity to the coffee flavour by not diluting it so much with milk or hiding it in such a depth of creamy foam. Larger sizes will do the opposite, diminishing the coffee flavour a little unless you choose to add extra shots or use more intense coffee.

A cappuccino can be described as a ‘drink of thirds’ meaning the ratio would be equal between coffee, milk and foam, but you can play around with these ratios to suit your taste.

Cappuccino FAQs

What is a cappuccino?

A cappuccino contains equal parts espresso, milk and milk foam. You generally also use a smaller coffee cup for a cappuccino – the size of the cup is key to get the right flavour balance between your espresso and milk. Traditionally, cappuccinos are only drunk in the morning in Italy.

What is cappuccino made of?

A cappuccino is made of espresso, milk and milk foam. They also often feature a dusting of cocoa on top of the foam.