The cappuccino. It’s a popular option among coffee lovers, but what exactly is it? The typical cappuccino consists of three equally important elements: the espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam.
It is similar to the traditional latte, although the amount of foam sets it apart. Cappuccinos use a higher foam-to-milk ratio, along with a decadent dusting of chocolate on top.
Here are some basic steps and tips to help you make a great cappuccino every time.
Step 1: Pull Your Shot
The espresso shot forms the base of many popular caffeinated beverages. If you haven’t mastered this, then it’s time to get practising!
Pulling (or pouring) a shot of espresso on your average espresso machine involves grinding the amount of coffee beans required, tamping them into the portafilter with just the right amount of pressure (this prevents weak, watery shots), and then extracting the espresso shot from the grounds using the machine. A number of factors will influence the quality of your shot, including the brand and quality of beans you use, freshness, and how you tamp the coffee in the portafilter. Click Here to read more about pulling the perfect espresso shot.
Step 2: Steam Your Milk
Using a steam wand (or milk frother, depending on the equipment you have available), the next step is to steam your milk. Place the nozzle of the steam wand under the surface of the milk, aimed toward the side of the jug. Stretching and polishing your milk is key here for a quality beverage, so if you aren’t confident with either of these, it’s worth reading up on how to create barista-quality milk every time. You want to end up with hot milk on the bottom and foam on the top.
Step 3: Pour Your Milk
The final step is pouring your milk to combine it with your espresso shot.
Start by pouring your milk from a height of about 10 centimetres above your cup, aiming for the middle. Then, in one smooth action, move your pour closer to the surface of the drink, pushing more of the foamy milk froth in the top of your milk jug. In order to achieve a cappuccino you must have stretched your milk adequately to allow for the foamy top. This is the time to add a flick of the wrist if you want to try for some latte art, although mastering the pour should be your first priority.
Fun Fact: in Italy, a cappuccino is served without any chocolate dusting. It has become popular in Australia to serve chocolate on top, however in some countries the cappuccino is dusted with cinnamon or nutmeg.