The cappuccino is a renaissance beverage, developed in the early 1700s in Vienna, Austria. The growth of global trade had allowed Viennese people to gain access to coffee, spices, and sugar. They used these ingredients to make a drink that they named the “Kapuziner” because the color was similar to the robes of local Capuchin monks. This drink quickly gained popularity throughout Europe and the world and became what we call a cappuccino today.
To make one, you’ll need an espresso maker, milk, espresso beans, and a coffee grinder. A thermometer is helpful, but not required. If you don’t have all of those things, you’ll need to buy them, or take a trip to your local coffee house.
Do you have all your supplies? Good! Let’s get started.
Most cappuccino machines come with a small metal jug. You’ll want to fill it about a third of the way with your choice of milk. Any type of milk will work, including vegan options like almond milk or soy milk. Whole milk gives the best foam, though, since the milk fat forms tiny bubbles when agitated. For stronger, more intense steam and more bubbles, you’ll want to chill the jug in the freezer beforehand and use cold milk.
To get the best foam, you’ll want to put the end of your espresso machine’s steam wand just under the surface of the milk before you turn it on. Once you do, start moving the jug up and down and moving it in a circle to get the milk swirling. Tap the can on the counter from time to time, to make sure any big bubbles rise to the surface. If you have a thermometer, you’ll want to stop between 150 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid overheating the milk. If not, don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it.
There are two differences between espresso and regular coffee. The first is in the roast. Espresso roasts are darker and have a bolder flavor than regular coffee
The other difference is in how you grind the beans. For a great espresso, grind the beans until they’re extra fine, almost a powder. Then pack your espresso maker’s filter tightly until it’s full. These machines operate by forcing the water through the densely-packed grounds under pressure to maximize flavor absorption and richness.
The goal of a proper pour isn’t just to mix the espresso and the foamed milk; it’s to create the classic pattern of foamy swirls on the drink’s surface. To do this, pour the espresso into your mug first. Then, tilt it to one side and begin pouring the foamed milk into the center of the drink. When you’re about halfway done pouring the milk, start leveling out the mug.
As you finish, you can pour slower or faster, or even over a spoon to achieve different patterns. Experiment with a few techniques, and find something that looks delicious to you.