Cappuccino is a worldwide milk beverage, the first milky beverage ever made.
Today, we will see how to make a delicious cappuccino.
But first of all, we need to step back and look at the origin of the drink, learning about its funny history.
The history of Cappuccino
The origin of the name cappuccino is dated back to the XIII Century.
The Capuchin Order was founded in 1209 by San Francesco d’Assisi and “friars” or “Franciscans”, was the name of the members of the movement. The name “cappuccino” refers at the brown habit worn by the Franciscans with a cap and a white rope that resembles the colours of the drink.
We do not know exactly who was the first that used the term “cappuccino”. Some say that the first ones were some kids that were joking with some friars for the cap that they were wearing.
But there are also some doubts about the first time in which the milky beverage was described with the term”cappuccino”. It is said that it was thanks to the meeting of Marco D’aviano and Leopoldo I in Linz in 1680, at that time confessor and adviser for the emperor.
Since then, Viennese cafès invented “kapuzin” (cappuccino in Italian) a strong black liquid with some milk on top.
What is certain is that the beverage was born in Vienna and not in Italy. It’s just fascinating how it became a worldwide beverage with the passing of the time.
How to make a cappuccino
Let’s now see what it takes to make a perfect cappuccino.
You will need an espresso machine, a milk pitcher, some coffee and a thermometer.
So, the cappuccino drink consists of a double shot of espresso (traditionally a single shot in Italy but mostly a double shot in Europe) and steamed hot milk to obtain a foamy texture on top.
The standard size of this beverage is about 8 ounces. To obtain a perfect cappuccino you will need a commercial coffee machine with 9bar of pressure to make the right espresso and milk texture.
Since it’s a foamy drink, it requires less milk than any other milk-based beverage. To create a foam you need more space in your milk pitcher to allow the milk to increase in volume so this is the reason why you need to start with less milk compared to a flat white or a latte.
It’s good to start by filling your jug with 1/3 of whole milk. You should opt for whole milk for the appropriate content of proteins and fats but nowadays, any plant-based milk is fine.
You can steam the milk while brewing the espresso. To make the perfect microfoam you should incorporate air in the first four seconds roughly, and then just wait for the milk to reach the right temperature by lowering the steam tip into the milk surface (the holes of the tip are just under the milk surface).
By doing this you will let the milk spinning inside your jug and so creating the perfect microfoam. The most important part is the beginning. You know you’re starting in the right way if you’re making the “zzzzz” sound.
You should aim for a temperature range from 55°C to 65°C that enables you to enjoy a proper cappuccino. The hotter the temperature the risk to make a heavy drink hard to digest (over 70°C leads the formation of casein tannate).
Remember: the lower the temperature the sweetest your cappuccino will be.
So, after have steamed your milk, gently tap your milk pitcher in case you see any bubbles on the surface. Now, you’re ready to pour into the cup. Just swirl your jar to make sure everything is well incorporated (if you leave the milk sit for a bit, the foam and the milk tend to separate).
Also, by swirling your cup of coffee before pouring into it will make sure to mix all the layers within the milk and the coffee (this will improve also the contrast between the coffee and the milk).
Now, this is not an easy pattern. It takes a lot of practice to make a perfect crown which is the original pattern of the cappuccino. The secret is to start by pouring close to the coffee surface just near the edge of the cup and not in the centre of it.
Head to this link to see how to make it.
Just bear in mind that the cappuccino is not the ideal drink for making latte art. Drawing into your cup needs a silky texture. For this, you need to steam your milk by incorporating less air at the very beginning. This would lead to a microfoam texture that will allow you to make latte art.
Anyway, you can also make cappuccino at home without an espresso machine. To make foamy milk you can use a milk frother or a french press and then pour the result in a milk pitcher.
Make sure to use the right ingredient if you want to enjoy the best cappuccino.
Remember that not all the milk taste the same so try different kinds of milk and taste them also with coffee. Some of them will not match with your beans.
You can try also some plant-based milk. I wouldn’t suggest you any soy milk as I personally find it delivers a quite papery taste. You should try Almond or Oat milk, with the latter being the most popular among the veg people.
Coffee also plays a crucial part according to your taste. If you like a chocolaty, nutty taste, it would be great to start with Brazilian or Colombian coffee beans.
On the other hand, if you like a more acidic taste (what I like to describe as a yogurt taste), you should start with some Ethiopian or Kenyan beans.
Anyway, these are just some guidelines from where to start from. There are loads of experiment that you can make as a barista.
I am an Italian coffee lover that pushed for the love of this “amazing drug” decided to come to London to study about coffee and its different extraction procedures and tastes.