Cappuccino – coffee or poetry?

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Cappuccino – the most popular of the coffee-based drinks. If we say that the cappuccino is espresso with foamed milk, we speak about it, while at the same time say absolutely nothing. Yes, a cappuccino consists of three equal portions – espresso, hot milk and milk foam, and a standard part of each is 150-180 ml. But this favorite drink has a (quite impressive) history, and the preparation of the liquid to add to the espresso is a process that deserves particular attention, as is a description of the requirements for a quality cappuccino foam. Describing everything may take more than just a short page of text. And you’ll likely want to know how to serve the drink, how to make a cappuccino at home, how some original ingredients can be combined into the drink, and some common mistakes you can watch for and assess the professionalism and experience of your barista at a cursory glance as he prepares your drink at a coffee shop. Lemarbet knows about all of this and is ready to share this knowledge with you.


When we hear stories about the extremely modest lifestyle of the Italian Capuchin friars, which we are obliged to say, are believed to be responsible for the making of the capuccino (and the root of the name: “Capuchin”), we are overcome by doubts. Somehow this does not fit the asceticism and renunciation of all earthly pleasures, with the efforts that they made to improve the technology of whipping cream, and to eliminate the risks to the teeth the temperature difference between the hot coffee and cold milk can cause. Initially, the monks mastered a way to heat the cream, after figuring out how to make a deliciously whipped foam from the hot milk. But the result of their efforts was still not sufficient, as the snow-white fluffy foam settled too quickly. But there was a nearby wizard, a self-taught mechanical genius, which we to this day thank for the creation of a unique design – a two-part unit, in which water is boiled and the resulting steam is fed through a tube into the compartment with the milk by heating it. This technology to froth milk with steam is still used today, in fact, in professional coffee machines.

But this may be just the second version of the appearance of the drink, and the poor monks were not quite such refined gourmets. Maybe the cappuccino recipe was really invented in the late seventeenth century, by a gentleman named Monen, a native of Grenoble, and the name of the drink is the only thing explained by its relationship with the Capuchin monastic order. In short, choose the story you like best.

Preparing milk for the cappuccino – something you didn’t know

Correctly made cappuccinos don’t tolerate fuss. Although we are accustomed to quite disparagingly referring to the capuccino as a simple and familiar drink, making a proper cappuccino is not so easy. The preparation requires a certain degree of skill and knowledge. Let’s talk first of all about milk.

It should be understood that boiling milk changes its valuable properties, so we need milk that is not boiled: whole, pasteurized milk from the refrigerator (at a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius). While heating the milk to 70 degrees, the milk starts frothing and acquires some sweetness in taste. This sweetness and will serve as a highlight in the finished capuccino.

As for fat, almost all recipes recommend choosing milk with a fat content of no less than 2.5%. The fat content is fundamentally important. Too high, then the foam becomes viscous and oily — too low, dry with fewer bubbles. If you use dry milk powder diluted with water, the whipped milk will be terrible. Heating the milk reveals all the flaws. Substandard products will show themselves through (not always pleasant) smell, and definitely taste.

The milk should be whipped in a Jago — a stainless steel pitcher specifically made for cappuccino. An experienced barista will control the milk temperature to prevent overheating. The self-whipping process involves two stages: foaming (from 5 to 15 seconds) to a temperature of 37 degrees and heating (also from 5 to 15 seconds) to 70 degrees. In the second stage, the texture of whipped milk has already formed.

Spumatore VS experienced barista

Automatic units usually lose in the competition of man vs. machine. This, the best – the perfect cappuccino, made with the original recipe can only be made by human hands. How does this happen?

  1. Pouring milk into a pitcher to a level just below the spout, the barista pulls pairs, checks the system and produces condensate. In this step the barista must prevent the ingress of water droplets in the milk, because it will spoil the taste of the drink and diminish the quality of the foam.
  2. The barista will immerse the nozzle into the milk up to six centimeters from the surface and untwist the steam valve. The pitcher should be kept perfectly straight.
  3. While foaming, the milk is saturated with oxygen and grows in volume and the tip of the nozzle must go deeper and deeper. You can tell from the sound. Milk gurgles? The nozzle is too close to the surface. Sounds dull? The nozzle is too deep.
  4. When the reliever becomes warm, the barista proceeds to the second stage. The pitcher is lifted so that the tip of the steam crane is above the bottom. Next, a vigorous stirring by spoon, and the milk becomes uniform. Temperature control is monitored by hand. With your hand on the pitcher you can check the temperature — the process continues until it becomes too hot — it’s time to stop the flow of steam and remove the pitcher.
  5. Note! A competent barista wipes the steam spout and opens the second valve, releasing the excess milk.
  6. Bubbles that are too large on the surface of the milk are removed by knocking the pitcher on the table and performing several circular motions. The milk should look smooth, uniform and glossy.
  7. Fresh espresso is prepared, and then the milk is poured into it along with the resulting foam. This stage is a real test for the barista. Here he can show all his skill and demonstrate techniques of latte art on the surface of the drink, depicting patterns (heart, apple, “rosette”) or more intricate designs using an infusion of milk in coffee, a unique wand or stencils.
  8. According to the rules, cappuccino is brought to the table on a thick white porcelain dish at a volume of 150-220 ml. The cup should be heated beforehand to keep the beverage warm.

Do you still think that making a cappuccino is easy? Then let’s continue our conversation.

Check the quality of the cappuccino

If a coffee shop serves burning hot cappuccino, it is a mistake. You would also question skill of the barista, because the cappuccino temperature should not be higher than 65-70 degrees. Overheating will ruin the delicate taste of the drink and nullify all the efforts to create a masterpiece in a cup. What else should you look for when you order a cappuccino at a coffee bar or if you make one at home? Here are some easy ways to ensure the quality of your cappuccino:

  • Milk foam is adequately whipped and is dense and quite smooth. When tested with a spoon, the foam does not fall down and will flow very slowly.
  • Professionally whipped foam will have a distinct sweet, creamy taste.
  • The best characteristic of the taste of the finished cappuccino — it stands alone. Ideally, you won’t need to add sugar to the drink.
  • If the cappuccino is not served immediately after preparation, you will be able to watch as it loses its charm due to the separation of foam and milk, which are interlocked in fresh cappuccino.
  • A pinch of sugar placed on the surface of the foam will not sink to the bottom, it will remain on the surface.
  • Try to move the foam with a spoon and get to the coffee. If the cappuccino is prepared correctly, do it quickly (less than a minute), you will not succeed.
  • The drink should not burn the tongue, and your hand should not feel discomfort holding the cup. The drink should be at an optimum temperature of 65-70 degrees.
  • If overheated, you will note the characteristic smell and taste of boiled milk. In the right cappuccino neither the flavor of milk nor coffee will dominate. The perfect harmonious balance between these two ingredients — that is the primary characteristic taste.

How to prepare a cappuccino at home

Having the right equipment to prepare the cappuccino, of course, makes life more comfortable, but in its absence, you may well be able to cope with the task — to make a real cappuccino with a fine milk froth home. Cappuccino, in fact, does not have a recipe, because there are only two ingredients — coffee and milk, but in preparation lies the whole secret.


We have explained in detail in a previous article how to cook excellent espresso at home, so we will focus on the intricacies of the process of frothed milk.

  1. Heat the pasteurized (or domestic) milk to 65-70 degrees.
  2. Pour it into the French-press, close the lid and actively wield the plunger, raising and lowering the filter. Within a minute you will have perfectly frothed milk. Another option is to use a blender, beater, whisk or mixer.
  3. Stop beating when the milk has doubled in volume.
  4. Let the milk stand for a few seconds, the foam formed, and then shake it in a circular motion to achieve a smooth consistency.

Ideally, the coffee and milk would be prepared simultaneously. This can be achieved if you have two french-presses. Otherwise, don’t let too much time go between the two stages. Cappuccino is very delicate and requires special treatment. If you drink coffee brewed in Turku, then strain it through a very fine sieve before pouring into the cup. Then you will not allow a single grain of coffee to break the musical taste perfection and tender texture.

Get ready to pour the milk into a cup of coffee and enjoy the luxurious creamy coffee taste of your fantastic cappuccino. Optionally, you can sprinkle the cappuccino with cinnamon, chocolate or hazelnut crumbs, use fragrant spices or add sweet syrups. To achieve perfection, you have to work hard and take the time to experiment. But what an effect can be made! The reward for your efforts will be a real delight for your guests when you serve them a spotless, fragrant cappuccino with a pattern on the foam surface.

One last tip — because sturdy foam requires fairly high fat milk, many have thought to replace it with cream. In principle this is possible. Creamy foam is more dense and supple, and will beautifully rise above the edges of the cup, but it will be a purely cosmetic effect. The secret of milk foam is that it penetrates smoothly throughout the entire coffee drink and stays with you till the last sip. Thanks to its high density, foam from cream will not compare to the airy, delicate taste of milk and cappuccino for which it is famous.

Wet and dry cappuccino — nuances of flavor

Although the Italians themselves mostly follow the unwritten rule — drink coffee until eleven o’clock in the morning, cappuccino is considered to be so easy that drinking it is not limited to morning hours. A cup of cappuccino would be appropriate in the afternoon and even in the evening, because the milk softens the superior coffee strength and fill the drink with chocolate and creamy notes. Cappuccino flavors largely depend on the preparation for its blend. Monosorta rarely comes into play.

The cappuccino described in this article is also called “wet” cappuccino. It’s logical to assume that there is a “dry” cappuccino. The dry cappuccino differs in taste and appearance even though the recipe is the same. The difference is in the first step. The air foam is withdrawn from the frothed milk and is not mixed with the beverage, and the spoon is applied on top of the espresso with milk. This version is considered a classic, but many feel it is outdated and not particularly relevant. Latte art on a “dry” cappuccino is not suitable. Hearts, leaves and other miniature works of art can only be done on the glossy and supple foam of the “wet” cappuccino.

Calorie content of cappuccino

The calorie content of cappuccino with no additives will depend only on the milk since the calories from coffee alone are negligible. If you know that 100 grams of milk contain 50-60 calories, then you can conclude that the same amount of calories will be in the cappuccino, as long as you haven’t added a couple of spoons of sugar. You may have heard of the Turboslim cappuccino. Turboslim advertising claims that it has a potent fat burning complex, which activates the digestive processes and reduces appetite. Turboslim cappuccino has only 42 calories. The ingredients for Turboslim contain an abundance of herbs and spices — cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, as well as bunch of chemical elements — chromium to ascorbic acid. Advertising information for Turboslim looks and sounds great, but there is no cappuccino for weight loss, or any dietary supplements (even with the most breathtaking structure) that can leave you in excellent physical shape. They can only serve as a another useful component of your diet and healthy lifestyle.

It is safe to say only one thing about Turboslim cappuccino – you can only rely on the result (weight adjustment) if you really do switch to the dietary cappuccino from sugary drinks, review your diet, and exercise regularly. We would be grateful if you could share with us your experience of “cooperation” with dietary cappuccino. We always welcome your feedback and comments.

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