A Cappuccino is a type of coffee beverage with a coffee to milk ratio of 1:5 (That’s one shot of espresso ~30ml/1oz to 146ml/5oz of milk with foamy milk froth on top. It is also sometimes garnished with powdered chocolate or cinnamon sprinkled on top. Although, traditionally the Cappucino used heavily frothed foam on top (dolloped out using a spoon) the modern way is using microfoam – a silky style of textured milk that takes up about 2cm of the top part of a cup (See image). It is also generally served in a standard mug or cup with a handle, unlike the latte which is served in a glass.
History of the Cappuccino
Created in 16th century Italy, this delicious beverage was named after the Capuchin friars because of their brown robes and distinctive long hoods! The Friars robes matched the colour of a Cappuccino when the espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk are all mixed together. Plus, the hoods that were a recognisable part of a Capuchin Friar outfit were similar to the hooded surface of a Cappuccino. And most importantly, “Cappuccio” in Italian means “hood”!
The rise of the Cappuccino began a few short centuries after its creation with the introduction of the espresso machine. The earliest known machine was first patented by Angelo Moriondo in 1884 which earnt him a bronze medal at the General Expo of Turin. Unusually, he never put his creation into production despite winning awards, instead choosing to keep a few hand-built machines for himself.
It wasn’t until Luigi Bezzera’s patent was created in 1901 for a single serving espresso machine that led to mass production of the espresso machine, that the Cappuccinos popularity sky-rocketed. Its popularity further increased after World War 2 when the invention was redesigned to be more compact, and the quality of the espresso improved. The reduced footprint of the machine allowed for smaller cafes to include them on their premises and the improved quality of the espresso naturally allowed for more people to become fans of the beverage!
How to Make a Cappuccino
Pour a great shot or two of espresso (depending on how strong you prefer)
Pour cold milk into your milk pitcher.
Purge the steam wand. This is where you release steam from your steaming wand for a few seconds to remove and water or milk that may have remained from previous uses.
Place the steam wand in the milk pitcher and start frothing your milk. Make sure you are getting a considerable amount of air into your milk to make sure you are getting enough froth. Don’t stretch too aggressively otherwise you’ll end up with bubbly milk. The idea is to stretch the milk enough so it’s light and fluffy, but it still has that silky texture.
You will know that your steam wand is in the correct position if your milk is spinning in the milk pitcher.
When the milk pitcher becomes too hot to touch, stop steaming your milk. Tap the pitcher on an even surface to get rid of any air bubbles.
Make sure to purge your steam wand once more.
Pour your milk in a circular motion in your cup, creating an even mix of espresso and steamed milk.
Then pour at a slower pace to finish off your Cap with the frothed milk.
Add any finishing touches such as cinnamon or chocolate powder
Add one last bit of milk to the centre of the cup to give your coffee that “Hooded” effect!
How to know if the Cappuccino is for you
The Cappuccino is a perfect choice for you if you enjoy a creamy, nicely textured beverage, while still appreciating the flavours of the coffee. The layer of frothed milk acts as a subtle filter that draws out the individual notes from the coffee bean characteristics such as berry or apricot. This particular beverage also has a nice, slight linger which allows you to savour your coffee even after you have finished your cup!
by Ryadan Jeavons
Ryd is a passionate coffee educator who started his career in 2000 as a barista. Having seen the coffee industry develop over the years and how much there is to learn about coffee still, his personal mission has become a role as the conduit between the industry and the consumer. He is passionate about educating the public on all the wonderful things we are learning about this golden liquid drink.