How To Make a Cappuccino At Home To Impress Your Guests


I’ll teach you how to make the best cappuccino in the comfort of your home. Buckle up!

Photo: Julia Bobak

The cappuccino is one of the world’s most popular coffee drinks. People love it for its bold coffee flavor and rich frothy texture. Perhaps more, they adore the combination of espresso and steamed milk with a pillowy layer of foam on top.

Sure, you could buy and enjoy a cappuccino at the local cafe. But it’s way more impressive – and cost-effective – to make your own, and it’s not as hard as you expect! Just follow my step-by-step guide to making this legendary coffee.

A Classic Cappuccino Recipe You Can Make At Home

This recipe teaches you to make cappuccino using an espresso machine, just like in a proper coffee shop. So you’ll want to start by picking up a good cappuccino maker. If that’s not in the budget, scroll down for some tips on how to make a good cup of cappuccino at home without a machine.

Ratio

A traditional cappuccino (often misspelled as making cappachino or capachino) has 1:1:1 ratio, which means it is made from equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. It can be made with one or two espresso shots. A double shot is more common in North American specialty coffee shops, including the Starbucks cappuccino recipe, so we’ll use that for our homemade cappuccino (1).

Ingredients and Equipment

  • 18 g of finely ground coffee beans
  • 4 ounces of whole milk
  • Espresso machine with steam wand
  • Steaming pitcher
  • 6-ounce cappuccino cup

Notes:

  • It is traditional to use a medium-dark or dark roast coffee for a cappuccino because the strong coffee flavor holds up best against all the milk in this drink. But feel free to experiment with your favorite coffee.
  • The coffee needs to be finely ground to prepare a proper espresso. Most pre-ground coffee at the grocery store is too coarse. If you don’t own a burr grinder to grind your own, look for something labeled “espresso grind,” or buy your beans at a coffee shop that will grind them for you.
  • It’s best to use whole dairy milk for a cappuccino, which has the right balance of fats and proteins to produce creamy milk foam. Skim, 1%, or 2% can be substituted for a lower-fat option, but they will change the drink’s texture.
  • If you want to use non-dairy milk for a vegan cappuccino, be sure to use one specifically formulated for barista use. These are produced with the same ratio of fats and proteins as dairy milk, so they behave the same way when steamed. I prefer oat milk for its neutral flavor.

Directions

Ready to make the perfect cappuccino at home? Just follow this easy step-by-step recipe.

Step 1: Prepare Your Portafilter

Turn on your espresso machine, and let it warm up. Add the ground coffee to the portafilter, ensuring it is evenly distributed. Tamp the coffee, and slot the portafilter into your espresso maker.

Pro tip: This is a good time to prepare your cappuccino cup by filling it with hot water to preheat it. Otherwise, you risk cooling your espresso as it extracts into the mug.

making ready the portfilter

Step 2: Make The Espresso

Extract a 2-ounce double shot of espresso into your pre-warmed cappuccino cup. If you’ve prepared your portafilter correctly, this should take about 25 seconds.

making espresso
double espress shot in mug

Step 3: Froth The Milk

We’ll make the steamed milk using your espresso machine’s steam wand. To start, pour 4 ounces of whole milk into a steaming pitcher.

Depending on your espresso machine, you may be able to steam milk while extracting espresso. If not, begin steaming milk after pulling the shot of espresso, as soon as the machine reaches the correct temperature.

frothing the milk

Steaming the milk is the most crucial and challenging aspect of the process. During the steaming process, the milk temperature should reach approximately 145 °F (2). 

A cappuccino requires a substantial amount of milk foam, so position the tip of the steaming wand closer to the surface of the milk as steaming progresses. This allows more air bubbles to be incorporated, yielding an airy froth rather than a dense microfoam.

Pro tip: A standard cappuccino has equal parts steamed milk and milk foam, but this ratio can be varied to your taste. A milkier cappuccino is called a wet cappuccino, while a dry cappuccino has more foam.

Step 4: Combine The Milk And Espresso

Pour the steamed milk into the espresso by holding the milk pitcher approximately 3 inches above the cup and pouring in a somewhat circular motion to blend the hot milk and espresso. The foamier milk will naturally linger behind, but you can also hold it back with a spoon. 

adding milk to espresso

Once the denser steamed milk is added, remove the spoon and pour the lighter foamed milk on top. The spoon can be used to scoop out any foam left behind in the pitcher.

Pro tip: It’s not traditional, but it’s very common these days to dust cocoa powder or cinnamon on top.

Making A Cappuccino Without A Machine

You can’t truly match the rich texture and robust flavor of the best cappuccino without an espresso machine, but you can get reasonably close – and enjoy a delicious coffee drink!

  1. The espresso can be replaced with strong brewed coffee. Ideally, brew the coffee using a stovetop espresso maker, French press, or Aeropress. Pour 2 ounces of the brewed coffee into a coffee cup.
  2. The simplest way to replicate the steamed milk is to use a milk frother, either use a handheld frother or an automatic one. Heat the milk in a saucepan or the microwave if your frother doesn’t have a built-in heater. 
  3. You can also use a French press or Mason jar to froth milk. Just move the French press plunger rapidly up and down (or shake the Mason jar) to incorporate air into the milk.
  4. Pour the frothed milk over the coffee, holding back any foam for the top. Sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa on top of the foam as desired.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to make a delicious cappuccino with an espresso machine to enjoy at home. Pretty simple, right? It’s certainly faster, easier, and less expensive than a daily trek to the coffee shop. And your family and friends will be wildly impressed when you serve them the perfect frothy accompaniment to brunch.

FAQs

The difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the ratio of coffee to milk and the ratio of steamed milk to milk foam. Making a latte uses more milk and a higher proportion of steamed milk, so it has a creamier texture and milder flavor. It may also be decorated with latte art. A great cappuccino has the stronger coffee flavor of the two espresso drinks and a lighter, airy texture.

An iced cappuccino is made using an espresso machine, just like a hot cappuccino, but there’s no need for a steam wand, so you can use a manual espresso maker. Simply pull a single or double shot over ice, then top with milk and/or cold foam made with a handheld milk frother.

For more details, check out our iced cappuccino recipe.

A cappuccino without any milk is simply an espresso. However, many coffee shops offer a bone dry cappuccino, which is a cappuccino without any steamed milk. It is just espresso topped with a thick layer of milk foam.

  1. Klimanova, Y. (2019, February 6). What Should Your Cappuccino Milk Temperature Be? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/02/what-temperature-should-your-cappuccino-milk-be/
  2. Starbucks at Home. (n.d.). Classic Cappuccino. Retrieved from





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