Cappuccino: what is it and how is it prepared?

Cappuccino is one of the most popular and recognized coffee drinks worldwide. With a unique combination of coffee and milk, cappuccino offers a creamy texture and a smooth taste that makes it ideal for those who enjoy coffee but do not want a too intense flavor.

What is Cappuccino?

Cappuccino coffee, also known as cappuccino, is a very popular drink that combines coffee and milk. It originated in Italy and can be found in coffee shops worldwide. The cappuccino was born thanks to the popularity of espresso machines and the incorporation of steam wands, which allow the milk to be emulsified to create the milk cream characteristic of this drink.

The cappuccino comprises approximately one-third of espresso coffee, one-third steamed milk, and one-third frothed milk. The steamed milk is dense and is combined with the coffee to give the coffee a creamier texture and a smoother flavor. The top-frothed milk serves as a contrast in flavor and texture.

Parts of a cappuccino
Parts of a cappuccino

Cappuccino is served in a pre-warmed, wide-mouthed cup with about 150-180 ml capacity. The reason for using a low, large-mouthed cup is that only frothed milk would be drunk at first if a tall cup were used.

The way the milk is incorporated over the coffee allows the barista to decorate the cappuccino with beautiful Late Art patterns.

The result is a classic but sophisticated drink that combines the intense flavor of espresso coffee with the smoothness and creaminess of steamed milk. Some people add cocoa powder or cinnamon to the frothed milk to add even more flavor.

What is needed to prepare a Cappuccino?

When preparing a cappuccino (or any coffee drink), we are going to need, on the one hand, quality ingredients and, on the other hand, the tools so that those ingredients can be transformed into a perfect cappuccino.

  • Quality coffee bean. Choose a quality coffee bean and grind it yourself instead of using ground coffee. The roast level will depend on your tastes and the preparation method.
  • Milk. Cold whole cow’s milk is the traditional choice for preparing a cappuccino. Vegetable milk can also be used to prepare a quality cappuccino.
  • Other additives (optional). Some prefer to add cocoa or cinnamon to the top of the cappuccino.
  • Coffee maker. For a traditional cappuccino, an espresso maker is required. However, depending on your tastes and availability, you could use another coffee maker.
  • Grinder. A good grinder at home is essential to achieve a perfect cappuccino. The coffee bean grind for espresso should be fine; other extraction methods will vary.
  • Milk jug. A stainless steel milk jug of 250 ml capacity is ideal for steaming milk. You can also get good textures with electric frothers or the French Press.
  • Coffee mug. A 150-180 ml ceramic mug with a wide mouth is ideal for working the ingredients and enjoying the cappuccino.
Jug for vaporizing milk
Jug for vaporizing milk

How to prepare a Cappuccino

If we choose to prepare a Cappuccino from an espresso, the task will be more complex than it seems. Below, I will detail the complete process of preparing a perfect Cappuccino:

Preparation of the espresso

To make a good espresso, it is important to use high-quality coffee beans. Each one can use the variety of beans that they like the most. I recommend using high-altitude coffees with medium roasts about 15 days old to extract the maximum flavor from the bean.

  1. Clean the portafilter with water and dry it well before using it.
  2. Use a grind grade previously set on the grinder.
  3. Weigh and grind 18 grams of coffee (two espressos at a time).
  4. Place the coffee in the filter holder basket.
  5. Compact the coffee with the tamper so the water can pass through evenly.
  6. Place the portafilter in the machine and the cups on the scale.
  7. Start the extraction and the timer at the same time.

Use a ratio you like (between 1:2 and 1:2.5) and measure the time it takes to extract the coffee if you have to adjust the grind. The coffee should take about 25-30 seconds to extract, and the grams extracted should be between 36 and 45 since we used 18 grams of coffee.

➡️ Don’t miss my recipe to prepare the perfect espresso.

Preparation of the steamed milk

It is important to keep the milk and the carafe cold to prolong the preparation time and to control each step. The ideal temperature to heat the milk is between 60 and 65 degrees Celsius. If this temperature is exceeded, a chemical and physical change occurs in the milk that causes it to have a dry foam and an unpleasant taste.

Position of the steam wand inside the jug and how to hold the jug
Position of the steam wand inside the jug and how to hold the jug

It is important not to overheat the milk. You can preheat the cup with hot water to maintain the temperature longer.

  1. Before using the frother, it is important to purge some steam. This will prevent water from getting into the milk and spoiling it.
  2. Next, we place the wand at an angle to the milk jug, not in the center or touching the wall of the jug. To achieve this, we can tilt the pitcher slightly. This position will help to create a swirl and integrate the bubbles with all the milk.
  3. It is advisable to hold the jug with both hands to achieve greater stability and control the milk’s temperature.
  4. Once the wand’s tip is submerged in the milk, we turn the frother on if operated with a knob.
  5. Then, we lower the jug until the wand’s tip is on the milk’s surface, which we can identify by the characteristic sound. In this position, we add air in the form of small bubbles.
  6. When the milk begins to warm up, we lift the jug again and sink the tip of the frother below the surface of the milk. This temperature change marks the maximum limit for adding air.
  7. By sinking the frother, we create a whirlpool where the bubbles mix with the milk and heat it to the desired temperature.
  8. When the milk is hot, and we cannot hold the jug in our hand for more than three seconds, we turn off the frother and wait until the steam has completely stopped.
  9. Then, remove the carafe and let it cool before wiping the frother with a cloth.
  10. To finish, we gently tap the carafe to pop any remaining bubbles and swirl the milk in circles until the foam shimmers and has a silky texture. The steamed milk can now be served with coffee.

Note: remember to clean the espresso maker after each use. For this task, we recommend the 350ml barista milk jug.

➡️ If you want to learn much more about how to steam milk, do not miss this other article.

How to pour milk over espresso to make the perfect cappuccino

Pouring milk in a controlled manner is an important part of making a good cappuccino. Steamed milk should be poured slowly into a cup of hot espresso so that an even, smooth layer of foam forms on top of the coffee.

There are several factors to keep in mind when pouring milk in a controlled manner:

  • Height: Pouring milk from a moderate height (about 10 cm) helps to create smaller bubbles, resulting in a smoother, creamier froth.
  • Movement: Milk should be poured in a circular motion, moving the pitcher slowly in a circle while pouring. This motion helps to mix the steamed milk with the espresso and to form an even layer of foam.
  • Temperature: The milk should be at the right temperature, as milk that is too hot or cold can affect the consistency of the froth.
  • Technique: Pouring the milk is important to achieve a good froth. The hand holding the jug must be in control and not shaking.

With practice and patience, it is possible to learn to pour milk in a controlled manner and make a good cappuccino.


Although the preparation of a Cappuccino requires some skill and specific tools, the result is a drink that is certainly worth trying. Whether you prefer to add cocoa or cinnamon for an extra kick, the cappuccino is a drink that should not be missing from any coffee lover’s coffee drink list.