A cappuccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot milk, 1/3 frothy milk.
The first rule of an authentic cappuccino is to make a perfect ’crema’. This is the thick, golden foam you find on top of an espresso when it’s been brewed. To test a good crema put a little sugar on top, if it takes time to fall to the bottom you’ve succeeded.
A perfect crema comes from:
- Quality coffee beans
- Good grinding
- Tamping: The art (practised by barista’s across Italy) of pressing down on the ground coffee when it is in the filter with a tool known as a tamper (some machines come with an in-built tamper). Tamping gives an even and consistent flow of the water through the coffee.
To make an espresso you will need an espresso coffee machine or you could use a stove top espresso maker.
While your perfect espresso is brewing it’s time to heat the milk. There is debate as to which milk makes the best cappuccino. Some say skimmed as it holds its froth for longer because of the low fat content but the main rule is that it needs to be fresh as the protein in the milk creates the frothiness.
If you are using a coffee machine which has a frother:
- Use a stainless steel jug which conducts heat better and fill it to just under half full with cold milk
- Create a good amount of foam in the milk by tipping the jug and gently bringing the steam wand up as the foam is created
If you do not have a ’frother’ heat the milk in a pan to just below boiling point. Once the milk is hot, put it in a large cafetière and pump the plunger 10-15 times until you have plenty of froth.
The perfect pour:
- Once the milk is heated pour the espresso shots into coffee cups
- Before pouring the milk give it a few taps to remove bubbles
- Add enough milk to fill the cup two thirds of the way, using a large spoon to hold back the froth
- In the remaining space, spoon out the foam leaving a visible brown rim round the edge for an authentic look
- Sprinkle with chocolate if desired
- For a flavoured cappuccino, add a little before adding the espresso and stir with the milk and espresso before topping it off with foam
Other types of coffee:
Latte: espresso and hot milk, the normal ratio is 1:6
Macchiato: espresso with a touch of milk
Con Panne: espresso with cream
Mocha: hot chocolate with a dash of espresso
Americano: hot water with a dash of espresso
Now we’ve spilt the beans on how you can make a great cappuccino you should be able to bring a touch of Italy to your own home. Bellissimo!