Making a proper cappuccino | Rickard Andersson

Making a proper cappuccino

A few pointers for all you people out there who have no idea:

  1. Don’t boil the milk! We don’t want a cappuccino that tastes like gruel. The ideal temperature of the milk is around 68 degrees Celsius (155F). It takes seconds, not minutes. If you’re burning your hand on the pitcher, start again.
  2. Don’t fluff up the milk into something that looks like beaten egg whites. We want microfoam, not shampoo bubbles.
  3. Pour it in a small cup. The ideal cup holds about 15 centiliters (5 ounces). Nobody wants a soup bowl of milk that doesn’t taste any coffee.
  4. Don’t ever put cocoa powder or cinnamon or anything like that on top unless the customer specifically requests it.

Here’s an example of how it should look and how it should NOT look:

Good cappuccino   Bad cappuccino

If you serve me one of those on the right when I’ve asked for a cappuccino, be prepared for a falling out.


  1. Posted July 10, 2007 at 15:16 | Permalink

    Perhaps this is why I do not like cappuccinos. The ones I have been served always look like the bottom one. The top one looks must more tasty. :-)

  2. Paul
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 23:42 | Permalink

    Spoken like a true grumpy old man. Welcome to the club.

  3. John E.
    Posted June 27, 2009 at 07:52 | Permalink

    Nice. I think folks are finally catching on.

  4. Posted September 26, 2010 at 16:59 | Permalink

    I really enjoy the cappuccinos throughout Europe. Of course being there adds to the pleasure of this soul-satisfying concoction. However, wherever you are, you close your eyes you can focus on the flavors.

    “Make it right or call it something else.” that’s one of my food mottoes. After multiple attempts at, nicely, asking Starbucks workers (and other coffee shops) to make a cappuccino I would get the gruel/Latte or whatever it is. I think they do this because a real cappuccino would only fill half the now standard small coffee cup – I remember a small cup was 6-8 ounces. In the end my attempts were getting costly because I ended up throwing the hot milk with a dash of coffee mix away. Wonder what a Latte looks like?

    As a matter of fact, Starbucks USA and European coffee shops have the Americano coffee which is just espresso with added hot water. Why can’t we have the Americano Cappuccino and the European Cappuccino side-by-side on the menu?

    To end my rant, here is what I do today. I look for coffee shops that have Lavazza brand beans. Tip: just cause the coffee shop has Lavazza logo paraphernalia laying around does not mean they have Lavazza coffee, like a shop in Loma Linda, CA. Grrr!

    Lavazza beans are great and the first time I had a cappuccino with Lavazza, in an Italian owed shop in San Diego, I froze with the cup attached to my lips because of the angels singing to my gastronomic soul. This was before I realized I had a passion for food. I asked the Barista about the coffee and he exclaimed, “Lavazza! The best!” I said, “Of course!” desperately wanting to wave my hand through the air like him.

    To the person who created this post I say thanks. Now I know I’m not alone in the the definition of a real cappuccino, or what really is, “a cappuccino.”

  5. Jenny
    Posted June 13, 2012 at 17:13 | Permalink

    But how is it made??? I just returned from my first visit to Europe where I experienced the joy that is perfectly frothed milk and beautifully pulled espresso. I am ashamed to say that I have been addicted to Starbucks for several years (their caramel macchiato had a hold on me, never mind the fact that it wasn’t really a macchiato) but I have resolved never to return. I want to learn to make cappuccinos (cappuccini?) at home, but I’m afraid my little $50 espresso machine isn’t going to cut it.

    Where can I start?

  6. Posted June 14, 2012 at 10:58 | Permalink

    Jenny: The problem is that in order to properly froth the milk, you need a rather expensive machine. I would recommend a semi-automatic. Just be prepared that it’ll set you back around $1500 to get a good one.

    If you’re not quite ready to spend that much, I would recommend something a bit simpler such as the Rancilio Silvia. It makes excellent espresso and has been known to produce decent microfoamed milk as well.

    Here’s a rather old, but still valid article on choosing an espresso machine:

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