How to Make a Cappuccino

published Aug 3, 2022
Cappuccino Recipe

A smooth blend of creamy milk and strong espresso, topped with a tall layer of soft milk foam.

Serves1

Prep5 seconds

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A photo of a cappuccino with cinnamon sprinkled on top, on a small saucer with a spoon on the side.
Credit: Maria Do

A good cappuccino is a smooth blend of creamy milk and strong espresso, topped with a tall layer of milk foam. This recipe will show you how to achieve the perfect cappuccino at home using an espresso machine.

Cappuccinos are typically served in small cups, as they have considerably less volume than lattes (although they boast a taller foam layer). This foam layer is actually how cappuccinos got their name: ”Cappuccino” translates to “little cap” in Italian. 

What Is the Ratio of Milk to Coffee in a Cappuccino?

The ratio of milk to coffee in a cappuccino is 2:3 milk and 1:3 espresso. Therefore, a cappuccino is three equal parts steamed milk, milk foam, and espresso. 

The milk foam should be frothed until the bubbles are micro-sized, as large bubbles subside easily. The micro bubbles is stay intact on top of the cappuccino as you drink it. 

Credit: Maria Do

How Do You Make a Cappuccino at Home?

A cappuccino can be made at home with an espresso machine and steam wand or frother. Brew 2 ounces espresso in an espresso machine, then steam 4 ounces milk under a steam wand until milk doubles in volume. Pour espresso into a coffee cup, then pour the steamed milk and froth over the top to make a homemade cappuccino! 

How Do You Make a Cappuccino Without a Machine?

Brew coffee extra strong in a regular coffee machine, French press, or coffee drip to mimic a shot of espresso. Warm milk in a saucepan until it reaches 150°F, then use a milk frother until milk is double in volume. Pour 2 ounces of strong brewed coffee into a coffee cup, then top with 4 ounces of the steamed milk and foam mixture to make a cappuccino. 

Cappuccino Recipe

A smooth blend of creamy milk and strong espresso, topped with a tall layer of soft milk foam.

Prep time 5 seconds

Serves 1

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons

    finely ground dark roast coffee beans

  • 2 ounces

    (1/4 cup) water

  • 4 ounces

    (1/2 cup) whole milk or unsweetened oat milk

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    cocoa powder or ground cinnamon, for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make 2 shots of espresso in an espresso machine: Add 2 ounces (1/4 cup) water to the boiler, then firmly pack 2 tablespoons (2 shots) finely ground dark coffee beans into the portafilter. Attach the portafilter to the machine and place a cup or carafe underneath the drip spout. Turn the espresso machine on and brew the espresso, 25 to 45 seconds depending on your machine. Pour the espresso into a coffee cup.

  2. Make the steamed milk and foam: Pour 4 ounces (1/2 cup) whole or unsweetened oat milk into a small pitcher. Using the steam wand on the espresso machine, hold the milk pitcher so the wand nozzle is just below the surface of the milk and against the side of the pitcher. Turn on the wand and froth the milk until it doubles in volume, moving the pitcher higher and lower so the wand can evenly foam the milk, 60 to 90 seconds. The bubbles should get smaller in size.

  3. Swirl the foamed milk in the pitcher. Pour the foamed milk over the brewed espresso until the foam reaches the brim of the cup. Half of the milk will settle while the foam sits on top. Lightly dust the top with 1/8 teaspoon cocoa powder or ground cinnamon if desired.

Recipe Notes

Steamed milk + foam without an espresso machine wand: If you don’t have a steam wand, warm the milk in a saucepan until it reaches 150ºF. Use a handheld frother to create foam until the milk volume doubles in size. If you don't have a handheld frother, you can also use a whisk and whip by hand until you can get the bubbles as small as you can.

Milk substitutes: Whole milk is best for the foam cap because the fat content makes frothing easier. Half-and-half, heavy cream, or unsweetened oat milk can also be used with great results. Do not use 2% or skim milk, as they will not foam well.