Before you can make a great Cappuccino you must know it, you must live it… Now this might not be completely true but it is the inspiration behind our comprehensive how-to guides. Although we appreciate that not everyone has that kind of time on their hands, so for them we have created the quick skip menu below.
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The origins of the name date back to Italy in the 16th century with an offshoot of the Franciscan order: The Monks Of Capuchin.
The Monks of Capuchin commonly wore a coffee brown, hooded robe – the Italian word for which is cappuccio. Actually the word cappuccino translates directly to ‘small capuchin‘.
However, it was not the Italians that first applied the name to coffee, this had its origins in Vienna with a modified version of the word: kapuziner.
Mentions of coffee beverages and coffee houses are found in Viennese history around the 1680’s, but it would not be until the 18th century that the word kapuziner would be given to a coffee drink which contained, in addition to coffee – cream, spices and sugar.
The first generation of the Cappuccino that we know and love today is mentioned in 1930’s Italy and bore a large resemblance to the Viennese kapuziner, though at this stage it was just Espresso with milk (the foam was yet to come).
Finally the 1950’s saw the rise of the Espresso machine, this revolutionised the drink and saw the final addition of a steamed milk top, producing the beverage we see today.
It is common practice (though not in Italy) to top the Cappuccino in a chocolate or cocoa dusting. There are many variations on the market which include many cocoa grades to sugar granules coated in cocoa.
Cinnamon or nutmeg can also be used.
Michael Phillips, 2010 World Barista Champion, comprehensively explains how to achieve the perfect Cappuccino. For those looking for text instructions I have summarised the video below.
Fill a coffee cup with hot water and place it to one side – by keeping the cup at a high temperature, less heat will be required in the milk later on, improving its flavour.
The Espresso Shot
Clean the portafilter than wipe it dry with a tea towel.
Grind a small portion of coffee to throw away (this ensures only the freshest beans will make it into the drink), before grinding a timed dosage of coffee.
Weigh the grounds, (aiming for, in this case 20 grams). Add a touch more if required.
Level out the coffee by moving it around the basket with the side of your finger.
Compact the grounds with a tamper – this is done by pressing the tamper directly down, on top of the coffee grounds, ensuring an even spread. This will guarantee that water passing through the grounds will travel at the same speed regardless of where it penetrates.
Run a small amount of water through the group head, empty the previously filled cup and place it in position.
Extract the coffee, in this case using an extraction time of 33 seconds. A couple of quotes from the video worth mentioning are:
“A low 20 second shot is going to be a very sour, unbalanced shot.”
“If you go a little bit longer than that, say, 40 seconds or even higher than that the shot’s going to start to taste excessively bitter.”
Add a small amount of milk (any cold milk will do) to a pitcher.
Steaming the milk should take 5 – 6 seconds in total. First texturise the milk; this is done by sitting the steam wand on its surface for a few seconds. The steam wand is then plunged deeper, allowing the milk to heat up further without affecting the texture created in the previous step.
Tap the pitcher on the table a couple of times and give it a swirl, this is a process called polishing and will ensure a smoother, shinier texture on the milk.
Clean and purge the steam wand.
Combining The Ingredients
Swirl the Espresso before pouring in the milk.
The addition of a sprinkling of chocolate or cinnamon can be used to flavour the coffee.
For people who don’t have an Espresso maker, this video by Paddy & Scott walks you through a great way to make a delicious Cappuccino at home with minimal equipment.
Before starting make sure to purchase a Cafetière that is metal free as it will be going in the microwave.
Preheat a coffee cup by pouring in hot water and leaving to one side.
Scoop ground coffee into the Cafetière, one heaped tablespoon per cup of coffee to be made.
Pour just enough hot water to cover the coffee, no more. This will allow the Carbon Monoxide to escape the coffee grounds.
Let sit for approximately 30 seconds, swirl, slowly pour in the remaining water and stir gently. Once again, the quantity of water required is determined by the number of cups of coffee to be made.
The coffee is left to sit for 3 minutes; the cap is than placed on top.
With a gentle hand, push the top down slowly.
Empty the preheated cup and pour the coffee in.
Rinse all of the left over coffee from the French press.
Now half fill with milk and place in the microwave for approximately one minute.
Place the top back on the French Press and start plunging up and down in quick succession until the milk is at your desired texture.
Tap the French Press on the table a couple of times and give it a swirl, polishing the milk.
Pour the milk over the coffee.
Paddy and Scott have other coffee related educational videos which can be found at their channel here.
- Heat milk over the stove and use a whisk.
- Purchase a frothing wand.
- Heat milk, pour it in a suitable container than shake.
- Purchase a milk frother.
We hope you found this useful – now get out there and make some coffee!
As always if you have any questions or feel like we have missed anything please send your questions/suggestions to [email protected]