Myth: cappuccino’s silky magic is beyond the grasp of home baristas. It’s just too delicate of a dance, best left to the cafe.
Truth: great cappuccino is a delight available to discerning coffee lovers, right in their own kitchens. It takes some practice with water, steam and foam, along with the right equipment on your countertop. You’ll want an espresso machine with a built-in steaming wand. And of course, illy coffee on hand as your foundation.
A cappuccino is an approximately 150 ml (5 oz) beverage, with 25 ml of espresso coffee and 85ml of fresh milk The foaming action creates the additional volume.
For a cappuccino at its best:
- Pour cold milk into a metal steaming pitcher, about a third full;
- Release steam from the steaming wand for two seconds to eliminate any residual water;
- Dip the tip of the steaming wand into milk and start the jet. As the foam rises and the volume of milk increases, lower the pitcher, always keeping the tip submerged and tilted to create a vortex. Do not mix unnecessarily (i.e. let the natural circulating action do the work);
- Continue steaming until the milk reaches 65 degrees (check via probe-style kitchen thermometer) and its volume doubles;
- Tap the base of the pitcher firmly on the countertop to compress the foam;
- Prepare an espresso in a large cup (ideally, a cappuccino cup);
- Pour the foamed milk directly into the cup, first aiming for the center, then continuing in a circular motion out toward the rim;
- Operate the steam one more time to eliminate any remaining milk residue;
The Best Foam
Foam’s consistency epends on the milk’s fat content.
For the most velvety rich cappuccino, use whole milk. You can substitute low-fat milk, at the sacrifice of some smoothness.
Foam produced from skim milk is light and meringue-like, quick to dissolve.