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How to Make a Cappuccino

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If you’ve ever been to Italy, you are probably familiar with the cappuccino. And it’s where my love affair with cappucinos all started. Now it’s my all-time favorite drink and I have them on a daily basis. While getting the hang of a cappuccino recipe can take a bit of espresso knowledge, it’s not difficult. I’ll show you how to make a cappuccino, break down all the steps, and share exactly how you can also perfect making an Italian cappuccino at home.

While I love making espresso drinks at home, this is my daily favorite and I’m so excited to share it with you! Be sure to try my dirty chai, latte, lavender latte, or espresso tonic next time and finish your day with a sleepy girl mocktail.

Cappuccino in a blue tea cup with saucer.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

What is a Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a simple and basic espresso-based drink, yet I see it made incorrectly quite frequently. It all comes down to the ratio and a cappuccino is 1 part espresso to 1 part steamed milk to 1 part foam. So the size will vary based on if you’re making your cappuccino with a single or double shot. The other important factor (IMHO) is to serve it out of a correct cappuccino mug. Because this drink is about 6 fluid ounces or less, you need a proper cup or it will feel like your mug is empty. More on the mugs below, ultimately it comes down to personal opinion, but it is a piece that I feel quite strongly about.

The cappuccino origin is slightly contested, but it’s assumed Italy after the espresso machine was invented. It may have been inpsired by the Kapuziner, which was made from coffee and whipped cream in Vienna in the 18th century.

The name comes from the color of robes that were worn by Capuchin order of friars, which was brown in color with a white top, similar to that of a cappuccino. All that to say that your cappuccino color should be a rich brown with a white foam top.

GIF stirring cappuccino.

What You’ll Love About Cappuccinos

  • Nothing better than a FRESH cappuccino
  • Easy to make at home
  • Made with just a few ingredients
  • Fun to learn how to make
  • So much more cost-effective to make it yourself

Cappuccino VIDEO

Cappuccino Ingredients

  • Espresso – Making your own fresh espresso is the way to go. Use your favorite espresso beans. I prefer a high-quality medium roast, but use your favorite. You can do one or two shots espresso – I always do a double!
  • Milk – I always use whole milk which froths well and has great creamy flavor and texture, but you could also use 2% if you prefer. Skim milk will froth, but doesn’t have the same creamy flavor. You can also use a milk alternative, but be sure to use the barista blend versions so they froth up.
  • Sweetener (optional) – I love a touch of sugar in my cappuccino and so I add a little scoop to the mug before I brew the espresso. You can use sugar, honey, maple syrup, or your favorite sugar alternative. Add sugar or sweetener to taste. If you would like to make a french vanilla cappuccino, make some vanilla bean simple syrup to use as your sweetener.
  • Cocoa powder – Many coffee shops in Europe and the US will serve your cappuccino with a dusting of cocoa powder on top of the foam. Sprinkle a tiny amount through a sieve if using.
Ingredients to make cappuccino recipe.

How to Make a Cappuccino

This is an overview on how to make a cappuccino, the detailed instructions can be found below in the recipe card.

Prep espresso. Preheat your portafilter and cup, grind your beans, dose your coffee, rake, and tamp.
Steam milk with steam wand. You want a combination of steamed milk with foam. Hold the tip of the steaming wand at the surface of the milk to create the larger bubbles and foam. Then submerge the tip below the surface and tilt the pitcher to create a whirlpool and steam until the milk is hot.
Person steaming milk with steam wand.
Brew espresso. Add sugar or sweetener to your cappuccino mug and brew espresso right over the top.
GIF showing espresso brewing over cappuccino mug.
Finish cappuccino. Pour in the steamed milk, finishing with a dollop of foam, you may have to spoon it over the top. Dust with cocoa powder if using.
Pouring milk into cappuccino mug.

FAQs

Does a cappuccino have caffeine?

If you’re wondering if there is caffeiene in cappuccinos, the answer is yes. Unless you’re getting a decaf cappuccino. (Which is one of my favorite post-dinner beverages!) The amount of caffeine will vary based on how many shots of espresso you use as well as the amount of caffiene in your coffee beans, which can vary.

One shot of espresso has about 60 mg of caffeine and a double shot will have about 120 mg of caffeine. One common misconception is that espresso has more caffeine and while it does have more caffeine per ounce, it typically has about the same or less than a cup of coffee which has about 90 mg per 8 oz. (Which is actually a small amount of coffee for most mugs and servings!)

Espresso vs. cappuccino – what’s the difference?

So a cappuccino is made with espresso but it’s also made with steamed milk and milk foam while an espresso is just that – a shot of espresso.

Cappuccino vs. latte – what’s the difference?

Similar to a latte, the cappuccino is also made with steamed milk and foam in addition to the espresso, but the ratios are different. In a latte, it’s 1 part espresso to 2 parts milk and a touch of foam (about 1 centimeter) on the top.

Flat white vs. cappuccino – what’s the difference?

The flat white is also similar, but with equal parts espresso and steamed milk into a microfoam which makes it super silky and creamy.

How many calories are in a cappuccino?

It will depend on what type of milk you are using, but this cappuccino has about 55 calories, not including any optional sweeteners that you might use. The full nutrition facts can be found below in the recipe card.

Emily drinking cup of cappuccino.

Best Tools

You are going to need some tools to make a homemade cappuccino! Here are my recommendations.

Best cappuccino maker

I use the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine and LOVE it! I make cappuccinos daily with this machine and am a huge fan. I’ve upgraded a few tools (do this at your own risk) to brew with a bottomless portafilter and added a steam lever for a sturdier switch (and it looks cool).

However, you can also make a cappuccino with a Nespresso and an electric milk steamer, which I used for years before getting the real deal. These tools don’t have quite the same level of preciseness, but can still make a great coffee drink.

Best cappuccino cups

So you have options with your cappuccino cups. The most important consideration is size. I like using a 7-8 ounce mug or tea cup with a saucer. After falling in love with cappuccinos in Italy, that were always served with a saucer, it became a non-negotiable for me, but you do you. 🙂

You do have options. I recently splurged on these Italian china tea cups that I fell in love with in Italy and bring me so much joy (and are what you see pictured here), but I also love these Crate & Barrel white mugs and saucers and have a lot of other cappuccino cup options here.

Classic cappuccino in blue tea cup with saucer.

What to Serve with a Cappuccino

Any delicious coffee drink needs a proper breakfast. Here are some delicious ones to try:

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Hand holding cappuccino mug.

More Coffee Drinks You Need to Try

If you like this cappuccino recipe, you might also like these other fun coffee drinks:

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Cappuccino in a blue tea cup with saucer.

Cappuccino Recipe

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Description

The cappuccino is my all-time favorite drink and I have them on a daily basis. Learn how to make a cappuccino so you can perfect it at home.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • sugar or sweetener (optional)
  • cocoa powder (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prep espresso and get it ready to brew. 
  2. Steam milk. With a cappuccino, you want a decent amount of pretty stiff foam so that it’s equal parts steamed milk and foam.
  3. Brew espresso. Add sweetener (if using) to your cappuccino mug and brew espresso right over top. 
  4. Pour steamed milk into mug, finishing with the foam. Dust with cocoa powder if desired. 


Keywords: cappuccino, cappuccino recipe, how to make a cappuccino

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  1. […] The best Trader Joe’s breakfast items so that you can take a quick and balanced breakfast on the go. Mix and match, or use the combinations I share. Want something more substantial? Try my yogurt parfait, steak egg and cheese bagel or English breakfast! Serve with sweet cream cold foam or cappuccino. […]

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