How do you make a cappuccino?

October 13, 2017 3 min read


There’s no doubt that the cappuccino is one of the most popular coffees in the world. It can be made in different ways (unfortunately often poorly), but it needs to meet certain standards in order to be considered a true Italian cappuccino. And when it’s done well, the reward is a drink with a rich flavour and silky texture.

A brief history

Cappuccinos are inspired by Viennese coffee. The Austrians put whipped cream on their coffees, but it was the Italians who decided to swap it out for foamed milk. They also gave the cappuccino (pronounced KA-pu-chino) its name. The word means “Capucin” and it’s a reference to the nutty brown colour of Capucin friars’ habits.

Making a cappuccino

Much like a triple chocolate mousse, cappuccinos have three ‘layers’. They are typically made with a double shot of short (ristretto) espresso, hot milk, and thick foam in equal proportions.

Some interpretations of the cappuccino are closer to a latte, consisting of a double shot of short espresso under a generous helping of foamed milk.

An important note about the foam: texture is key! You’re looking for a rich, silky microfoam rather than one that resembles your favourite bubble bath. People often mistakenly aim for the latter, believing that a proper cappuccino should be topped with a thick cloud of foam. But a coffee made that way will lack the pleasant flavour and velvety texture of espresso mixed with hot milk. In fact, the milk and coffee will be drunk separately, since a too-thick foam won’t mix well with the coffee. Regardless, cappuccinos were made like this for a long time.

This highlights another thing to keep in mind. Interpretations of the cappuccino can vary wildly, so we recommend always asking your barista how they make theirs to make sure you’re actually getting what you want!

Making your own cappuccino

Cappuccinos are fairly easy to make as long as you use equal parts water, milk, and coffee. Here’s what to do:

  • Grind 18 g of espresso and pull a double short shot into a cup.

  • Pour cold milk into a milk pitcher.

  • Foam the milk to around 140 °F or 60 °C.

  • Pour 1/3 of the hot milk into the cup so it’s 2/3 full.

  • Spoon foam on top to fill the remaining 1/3 of the cup.

  • Enjoy!


  • The cappuccino has inspired a host of other drinks, like the babyccino (foamed milk) and the maroccino (sometimes served with chocolate at the bottom of the cup, but always with cocoa on top of the foam).

  • According to the Guinness World Records, the world’s largest cappuccino was made in 2013 in Italy (where else?) by a team of 33 baristas. Just how big was it? 4,250 litres!

  • A few years ago, Lay’s created cappuccino-flavoured potato chips. But they weren’t exactly a hit, so they didn’t last long on the market.


Essentially, a macchiato is a mini cappuccino. The ingredients—espresso, milk, and thick foam—are the same, but the portions and proportions are different. Macchiatos can be made single or double. For a single, you combine a single short shot of espresso, a tablespoon of hot milk, and a generous tablespoon of foam. For a double, all you need to do is (you guessed it) double those!

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