The cappuccino is a classic espresso-based coffee drink that is the world’s fourth most consumed coffee beverage after espresso, iced coffee, and Americano. With its distinctive flavor and divine taste, no wonder cappuccino tops the coffee drink list for many coffee lovers every day. But did you ever wonder what is a cappuccino, where it originated, and how it compares to other espresso-based drinks? Let’s explore these questions.
Meaning of cappuccino:
The cappuccino coffee we know today was developed in Italy, which means ‘hood or cowl’ that describes the head of steamed milk foam that tops its espresso base. It takes its name from the hooded robes of Capuchin monks. Capuchin monks wore brown hooded cowls, and their shaved heads and hooded cowls resembled the white milk foam and ring of crema that tops the cappuccino.
What is cappuccino?
A cappuccino is a light and foamy coffee drink made with milk foam, espresso, and steamed milk. This hot coffee drink is very similar to a café latte, but the different proportion of steam milk used makes it different from a latte.
A traditional cup of cappuccino contains 100ml of steamed-foamed milk and 25ml of espresso. However, some make cappuccino with equal parts of steam milk, milk foam, and espresso.
Such cappuccino recipes call for one-third equal parts of all ingredients. The bottom layer of cappuccino contains a single or double shot of espresso. In the United States, two espresso shots are used to make cappuccino. The bottom layer of the espresso is followed by a layer of steamed milk. The top layer consists of micro-foam that gives it a luxurious velvety texture.
You can decorate this thick layer of foam with art made with steamed milk or dust the top third layer with cinnamon or cocoa powder. Finely ground dark roast beans are typically used to pull espresso shots. Cappuccino is smaller in volume as compared to café latte.
Origin of cappuccino
The recent history of this hot espresso drink is linked to the advances in the technology of espresso machines. However, the name cappuccino first popped up in Austria as the ‘Kapuziner’ in the 18th century. Kapuziner was a coffee drink made with cream and sugar. The cappuccino we know today was invented in Italy in the early 20th century after the popularization of the espresso machine.
The name was adopted to become ‘Cappuccino which means ‘hood or cowl’ in Italian. It gradually became popular due to the availability and advancements of the espresso machines and post-World War II affluence.
These improvements and post-war affluence across different parts of the world, especially Europe, set the stage for its popularity around the world. This was when modern-day cappuccino was born. It was first introduced in the USA in the 1980s largely due to its marketing in coffee bars. It soared in popularity after introducing café culture in the United States in the 1990s. In recent years, it appeared in other parts of the world, thanks to Starbucks.
Types of cappuccino
A traditional cappuccino is made with a single or double shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and micro foam. However, there are some variations in the types of cappuccino that make you drink a little different.
A dry cappuccino is one of the most requested varieties that coffee drinkers order. It comes with more foam and less hot milk. This version is quite the opposite of the other version that comes with no extra foam. The dry cappuccino recipe calls for a small quantity of steamed milk, and it will make the bitterness of espresso more pronounced. If you like strong-tasting espresso in a cappuccino, this one is for you. Moreover, it is darker in color than the traditional cappuccino.
Wet cappuccino or light cappuccinos
Wet cappuccino contains more steamed milk and less foam. It is creamier than a dry drink due to its more steamed milk content. Wet cappuccino tastes more like a latte with less foam content on the top. The more content of steamed milk dilutes the bitterness of espresso, making it slightly sweeter.
If you don’t want to give up the incredible flavor of cappuccino but want something refreshing, then you should try the iced cappuccino. On hot days when you want to have your coffee cold, iced cappuccinos are a great cold beverage to beat the heat.
Unlike an iced latte, it is a more espresso-based drink mixed with cold-frothed milk. In Italy, it has chilled espresso topped with cold-frothed milk. However, in the United States, it is often an iced drink.
Another popular version of cappuccino is the flavor cappuccino. It is one of the most popular coffee drinks in America. However, this flavored coffee drink is frowned upon in Italy. The airy foam on the top of the cappuccino is flavored with raspberry, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, and peppermint. Other additives include cocoa powder, chocolate sauce, cinnamon powder, and drizzled caramel.
Bone dry cappuccino
Bone dry cappuccino is also a popular variation of cappuccino made with espresso and milk foam. Steamed milk is not used in this recipe, which makes it different from dry cappuccino, in which a small quantity of steamed milk is used.
Difference between the Cappuccino, the Latte, and the Macchiato
Milk-based espresso drinks might be confusing for you because they share a common theme. For instance, latte, cappuccino, and macchiato are different coffee drinks; they all are made with espresso, steamed milk, and frothed foam. There are some key differences these coffee beverages share. Let’s explore Cappuccino vs. Latte vs. Macchiato!
The cappuccino recipe calls for equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed, giving the final product a smooth taste and rich texture. Cocoa powder is often sprinkled on the top of an airy layer of foam in traditional cafes. The Viennese coffee was served with a dusting of ground spices, and the addition of cocoa powder on top is derived from it. The typical cappuccino recipe consists of:
- 1/3 double espresso shot
- 1/3 part steamed milk
- 1/3 part milk foam
There is no standard recipe for a latte, but it is pretty similar to a cappuccino. So when we talk about cappuccino vs. latte, latte involves mixing steamed milk and espresso together. While cappuccino is distinctly layered with equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. Sometimes, it is served with steamed milk with the added layer of foamed milk. Compared to other milky coffees, it is slightly sweet due to the great proportion (roughly 50%) of steamed milk. The recipe of this much-loved espresso milk coffee comprises:
- 2ML of foamed milk
- 300ML of steamed milk
- Double shot or 60ML of espresso
Macchiato is a popular specialty coffee drink usually made using a double espresso shot and milk foam. This two-ingredient coffee drink has a much stronger flavor than latte and cappuccino. It is much smaller than other espresso-based coffees, with a serving size of 37ml. Macchiato is usually served in a small transparent glass or demitassecup. The typical macchiato recipe calls:
- A 60ml of espresso
- ½ inch of milk foam
While many sources claim that cappuccino coffee is made using the equal parts of espresso, milk, and foam but INEI (Istituto Nazionale di Espresso Italiano) defines the Italian cappuccino as follows:
- 25ml of espresso
- 100ml of cold milk steamed to a volume of 125ml
- It is topped with visible milk foam and served in a cup with a volume of 150 to 160ml.
How to make Cappuccino coffee
As mentioned above, a cappuccino features steamed milk, espresso, and foam. Some baristas replace espresso with pour-over or drip coffee. The barista’s skills let you learn how to make cappuccino like a pro, i.e., foaming milk and pulling an espresso shot. It is usually made with an espresso machine. It is layered milky coffee, and the espresso shot makes the bottom layer, followed by a similar amount of steamed milk prepared by heating it with a steam wand. The top layer of the drink has frothed milk foam and often features cocoa powder or cinnamon.
Cappuccino homemade recipe requires the following ingredients:
For the Espresso
- Two tbsp. dark roast coffee beans (finely ground)
- 4-ounce water
For the steamed Milk
- 4 ounces of milk
1- Make the coffee
Prepare the espresso with freshly ground dark roast coffee beans.
2-Steam the Milk
- Pour milk into the frothing pitcher and insert the espresso machine’s steam wand into it. Make sure to keep the wand under the surface of the milk and the tip of the wand towards the side of the frothing pitcher.
- Move the pitcher lower, higher and closer to create more froth by incorporating air into the milk. Moreover, large bubbles get smaller and smaller.
- Turn the steam wand off when the volume of the milk increases. It should be double in size.
3- Make the cappuccino
A classic cappuccino made with 1/3 part of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. You can top it with cinnamon, whipped cream, and chocolate. The addition of flavored syrups can also enhance the taste of the drink.
What is a good cappuccino?
A cup of good cappuccino should have a rich structure, strong espresso taste, incredible texture, and sweet foam. As you know, it calls for an equal proportion of all ingredients, so if you don’t find the stronger flavor of espresso- it means you have used too much milk. Moreover, burnt-tasting coffee shows that it is not a good cappuccino, probably due to the milk you steamed for too long and at a high temperature.
What Does Cappuccino Tastes Like?
This classic Italian drink tastes mildly sweet, creamy, and bitter with a heavy dose of coffee flavor. It lends sweetness from the milk, and dark roast beans used to make espresso is responsible for its bitterness. Milk foam tastes thicker, and you can enjoy it by spooning out the micro foam. It is halfway between an Americano and a latte.
However, its taste depends on many factors, like brewing methods and the ingredients you use. Dark chocolate, nuttiness, and bright acidity are other tasting notes you may find in cappuccino.
Is Cappuccino Healthier Than Any Other Coffee?
All types of coffee are healthier. However, the addition of milk, sugar, and cream makes it more caloric. Cappuccino is generally more caloric than black coffee due to the addition of milk and micro foam. But it is slightly lower in calories than its look-alike latte because it has less milk.
What is the difference between a cappuccino and regular coffee?
Traditional coffee is much simpler than a cappuccino, which features espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The elements of steamed milk and micro foam make this hot coffee drink more caloric than black coffee. Cappuccino is espresso-based milk that requires finely ground beans.
It creates a more intense cup of coffee due to strong coffee concentrate than a regular cup of coffee. Both have the same amount of caffeine content, but it depends on the type of beans you use to brew coffee. When it comes to coffee taste, regular coffee offers a stronger taste than a cappuccino.