Having my first try at coffee was not easy. It is both challenging and overwhelming to find a coffee drink that suits my palette. But whether you’re a newbie or someone who wants to explore, many would vouch that cappuccino is a perfect choice.
A certified classic and top favorite, cappuccino is a coffee drink that will never do you wrong. This article will discuss all there is to know about cappuccino, including the most interesting facts.
What is a Cappuccino?
Cappuccino is an Italian coffee drink that is crafted from espresso, frothed milk, and steamed milk. Its uniqueness and popularity is due to its well-balanced coffee structure and mild-sweet taste that neither comes too strong nor too weak.
Baristas’ first challenge is always to create a perfect cup of cappuccino. The balance among its three components must be on point to achieve the desired richness, flavor, acidity, and even aroma.
The art and skill behind every cup of cappuccino are indeed amazing.
History of the Cappuccino
The origins of cappuccino can be traced back to as early as the 1700s, under the rooves of Vienna Coffee houses where it is better known as “kapuziner” which translates to “cappuccio” in Italian.
Both terms originally referred to the brown-colored hoods Capuchin monks wore. Historians believe that the famous coffee drink was named kapuziner/cappuccio, later on cappuccino, because of the uncanny resemblance of its color to that of the monks brown hoods.
However, it was only in the 1930s when cappuccino appeared officially in historical writings. The invention of the espresso machine in the 1900s also reinvented the cappuccino. Its inherent capacity to brew coffee and heat milk gave birth to the modern definition of cappuccino – a well-balanced blend of espresso, steamed milk, and foam.
The craze over this delicious coffee drink spread not only in Europe but in other continents including America and Asia.
How is it Made?
Making a cup of cappuccino requires skill and craftsmanship.
Barista or not, the first step to the creation of cappuccino is the preparation of the espresso using an espresso machine.
Put freshly ground and roasted coffee on the portafilter and brew. You can choose to either put a single or double shot to your cappuccino.
The next step is the steaming of the milk. This is one of the key steps in achieving a good cup of cappuccino.
Traditionally, the milk is steamed up to 37-62 degrees Celsius to create a milk froth.
Once, the desired texture and volume are achieved, the milk will be poured over the cup of espresso from a low height.
Baristas often apply the “wiggle” technique to ensure that the foam reaches the cup. You will often see people getting creative over their cups of cappuccino.
What Does it Taste Like?
The craze over cappuccino is not just for talks. The rich flavor, unique texture, and captivating aroma of the famous coffee drink are sure to reckon with.
Cappuccino is made from three main ingredients namely, espresso, steamed milk, and foam milk.
The espresso gives the cappuccino a strong flavor. But its inherent bitterness will never throw you off. Thanks to the cappuccino's milk components. The steamed and foamed milk impart contains a sugar called lactose that imparts sweet and soft flavors.
Overall, a traditional cappuccino has a strong coffee taste with hints of sweetness and creaminess from steamed and frothed milk.
Although, over the years, baristas have tried modifying the traditional recipe of cappuccinos by adding flavors of chocolate, nuts, cinnamon, and other syrups.
Cappuccino Benefits and Side Effects
There’s a saying that goes “what we choose to consume, determines the direction and length of our lives.” So here is a comprehensive review of the health benefits and risks of drinking cappuccino.
It Aids in Weight Loss
If you are on a strict calorie deficit diet, then fret no more because a cup of cappuccino would never do harm. In fact, it can help you shed off some pounds.
Usually, a cappuccino only contains approximately 100 calories per cup which is amicable for low-carb diets like ketogenic, Mediterranean, and Atkins diets.
On top of this, cappuccino can also boost your metabolism thus, helping your body burn excess sugars and fats.
It Reduces the Risk of Heart Diseases
A cup of cappuccino packs a rich reservoir of antioxidants that are scientifically proven to reduce levels of unhealthy low-density lipoproteins (LDL) like cholesterol.
It Decreases the Likelihood of Stroke
Scientific investigations suggest that the consumption of 4 cups or more of espresso-based coffees per day can prevent the occurrence of stroke. This property is highly attributed to the caffeine and antioxidants found in coffee.
It Prevents Neurological Disorders Like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Dementia
The high level of caffeine in every cup of cappuccino improves the cognitive functions of the brain, thus preventing the onset of disabling neurological disorders.
It Lowers the Risks of Cancer
Recent studies show that drinking cappuccino regularly can reduce the risks of some types of cancer like liver, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers. Although not fully understood, these health benefits can be attributed to the numerous active ingredients found in coffee like caffeine, flavonoids, polyphenols, and lignans.
It Lowers the Risk of Diabetes Type 2
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body refuses to utilize insulin – an enzyme highly responsible for the metabolism of sugars. The active components and minerals of coffee improve insulin use all the while blocking the diabetes-causing compound called amyloid polypeptide.
Too much consumption of cappuccino or any coffee, for that matter, may cause you minor to major health issues such as the following:
Individuals with underlying health conditions like heart disease, anxiety, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, glaucoma, and others should keep a close watch on the number of cups of cappuccino they consume. This is also true for pregnant women and children. Going overboard is and never will be good.
Cappuccino vs Latte: What’s the difference?
You can say that these two popular coffee drinks are bred from the same cloth. Aside from their Italian roots, they are also made from the same ingredients. Baristas need espresso and milk to make both latte and cappuccino.
However, these coffee types vary greatly in taste, texture, and quality. The main differences are as follows:
- Cappuccino has a notably stronger flavor than a latte.
- Baristas use more milk in latte than in cappuccino.
- Cappuccino has three distinct layers of espresso, steamed milk, and foam while latte has a singular phase made from a blend of all three ingredients.
What’s in a Cappuccino?
Most coffee shops follow a 1:1:1 ratio. That is to say, cappuccino contains equal amounts of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk.
The even distribution of its ingredients creates three distinct layers that are unique to cappuccino. The bottom layer consisting of one or two shots of espresso is topped by a layer of steamed milk and on the topmost layer is a thick and airy layer of foam made from milk.
What’s in a Latte?
Like cappuccino, a latte is also espresso-based. Barista combines a shot or two of espresso with several ounces of milk (more than cappuccino) which results in a softer and sweeter taste. Most recipes use a 1:2 espresso to milk ratio.
Unlike espresso, a latte does not form distinct layers. The milk and espresso are blended well together and topped off with a layer of foam. Some coffee shops make use of additional sweeteners and flavors like chocolate and hazelnut to make it more amicable to coffee drinkers.
Types of Cappuccino
The traditional cappuccino is prepared using the well-known 1:1:1 ratio. The base is comprised of one or two shots of espresso, a layer of steamed milk, and then topped by foamed milk. Expect to see a hefty variation of cappuccino from various coffee shops all over the world.
This is also known as cappuccino freddo. From the name itself, this type is the cold version of a cappuccino.
Unlike the traditional cappuccino, cappuccino freddo has a thinner layer of cold-frothed milk.
This drink is quite popular in regions like America, Greece, Cyprus, and other European countries.
This drink popularly called cappuccini chiaro is closer to a latte. It has more steamed milk and less frothed milk that provide the cappuccino with a creamier and softer flavor.
Dry cappuccino or cappuccini scurro probably has the strongest flavor in the cappuccino family. Baristas deviate from the 1:1:1 ratio by adding more volumes of espresso and less steamed milk. It is still topped with a thick layer of foam milk to keep the drink hot for as long as possible.
However, as a result, dry cappuccino generally tastes stronger and appears darker than a traditional cappuccino.
The addition of flavoring syrups is one of the creative modifications to the well-loved cappuccino. The most popular flavors being used in coffee shops are cinnamon, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. They are sweeter and fancier than the traditional one but sure, they are a must-try!
How to Make Cappuccino: Step by step
If you ever dream of brewing and making yourself a cup of cappuccino even at home, then this step-by-step guide is the perfect chance for you.
Things you will need:
- Freshly roasted coffee
- Espresso Machine or French Press or AeroPress
- Kettle or Pitcher
- Whisker or Electric Mixer
1. Pre-heat the coffee cup by pouring and leaving amounts of hot water on one side.
2. Proceed with the preparation of the espresso.
Using an espresso machine
- Clean the portafilter and make sure it's dry. Wipe off traces of moisture with a tea towel.
- Obtain the right dose of ground and freshly roasted coffee beans.
- Level the coffee grounds.
- Flatten and compact the coffee grounds using the tamper. This step is important to ensure that water passes evenly through the grounds.
- Attach the portafilter to the machine and then allow water to flow through. Make sure that the previously pre-heated coffee cup is in a position to catch the coffee extract.
- Extract until done.
Using a French Press
- Place one or two tablespoon(s) of the freshly roasted ground coffee bean into the French press.
- Then pour hot water over the coffee ground. Make sure to cover the coffee.
- Allow it to sit for no more than 30 seconds.
- Afterward, gently swirl the container and pour to fill. (Note: The amount of water and coffee vary depending on the preferred number of cups.)
- Let the coffee sit for approximately 3 minutes.
- Put the lid in place, then slowly press.
- Pour the espresso onto the pre-heated coffee cup.
3. Heat 1-2 cups of milk. You can do this by using a steam wand (attached to your espresso machine), a microwave, or a stove.
4. Create a good and smooth texture by swirling (or whisking) the milk a couple of times.
5. Once the milk is ready, swirl the espresso and then pour the milk gently. Get creative as you can.
6. You can top your cappuccino drink with chocolate sprinkles for additional flavor and aesthetics.
There is magic in every cup of cappuccino. The warring bitterness and sweetness of this coffee are indeed gifts to the world. Dive and indulge in the rich history, culture, and flavor of cappuccino. It is worthy of every sip.