Become your own favorite barista by learning to create an authentic cappuccino at home.
: Clean the steam wand thoroughly before you use it, since warm milk can breed bacteria.
Step 1: Prepare the milk Pour milk into the pitcher so it is 1/3 to 1/2 full and submerge the thermometer. Place the steam wand in the milk so the tip is just below the surface.
TIP: The difference between a cappuccino and a cafe latte is that cappuccino is espresso mixed with steamed milk and foam, while a latte is espresso mixed with just steamed milk.
Step 2: Steam the milk Turn on the steam and watch the milk increase in volume as it heats and aerates. Turn off the steam when the thermometer reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Never touch the steam wand or tip once you've turned on the steam – it's hot! Be sure to hold the pitcher by the handle.
TIP: You can also heat the milk in a saucepan, and use a milk frother with a plunger to aerate the milk.
Step 3: Fill the portafilter Remove the filter apparatus – or portafilter – from the espresso machine. Pour the ground espresso into the portafilter.
Step 4: Tamp the espresso Pack the grounds firmly with the tamper to keep the water from rushing through too quickly. Many portafilters have a "fill line" ¬that the grounds should reach after they have been tamped.
Step 5: Pull the shot Replace and lock the portafilter and place the mug below the spout. Press the button to start the water. It should take 25 seconds to make 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of espresso.
TIP: A good espresso shot is dark and rich with a lighter-colored top layer called the crema.
Step 6: Finish the cappuccino Using the spoon to hold back the foam, pour steamed milk to fill the mug 2/3 full. Fill the rest of the mug with frothy foam by spooning it into your cup. Add sugar or sweetener to taste, and top with cocoa or cinnamon if desired.
FACT: The cappuccino, along with the capuchin monkey, got its name because its color resembles the brown and white habits of the Capuchin monks.