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What is a cappuccino? A Beginner’s Guide to this Classic Espresso Beverage

Now, let's be real here: cappuccinos are popular for a reason. They're like the cool kid in the coffee world - everyone wants to be seen with one.

Alright, coffee lovers, let’s talk about one of the most iconic and beloved coffee drinks out there: the cappuccino But what is a Cappuccino? For those of you who have been living under a rock (or just don’t have a caffeine addiction like the rest of us), a cappuccino is a coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of frothed milk on top.

A Cappuccino was one of the first coffee drinks I ever tried. It was really the starting point to my love of coffee. My love of Coffee has had me coming back to this drink for over 15 years so when I tell you its a personal favourite, I really do mean it.

Cappuccinos are the perfect blend of rich, velvety espresso and creamy milk, with just the right amount of froth on top to make you feel fancy. It’s no wonder that cappuccinos are the go-to beverage for coffee aficionados and Instagram influencers alike.

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of cappuccinos. We’ll explore their origin, their various forms and variations, and even show you how to make one at home (because let’s face it, we can’t all afford to buy one every day). So sit back, grab your favourite mug, and let’s get ready to delve into the wonderful world of cappuccinos.

What is a Cappuccino? 

Ah, the cappuccino – the drink that has sparked countless debates and barista competitions over the years. So what exactly is a cappuccino? At its most basic level, a cappuccino is a coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of frothed milk on top. Simple, right?

But don’t be fooled – there are a million and one ways to make a cappuccino, and every barista and coffee shop has its take on this classic drink. Some use more milk, some use less, some use flavoured syrups, and some even sprinkle chocolate on top (we won’t judge, we promise).

So let’s break down the basic ingredients of a cappuccino. 

First, you have the espresso – a strong, concentrated shot of coffee that is the foundation of any good cappuccino. 

Next, you have the steamed milk – milk that has been heated and aerated to create a creamy, velvety texture. 

Finally, you have the frothed milk – milk that has been whipped to create a layer of airy foam on top of the drink.

Now, let’s talk about the different variations of cappuccinos. There’s the classic cappuccino, which has equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. Then there’s the dry cappuccino, which has less steamed milk and more frothed milk, creating a thicker layer of foam on top. And let’s not forget about the wet cappuccino, which has more steamed milk and less frothed milk, creating a creamier texture.

So whether you prefer your cappuccino with a mountain of foam on top or a creamy texture throughout, there’s a cappuccino out there for everyone. Just remember – no matter how you take it, always appreciate the artistry and dedication that goes into creating the perfect cappuccino.

Cappuccino’s Origin 

It’s hard to imagine a world without this frothy, espresso-based drink, but where did it all begin? Well, like many great things in life, the cappuccino has its roots in Italy.

Legend has it that the cappuccino was first created by Italian monks in the 16th century. These monks belonged to the Capuchin order, which was known for its distinctive brown hooded robes. The drink was named after the Capuchin monks, who were said to enjoy a simple drink made with espresso and hot milk.

Over time, the cappuccino evolved to include a layer of frothed milk on top, giving it the iconic look that we know and love today. As coffee culture spread throughout Europe and beyond, the cappuccino became a staple in cafes and coffee shops around the world.

Let’s not forget about the Italians – they still take their cappuccinos very seriously. In fact, in Italy, it’s considered a faux pas to order a cappuccino after 11 am – apparently, the milk in the drink can interfere with digestion and ruin your lunch. So if you want to blend in with the locals in Italy, make sure you order your cappuccino in the morning.

Overall, the cappuccino’s origin story is a testament to the power of simplicity and innovation. Who would have thought that a simple drink made by monks centuries ago would go on to become a beloved beverage enjoyed by millions around the world?

Comparison against Other Coffee Drinks 

Ah, the age-old question – what’s the difference between a cappuccino and other espresso-based drinks like lattes, macchiatos, and Americanos? Well, my caffeine-loving friend, you’ve come to the right place.

First up, we have the latte. This drink is made with espresso and steamed milk, with a thin layer of foam on top. If you’re looking for a milder, creamier drink that’s perfect for sipping on a lazy Sunday morning, the latte is your go-to.

Next, we have the macchiato – not to be confused with the Starbucks drink of the same name. A traditional macchiato is made with a shot of espresso and a dollop of frothed milk on top. It’s the perfect drink for those who like their coffee strong and unadulterated.

And then there’s the Americano – a drink that’s as bold and no-nonsense as its name suggests. Made with a shot of espresso and hot water, the Americano is for those who like their coffee strong, but not too strong.

So how does the cappuccino stack up against these other drinks? Well, for starters, it’s all about the foam. A cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, with a thick layer of foam on top. If you’re looking for a drink with a rich, velvety texture and a strong coffee flavour, the cappuccino is your best bet.

But ultimately, the choice between these drinks comes down to personal preference. Whether you’re in the mood for a creamy latte, a strong macchiato, a no-nonsense Americano, or a frothy cappuccino, there’s a coffee drink out there that’s perfect for you.

How to Make a Cappuccino at Home

So, you want to be a barista? Well, put on your apron and get ready to froth some milk, because we’re about to make a cappuccino.


  • Espresso shot (single or double)
  • Milk (any kind will do, but whole milk is best for frothing)
  • Sugar (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Cinnamon (for garnish)


  • Espresso machine (or a Moka pot if you’re feeling old school)
  • Milk frother (either a manual frother or an electric one)
Image showing What is a Cappuccino

Step 1: Brew your espresso shot. If you’re using an espresso machine, this should be pretty straightforward. If you’re using a Moka pot, fill the bottom chamber with water, add the coffee grounds to the filter basket, and place it on top of the water chamber. Heat the pot on the stove until the coffee starts to flow into the top chamber.

Step 2: Froth the milk. Pour the milk into your frother and froth it until it reaches the desired consistency. You want the milk to be smooth and velvety, with a thick layer of foam on top.

Step 3: Combine the espresso and milk. Pour the espresso shot into your cup, then pour the frothed milk on top. Hold back the foam with a spoon until the milk has been poured, then spoon the foam on top.

Step 4: Add sugar to taste, then sprinkle with cinnamon for garnish. And there you have it – a homemade cappuccino that’s just as good as the ones at your favourite coffee shop.

Tips for Frothing Milk

  • Use a cold stainless steel frothing pitcher, as it will retain the cold temperature of the milk and produce a better foam.
  • Always use fresh milk, as older milk will not produce as much foam.
  • Practice makes perfect! Frothing milk can take some time to master, so keep practising until you get the perfect consistency.

The Difference Between the Italian Cappuccino and Cappuccinos Abroad

The classic Italian cappuccino 

The Italian Cappuccino is a delicious combination of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. But did you know that the way cappuccinos are made and served in Italy differs from the way they are made in other parts of the world?

In Italy, cappuccinos are considered a breakfast drink and are typically only consumed in the morning. The traditional Italian cappuccino is made with a single shot of espresso, steamed milk, and a thin layer of foam. It’s served in a small cup, typically no larger than 6 ounces, and is meant to be consumed quickly.

Cappuccinos in other parts of the world

In other parts of the world, however, cappuccinos have taken on a life of their own. You can find cappuccinos made with flavoured syrups, topped with whipped cream, and even served in mugs the size of your head. And while there’s nothing wrong with these contemporary variations, they’re a far cry from the classic Italian cappuccino.

One of the key differences between traditional Italian cappuccino and cappuccinos abroad is the ratio of milk to foam. In Italy, the milk is steamed to a silky, velvety texture, with just a thin layer of foam on top. Abroad, however, cappuccinos are often made with a thick layer of foam, which can mask the taste of the espresso and make the drink more like a dessert than a coffee.

Another difference is the size of the drink. In Italy, cappuccinos are served in small cups, typically no larger than 6 ounces. Abroad, however, cappuccinos can be served in mugs that hold 12, 16, or even 20 ounces of liquid. This can dilute the taste of the espresso and make the drink less intense.


Cappuccinos are one of the most popular espresso-based drinks enjoyed by coffee drinkers worldwide. This classic beverage has a rich history in Italy and has evolved to include various contemporary variations. While cappuccinos are often compared to other coffee drinks like lattes and macchiatos, they have their distinct taste, texture, and preparation method. With a few simple steps, you can also make a delicious cappuccino at home, including frothing milk to achieve the perfect consistency.

Although cappuccinos may differ in preparation and serving style between Italy and other parts of the world, their popularity remains constant. Cappuccinos have become a symbol of the coffee culture, and they continue to be a favourite among coffee lovers worldwide. So next time you’re in a cafe, why not try a cappuccino and experience this classic espresso beverage for yourself?

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