Making the best cappuccino at home is something we all want to strive for. Splashing out every morning for your favourite double-shot, caramel, extra-large, extra-foam cappuccino might be bliss on the senses, but not on the wallet. Luckily, we can now buy coffee machines, like a Breville, that are compact and powerful, perfect for that morning brew.
To begin, you’ll need to do your research and find your ideal coffee machine. Then the fun begins! You’ve now got to decide on your favourite coffee bean – such a hard job trying all those coffees! In no time at all, you’ll be comparing the arabica percentage in your beans to the robusta. For those just starting out, this is a way of showing at what altitude the coffee beans were grown at. Arabica beans, grown at a higher altitude, are likely to give you a more acidic taste. Robusta beans are found at lower altitude and have a more bitter taste.
Arabica beans have traditionally been seen as a better bean. This assumption comes from the extra work needed to harvest the beans, and therefore the higher price tag. These days, even some home brand instant coffees can be 100% arabica blend. This means you’ll need to get all your senses involved when choosing your next bag of coffee beans.
Choosing a separate burr grinder like one of these is a huge step in your ultimate cappuccino journey. You want a grinder that has various settings, allowing you to choose a finer or coarser grind. This will dramatically change the taste later.
After grinding, fill the filter basket (if using porta-filters) with just the right amount of coffee. Too much, and the coffee will be too dense for water to pour through easily. Not filled enough, and you’ll have a watery mess in and around your coffee cup. Depending on your coffee machine, this part could be automatically done. Run the water through the ground coffees till you have a ⅓ of your cup filled with coffee.
Next stop on your cappuccino journey is the milk. Every barista has their secret way of preparing the milk, from swirling the hot milk jug vigorously around in circles, to hitting the milk jug with enough force that the milk jumps out of the jug and over your shoulder. A lot of modern coffee machines take that hassle away, and will automatically prepare the milk for you, making perfect milk every time.
Those that really want to be involved with the milk-making process will need a coffee machine with a steam wand. Remember to release some steam before and after every use, to prevent milk from getting into the wand and going bad. To begin foaming, grab your cold steaming jug. Add a small amount of cold milk to the jug, and insert your wand at a 45° angle in the top left-hand corner of the jug. You should be able to see all but the tip of the wand at all times during steaming.
Keep lowering the milk jug as you steam, keeping the tip of the wand in the milk at all times. This constant slow movement downwards will stretch the milk and froth it up beautifully for your cappuccino. Keep one hand on the jug while steaming, and turn off the steam wand when the jug is hot to touch. If you’ve made too much milk, the milk leftover in the bottom part of the jug will be perfect for a latte!
This is where a lot of people go wrong and over steam the milk. Milk burns very fast and will produce a nasty smell if you overheat it. The perfect milk will look creamy, aerated, and not smelly!
Now all that’s left to do is pour the milk on top of your espresso. Aim to fill the cup a ⅓ of the way with the foam and ⅓ with the warm milk (found under the foam in the jug). You’ll be making beautiful coffee art in no time!
Et voila, a cracking cappuccino, made to order and to your taste. The perfect way to start the day.