The espresso is one of the most challenging coffee drinks to make, or at least a good espresso is. By extension, so is the cappuccino, which is an espresso-based coffee drink. Fortunately, there are espresso machines available in the market today that can have you brewing espresso and making cappuccino to rival those from coffee shops in no time and right at the comfort of your own home.
If you want to know what your options are when it comes to espresso machines, follow this link. For a guide on how to make a cappuccino using an espresso machine, sit back, have a cup of coffee, and read on.
Making the Espresso
First things first, we have to make the espresso base.
- You will need the following materials:
- Espresso machine
- Coffee grinder
- coffee beans
- Fill the espresso machine’s water reservoir or connect it to a water source, depending on what model you are using. Make sure you are using clean water as any adulterations can affect the taste of the resulting espresso and even cause damage to your machine.
- Turn on the machine for 15 to 30 minutes, then lock the portafilter to the brew head. Run one shot with water but no coffee to heat the machine. Get rid of this blank shot before running the actual shot of espresso.
- Grind the coffee beans to a texture similar to fine sugar. If the coffee powder is too fine, the espresso would be bitter. If it is too coarse, you would not be able to extract enough flavor.
- Wipe the portafilter dry and place it on the weighing scale. Distribute evenly 18 to 21 grams of freshly ground coffee on the portafilter. This is enough for one shot of espresso. If you want a double shot, adjust the dose accordingly.
- Place the portafilter on a flat surface and tamp the coffee grounds. Grip the portafilter with one hand and apply approximately 30 pounds of pressure with the tamp. Make sure the coffee grounds are compressed evenly.
- Insert the portafilter into the brew head as soon as the grounds are compressed and tamped. Do not let it sit for too long since the portafilter would be hot from the machine and might burn up the coffee grounds, giving the espresso a bitter taste.
- Start brewing the espresso. The ideal conditions are 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 seconds. Once you have extracted the espresso shot, turn off the machine.
Making the cappuccino foam
Some espresso machines have a foamer function. If the one you have doesn’t, prepare the milk as the machine brews the espresso.
- To make the cappuccino foam, you would need the following:
- Steaming pitcher
- Steaming wand
- Cold milk
- Pour the cold milk into the steaming pitcher until it is about a third full.
- Eliminate water residues from the steaming wand by releasing the steam for two seconds.
- Without turning the steam wand on, dip it about half an inch into the milk, tilted at an angle of 15 degrees.
- Turn the steam wand on and start frothing. After a few seconds, the volume of milk will increase by 50%. Once it does, dip the steaming wand deeper into the pitcher of milk. The aeration and texturing should continue without any more increase in volume. If the volume of the milk still increases, lower the steam level. Do not mix unnecessarily and let the steaming wand do its work.
- Continue steaming only until the temperature reaches 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. By this time, the milk should have a sweeter and richer flavor. Steaming at a higher temperature gives the milk a burnt and bitter taste.
- After steaming, swirl the milk around the pitcher to compress the foam.
Pouring the foam into the espresso
When pouring the milk on the espresso, start at the center, then work your way towards the rim in a circular motion. Pour steadily and from a low height.
Enjoy your cappuccino
Mix it, do not mix it, add sugar or not, there is no wrong way of doing this step. As long as you enjoy your cup of cappuccino, you are doing it right.