Here’s the thing: if you want to drink a perfect cappuccino or flat white, your best bet every time is to pick a cafe from our website and let the professional barista make it for you. But, sometimes you want to experiment and try your hand at something new, or maybe you’ve got guests coming round who are not fans of the black filter coffee that you’d normally serve after dinner.
So, rather than limiting your options to filter or tap water, or building a kitchen espresso setup from scratch, let’s figure out what we can do with the equipment we already have. Below, you’ll find our step-by-step tutorial for making cappuccino at home, even without using an espresso machine.
Starting out: brewing the coffee
The truth is, you can’t brew espresso without an espresso machine. However, since we will be mixing the coffee with milk in the next step, we don’t actually need to achieve all of the properties of real espresso, in order to achieve a good tasting cappuccino at home.
Having said that, here are the key things to consider for your choice of coffee, in order to secure yourself the best end results for your cappuccino.
Choosing the right coffee for cappuccino
Let’s start with choosing the right coffee. As always, you want freshly roasted coffee. For this recipe, you may even want to look more carefully at the espresso roast category. Because you will be diluting the coffee with milk, you want to pick coffee with a higher body, so that you can taste it through the milk.
Calculating the espresso strength
The next question to ask yourself is how to go about brewing espresso strength coffee? Think about coffee strength in terms of the percentage of coffee that is in the total brew.
It’s a much higher percentage for espresso (somewhere between 7% and 12%), compared to filter style coffee (that’s typically between 1.2 and 1.8%). In the espresso machine, you achieve this higher strength by applying high pressure to extract the coffee quickly, and by using a brew ratio that is typically between 1:2 and 1:3 parts of coffee to water.
To achieve an espresso strength without using an espresso machine, we need to adjust the brew ratio while also increasing the extraction by adjusting the grind size, applying pressure, adding agitation, increasing the water temperature or extending the extraction time. The combination of these techniques will leave you with a coffee of the right strength, without the need for an espresso machine.
Choosing the brewing method
The most popular brewing methods for making espresso style coffee at home without a proper espresso machine are:
Moka Pot (that allows you to apply additional pressure),
AeroPress (that combines the usage of both higher pressure and agitation)
For this tutorial, though, we have decided to use the brewing method that most people have at home already, and that’s a French Press. So, without further ado, let us get onto the recipe.
Espresso strength coffee with French Press
We will use 30 grams of coffee. Grind it fine (16 clicks on Comandante). Then add 100 ml of 98°C water.
Stir it for 20 – 30 seconds, then let it steep for 4 and a half minutes.
Then, once the coffee has steeped, push down the plunger and pour the coffee into the cup.
You will end up with 30 – 35 grams of coffee.
Best milk tips for making cappuccino at home
Let’s face it, there is more milk in cappuccino than coffee, so we should be just as careful in going about choosing and preparing it as we are with the coffee. What we want is fresh full fat milk (thank is important!) that is delicious even on its own.
Heating the milk in the right way
Now, we need to heat milk to a temperature between 60 and 70°C. If we go over 68°C, it negatively influences the taste, it becomes more complicated to create a micro-foam, and it makes the cappuccino too hot to have straight away.
For our cup, we used 150ml of milk, which we heated in the microwave for about 40 seconds.
The last step before the milk is ready to mix with the coffee is frothing it. We will use a Bodum Chambord milk frother to do the magic, but you could also use a regular small French Press, or I even tried using a kitchen mixer to create the desired structure that we needed the milk to have. The goal here, in essence, is to transform part of the milk into a microfoam.
Latte art basics at home
Now, it’s time to put both ingredients together. You can pour in the milk directly from the Bodum milk frother. But, if you want more control over pouring (and even if you’re thinking of learning or practising latte art), you should consider getting the latte art pitcher.
There are many latte art tutorials on Youtube that will help you to practice this craft but the most important thing for you to know is that that pouring happens in two stages. In the first stage, you pour in the most milk and mix it carefully with the coffee, and then in the second stage, you pour more microfoam into the cup and eventually use that to draw latte art.
We hope that you enjoy using these clever little homebrew hacks to whip up some divine DIY cappuccinos (if nothing else, they’ll at least see you through the next few weeks until the professionals are back at their stations).