Here we’ll go over how to make the milk for a cappuccino or latte. This is probably the step that most home baristas can practice and work on to get the most improvement out of making their cappuccinos at home. For a cafe-style drink, flavors can even be added to replicate what you get at your favorite coffee shop, including Caramel Macchiatos, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Peppermint Lattes.
Make sure and pre-warm the demitasse before you begin brewing the espresso shot(s) for your Cappuccino or Caffe Latte, or any other specialty espresso coffee drink, or when you are just brewing a straight espresso.
As always, start with a freshly roasted, great espresso bean.
Steaming and Frothing the Milk
Make sure the frothed milk reaches a temperature of at least 145º Fahrenheit but avoid a higher temperature as this may burn the milk.
Next allow the milk to rest for just a few moments. This will let the foam rise to the top while the milk remains on the bottom. This will be important for the proper layering of your Latte or Cappuccino.
To ensure velvety, creamy milk, see the Espresso Coffee Guide section on Steaming and Frothing Milk.
Pouring the Steamed Milk and Spooning the Foam
When pouring steamed milk for a Cappuccino, first fill the cup about one-third full and then slowly begin to add the espresso.
Next spoon some of the frothed milk atop the drink to fill up the rest of the cup. Ideally the espresso will layer nicely between the foam and the steamed milk.
Pouring Steamed Milk for a Caffe Latte
When pouring steamed milk for a Caffe Latte espresso drink, typically a double shot of espresso is used along with about five ounces of steamed and frothed milk.
When you pour the steamed milk for a Caffe Latte make sure and use a spoon to hold back the foam as you pour. Use a big bowl-shaped, porcelain cup for a traditional latte as this will enhance the experience.
Integrating Flavored Syrups
If you are using any flavored syrups for your Latte or Cappuccino, make sure to add the flavoring directly to the espresso shot(s) and then stir it very well to ensure that the flavoring dissolves properly. Whether you’re using premium flavored syrups from Monin or Torani, both are designed to take the heat of coffee and espresso based drinks without the flavoring components breaking down – but this might not be the case with cheaper flavoring products. On the higher end of the spectrum, organic coffee syrups can add the delicious taste of chocolate, hazelnut and caramel without artificial ingredients.
It should be noted that some flavors are specifically designed to be used with milk-products, in cappuccinos and lattes, to bring out the most flavours. The fats in the milk work to enhance certain flavors that can be easily overwhelmed by a strong espresso, with higher fat content dairy working best.
Looking to cut back on calories? Sugar-Free Flavor Syrups are also available, using Sucralose (typically Splenda-brand) as a sweetener instead of sugar. Sucralose is designed to withstand the high heat of coffee drinks without degrading in flavor, and most syrup companies have a well balanced sweetness-to-flavor profile which avoids any artificial aftertaste.
Finally add the steamed and frothed milk to your specialty espresso drink. Then enjoy!