How to Make Cappuccino: A Step by Step Guide

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Simply divine, yet divinely simple: here’s how to make cappuccino at home. We will also give you a few tips on how to take it up a notch!

Ah Cappuccino, Amore Mio!

One of Italy’s favorite casual drinks is none other than the boldly embellished cappuccino. Centuries old and originating in the Ottoman Empire, the beloved cappuccino has certainly solidified itself as a staple worldwide.

The thing about the food culture of Italy is that there is an emphasis on the taste of ingredients in their most simple form – something which the cappuccino embodies perfectly as it often only requires two ingredients.

Yes, that’s it! Only two things!

How Does Cappuccino Taste?

The cappuccino isn’t overly sweet, yet it’s not bitter either. There is a harmonious balance between the bitterness of the espresso and the milk’s natural sugars, which leads to a beverage that goes down the palate smoothly and satisfyingly. 

What Is a Cappuccino Made of?

A cappuccino is composed of milk and espresso. Specifically, it is even parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam (aka froth). 

How To Make Cappuccino With an Espresso Machine

You need to gather all the ingredients before you begin:

  • 14 grams of espresso (2 shots)
  • 4 ounces of cold milk of your choice though whole cow’s milk works best
  • A medium size mug

Step 1

First, make sure your espresso machine is warm. Then fill the portafilter with your grounds of choice, level the grounds, and then tamp them down to make sure they’re flat. Don’t tamp too hard or your espresso becomes over-extracted.

Step 2

Insert your portafilter into the machine and lock it into place. Pour the espresso into a pre-warmed 6 oz cappuccino cup.

Step 3

Pour your milk into your pitcher and clear your steam wand before you line up the milk. 

Put the steam wand to the bottom of the pitcher and turn it on. Slowly lower your pitcher until the steam wand is just under the surface of the milk, and you hear a soft, smooth shhhhh sound. This will aerate the milk without giving you big bubbles. After all, cappuccinos are best with smooth foam. Steam until the milk reaches about 150 degrees F. 

Step 4

With a steady hand, pour your frothed milk into the mug before it has a chance for the foam to settle. Voila! You have a creamy cappuccino.

How To Make Cappuccino With a Moka Pot

  • 14 to 16 grams (or about 2.5 Tablespoons) of ground coffee for a 4-cup moka pot
  • Filtered hot water
  • 4 oz of cold milk of choice 
  • A medium size mug

Step 1

Add your coffee grounds to the basket, ensuring they reach the top. Add hot filtered water until it reaches the bottom of the safety valve. Assemble the Moka and place it on your stove.

Step 2

Put it on medium heat and allow the coffee to come to a boil.  Coffee will start flowing. As soon as you hear the gurgling sound, take the pot off the heat and place the bottom under running cold tap water to cool it down. Pour your espresso into your mug.

Step 3

Next, you’ll need to heat your milk. While you can use your microwave, it’s easiest to do on the stove. As it warms, use a milk frother to create foam.

If you don’t have a frother, you can use a whisk, but this will be a challenge. You’ll likely get large bubbles and not get the same smooth texture. If you are looking for other ways to froth milk check out our article on how to froth milk without a frother.

Step 4

Once your milk has reached about 150 degrees, you can pour it into your mug and enjoy your cappuccino!

Best Coffee To Use for Espresso

Not all coffees are made equally. Here are the three best to use in your cappuccino!

Lavazza Espresso Beans: Super Crema

While the normal Lavazza espresso is excellent, the super crema is best for those who want a smooth, slightly sweet espresso. The crema is the very top of the espresso shot, that golden layer with notes of caramel. 

This coffee gives you all the robust flavor and caffeine of espresso, but it has an extra layer of brown sugar sweetness to it that makes a cappuccino that much more enjoyable.

Illy Intenso Ground Espresso

Rich, deep, and smooth, this ground espresso is perfect for those who don’t have a grinder or want a faster morning routine. It’s a dark roast, so it has notes of dark chocolate with an earthy finish. 

This particular grind works best with an espresso machine, so if you’re using a Moka pot, you’ll want to choose a different grind. Otherwise, you may end up with grounds in your espresso.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters: Hair Bender Medium Roast

This is an amazing blend of arabica coffee, a mid-priced coffee bean perfect for espresso. It is lightly flavored with citrus and dark chocolate, leading to a unique, luxurious taste. We don’t recommend trying this one if it’s your first time making espresso, as the other flavors add more complex notes that aren’t in a traditional cappuccino. For those seeking a bit more “flair” in their cup, this blend is one to try!

Taking it Up a Notch

At the end of the day, nothing beats a traditional cappuccino, but for those occasions when you want to switch things up, try out these additions.

Vanilla and Cinnamon

For a fragrant addition to your cappuccino, try adding a pinch of cinnamon to your coffee grounds and then two drops of vanilla extract to your espresso. Sprinkle a bit more cinnamon powder on top of your finished cappuccino for decoration. 

This will make your house smell amazing in the early dawn and add a delicious vanilla-cinnamon aftertaste to your cappuccino. 


This can be an amazing addition for those with a sweet tooth, extremely decadent. Add some cocoa powder to your ground coffee (about two teaspoons), and place a piece of dark chocolate at the bottom of your cup so that the espresso drips over it and melts it. 

After you add the frothed milk, top with more cocoa powder. This cappuccino is dangerously addictive and an absolute treat for a Sunday brunch (or any other day).

Are You Ready to Make The Perfect Cup of Cappuccino?

Cappuccino is extremely versatile, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different blends and flavors to find your perfect cup. Hopefully, this guide makes the process of making a cappuccino easy and provides a way to make it for those who don’t have an espresso machine.

If you like espresso-based drinks but prefer your coffee to be not too strong and with a bit more milk read our post on How to Make Latte.

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Antonella is the founder of Hot Coffee Tips. In addition to running Hot Coffee Tips, she works as a Senior Motion Designer at a leading global beauty company, where she handles video content for several brands. In her free time, she enjoys chillaxing at the beach, cooking, and sipping wine with her friends.