How to make cappuccino at home and avoid mistakes

Despite being one of the most popular and appreciated coffee drinks around the world, the Cappuccino is often prepared incorrectly, losing that perfect harmony between coffee and milk that characterizes it. This common mistake deprives many of enjoying its creamy texture and smooth flavor, essential elements that make it the ideal choice for those looking to enjoy coffee without an overly intense flavor.

What is Cappuccino?

Cappuccino, also known as cappuccino, is an emblematic drink with roots in Italy, appreciated in coffee shops around the world. This fame is due in part to the evolution of espresso machines and the innovation of steam wands, essential for creating the characteristic “milk foam” of the cappuccino. However, despite its popularity, it is not uncommon to find poorly prepared cappuccinos, even in prestigious establishments.

The ideal proportion of a cappuccino is one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third frothed milk. Each component plays a crucial role in the final texture and flavor of the drink, and a mistake in any of these can result in a cappuccino that does not meet expectations.

Parts of a Cappuccino
Parts of a Cappuccino

Served in a preheated wide-mouth cup, which generally has a capacity of 150-180 ml, the cappuccino offers an experience that balances espresso and frothed milk. The choice of cup is more important than it seems, as an inadequate cup can affect the proportion and temperature of the drink.

Furthermore, the technique with which the milk is poured over the coffee is fundamental to achieving a perfect balance and allowing baristas to create Latte art. Often, small mistakes in this process can distort the cappuccino experience.

The result should be a drink that combines the espresso’s intensity with the steamed milk’s smoothness. Some people even add a touch of cocoa powder or cinnamon to the foam to enhance the flavor, although this can also be a matter of debate among cappuccino purists.

What do you need to prepare a Cappuccino?

Preparing the perfect cappuccino requires not only quality ingredients and appropriate tools but also knowledge and technique to avoid common mistakes. Below, we present what you will need, along with tips to avoid typical failures:

1. Quality coffee beans

Choose high-quality coffee beans and grind them just before preparation. A common mistake is using low-quality coffee or an incorrect grind, which can ruin the espresso’s flavor, the cappuccino base.

2. The milk

Whole milk is traditional and provides the ideal texture, but you can also experiment with vegetable milk. However, remember that not all vegetable milk foams well, which can affect the texture of the cappuccino.

3. Other additives (optional)

Although cocoa or cinnamon can add a special touch, it’s easy to overdo these additives, which can overwhelm the delicate flavor of the cappuccino.

4. The coffee maker

An espresso machine is ideal, but using alternative methods without the proper pressure can result in a coffee that does not have the necessary intensity for a good cappuccino.

5. The grinder

The grind must be fine enough for espresso. A poor-quality grinder or incorrect grinding can make the coffee too bitter or watery.

6. The milk jug

A stainless steel jug is ideal for steaming the milk. A common mistake is heating the milk to an incorrect temperature, which affects both the flavor and the ability to froth.

Milk Steaming Jug
Milk Steaming Jug

7. The coffee cup

Using a 150-180 ml wide-mouth ceramic cup is aesthetic and functional. An incorrect cup can affect the proportion and sensory experience of the cappuccino.

How to prepare a cappuccino

Preparing a cappuccino from an espresso can be more complex than it seems. Here we detail the process, highlighting common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Preparing the espresso

  1. Selection and grinding of coffee: Make sure to use high-quality beans. A common mistake is choosing inappropriate coffee or an incorrect grind, directly affecting the espresso flavor.
  2. Use of the portafilter: It is vital to clean and dry it before use. Old coffee residues can ruin the taste of the espresso.
  3. Dosing and tamping: Use 18 grams of coffee and tamp it evenly. Uneven tamping can cause uneven extraction.
  4. Extraction time: The ideal time is 25-30 seconds for a 36-45 gram extraction (ratio between 1:2 and 1:2.5). An under-extracted or over-extracted espresso can unbalance your cappuccino.

➡️ Don’t miss my recipe for preparing the perfect espresso.

How to froth the milk

  1. Milk temperature: Do not exceed 65 degrees Celsius. Milk that is too hot loses its sweetness and creates a dry foam.
  2. Position of the wand: A common mistake is to place the wand incorrectly in the jug. The correct position helps to create a whirlpool and to integrate the bubbles evenly.
  3. Temperature control: Hold the jug with both hands for better control. If the milk heats up too quickly, it can ruin the texture of the foam.
  4. Steaming process: Make sure to purge the steamer before using it to remove residual water.

Position of the Wand in the Jug and How to Hold the Jug
Position of the Wand in the Jug and How to Hold the Jug

Pouring the Milk over the Espresso

  1. Height and movement: Pouring from a moderate height and with a circular motion helps create a smoother foam and integrate it well with the espresso.
  2. Temperature control: Milk at an incorrect temperature can ruin the foam’s texture and the cappuccino’s balance.
  3. Pouring technique: An unstable pour can result in irregular foam and poor integration with the espresso.

Latte Art on Cappuccino
Latte Art on Cappuccino


Mastering the art of the cappuccino requires practice and attention to detail. By avoiding the common mistakes we have highlighted, each cup of cappuccino becomes not just a drink but an enriching sensory experience.

Remember that perfection in a cappuccino goes beyond its ingredients: it resides in the care and precision with which it is prepared. Thus, each cappuccino satisfies the palate and celebrates the rich tradition behind this beloved drink.

Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

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