What is a Cappuccino & How to Make it at Home?

A cappuccino is a layered hot brewed coffee drink made with equal parts of espresso and steamed milk. An equal portion of milk foam is layered on top. While a standard serving is 6 oz in volume, varying sizes are possible, provided the espresso to milk ratio remains the same. A dry cappuccino on the other hand has less milk.

There’s no denying that the tasty cappuccino drink is quite possibly the most popular coffee drink in the wonderful world of specialty coffee. It’s a firm favorite because it can easily be customized by opting for cream instead of hot milk and a variety of syrups can easily be added to enhance the flavor.

The cappuccino is one of the more popular coffee types and is enjoyed by coffee lovers around the globe. The good news is, if you have an espresso machine, you can easily make your own delicious variation at home. This article delves into the history of this tasty drink. We’ll also provide you with the steps to make your own cappuccino at home as well as look at a few variations. Read on for the low down on your favorite coffee drink.

hand drawn vienna

History of The Traditional Cappuccino

The delicious modern-day cappuccino can be traced back to 18th-century Vienna. A drink called the “Kapuziner”, made of cream and spices became a firm favorite in the region and remained an Italian secret until the 1930s.

As this tasty drink started making its way into Austrian coffee shops, its name eventually changed to the word cappuccino. The name refers to a similarity in the brown and beige colors found on the robes of Friars in Capuchin, Italy. As time went on, coffee drinkers started referring to this new drink as a “Capuchin” and eventually the name changed to “cappuccino” and has become the general name used around the globe.

As a traditional Italian coffee, cappuccino is generally ordered in the morning before noon. Many locals won’t order this espresso-based drink in the afternoon and will rather order a coffee drink with less espresso.

Coffee Drinks Similar to Cappuccino

If you’re new to the coffee drinking experience, a glance at your local coffee shop’s menu can be slightly confusing. It’s not unusual for newbies to confuse cappuccino with a latte, macchiato, flat white or any of the other coffee beverages on offer. While they all have espresso coffee as a base, it’s crucial to note there are a few major differences between these similar drinks.


One of the coffee drinks as popular as the cappuccino is definitely the café latte. It can be made with a single or double shot of espresso combined with several ounces of milk. Since it contains more milk, it’s often referred to as a milk beverage. The idea is to create a rich, creamy coffee beverage. Lattes are renowned for their different types of latte art.

hand of barista making latte

Flat White

flag white coffee ratio

If you prefer your cappuccino to have more steamed milk, then you’re obviously looking for a flat white. It has one or two shots of espresso and an average of 2 – 3 oz of steamed milk. A thin layer of micro-foam finishes off the drink. It’s different from cappuccino as it has more textured milk.


A café mocha is essentially a latte with cocoa powder or chocolate syrup added to it. A tasty dollop of whipped cream is added to the top, creating a velvety texture.

mocha ratio



Since the cortado also consists of steamed milk and espresso, it’s actually remarkably similar to the cappuccino. The difference though is that a cortado is made up of ½ espresso and ½ steamed milk. As the cortado has no foamed milk, it becomes one of the stronger espresso drinks.

Cappuccino Freddo

A cappuccino freddo is the Greek version of an iced cappuccino and is made from a single shot of espresso and sweet milk. It provides a robust flavor of cold coffee.

freddo cappuccino scaled
Taken from https://www.greekboston.com


One of the more popular drinks often confused with a cappuccino is the flavorful macchiato. Unlike the traditional cappuccino, a macchiato doesn’t contain any steamed milk and as a result, features a more robust espresso flavor.

Can You Flavor Cappuccino?

Many coffee shops have moved away from simply serving a traditional cappuccino and offering a variety of flavors. It’s common to find a barista mixing up various delicious flavors. The most popular flavors include:

  • Chocolate – made with chocolate powder
  • Vanilla – made with vanilla syrup
  • Caramel – made with caramel syrup

For many coffee drinkers, these flavors are a wonderful addition to an already perfect cappuccino.

How To Make the Perfect Cappuccino at Home?

With the right type of coffee machine and ingredients, it’s actually extremely easy to make the perfect cappuccino at home. Read on to see what you need to make cappuccino as great as the ones served in coffee bars.

Equipment Needed

  • Espresso machine, drip coffee maker or French press
  • Steam wand
  • Conical burr grinder
  • Steaming milk pitcher
  • Large spoon
  • Your favorite coffee cup or a tall glass


  • 18g Espresso coffee beans
  • 4 oz cold milk
  • Chocolate syrup (optional)
  • Spices (optional)
  • Chocolate sprinkles (optional)


Brewing your cappuccino involves a few easy steps. And as long as you stick to the ratios of one-third espresso, whole milk, and frothed milk to make up this delicious drink.

  • Step 1: Grind your espresso beans and place them into your espresso machine
  • Step 2: Pull the espresso shots – a double shot of espresso should do it
  • Step 3: Mix in your favorite syrup if you’re opting for a flavored cappuccino
  • Step 4: Use your steam wand to steam the milk until it’s foamy
  • Step 5: Gently layer the steamed milk on top of the espresso and then scoop an equal portion of milk froth on top of the hot steamed milk
  • Step 6: You can add spices or sprinkles of your choice on top of the foam

Tasty Additions

Adding a few spices is a great way to add flavor to your cappuccino and turn it into a delicious combination. Simply add a few of these spices on top of the milk foam

  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Chocolate sprinkles

The Bottom Line

To sum all this up, it’s easy to see why cappuccinos top the dark coffee beverage list in just about any coffee shop. Whether you prefer a traditional cappuccino, or a flavored version, the good news is, it’s easy to prepare your best go-to coffee drink at home. Be the star of your next social get-together by serving up a few cups of delicious home-brewed cappuccino!

How many coffee take away cups do you see at the office? Not to mention travel mugs brought from home with steaming, creamy coffee inside. You only have to walk down the street to know we’re living in a society that absolutely adores coffee. Unfortunately, I found it intimidating when I didn’t know all about the different types of coffee, different beans and brewing methods. What will suit MY palate the best? And how do I join a conversation with friends who are coffee aficionados?