How To Make A Cappuccino With An Espresso Machine

It is really quite easy to make a cappuccino with an espresso machine — I do it all the time!  Of course, it is most helpful if your espresso machine has an attachment that allows you to foam milk. It is possible to make a nice cup of cappuccino without that but it does take a little longer; I’ll give  the instructions for that a little further on. Not only can you make cappuccino but if you are wondering how to make a latte with an espresso machine it’s just as simple.

Step By Step: Making Cappuccino With An Espresso Machine

First of all you will want to steam the milk till it is nice and frothy.  Most espresso machine steam wands have a covering over a metal tube. This makes the milk very frothy which is what you want if you’re making a cappuccino. Pour about 1/3 of a cup of milk into a container (I usually froth the milk in my coffee mug but if you are making several cups at once you may want to pour the milk into a Coffee Milk Frothing Pitcher and froth it up in that.)  Turn on the steaming function and let the wand go to work.  To get the milk to froth up more it helps if you move the cup or container around while the  milk is frothing. You can even pull it out of the milk and quickly place it back in for even more foam.

Photo By: Pocius

I hold the mug (or pitcher) on the base so I can gauge how hot the milk is getting. For a great tasting cappuccino you do not want the milk to overheat. You can buy coffee thermometers that give you a much more precise reading of how warm the milk is — optimum heat is around 150 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit or 65-75 degrees C. I do not always use one though as I can tell from holding the base of the cup or pitcher how hot the milk inside is.  The coffee thermometers are pretty cheap and easy to find online though, and they are a worthwhile investment if you drink a lot of coffee.

If I am making a mug of coffee I then place the mug with warm milk under the espresso maker and simply brew a nice strong cup of coffee that pours directly into the mug. Presto, my cappuccino is ready. Finally sprinkle chocolate or nutmeg on top. If you have sugar in your coffee a neat trick is to place the sugar into the milk before frothing it up.  Otherwise, you can put it in later.

When making a few cups at a time it is easiest to make your milk in a pitcher, make your espresso in a cup and then top it up with the frothy milk.

Making a Latte Instead

There is very little difference between a cappuccino or latte when it comes to how to make them. Basically, follow the same directions only do not let the milk become as foamy — simply heat it up with the steam wand without jiggling it around very much. If your milk ends up still being quite foamy another neat trick is to simply take the covering off the wand leaving the metal part exposed. Warm your milk with the metal wand and you will find that it gets a lot less foamy.

For flavored cappuccinos or lattes you will want to add the flavoring to the coffee before pouring the foaming milk in. Now, that can make it a bit difficult if you are making your coffee one mug at a time and placing the already foaming milk directly under the espresso coffee part.  Depending on the type of flavoring used, you may want to add it (along with sugar if you want some in your coffee) to the milk and foam it all up together. It works quite well and you will still end up with a nicely flavored cup of cappuccino.

Making Cappuccino Without A Steam Wand Attachment

As mentioned above, you can quite easily make a foaming mug of cappuccino even if you only have a simple drip coffee machine. I did it for years before I finally invested in an espresso machine.  The secret is getting the  milk nice and foamy.  One quick way to do this is to set some milk in a small saucepan on the stove and heat it up slowly. While heating whisk it fairly vigorously with a regular milk whisk.  If you do that while it is heating up you should be able to come up with a nice foamy milk that you can either pour or ladle into your coffee made using a drip coffee machine.  It works almost as well as the steam wand, takes about the same amount of time but needs a little more energy expenditure on your part (though, not much really.)

The Best Cappuccino Machine

It is really difficult to come up with one cappuccino machine that is the best as there are simply so many available on the market these days. There are quite a few small home models on the market that sell for between $70 to $90, such as the De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker. If you are not a copious coffee drinker and you like a variety of different types of coffee a machine like this is great.

Not all cappuccino makers are made equal so before buying take some time to read over different cappuccino maker reviews — there are plenty on Amazon for example.  When looking at cappuccino makers for home use you will want to keep in mind the following points.

  • Match the size of the cappuccino coffee maker to your available counter space.
  • Go for one with as little waiting time between steaming and brewing as possible.
  • Better machines warm up quickly, meaning less waiting time before you can  have your first cup of coffee.
  • Check the guarantee — longer is always better.
  • Make sure all the parts fit well together. Some can look great but you find the trays are flimsy and awkward to take in and out when full.

Leave a Reply