With so many different coffee and espresso drinks out there, it can be hard to remember exactly what’s in each one. For example what exactly are cappuccinos? And do they have milk in them?
A cappuccino is made of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. Because steamed and foamed milk are just milk that has been heated and had bubbles injected into it, ⅔ of a cappuccino is made of milk. This is usually whole milk but skim and oat milk can be used as well.
In this article I’ll quickly cover what a cappuccino is and then get into the details of why it has milk in it, what type of milk is in it, and how much milk is in it. Let’s get started!
What Exactly is a Cappuccino?
A cappuccino is a hot coffee drink that is made of espresso and milk. Specifically, a combination of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk.
Sometimes cappuccinos are confused with lattes which are a drink that's also made with espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. The difference between a latte and a cappuccino is that a cappuccino is a layered drink with equal amounts of all 3, while a latte has a lot more steamed milk and only a small layer of foamed milk on top.
If you’re unfamiliar with espresso, it’s a type of coffee that is served in small shots and is made by forcing pressurized hot water through very finely ground and tightly packed coffee beans. Although espresso is made from the same types of beans as coffee, its unique brewing process makes it much stronger, richer, and higher in caffeine than regular coffee.
Espresso is perfect for milk drinks like a cappuccino because its strength keeps the coffee flavor in the drink from getting diluted.
Is there Milk in a Cappuccino?
Yes, there is milk in a cappuccino. Espresso makes up ⅓ of a cappuccino, and milk makes up the other ⅔. This milk is half steamed milk and half foamed milk, which are basically just milk that has been heated and bubbled to become creamy, foamy, and warm.
What's the difference between steamed milk and foamed milk?
Steamed milk is created by inserting a steam wand, a metal tube commonly part of espresso machines that ejects hot steam, into milk to create a silky, textured, and heavy milk with tiny bubbles in it. Milk can also be steamed by warming it on a stove and then frothing it in a french press
Foamed milk is made in a similar way to steamed milk, but with the steam wand placed closer to the surface of the milk. This injects more air into it, making the milk more light, airy, and dry than steamed milk. Foamed milk is what is commonly used by baristas to make the art on top of lattes.
What Kind of Milk is in a Cappuccino?
Whole milk is the most common type of milk used in a cappuccino since it not only tastes the best but also reacts best with the steam wand, easily gaining a really creamy, foamy consistency and sweet taste from the heat.
Some people looking for less calories and fat will substitute 2% milk or skim milk for whole milk. And while these other milks can be used in cappuccinos, 2% and skim milk aren't going to create as creamy, sweet, or flavorful of a taste as whole milk.
If you’re lactose intolerant, almond or oat milk can work as a non dairy substitute in your cappuccinos but like 2% and skim milk they're not ideal for steaming or foaming.
How Much Milk is in a Cappuccino
A cappuccino is typically made with 2 shots or ounces of espresso. Since the ratio of espresso to steamed milk to foamed milk is 1:1:1, if the ⅓ espresso portion of a cappuccino is 2oz, that means that the ⅔ milk portion is double that: 4oz.
So a cappuccino typically has 4oz or half a cup of milk in it. 2oz being steamed milk and the other 2oz being foamed milk.
A cappuccino is ⅓ espresso, ⅓ steamed milk, and ⅓ foamed milk. And because steamed milk and foamed milk are made from regular milk, a cappuccino is ⅔ milk.
In total, there is usually half a cup of milk in a cappuccino, which is often whole milk although skim, almond, oat and other milks can be used too. They just don’t froth as well or have as sweet of a flavor.
If you’d like to learn more about cappuccinos, espresso, and other coffee drinks be sure to check out the rest of my website! Have a good one!