The Cappuccino

If we were to say that brewed coffee is to be like wine, and espresso perhaps akin to creating an intense, complex spirit (like whisky), then I would say that the cappuccino is my favourite coffee cocktail. The combination of espresso and milk might seem a little simple, but calling a martini simple because it contains only gin and vermouth would be rather missing the point.

I’ve wanted to write about the cappuccino on here for a long time, for a lot of different reasons. The way I’ve thought about the cappuccino has changed a great deal over the years, but what has really prompted this post is pure selfishness. It is much easier now, in London certainly, to get a great espresso. If you enjoy milk in your drink then likely the best thing you’ll find is a flat white. A good cappuccino still remains pretty hard to find, and as I discovered when I logged my coffee consumption, I drink quite a lot of them!

Cappuccinos have never really been cool. It’ll be a long time yet before the word stops conjuring everything we hate about espresso based drinks gone wrong: badly brewed espresso, scalding hot milk, a looming, wobbly peak of milk froth all lovingly smothered in cheap cocoa. Delicious, no?

Around the cappuccino there remains a great deal of myth. One to get out of the way quickly: the name for the drink has nothing to do with the hoods of monk’s robes, nor the bald spot on their head. The original name for the drink was a kapuziner, and it was a Viennese drink was the 19th Century. It was small brewed coffee mixed with milk or cream until it attained the particular shade of brown that matched the colour of the Capuchin monks’ robes. Essentially the name implies the strength of the drink. If you want a genuinely traditional cappuccino then don’t even bother firing up the espresso machine. 1

This moves me onto the next frustration I have with myths of the modern cappuccino. The strange mystery of the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is passed around to this day, and describes a traditional cappuccino as being a third espresso, a third milk and a third foam. I was taught this very early on, as were a good number of people reading this. It didn’t take long for the oddity of it to dawn on me. Are we saying then, that if a single espresso is 25ml then a single shot cappuccino ought to be 75ml total? Nonetheless I still see cappuccinos that are labelled as being traditional with a recipe of being a double shot in a six ounce cup. This certainly fulfils the rule of thirds, but outside of the last 5 years I’ve yet to find any evidence or history of a double shot six ounce cappuccino existing to give it any form of tradition. This doesn’t make this drink any less tasty – it is a very tasty drink done well – I am just saying that traditional isn’t really a word that is accurate in its description. Would one describe a 12oz cappuccino, with a double shot at the bottom pulled long to 4oz, as traditional? I’m not slavishly devoted to, nor infatuated with, tradition. I just think we ought to use the term appropriately.

I own a good number of coffee books, and I’ve gone through a lot of them. The first reference to the cappuccino recipe of thirds I’ve found was in the 50s and it was described as being “an espresso mixed with equal amounts of milk and foam.” This sentence appears, pretty much verbatim, a number of times. It is a little ambiguous as it could be saying that only the milk and foam are in equal quantities, or that all three are. So the recipe of 1:1:1 could easily be meant to be 1:2:2. The single shot, 5-6oz cappuccino does have a long tradition, and is incredibly easy to find through much of Italy and the parts of Europe that haven’t succumbed to more generous portions of coffee as retail. It is also, when done well, absolutely delicious.

I used to be a little resentful of cappuccinos, to tell the embarrassing truth, because they were really hard to pour nice latte art into. (Bearing in mind that for almost all of my coffee career I’ve worked for companies that didn’t have cups bigger than 6oz). Barista competition didn’t help. I was guilty, as most competitors are, of prioritising the six point box for appearance (latte art or traditional) over the 24 point box for taste. I’d keep the foam as close the 1cm line (that was then the minimum) as possible – despite this meaning I was adding more milk than necessary and diluting the espresso further. This spread into my coffee making outside of competition. I began to resent foam (for want of a better phrase) and the cappuccino as a result. When people would complain about the lack of foam I wouldn’t be receptive – I thought this implied being out of touch, old fashioned. The arrogance of youth….

This is not all coming to a conclusion where I detail out the perfect cappuccino (though I will share what I currently really enjoy) I’m all for interpretation and individual presentation. I’m also for differentiation and definition and all too often I see cappuccinos that are nearly identical in recipe to other drinks on the menu, and that in the hands of different staff the drinks become completely interchangeable. This is true across the entire coffee industry, regardless of city or nation, of independent or chain.

In an odd way this is a plea for foam. I love really well textured milk foam. I like a decent amount of it in my cappuccinos too. I am not ashamed of this, though a more youthful me might have been. I really don’t mind if all that can be poured in the top is a heart of maybe a tulip. I love Intelligentsia’s policy of no rosettas in cappuccinos. Latte art is a good thing, but it still carries more weight than it is worth.

Our aversion to foam has created our own worst customers. Every barista I know hates making “dry” cappuccinos. 9 out of 10 people who order one, when asked why they want a dry cappuccino, explain that they are sick of getting drinks that are basically caffe lattes with a little chocolate on top. The only way to get the amount of foam that they want (that they have found) is to order the cappuccino dry. If you don’t believe me then ask them yourself. (Not in an accusatory way, but be genuinely interested and they’ll be happy to tell you.)

So – my current cappuccino recipe. Be warned, it is detailed (though with tolerances).

– Brewed into and served in a 5oz (150-160ml) bowl shaped porcelain cup. 2
– 15 to 17g of espresso 3
– 80-90g of milk, steamed to around 50-55C. 4
– The rest should be creamy, marshmallowy foam with bubbles so small they’re pretty much invisible. 5

I’m not going to label this “the perfect cappuccino” because that sort of thing makes me angry. It is just what I am really enjoying and I’d be interested to know what people think and what they are enjoying too. I suspect some people might take my thoughts about “traditional” cappuccinos above as an attack on their menu/store/brand/business. They are not. Hopefully it will generate a little discussion instead. Now don’t even get me started on flat whites….

  1. If you don’t believe me, that’s ok – I haven’t linked to any information here to back up my claims. There is plenty of information but if you are genuinely interested in this then the person to speak to is Professor Jonathan Morris, who wrote The Cappuccino Conquests. More information is pretty easy to find with a minimum of google-fu.  ↩︎
  2. No tulip cups, though they are easier to find in the smaller size.  ↩︎
  3. One spout of a double basket, I am going to presume you’re making too because they ought to be shared, or the other espresso should be consumed to alleviate a lack of caffeination. This liquid dose is dependent on the amount of coffee brewed, so we’re going to say 20g of coffee, brewing time of approx 28s and an extraction of 19-20%  ↩︎
  4. The cooler the better really. UPDATE – original post suggested 45C, which might be too cool for general enjoyment  ↩︎
  5. This will give you a coffee strength of around 1.8-2.0% which means there is plenty of strength in your single shot coffee drink. Ironically an underextracted short double, in a 6oz cup without much foam isn’t much stronger than this – 2.0-2.4%  ↩︎

70 Comments

  1. 45C is pushing it a bit James. I don’t like scalding hot drinks but that is madness I tells you.

  2. Yup. That is my favourite milk drink too. Pretty much how you describe but I’ll vary the length of the espresso depending on how I’m feeling about the blend. I have one every morning.

  3. I should probably have clarified that temp is linked to how many gulps it takes to finish it. I’m usually a 2 sip capp drinker…. (hence the cooler temps) Plus I usually want to drink it the very moment it is finished. So good!

  4. I’ve been waiting for this post since you wrote about cappuccino as conflict. I totally agreed with you there and I love how you tackle those myths in an understandable way in this one.

    I don’t see why you’re opposed (Ok, it’s a little too strong expression, I admit) to using tulip shaped cups. Seeing that you prefer more of the good stuff (the silky foam) I would’ve thought it would be easier in a tulip shaped one. But that’s just because I’m more used to the tulip ones; can’t wait to go and find bowl shaped 5 oz cups…

    Still, I feel like your neglecting some of the aesthetics. What are your thoughts, for instance, on how “full” the cup should be? I know a lot of customers that like their caps when they can see the milk surface exceed the rim of the cup. That’s another conflict, in my opinion, which could be solved with even smaller cups (4 oz maybe?)

  5. I’m glad someone is talking about this! I don’t know what a cappuccino is anymore, and with the increasing emphasis on latte art as a mark of quality it is becoming more and more indistinquisable from other milk drinks.

    There should be a markedly different mouthfeel to flat whites and lattes – and in some coffeeshops I’ve felt a little disappointed that they have bothered putting it on the menu but not frothing the milk to a thickness that I feel the capp needs to set it apart from the others. I may as well have asked for espresso and milk ala prufrock

  6. James,

    Thanks for this. We’re certainly guilty of not doing as much research as you on the third/third/third as we still propagate that recipe – because it works specifically to communicate to customers it a “different” drink than the latte and a bit more ‘romantic’ if you will.

    Here’s how/why it works, in our opinion. We have a fact sheet on our bulletin board that the cappuccino is as much a recipe as it is a drink – the ratios are important to the flavor/texture. For our purposes with our clientele, it’s the easiest, least aggressive/annoying way we can communicate that’s why we won’t add flavor, because it’s no longer a capp when you do – the “tradition”. Using an explanation that implies “Italian romance” gives us a great alibi for ‘no alterations’ on that drink, although we will do anything you want to a latte.

    Maybe using this fanciful ‘cappuccino history’ is going about it the wrong way, but it works. Our capp sales have more than doubled as a % of total drink sales since we went to double shots in a 6oz three years ago. It tastes better to us and to customers as the contrast of brown/white is stunning visually (with a heart or tulip or monkshead).

    We’d like to not have to resort to semi-factual lore and fanciful storytelling, but that’s when we get into trouble because it’s always interpreted as “those pretentious bastards won’t let me order the same drink I get at Starbucks”. So using this “history” actually helps make the customer feel more comfortable about our stringency. (It also gets us out of doing a 7-shot 20 ounce capp, because nobody wants 7 shots!)

    This is suburbia in America in 2010. Gotta have a story, lol.

    Have to say we also feel some vindication on the latte art argument. We posted as far back as 07/08 that we felt a rosetta was impossible to do on proper capp and took some heat on that from the community.

    Now we’ll wait on your post about how a proper macchiato doesn’t have art either :-)

    Fire away.

    (sorry about the odd screenname – I signed up for disqus specifically for a sports forum, now stuck with this – for you Euros, it’s short for Pittsburgh Pirates World Series 2014.)

  7. I like a bowl cup because with this recipe you get a pleasing layer depth of foam, whereas a tulip cup will create a deeper laye that I don’t necessarily enjoy as much. Plus tulip cups just remind me of competition!

    As for the other aesthetics – I am pretty open. I like a cup full, but not to the point of easy spillage because that looks utterly unacceptable to me.

  8. I know exactly what you mean. I quite like the way it is dealt with at Prufrock, though it maybe isn’t a great solution if you are looking for something in particular (like a capp like this)

  9. I think the macchiato thing came up a few years ago here.

    As for the traditional thing – as I said above, I wasn’t trying to pick on places that do this. I just wonder if there isn’t another way to achieve the same goals without slightly cheating our way there?

    Out of curiosity – did the increase in capp sales cannibalize other drink sales, or where they additional sales?

  10. Prufrock is different. You put your total trust in the Barista making your drink – you know whatever they give you will be delicious. But if you put a capp up on the board I expect something different from a latte other than cup size!

  11. At the suggested temperature your tongue and throat keep the flavor blooming in your mouth. Smoking hot is often used in marketing coffee and other hot drinks, but you should rather look for a cappuccino smiling with real warmth.

    The success of simple drinks is the strong availability, the short checklist and household ingredients, though we still fight about the flaws and fortunes of minimalism.

  12. Surprised we missed that post on macchiatos. We thought we never missed a post.

    FWIW, we take absolutely no offense and we know we’re sort of “cheating” with the explanation, but as mentioned, it works for us and eliminates unwanted/unnecessary confrontations on being persnickety. If it were as simple as us saying, “We think it tastes better this way,” that would be ideal. But we have scars from doing that :-)

    As for cannibalization, we don’t think so as the business was growing steadily up until this past year. We promote the capp as our specialty. If anything we’ve seen more switching from milk drinks to drip since April/May or so when we started feeling the recession here. Which means less revenue, but all in all is a positive going forward for our positioning in this market now that we’ve added in-store roasting. We’re adjusting to that new reality.

  13. cup temperature is another big factor. I tend to get the ceramic pretty hot when starting a cappuccino. allows me to pass off milk that is significantly cooler and I think holding a hotter cup is a nice experience with this drink. continuing the cocktail analogy, aesthetics matter greatly in the experience.

    great post James!

  14. A 5oz bowl shaped cup, made to reasonable quality, that looks nice is hard to find…

  15. Would welcome comment on the Gibralter, which I’ve taken to order when I want the extra kick.

  16. Glad to see someone talking about this. I’ve always felt slightly unsure about what is to be expected by the drink definitions and always felt a level of trepidation when asked to provide one. (In the end I just took what was general consensus and what I enjoyed)

    It’s always great to see idea’s being challenged.

  17. I don’t usually post on these things, but feel inclined to mention that durng an interview on cappuccino temperature in Italy some years back, you suggested to me that it should be ‘a comfortably warm’ drink. I’ve always been happy with that description (and have quoted it many times!)

  18. loved the read james, and appreciated you going back to your comp days. i have been a huge fan of the capp for a long time. in my mind it is the quintessential job a barista can perform. it requires all of the skills a good barista needs in order to be done well.

    while i have been enjoying capps for many years, i have to admit to rarely finding a capp that was improved through latte art. either beautiful or horrific. it is my honest opinion that the drive to create beautiful latte art has taken away from the pleasure of a well made cappucino.

    as a former chef, and barista, i understand the importance of aesthetics. a well plated dish can make even mac and cheese seem fantastic. the truth of the matter though is if the mac and cheese wasnt done well to begin with, it wont matter how well it is plated. while it may “seem” fantastic, it is just mac and cheese on a pretty plate.

    again, in my honest opinion the ability to pour a rosetta et al into a capp is easier than pulling a great shot, steaming perfectly textured milk, and combining them in such a way that the flavors and textures of the 3 combine to create something ethereal. it distracts too many new barista. and it is to the dismay of many a cappucino, that too many barista focus on the surface of the drink as opposed to the what lay beneath. which of course, we all (ok, maybe you and i) know can be heavenly…

  19. Thought provoking and interesting post as always, James.

    I was unaware of Intelligentsia’s “no rosetta” policy, but independently came to that conclusion several months ago. I had just been pouring tulips on my caps, however the buzz around my shop was “back to perfecting the rosetta”, which I had been reserving for lattes. I tried pouring a few and quickly realized that the foam depth I enjoy(and it appears we share a preference in this regard), simply is not conducive to pouring a rosetta without getting clumped leaves, etc.

    Since I came to this realization, I am always slightly disappointed when I receive a cap with a rosetta on it. They are often tasty, just not quite as tasty as I know they could be.

  20. James,

    Logistical question: assuming from your final beverage weight that you are achieving a much “frothier” beverage, then say a flat white poured into the same vessel; How are you achieving the extra froth without over stretching?

    I would love to produce cappuccinos with more foam, but I find I run out of time I can stretch the milk before reaching 38c. Unless of course that it is a myth that you shouldn’t stretch beyond that point.

    Any tips…

  21. I think it is possible to double milk volume before reaching 37C, assuming a commercial machine/decent steam pressure/proper steam tip. I tend to stretch very aggressively for a short period at the start to try and spend as long in the churn phase as possible.

  22. I think it is possible to double milk volume before reaching 37C, assuming a commercial machine/decent steam pressure/proper steam tip. I tend to stretch very aggressively for a short period at the start to try and spend as long in the churn phase as possible.

  23. If you can do it on a amateur machine, it should be a walk-in-the-park with a better machine.

  24. Interesting article on my favorite and daily drink. Yes, I am a milk drinker.

    I have made it my habit to walk into cafe after cafe to order a cappuccino and use it as the measuring rod to judge the quality of the establishment. If they give me a 16 oz drink with 3 shots of espresso at 180 degrees F, I know this is not the place for me.

    My current recipe of choice is a double shot of espresso (21 grams, about 1.5 oz of espresso) in a 8 oz cup, with about about 5 oz of milk. I try to temper the foam, but nonetheless because of its size the milk tends to be thicker than a latte. Temperature at around 140 degrees F. I truly do like the Intelli model (see http://thurly.net/0ie9 a great and beautiful HD video with Kyle Glanville). Kyle does say 1/3 espresso to 2/3’s milk ;)

    Al

  25. I’ve worked at a place where aesthetics overtook the quality of taste, that as long as it is visually pleasing — meaning it must be with latte arts, except the “traditional” kinds — a drink can be put out. To that end I’ve always had a complex about latte arts, not wanting to do as well as I can because it subconsciously made me feel that the aesthetics will overshadow everything else about the drink, “distracts” drinker from the taste. But at the same time I must say I enjoy doing arts, presentation is important, and attention to details pretty much is the thing that elevates a task to an art other than genuinely having fun while doing it, right?

    I don’t think I resented foam, that said, I don’t resent it when it’s integrated perfectly, I find a well made cappuccino has a texture and intensity that I prefer out of all espresso-based drinks. The ratio is a guideline… I would steam milk about doubled in volume so it does have the half-milk-half-foam ratio, but I guess the key here is to have milk and foam superbly integrated so it has a velvety mouthfeel throughout. The execution of it differs from the froth and coffee flavoured thin milk combination that most people associate cappuccinos with.

    Besides the 5-6oz size and proportion debate, I’ve been seeing some trend that latte and cappuccino have became the same thing at certain cafes, which essentially there are only lattes, not necessarily in small-ish sizes either. Now that’s just confusing.

    (Intelligentsia’s policy is interesting, I tested it out when I approximated James’s recipe. I discarded my first steam because it wasn’t ideal, the second steam was bang on for both temperature and texture, it did produce a chubby looking rosetta…. well it could have been me. It’s not impossible, just difficult to be consistent. But when wiggling creates definition, hearts or tulips are just as cumbersome…)

  26. As I like to say: “Simple, but not easy.”

    Which really is the point of all this foolishness we call “Barista Craft.” Doing what we do, at its essence, is simple: we add water to coffee and brew it. However, doing it well is not easy.

    But I’m a bit confused. You make the statement that “Rule of Thirds” is not “traditional” yet you also acknowledge a 1950s era recipe dictating exactly that. Considering that Luigi Bezzera patented the steam pressure brewing system in 1901, this tells us that the “Rule of Thirds” has been in existence more than half of the lifetime of espresso.

    I don’t know about you, but I certainly think that qualifies “The Rule Of Thirds” as “traditional” – especially since it’s been in practice for over fifty years now.

    Then to say that a group of coffee “Johnny Come Latelies” (in the guise of this so-called “Third Wave”) are to simply disregard this history more than smacks of, well, arrogance.

    And we wonder why these traditional Italian types look upon us with such disdain?

    After a quick, weekend trip to Italy at the beginning of the month, I finally got a look into the world of Italian Espresso – a world where tradition very much is in the realm of coffee production. In Italy, I never found a place with stellar espresso/cappuccino – certainly nothing on the level that I can find in the United States.

    However, what I did find was a seeming nation of tradition and standards. A nation where I can reasonably expect to find a certain standard of beverage. The cappuccinos I had across Firenze, Scarperia, Maranello and Piacenza were never stellar, but they weren’t bad either. What they were was what I called “evenly consistent.” That is, wherever I went, the drinks were about the same quality level.

    And this is a feat that I’ve not found elsewhere in the world.

    I, for one, am a proponent of this Rule Of Thirds thing. We’re talking a six ounce cappuccino with a double shot of espresso and equal amounts of milk and foam – a simple Rule Of Thirds. But a Rule Of Thirds by volume and not by weight.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who was out to challenge the Barista Think and one of those targets was the Cappuccino’s Rule Of Thirds. He started out with weight – and based on the weight, the average cap tested out to 12% espresso. It was an interesting discovery but one that also delivered a tasty cappuccino.

    The foam thing is interesting too. Our community is too focused on latte art – as though it is some sort of panacea for that which ails us. It is also the reason why latte art has never been a priority with my own staff of baristas.

    I find Intelligentsia’s policy of No Rosettas to be a curious development – and one indicative of our craft’s over emphasis on latte art instead of quality beverage. Kudos to Intelli for seeing the problem within their ranks but it’s certainly not a rule that I would ever “love.”

    Regarding the latte art in competition, this is the one area that I always found most curious. The official party line of the WBC is that they don’t promote latte art, yet the scoresheets clearly reward latte art and judges are expected (though not necessarily trained ) to recognize the difference between a “2” in latte art and a “5.5” in latte art. This is a case of one hand saying one thing and the other saying another. If latte art is not pertinent to the competition then eliminate it altogether.

    Like me, you celebrate diversity within the community, and I like the ideas you put forward. My question to you is: when are we finally going to see these standards put into practice? I’m looking forward to a real James Hoffmann coffee experience!

  27. Finding a grammatically ambiguous phrase in literature from the 50s does not a tradition make. I’ve simply struggled to find evidence of this actually being accurate to what was served in Italy and much of the world (who were achieving a base level of quality in espresso based drinks).

    If I find that evidence I’m more than happy to change my mind – but the double shot six ounce drink belongs absolutely to the “Johnny Come Latelies/Third Wave” you speak of. If you have any evidence of that recipe outside of that group I’d be interested to see it.

    As for a retail outlet for Square Mile – because you are unlikely to find a coffee experience based around me rather than a team – I don’t have an exact date. It is pretty high on the priority list, but there are a couple of things just higher that need to be dealt with first.

  28. James. great topic you are so right in that the average cappuccino consumer is more impressed with the latte art than a beautifully micro textured cup.
    A question if I may, point 5 of your footnote states that the coffee strength will be 1.8 – 2%.
    My estimation taking the mentioned 20g coffee and an ext yield of 20% it seems the concentration will be closer to 11%, am I missing something ?

  29. Prior to my infatuation with getting better at all of these pour over methods and my recent slight physical aversion to milk, a solid cappuccino was certainly my go to drink at home. While my experience with what is “traditional” is certainly limited mostly to reading materials and hearsay from Stephen, I cant help but poke at the idea a little, especially with the comparison to cocktails. Take for example a fairly classic drink like the old fashioned. If you were to order this in a bar how would it be prepared? Would there be fruit in the cup(gasp!)? If so what kind? would it be muddled? what kind of bitters? What kind of whiskey? what ratios? Its possible to look back through the oral and written records and find references that indicate a birth before 1895 for this drink, a measly 100 plus years. In that time an almost insurmountable number of variations have crept into the light commanding the title of what an old fashioned is for different segments of the population. I dare the most worldly of drinkers to go to Wisconsin and debate the bartenders in each city as to what a traditional old fashioned is! There would be more black eyes than muddled maraschino cherries… With this in mind I think comparing the cappuccino to cocktails is very appropriate as over the course of time things like coffee to milk ratio, temperature, froth depth and style, cup shape, etc… are all elements that will slip and slide a bit with culture. Just as with mixing drinks, working with espresso is in a vein of rogue culinary professions lacking enough actual time on earth and structured education to have the very solidly developed traditions found in cooking, beer or wine. You can call what we do modern to separate it from the past but in the long view, espresso culture at a little over 100 years is still an infant.
    All this for me points to a name defining the spirit of a drink more than details. I think that spirit for a cappuccino is a smaller milk drink with enough froth to coat your mouth and make you smile. It shouldnt last too long but there should be enough to warm your belly. I would also second that plea for a bit more foam at the cost of detailed rosettas ( I call it froth as it seems to lessen the resentment for some reason even if it mildly grammatically incorrect). Fun post James.

  30. “defining spirit of a drink [...] make you smile” I think this could be said about most coffee drinks (I definitely agree with you Mike). And though I would like to be able to produce frothier cappuccinos more consistently, I have no issue with being served a double ristretto more of a flat white than a cappuccino as long as the barista is aware of what they are doing and they’re doing it with purpose. Who’s to say what the ideal cappuccino really is. I think James is just commenting on his preferred experience.

    Splitting hairs isn’t going to get our industry anywhere. Serving an experience that you can communicate to the people you serve, will.

  31. I like the barista having the ability to pour latte art on my cap as proof that the milk is properly textured and stretched. I hate seeing a barista (sorry to offend some) hold back the “froth” with a spoon and then adding the foam at the end as a dollop. I want to taste coffee and well textured milk with each sip. Take it slow and drink it slow is my motto.

    I appreciate the back and forth and the time that James takes to speak on these issues that are so important to our industry. It helps us newcomers who are still trying to figure all this stuff out.

    Maybe it is time for a book to begin our new “traditions” entitled the” Hoffmann Way”, or even the “Intelli Way” :) I will pony up the money.

    As to this quote,

    “The cappuccinos I had across Firenze, Scarperia, Maranello and Piacenza were never stellar, but they weren’t bad either. What they were was what I called “evenly consistent.” That is, wherever I went, the drinks were about the same quality level.”

    Sounds strangely similar to the descriptions given by many about Starbucks in these parts. . .

    Al

  32. Nice touch. Would be beautiful to have a book defining extravagant coffee brewing, instead informal reading (like Perfect Cup) on the subject. Just a complete book with small trivial facts, and then blow it up with carefully constructed recipes and how-tos.

    The net many times seem to go out of sync, so a publication may be the paramount move.

  33. I don’t know James, but if there was a recipe in existence sixty years years ago and a continuing trend of cappuccino making in Italy that has spread across the world, then it seems to me that a tradition has been in existence.

    If we’re really pursuing dogma then perhaps we ought to look to the source of espresso: Italy, and see what their traditions are. Quite frankly, knowing first-hand Italian espresso making techniques is where I am deficient so I would have to refer to those more knowledgable than myself.

    From my recollections of my weekend Italy excursion earlier this month, cappuccinos were served to me in 5-6 ounce cups and what I presumed were double-shots of espresso (I didn’t actually pay attention to the people making the drink because I was preoccupied with other things) – and this was a standard that seemed to be followed as I careened across middle Italy (Firenze, Scarperia, Maranello & Piacenza). In the one or two instances when I did pay some attention, the baskets looked like doubles to me and the barista did not discard any shots and used the complete espresso pull in my cappuccino.

    Honestly, I don’t have any sort of recipe detailing any sort of history of espresso and coffee. Perhaps that comes from a lack of interest in pursuing the history of coffee, perhaps it comes from learning coffee in the old method of being handed down the craft and technique from one person to the next and perhaps its also due to the fact that the documentation of coffee technique over the years has been poor, sporadic and very un-uniform (ask people what a “cortado” is and you’ll see what I mean).

    As with anything for me, it comes down to taste. Does it taste good? Does the drink have balance? I’m less obsessed in recipes or refractometer standards than most people here because I’m concerned about flavor, taste and exciting the guest with those parameters rather than percentages and how many grams of this went into that.

    As I said, I too am interested in personal interpretation and standards. I’m not interested in drinking the same coffee prepared exactly the same way and tasting exactly the same from shop to shop. To me, that refractometer by the numbers approach is boring and uninspired. Give me that regional/shop difference. I may not like it, it may not be how I would do it, but I certainly can appreciate it.

    Kind of like how a macchiato in Piacenza is quite a bit different than a macchiato in Seattle. They’re both still “macchiato” but the interpretations are slightly different.

    As for Team Square Mile Retail, I think that’s a shame. People didn’t go to The Penny University because they heard it was run by Team Square Mile, they went there to see the personal interpretation of coffee by World Champion James Hoffmann – one of the most celebrated baristas in the world. That was the excitement. That was the interest. It is the very reason why we trekked across London for coffee when we didn’t go anywhere else for coffee that week. We made one stop – and that was to see TPU.

    I encourage you to develop the retail end in your vision with you firmly at the helm – much as a chef leads a restaurant. In the end, the results are very much a collaborative effort, but a collaborative effort pointed to the standards of a leader – not leadership by committee. Think The Fat Duck. You’ve been there. You’ve seen the back of the house workings. You should know that while Heston Blumenthal is at the forefront, the work is completely collaborative. And it’s exciting. Give us something exciting. Give us James Hoffmann as a coffee experience. Give us a real reason to jet to London and put up with all the rude people.

    Otherwise, it’s about as appealing as coffee at Tessco.

  34. I don’t know James, but if there was a recipe in existence sixty years years ago and a continuing trend of cappuccino making in Italy that has spread across the world, then it seems to me that a tradition has been in existence.

    If we’re really pursuing dogma then perhaps we ought to look to the source of espresso: Italy, and see what their traditions are. Quite frankly, knowing first-hand Italian espresso making techniques is where I am deficient so I would have to refer to those more knowledgable than myself.

    From my recollections of my weekend Italy excursion earlier this month, cappuccinos were served to me in 5-6 ounce cups and what I presumed were double-shots of espresso (I didn’t actually pay attention to the people making the drink because I was preoccupied with other things) – and this was a standard that seemed to be followed as I careened across middle Italy (Firenze, Scarperia, Maranello & Piacenza). In the one or two instances when I did pay some attention, the baskets looked like doubles to me and the barista did not discard any shots and used the complete espresso pull in my cappuccino.

    Honestly, I don’t have any sort of recipe detailing any sort of history of espresso and coffee. Perhaps that comes from a lack of interest in pursuing the history of coffee, perhaps it comes from learning coffee in the old method of being handed down the craft and technique from one person to the next and perhaps its also due to the fact that the documentation of coffee technique over the years has been poor, sporadic and very un-uniform (ask people what a “cortado” is and you’ll see what I mean).

    As with anything for me, it comes down to taste. Does it taste good? Does the drink have balance? I’m less obsessed in recipes or refractometer standards than most people here because I’m concerned about flavor, taste and exciting the guest with those parameters rather than percentages and how many grams of this went into that.

    As I said, I too am interested in personal interpretation and standards. I’m not interested in drinking the same coffee prepared exactly the same way and tasting exactly the same from shop to shop. To me, that refractometer by the numbers approach is boring and uninspired. Give me that regional/shop difference. I may not like it, it may not be how I would do it, but I certainly can appreciate it.

    Kind of like how a macchiato in Piacenza is quite a bit different than a macchiato in Seattle. They’re both still “macchiato” but the interpretations are slightly different.

    As for Team Square Mile Retail, I think that’s a shame. People didn’t go to The Penny University because they heard it was run by Team Square Mile, they went there to see the personal interpretation of coffee by World Champion James Hoffmann – one of the most celebrated baristas in the world. That was the excitement. That was the interest. It is the very reason why we trekked across London for coffee when we didn’t go anywhere else for coffee that week. We made one stop – and that was to see TPU.

    I encourage you to develop the retail end in your vision with you firmly at the helm – much as a chef leads a restaurant. In the end, the results are very much a collaborative effort, but a collaborative effort pointed to the standards of a leader – not leadership by committee. Think The Fat Duck. You’ve been there. You’ve seen the back of the house workings. You should know that while Heston Blumenthal is at the forefront, the work is completely collaborative. And it’s exciting. Give us something exciting. Give us James Hoffmann as a coffee experience. Give us a real reason to jet to London and put up with all the rude people.

    Otherwise, it’s about as appealing as coffee at Tessco.

  35. Al –

    No doubt there’s similarities there to Starbucks.

    However, the impressive feat here wasn’t necessarily that these were all “evenly consistent” but rather that they were evenly consistent over disparate shops. In other words, these were results achieved by independent shops in Italy and not one, unified company.

    It’s something that we haven’t achieved in the Indie market in America.

  36. Al –

    No doubt there’s similarities there to Starbucks.

    However, the impressive feat here wasn’t necessarily that these were all “evenly consistent” but rather that they were evenly consistent over disparate shops. In other words, these were results achieved by independent shops in Italy and not one, unified company.

    It’s something that we haven’t achieved in the Indie market in America.

  37. Really inspired by your article as always. I’m trying to just serve one type of milk based espresso at my cafe in Cape Town even if people constantly ask for a flat white (a trend I think). Long live the cappy. I do find however that at 55C (132F) you’ll get less fruity but more cocoa tones with a sleek creamy finish.

  38. I was trained as a barista in Italy. I also exchanged two emails recently with two Italian coffee bloggers regarding this exact topic, because I consistently find that even a good 6 oz cappuccino here in the US is stronger than I remember my Italian ones being, and I wondered if I was correct or just suffering from Italy-nostalgia.

    What both of them said, and what I was taught as well:

    * a cappuccino is served in a 20 cl cup (6.7 oz to the brim, so closer to 6 oz serving size)
    * it is prepared with 1 7g shot of espresso (half of a 14g double basket).
    * it should be between 45-55 degrees celsius
    * cocoa is added only by request of the customer

    Neither of them paid much attention to the rule of thirds, though it was mentioned briefly. In Italy there is less separation between the idea of “milk” and “foam” and more focus on serving a creamy milk where the foam is well integrated. To quote one of them:
    Il vero cappuccino è fatto con un caffè espresso di 3cc (30 ml) fatto con circa 7/8 grammi di caffè, in una tazza da 14 / 20 cc, riempita con latte schiumato per bene senza bolle.
    or:
    A real cappuccino is made with 30 ml (1 oz) of a 7-8 gram shot of espresso, in a 14-20 cc cup, filled with milk that has been frothed well and is without bubbles.

    Like you James, I tend to drink my cappuccino quickly and so prefer a lower temperature (as is true with most Italians who are elbowing for space at the small bar counter where they drink it).

    What Jay says is partially true in my opinion. I lived in Italy for 5 years and often had STELLAR cappuccinos… but he’s right in that even a mediocre one was good, and far better than most of what I find in America.

    We are considering offering a traditional Italian cappuccino at our shop, following the guidelines above, as well as what as become the accepted standard of a 6 oz cap with a double shot of 15-18 g.

    Interesting discussion, so glad you posted on it!

  39. It is a fact that a “traditional” Italian cappuccino has only a single espresso shot in a 6-7 oz drink. The dosing also tends to be lighter (7g per shot) and finer than we do it in the USA. However the roast, while lighter than the (IMO burned) typical Seattle roast, is definitely darker and punchier than the 3rd wave roasts we’re using in the States. IMO if we’re interested in formulating the “traditional” Italian cappuccino, we must not be so prejudiced against a full-bodied roast.

    I had a few Italian cappuccinos while I was there last spring. The worst one I had was still a perfectly decent drink. The best ones were amazing. And here’s the magic: one of the best ones I had was in a mob-scene stand-up bar in Firenze where the barista was cranking out probably 100 drinks per hour.

    I also never saw anyone bothering to pour latte art.

  40. “Latte art is a good thing, but it still carries more weight than it is worth.”

    Thank. You.

    This “mark of quality” is too rife for abuse, i.e. “look, it must be good, look at that latte art”. It’s too easy for a sub-par coffee bar to simply mimic the art on top, co-opting what too many rely upon as a mark of quality. Taste. It is all about taste. If it tastes good, damn the tulip or lack thereof.

    This has nothing to do with my, as yet inability to produce said art… not at all…

  41. wow. now that is something I never thaught about, but sounds link it makes sense.
    milk temp variations can enhance or de-hance some of the tasting tones?

    i feel my capps vary, I find some incredibly delicious, and I’m looking at what makes the magic.

  42. We have a dome of froth whose height is defined by the first pour. We layer our froth and then sort of ‘drop’ it in from the jug after letting it settle for around 20 seconds. The result is almost all light froth (good news for the ‘dry’ cappuccino lovers!) and if it’s level with the top of the cup or 10mm above, we let the milk decide!

  43. if the milk is frothed well, it shouldn’t spill as it’ll be too thick. Our test is to shake a cup and see if it wobbles. We like the froth to help contain the espresso in the cup and keep it warm while slowly mixing with it. I wonder if sometimes we over-complicate a very simple drink?

  44. It must have been in Harvard Square (Cambridge, Mass.) where I had my very first enjoyed coffee, around 1982, in a Mexican restaurant. Since then I have had many coffees and for some 20 years – until around 2005 – I ordered mostly cappuccini and in Vienna Melange. The last years I have concentrated on espresso.
    Reading this post – by the way, Thank You for it! – has reminded me of the importance of good quality cappuccino. While I was drinking these (those 20 years) I opted for what is called “Triest Cappuccino”, which is basically a regular drink served in a smaller cup, a bit larger than an espresso cup. Thus, there is less space for the milk, making it a better balance between milk and espresso.
    Yes, it could be seen as a cocktail.

  45. Hey, what a fun blog post (including the contributrions!)

    The history and ‘evolution’ of the cappuccino has intrigued me since I first started making them exactly 20 years ago. It was a different world back then, when the milk foam was judged by the ability to carry the weight of a sugar lump (anyone remembering the early 1990’s?) :)
    But where did the cappuccino come from? Did it originate in some italian alchemists workshop in the late medieval times, or in a capuchin monestary in the late renaissance? What was the ‘original’ receipe like (January 1176 was it?), and is it preserved in a museum like Francis of Assisi’s brown robe?
    I discovered soon that coffee literature (and coffee books!) is rarely written with an academical approach, and sources for everything from Kaldi to Gesha is shrouded in myths and odd lore. Interesting, that the second most traded commodety in the world has so little research behind it, resulting is musings about dancing goats and monks’ bald heads…

    Tempting, now, to say I have followed the footprints of capuchin monks back in time, to find myself moving from the coffee scene in Oslo, to Austria, and right now living on ‘kapuzinerberg’ in Salzburg.
    Well, I did -move, yes, but not for the quest of the origin of the capuchin colour :)
    The kapuziner (capuchin) monestry is actually next door, and the monks walk the streets of Salzburg in their red-brown robes as they have done in centuries here as in many of Europe’s older cities..

    The first capuchin monks in Austria, though, arrived in the late 16th century, and came to Vienna in the first half of the 17th century to build a monestary there, and just as in most other important cities in Europe they became an integrated part of the city’s daily life, recognizeable in their red-brown robes with pointed hoods.

    As you write, the italian cappuccino has its roots in Austria, in the ‘kapuziner'; -probably not originating here in Salzburg, but in the coffee house scene of Vienna. The ‘kapuziner’ was, next to ‘franziskaner’ and ‘phariseer’ just one of the many popular beverages on the coffee menues in 19th century Vienna (‘kapuziner’ is mentioned for the first time in Austria in 1853), but no one is sure exactly where it was served the first time.
    The elegant cafés of the capital of the Kaisertum Österreich became an arena for the upper classes, and fun names for coffees and desserts became a sport: soon, ‘Kapuziner’, ‘Einspänner’, ‘Fiaker’, ‘Überstürzter Neumann’ and ‘Maria Théresia’ and other beverages composed of coffee with milk or cream added — and often whipped cream, cocoa, honey, rum sugar or spices – – spread out of Vienna along side a huge variety of elegant cakes, desserts and pastries to the other cities of the Austrian Empire; among them BudaPest, Prague, Krakow, and Trieste.
    Trieste had been part of Austria (an important port) all the way since the 14th century, and ‘viennese’ coffee houses bloomed there in the time of Queen Victoria like in the other cities of the old empire. The ‘kapuziner’ was soon just one of many coffees on the menu there as in other austrian cities large enough to sport a decent Café.

    A ‘Kapuziner’ was in the 1800’s presumably made from a dark-roast coffee (what wasn’t?), brewed (probably in different ways) on pre-espresso era coffee machines, and cream was added carefully just to give that desired colour of capuchin brown. No whipped cream and no steamed milk, just a little cream. ‘Franziskaner’ (franciscan monk) is another variety with more cream, to resemble the colour of lighter brown robes of this order.
    The idea of using ‘capuchin’ as a term for colour goes further back in history, though: already in 17th century England, a manufactor of ceramic drinking vessels named a glazed, brown one in their catalogue (!) a ‘capuchin’, and the french later used the term ‘capucine’ as a comment in the early 19th century on the new craze of interiors made of darker wood. If something was nick-named ‘capuchin’, then it sported a nice red-brown. Even today, the french name given to a small cup of coffee with a little milk is ‘noisette’ ( ‘hazel nut brown’ ) , and in Italy something similar is named ‘marocchino’ (often with the addition of cocoa), referring to the old maroccan trade of colouring leather in just this red-brown nuance.
    More so then than now, a cup of coffee served at a coffee house or a café was a different experience, and it was in the upper class, bourgeoise cafés that these elegant coffees were created.
    The rest of Europe followed: elegant cafés in the viennese style opened in Paris (‘Cafe de la Paix’ in, yes, Boulevard de Capucines), in Berlin, London, Amsterdam and so on. The austrian coffee menu, however, turned out to be too diffecult to both translate and export, often resulting in ‘tribute’ variations like ‘Café Viennois’.
    More things changed: During the latter half of the 19th century, the World Exhibitions showed several attempts at presenting coffee machines suitable to serving good coffee to large groups. The french were up front, but after Luigi Bezzera improved the steam pressure system in these old locomotifs, the italians took the lead, and around 1920 the term ‘espresso’ was common: coffee brewed for each single cup. The old, 19th century Café machines were soon history.

    The austrian empire fell with the gunshots in Sarajevo, and Trieste and part of southern Austria suddenly belonged to Italy in 1918. By now, the café scene in Europe had changed even more; people travelled more than ever before, and the pavement cafés in the continental cafés and restaurants were more crowded, coffee was served faster. The old cafés in earlier Austria-Hungary became a mere shadow of the past, though. The Sacher Torte was passé. Europe developed ‘coffee regions': a coffee in Italy was now short and dark, and the steamed milk was a novelty, and the italian cappuccino it seems came about in a renaissance some time after WW1, but although the cappuccino is not mentioned in Italy until the 1930’s we may assume it was a term in at least Trieste, Venice and Milano already in the 1920’s; for sure, the german speaking regions of northern Italy had always pronounced their ‘kapuziner’ with an italian accent.
    (In the UK the first use of the term ‘cappuccino’ is registred in 1953).

    All in all; the ‘original’ cappuccino was not invented in neither Firenze nor Roma. As in other evolutionairy processes, the cappuccino is far from home in most places :)
    Perhaps the austrians were not the first to add milk into the european coffee, but it is in Vienna the word ‘kapuziner’ is used for the first time on a coffee drink. The first ‘kapuziner’ opted to resemble the capuchin robe, but the italian descendent took on a different appearance altogether.
    Just like a ‘macchiato’ is explained in different ways by the barista in Milano and the roaster in Merano («it means ‘spotted’», «it means ‘dirty’!», «it means ‘marked’ with a spot!»), the cappuccino is approached quite differently by all of us. In Vienna, you can even be served Kapuziner and cappuccino in the same café!
    As for 1:1:1 -if we should look to Italy for the truth: -the coffee used by the italians in the first half of the century (and certainly in war times) was of an inferior quality, and the roast reputably dark; it for sure shone through the texture of the milk way back then. The porcelain cup used for serving a cappuccino in an italian Caffè in the 30’s and 40’s was not tulip shaped, but more actually as you suggest, lower and more ‘open’. Myself, I prefer the cappu in smaller cups, and with a nice, thick top: I also like the out-dated terms ‘scuro’ for a less milkier one, and ‘chiaro’ for a whiter one.
    But I do not argue with my customers: I’d ask how they would prefer their cup, and politely add an anecdode on how close a ‘large’ cappuccino is to whatever comes next on the menu. I think.
    The italians may want to be the ones defining the espresso world, and hey, it sounds cool in italiano – -but the ‘origin’ of something very often has a past history. ‘Coffea Arabica’ has ‘Coffea Canephora’ (robusta) as one of its ‘ancestors’, with another unlikely ancestor being ‘Coffea Eugeniodes’. And out of these two came ‘Arabica’. Now, even to a biologist, that’s alchemy!

    Sorry, rambling on there. Quite a long one, that.

  46. Ciao belli! This post is fantastic.
    I’m Lorenzo from Rome, sorry for my bad english in advance.
    Nobody talk about coffee quality and the “torrefazione”/coffee roasting(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_roasting). I think these are the main differents between italian and rest of the world coffee.
    Doesn’t matter about 1:1:1, milk bubbles or whatever.
    The main and best coffee quality is “arabica” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffea_arabica).

    The best coffe in Italy is in Naples, where they are really mad about it! They have tons of problems: no job, rubbish in the street, drugs and thieves… but coffee is a must! Following old rules like cup temperature (80° celsius!!!) they serve the best coffee in italy.

    Another one great coffee i had in the world was in Bogotà, Colombia, quite long but reaaly good!
    So, forgot Starbuck, take a flight.

    How to..: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU6J-6A0Mr4
    Ciao Rega’

  47. Hi,
    I am Shibalik from India. Well, I am really excited after reading this blog post. Truly speaking, I am also addicted to coffee, an in our country, we usually stick with Nescafe. I tried cappuccino first time when I was in college. It was self made and the taste was horrible. Though later in some coffee shop, one of my friends gave a treat and then I experienced the real taste of it. As I am not that good in coffee making, so I let my mother to read this blog. Because I think she is the only person in my life who could understand the recipe.

    But I should share the golden moment when I held the cup of kopi luwak. It was in the last summer. I went to my uncle’s place for a change. Basically this is most expensive coffee and let me tell you that if you haven’t tried it yet, then you should try once.

    I have also tried arabica, but still I could hardly forget kopi luwak.

    Sorry, if I bored you. But I am still looking for another good one from you. Bye.

  48. i agree on so many levels. working in a fairly naive city, i often run across those that expect a pile of bubble bath-like foam on top of half a cup of shitty espresso. slowly ive been able to change the minds of most cap drinkers in the shop.

    what i think is most important (only because latte art seems to be the mark of perfection in america) is banning rosettas in caps. if you have the right texture to pour a beautiful rosetta it would seem that the drink isnt a cap. i agree with your preferred milk texture and require all barista at the shop i work at to strive for this texturing practice. i think im responding in hopes that this method will become viral!

  49. What? Thats what I shower in. Grab a thermometer and do some test my man. Great blog BTW James. (seriously, buy a new temperature measuring device. In my opinion, when using run of the mill thermometers, dont buy cheap ones and test them against others, or a DMM with that function.) Cheers, :)

  50. I have hunting around the web for a great cappuccino recipe for my blog. One thing that has really come to light is that everyone has different taste buds and make their favorite specialty beverage according to their likes. What a fascinating top.

  51. “Now don’t even get me started on flat whites…”
    I’d be interested to know what your issue is? (not really knowing how these are being made in the uk)

    As a point of interest, these really began in NZ as a kind of rebellion against the poorly made mountain (and i mean MOUNTAIN) of bubbly airy fluff on top of an insipid bitter shot of nasty espresso that people thought was a cappuccino in this country about 20-25years ago.

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  53. Nice little blog post. Not going to get into semantics here, but I’ve moved away from the rule of thirds. Instead, standard double – and milk stretching much as you’ve described: doubled volume, bubbleless microfoam (emulsion, really) but I virtually pour off all the liquid phase into a second pitcher, and use this wet velvety foam. Having Josh Hockin and Mel in my shop set me on a path to question my capp bev prep… and it sort of culminated this summer as such. And I agree about the bowl shape… any tapering at the cup’s rim doesn’t seem to maintain mouthfeel.

    Anyhow, since I’ve switched to this method, my capp sales to latte sales ratio is often on the capp side.

  54. Dear James
    For years the cappuccino has been my morning ritual now and I can say that I agree and appreciate your text. In modern, also often called progressive, coffee culture I have often discovered disappointing capps. I must say I prefer the 5oz size and cannot cope with a larger amount of milk in a drink, but as far as the temperature is concerned I would like to test your proposal along with a 60 and 65 C variation. It would be interesting to see whether there is any sensual difference for example regarding caramelized sugars in the milk and how this affects the espresso. (My feeling is that a 60C cup would taste a little sweeter)
    Best wishes from Germany
    Pedja

  55. Hi James

    I think it’s also the case that what constitutes a traditional cappuccino differs even in Italy. I know quite a few Italians of baby-boomer age who are adamant that the foam should be a distinct layer – not as dry as traditionally served in the UK, Australia and US, but not completely smooth and wet either. When my Italian uncle makes a cappuccino, the foam texture is somewhere between that of yoghurt and whipped mousse – fluffy but still moist. He says the foam should not completely blend in with the milk, otherwise it will dilute the coffee too much. Because of this, even though he makes his cappuccinos with one shot, they still taste strong enough.

    However, my uncle is from the south of Italy, and so are most Italian migrants where I live (Australia). Here you’ll find most of the cafes run by Italians still serving even drier foam, but you wouldn’t dare tell them that what they’re doing isn’t traditional. In contrast, the “third wave” cafes, quite often not Italian-run, do their cappuccinos with latte art and claim that they’re returning to tradition too.

    Maybe they’re both right. I noticed the different interpretations on the two occasions I’ve been to Italy. The first time was nearly 10 years ago, and I just went to Rome and the south, and the cappuccinos were close to what my uncle serves – drier foam with a discernible white domed effect (but no chocolate, and small cups) The next time, nearly two years ago, I went to the north as well, and had cappuccinos closer to what the new wave cafes serve, with microfoam and sometimes latte art. I noticed this style of coffee being served in the south too.

    While I prefer cappuccinos the way my uncle makes them, both styles are great done well. But it looks like the wet style is being considered the ultimate expression, particularly because of the use of latte art, and I don’t think it is. It would be a shame if another regional variety, if that’s what it is, disappears. I’d like to think there’s room for both.

  56. Back in the states, I’d say 90% of the ‘traditional’ cappuchinos I’ve served have been 1.5-1.75 oz. of espresso with roughly 3 oz. of milk and 3 oz. of foam.  Granted, nearly all the places I’ve been working at have had demitasse, gibraltars (for cortados), and then 8oz mugs.

    Slightly off topic, but what are your views on cortados?  I’ve had them served as both essentially 5 oz lattes, but have also had them as equal parts latte milk and espresso.  I enjoy both quite a lot, but have always been confused on which is the industry standard.

  57. A  Café Cortado': if you think about it;  the name indicates a spanish origin (and we know it is);  -now, a spaniard will probably tell you what it is and how it is prepared, but its characteristics would be determined by spanish coffee and spanish milk/cream, wouldn’t it? Traditionally, it has been served in a small glass, and in its evolution, the coffee shots have been considerably ‘longer’ than in let’s say Italy. The milk has traditionally mostly been canned and sweetened milk (thick, condensated).
    Now, in the toursitic places and upscale Cafés of Madrid and Barcelona better quality beans and fresh milk has been used (and this is spreading).

    In Oslo, Norway, ‘Cortado’ is prepared with the locally preferred espresso blends and fresh milk, in traditionally 6 oz porcelain cups, as coffee shops in other parts of the world would serve a ‘flat white’ and their regular cappuccino:  you use the standard blend and the standard milk and also all the standard parametres for brewing all other espresso drinks.

    It’s almost like preparing ‘Irish Coffee’ with the locally preferred spirits.

    Or the longdrink ‘Mojito':  it goes without saying that it should be prepared with jamaican rum, but there are exceptions out there. Most bartenders are not aware of the huge diversity of the mint plant -resulting in your summer drink tasting like toothpaste or deodorant.

    ‘Cortado’ can of course be made with your own espresso blend  -it is not dictated by Franco that it must be coffee as the spanish traditionally have imported and roasted it, nor that it is hand milked from andalucian cows.

    But, as with other exported beverages and dishes, something dictates the approach:  spanish tourists will delight in your coffee menu if you put ‘cortado’ and ‘carajillo’ up there. It may not taste like home, though.

    I’d like to compare it to ‘Café au lait’ too:  -most coffee books will tell you this is brewed coffee (filter or ‘french press’) and hot milk, and thus indicating this is how this beverage is served presumeably in France.  As this term spread some sixty years ago across northern Europes new cafés, it was prepared using espresso and steamed milk. ‘Caffèllatte’ was not born yet. In Norway, ‘Café au lait’ is an espresso beverage -served in french soup-like bowls still.
    But noone would use french standard beans and roast or the low quality milk used in french cafés.
    Is it still worth the name?

    A ‘Saladee Nicoise’ -originating in Nice, Côte d’azur, they say-  -can be twisted around with sardines from other oceans and olives from greece if you like, it still is perceived as a ‘nicoise’.

    A ‘Rudesheimer-Kaffee’ from Germany dictates specifically that the Weinbrand ‘Asbach’ should be used when preparing it, and a court case in northern Germany brought some light onto the the alcohol content in the ‘Fharisäer’, as a guest in a Coffee House complained it was too ‘weak’  -the court came to the conclusion that the oldest ‘receipe’ of the ‘Fharisäer’ defined it as having ‘a dominant flavour of local rum’.

    Apart from the ingredients, a ‘cortado’ should be served in a glass on a saucer, and the amount of milk or cream is 50/50 with the coffee.
    Adding more milk makes it ‘Café amb llet’ in the catalan speaking regions  -or ‘café con leche’ in regular spanish  :).

  58. Wow, so much coffee juice has just been pumped into my brain. Lovely!

  59. Hello!
    Today is the first day that I came across your blog and I have to say I really enjoy reading it.
    Although only a college student at the moment, and a total beginner when it comes to coffee and related drinks, I hope to be a professional Barista in the future.

    Currently I am trying to learn the needed skills at home by myself on a “Cusinart” espresso machine.

    As someone who clearly knows what they are talking about, do you have any advice you could give me?

    Many Thanks!

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