If you add frothed milk to an espresso, you’ll get a cappuccino, which is a favorite breakfast drink in Italy, its country of origin. To make this irresistible concoction, you need the same quantities of milk and espresso. Next, you should dump that milk into your espresso machine’s frothing pitcher. Inside that pitcher, a steam wand will shoot warm air into the milk’s molecules of protein in order to produce miniscule bubbles. When this frothy substance is at last poured onto your espresso, you’ll be able to enjoy a smooth, soothing cappuccino.
While this process might sound straightforward, it actually takes great skill and plenty of practice to make a cappuccino in just the right way. The foam needs to have a certain consistency, and it should stick to your upper lip after each sip. By the way, skim milk contains more protein than whole milk. As such, you can get more foam and a higher-quality cappuccino overall from skim milk.
Like a cappuccino, a latte is comprised of espresso and milk. However, when you want to make a latte, you use half as much espresso as milk. An espresso machine will employ its steam wand to heat that milk to between 150 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit, but the milk will not be frothed. Nevertheless, a portion of the milk will turn into foam during this step.
Next, the espresso and the warm milk must be mixed together. Afterwards, the foam ― which at this stage is known as “microfoam” ― that has formed is placed on top of the drink. Sometimes, a person who makes lattes will want to get creative and sculpt that microfoam into appealing shapes and patterns. Plus, for a special treat, you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, or another tasty powder to the foam.
Incidentally, the name “latte” is an abbreviation of “caffellatte,” which is the Italian word for “milk coffee.” Even so, the latte as we know it today most likely originated not in Italy but in Northern California during the 1950s. Many coffee establishments in the Seattle area made it a regular feature starting in the 1980s. Its popularity blossomed from there.
Now, if you happen to adore espresso but feel that it doesn’t provide you with the jolt of caffeine that you desire, you can always have a ristretto. It’s a drink that’s highly concentrated, and the liquid is especially thick. Having a ristretto is almost like swallowing syrup. To make one of them, you’d need the same amount of coffee grounds and approximately half as much water as you’d use for a normal espresso.
Once you try this beverage, you might understand why it has many fans who are passionate about it and devoted to it. As a final note, to get a ristretto in a restaurant in Italy, you’d have to order a “corto.”
View the second article in the series:
The World in a Cup: A Guide to Coffee Drinks from Around the Globe (Part II)