How to Make a Cappuccino with an Espresso Machine

Cappuccino is one of the most loved coffee drinks in the United States and in the world. The taste of the drink is just what you need to elevate your mood and leave you feeling good. For coffee lovers, that’s something you want it to last forever, that’s something you want to take home, that’s why you start to wonder how to make a cappuccino with an espresso machine at home.

Cappuccino is an espresso-based drink so in order to make a good tasting cappuccino you need to make a good tasting espresso, you will also need the milk to be delicious in order for your whole cup to taste good.

So how to prepare the ingredients the right way to make a good cappuccino using an espresso machine and what are those ingredients in the first place that’s what this article is going to cover.

What is Cappuccino?

Cappuccino is an espresso-based drink that is composed of ⅓ espresso, ⅓ steamed milk, and a ⅓ of microfoam. This is called the “traditional cappuccino” it is usually made with one double espresso shot. So there are three variables that make or break a cup of cappuccino, each variable needs to be well made and good tasting so the end result is the cup of cappuccino that you love.


Cappuccino could be made with any type of milk but the resulting cup will differ, vegan kinds of milk will result in less foam for example because it contains a lower percentage of fats while dairy milk will result in a creamy cup.

There are two types of cappuccino, besides the traditional cappuccino, that you could drink: “wet cappuccino” and “dry cappuccino”. Wet cappuccino has more steam milk than foam while dry cappuccino has more foam than steam milk which makes it darker, there’s “bone-dry cappuccino” where there’s no steam milk at all and there’s “super wet cappuccino” where there’s a thin layer of foam or no foam at all.

You could also customize your drink by adding vanilla, chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, or any other flavor you may prefer.

What is Espresso?

So as we have mentioned, cappuccino is an espresso-based drink, but what is actually espresso? 

Espresso coffee is a small 1 to 2 oz. shot of pressure-brewed coffee using between 6.5 and 7.5 grams (about 1 Tablespoon) of finely ground coffee. Brewing takes about 25 to 30 seconds. Properly brewed, an espresso will feature a layer of rich dark golden cream, called crema on the surface. This crema is one indicator of a quality espresso. Making a great espresso is truly an art as well as a science.

The quality of an espresso cup depends mainly on three factors, the beans, the grind, and the espresso machine.

The beans are the raw material for your cup and are the base of your whole process, if the beans you use aren’t roasted well or for any reason doesn’t taste good your final espresso cup won’t be tasty whatever you make, so make sure to pick the right beans before you continue.

The grinder you use is the very next critical element in the process, the wrong grinder will produce uneven grinds that will result in distributing the pressure in an even way resulting in faults in the extraction and the cup won’t be as tasty.

The espresso machine itself that you use to make your espresso cup is what provides the pressure and the steam for the coffee and the milk so it is an important factor that will have a huge impact on the quality of your cup.

How to Make a Cappuccino with an Espresso Machine

How to Make Espresso?

The first step you will need to make espresso is to get your machine ready, this is crucial no matter what type of machine you use:

  • Fill the tank with clean, cold water.
  • Place an empty cup on the drip tray under the spout.
  • Switch on the coffee machine and press the start button as if making a single espresso


The benefit of this step is two-fold, first, it gets rid of any left-overs from the last time you used the machine and second it heats the cup and the machine so it is ready for your drink.

We have talked about the importance of picking the right coffee and the importance of the grinding process because it affects the taste of the resulting cup. When it comes to grinding you have three choices: ground (traditional machine), bean-to-cup coffee machine, capsule or pod coffee machine.

If you decide to go the traditional route you need to know that You can not make good espresso unless you have a good quality espresso grinder that produces a consistently even grind. Uneven grind can cause all sorts of problems, including too fast an extraction and channeling in the puck. If you don’t have a nice, even grind, you can’t make good espresso. 

You want to grind 18-21 grams of your favorite coffee, you want the grind for your espresso to be very fine so the extraction goes properly in the machine but not too fine so it doesn’t clog the machine.

If you get confused and overwhelmed by the process and you just want to enjoy your cup and you like consistency then I recommend for you using a capsule or pod coffee machine. Pre-measured coffee pods take all the guesswork on grind size out of the equation. All you need to do is buy a capsule that offers the intensity of roast you are after and that’s compatible with your machine.

After grinding you will need to put the ground coffee in your portafilter and tamp that coffee with a tamper so it is distributed evenly, this makes the extraction process of the coffee more efficient and results in a better cup which means it is an important step.

Next, you will attach the portafilter to the machine and press the start button so the extraction process begins and your espresso gets made.

How to Make Cappuccino Foam?

You will need to use a jug for this step, fill ⅓ of the jug with milk that’s fresh and cold.

Wipe the steam wand with a cloth and release steam for two seconds to clear it out before submerging it with the milk so it is nice and clean.

Then, submerge the steam wand, about half an inch, into your milk. It should be at a 15-degree angle from the side of the espresso machine. Do this step before you turn the steam on.

Next, you turn the machine on and let the steam gets incorporated into the milk, it does two things, it heats the milk and creates the foam.

The volume of the milk should increase and the temperature will rise, you want the volume to increase by 50% percent, and by touch you could feel the temperature, if you can’t touch for 5 seconds then this is the right temperature for the cup or for a more accurate measure you could use a thermometer, you want the temperature to be 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

After you are done turn off the machine and wipe the wand with the cloth so it gets cleaned.

Pouring the Milk on the Espresso

After steaming the milk you will want to swirl the jug so the microfoam is together.

When pouring the milk, just steady your hands on top of the cup. Pour the milk from the center, low height from the cup with a slight wiggle. And once the microfoam starts to pour, just tilt the pitcher a bit, towards the cup.


Now you can sit and enjoy your cup of cappuccino, you could add some flavors if you want. It isn’t a simple process to make a cup of cappuccino but it is worth the effort, being able to enjoy your favorite drink any time you want is something that is worth it and an experience that you should definitely try. If you happen to run out of coffee filters in the mornings you can check some alternatives so the day doesn’t get ruined for you.

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