His majesty cappuccino

Here is the golden rule: 25 milliliters in 25 seconds. The proper drip time is only one of the requisites for transforming an espresso into a true work of art. Even when it comes to cappuccino, another essential consideration is the quality of the blend; its aromatic expression must create a perfect alchemy with the milk.

A high content of fatty acids will stabilize aromatic molecules, setting them free in the oral cavity and allowing for olfactory perception. This is what makes cappuccino a great indicator of the quality of the coffee. The presence of excess substances in the blend can render tasting considerably less pleasant:  in fact, they can interact with the structure of the steamed milk, modifying its tangible characteristics. Milk fats in a ratio of about 3.5% impact the velvety base of cappuccino, which is a fundamental component of its appeal, while the quality of the creaminess is due in particular to the proteins that allow the milk to foam. To create the perfect synergy between molecules it’s important that the milk be of high quality, whole and fresh, preserved in the fridge at 3-5°C and foamed while cold so it reaches the right density.

The milk pitcher is not just a secondary detail: the ideal container is first of all in stainless steel, since the properties of the metal easily transmit heat and the barista can check the temperature with the palm of the hand. The geometry of the milk pitcher is also a fundamental element for executing decorations in latte art; the beaker and the top part should be more narrow than the bottom, which should be more rounded, in order to facilitate the incorporation of steam and give rise to a creamy liquid that won’t separate. According to the number of cappuccinos to be prepared – respectively two, three or four at a time – the suggested capacities are 0,5, 0,75 and one litre; the milk pot should never be filled more than halfway. Material, capacity and geometry are also factors in the cup: in particular, to correctly contain the coffee and create the perfect ring on the surface it’s important that the base be of an elliptical shape with a different thickness and that the mouth be of the proper width with a thin rim.

Finally, the steaming of the milk. In this case the final result will depend upon variables such as the volume of steam, the level and angle of insertion of the wand and the movement created by the professional. In fact there are those who prefer to immerse the wand halfway, steam the milk up as far as possible, take the wand up to the bare surface of the milk near the rim, create a sustained swirl and conclude the operation with a brief dunking almost all the way to the bottom. If everything works as it should, the foam obtained should come out homogenous and without bubbles. In other words, lip-licking delicious.