Espresso, Cappuccino & Co. - Italian coffee recipes with milk foam


Now we've spent hours upon hours preparing the perfect espresso and now the mother-in-law walks in the door and orders a cappuccino. Cheeky? Maybe! But we are solution-oriented and therefore show you with a few small tips how you can make mother-in-law & Co. happy and bring your house back into balance. 

Table of contents

Coffee recipes with the help of milk foam

To begin with, let's take a look at all the drinks that you can conjure up from your espresso with the help of milk foam:

Macchiato [makˈkia:to] 

"The stained": the name for this variation is given by the small "milk stain" that is added to the espresso. The fact that the milk was not simply mixed in when this classic was invented had purely practical reasons - with the blob of milk on top, it was easier to distinguish from an espresso. This variant enjoys great popularity, especially in Italy.


Cappuccino [kapʊˈtʃiːno]

What exactly is a cappuccino anyway? Cappuccino is the name given to an espresso-based hot beverage characterized by a particularly fine-pored milk foam. When it comes to its name, the most likely reference is to a Viennese coffee speciality from the 19th century, the "Kapuziner". This mocha coffee with whipped cream found its way back to Italy in a roundabout way and in a slightly modified form, namely with frothed milk instead of whipped cream, and from this the ever-popular traditional drink developed. We owe this step to the development of the portafilter coffee machine. 


Latte macchiato: [kafe latte] or ['latːe maˈkjaːto].

Espresso - bitter and intense? No thanks, thought the rest of the world, and simply stretched it with lots of milk to get a milder coffee drink. But what exactly is the difference between Caffè Latte and Latte Macchiato? The Caffè Latte is served in a cup like a Cappuccino, but it contains about 1/3 more milk. Milk and espresso are mixed into a homogeneous mass when poured and combine. The milk foam is finer in the caffè latte and ensures a creamy taste. Latte macchiato, on the other hand, is typically made up of three layers of milk, milk foam and espresso, which in this version is only poured into the cup from the top at the very end, giving it its typical appearance.


So how do I make the perfect milk foam for my coffee specialties? 

In just a few simple steps, we'll show you how to create the perfect milk foam for cappuccino and latte macchiato with your portafilter. We'll also introduce you to other ways of preparing milk foam without a portafilter coffee machine. 

Your step-by-step guide to perfect milk froth with your portafilter coffee maker:

First of all, preparing milk foam with the steam lance of your portafilter takes a bit of practice, but the results will be even better if you practice diligently. The goal is to create the finest possible milk foam without large bubbles, also called "microfoam". 

  1. Cold milk, cold pot: The colder the milk and the pot are, the longer the milk has time to "roll" - we'll explain what that is in one of the next steps - and you get the perfect milk foam. Always fill the milk only to the lower edge of the spout of your jug so that it does not overflow during foaming.
  2. Prepare the steam lance: Before you start foaming milk, operate the steam lance, also known as the steam nozzle, a few times. This clears it of excess water and other residues. This step is very important, otherwise your milk may throw big bubbles.
  3. Immerse and enjoy: Hold your milk jug directly into the steam lance and turn the lever all the way up. In the first few seconds, the head of your steam lance should be very close to the surface of the milk. You will hear a slurping sound. This phase is also called "pulling". It is easiest if you hold the milk can with one hand and operate the steam lance with the other.
  4. Temperature control and "rolling": Once you have turned on the steam lance, you put this hand directly on the milk jug. Use it to control the temperature of the milk while foaming. After a few seconds of "pulling", switch to "rolling". In doing so, you move the milk jug further upwards and thus immerse the steam lance more into the milk. The sound changes from a loud slurping sound to a quieter, softer sound. During the "rolling" phase, no more air is added to the milk. Make sure that you position the steam lance so that the milk circulates nicely.
  5. Caution - HOT!: If you notice that the milk jug in your hand is getting uncomfortably hot, turn off the steam lance. Your milk should now be at a maximum temperature of 65°C. Over time, you will get a feel for when your milk is at the right temperature.
  6. Steam lance the second: Finally, operate your steam lance again to clean it of residue. Also wipe it with a damp cloth so that the milk does not stick to the lance.
  7. Always keep it moving: You should continue to process your finished milk foam as quickly as possible. If the pot is left standing for too long, the liquid milk part will separate from the foam and you won't be able to conjure up any latte art.


No portafilter coffee machine (almost) no problem

You don't have a portafilter coffee machine at home? No problem, even for less money you can make the best milk foam for your cappuccino with these methods. Learn more in this article.

Looking to purchase a portafilter machine? Here is a selection: