How can you check if a Cappuccino coffee was prepared correctly? What specific traits will a properly prepared Cappuccino display that poorly made Cappuccino's will not?

I've heard that when you it stands still upside down (with perfectly steamed milk and froth is insanely heavenly), then it's perfect. Is that true?

  • 2
    I voted to close because this is too opinion based, Cappuccino styles vary and what is perfect for one person is not perfect for others.
    – Justin C
    Feb 14 '15 at 15:09
  • Changed 'perfect' to 'good', does it helps? Or there is simply no way to recognise good or bad Cappuccino?
    – kenorb
    Feb 14 '15 at 16:03
  • 1
    I have made an edit I hope helps
    – Justin C
    Feb 14 '15 at 17:29
  • For comparison see cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/36465/… It's about espresso, but still a good example. You can write a list of fairly specific criteria, though there's still room for opinion ("bitter, but not too bitter") and perhaps some points are debateable or more a matter of tradition. If you think that sort of thing is valuable knowledge to have on the site, keep questions like this open!
    – Cascabel
    Feb 14 '15 at 18:40
  • 1
    A certain amount of subjectivity is okay; in cases like this, I think it's more important for the answers to try and remain objective than for the question to be edited. eg. don't answer saying "the coffee is perfect if it is made with a dark roast" which is very much an opinion answer "the cappuccino is perfect if the microfoam is [whatever foam should be like to define it as a cappuccino]"... I don't have a good example for cappuccino, but you get the idea.
    – Sam Whited
    Feb 17 '15 at 1:18

My take on this is to focus on the mechanics and preparation, which I think is an important part (though perhaps not all) of a cappuccino being properly made.

Fundamentally, a cappuccino consists of espresso and steamed milk (see distinction from a latte). The World Barista Championship specifies the proper construction in their beverage definitions (.PDF) in §2.2.2. It consists of a single-shot of espresso (25 mL / ~0.8 fl. oz.), textured (steamed) milk, and at least 1 cm of foam (other places suggest 2 cm). Total volume is 150-180 mL / 5-6 fl. oz. To the extent that you subscribe to the WBC being a benchmark, the components, volume, and amount of foam define physical properties of a properly made cappuccino. It also states that the components should be in "harmonious balance."

The WBC states that aspects of the service are also crucial, such as

  • visual appearance, such as that the beverage should fill the cup;
  • served with accoutrements, such as "spoon, napkin and unflavoured water";
  • logistical aspects of drinking, such as temperature and holding the cup.

Beyond that, there's a lot of variability that might lean closer to personal preference. Some other topics mentioned at WBC and Wikipedia include being "wet" (referring to the foam, versus "dry"), and "traditional" (solid central circle of white foam, versus having latte art).

Other recipes for cappuccino at home vary greatly:

  • Folgers suggests to use equal parts of coffee (French press or drip), steamed milk, and foam. You'll get a rather different outcome from using coffee instead of espresso.
  • illy suggests quantities for a more traditional preparation, using espresso and steamed/foamed milk.

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