When visiting your local coffee shop, you expect the drinks you’re served to be perfect. This is a lot of pressure to place on a barista, but those gods and goddesses of the coffee world seem to deal with these situations with ease. For those of us that aren’t pros at making coffee-based drinks, we don’t understand the importance of each step. That is until we buy ourselves a coffee machine and decide it’s time to learn it at home.
When making a cappuccino, the milk is an important factor. If it isn’t the right temperature, it can easily change how you feel about your drink by changing the texture, stability, and even taste. The recommended milk temperature for a cappuccino is 55 to 65 degrees Celsius (131 to 149 degrees Fahrenheit). The big question is why does this temperature make a cappuccino so tasty? Let’s take a look at cappuccino milk, the importance of its temperature, and how you can use this information to make a great one at home.
How It Works
The process of foaming milk can be tricky for those of us who aren’t experts like the baristas in our life. Most of us don’t even know what happens. Simply put, foaming milk is when water vapor and air are forced into the milk while it’s heating. It’s the chemicals inside the milk, the proteins and fats, that are so important to this process being a success.
The proteins found in milk are whey protein and casein proteins. For your cappuccino, the whey protein is the one you’re most concerned about. When heating milk, whey protein structures denature or unravel. When this happens a sphere is created around the air. It’s this formation that makes the bubbles and texture of milk we want in our cappuccino.
Fats are known to destabilize milk. This is why the best foams are usually made with fat-free or skimmed milk. The fats are important though. They are what gives the milk foam the mouthfeel and richness we enjoy in our cappuccino.
Getting It Right
As we’ve already mentioned, the coffee beverage gods and goddesses recommend milk be heated between 55 to 65 degrees Celsius (131 to 149 degrees Fahrenheit) for near perfection. When heated to this temperature the absorption of air bubbles helps keep your milk stable. At this temperature, you avoid reactions with the proteins. You’ll have the preferred texture and sweetness that is expected from the milk in your cappuccino.
When the Milk Is Too Cold
At temperatures lower than those recommended, your milk is unstable. When this happens, the air bubbles are odd sizes and often merge. You’ll also notice that the froth is quite thin, which isn’t what you want when it comes to a coffee beverage, especially your cappuccino.
When the Milk Is Too Hot
It’s easy to understand why you wouldn’t want your milk overheated. First of all, it can burn your mouth which ruins your drinking experience. It can also make your milk too watery which damages the overall mouthfeel and texture of your drink. Prolonged heating also damages the subtle sweetness and flavor your froth provides. You may also notice an unpleasant smell or brownish color that isn’t desirable.
As you can see, the temperature of your cappuccino milk is crucial to enjoying your beverage. If you’re new to the game, expect some failures. It’s difficult to use a new coffee machine and home with a successful run your first time. You will learn. Before long, if you follow the advice of baristas around the world, you’ll be making great cappuccino you can be proud of.
Featured Image Credit: NickyPe, Pixabay