Making a great tasting cappuccino is almost as easy as making the perfect latte (  The crucial aspect of the whole thing is to make sure the extracted coffee, the shot of espresso, is exactly to your liking.

Traditionally, a cappuccino is served lukewarm and consists of one third coffee, one third steamed milk and one third creamy froth.

You will need a coffee machine capable of frothing milk.  It does not have to be an overly expensive coffee machine, as long as it performs the necessary steps, and gives you ultimate control over every one of them.

You can use either pre-ground coffee or you can purchase coffee beans and grind them yourself.  Some of the more expensive machines are available with a grinder attached, but if your coffee machine is not equipped with a grinder, separate coffee grinders are available at very reasonable prices.

There are heaps of different types of beans available and it is just a matter of personal  preference.   It is even possible to purchase flavoured coffee beans.  A popular choice here is vanilla infused beans.  The coffee beans are apparently soaked in vanilla for a certain amount of time before being dried and packaged.  These beans will appeal to some, but for a nice quality cappuccino or latte, I would recommend sticking with a good quality Arabica bean.

Grinding the beans is important to the overall result.  You need a very fine espresso blend.  Too fine and it will feel powdery.  The grinder will probably have a setting on it for the different blends.  A cappuccino requires an espresso blend.  The ground coffee needs to be the right consistency.  If it is too fine, when extracted, the water will not pass through the coffee quickly enough, causing the coffee to be bitter.  If the blend is too coarse the water will flow through it too quickly during extraction, which will lead to watery and weak tasting coffee.

Once you have the coffee sorted, pour some milk into your frothing jug making sure the frothing attachment is connected to the steaming wand and it’s ready to go.  If you are making a single cappuccino, you will need to fill the single filter with ground coffee.  If making two cappuccinos, use the double filter.  The coffee needs to be tamped down in the filter.  This is a very important step and if you don’t get it right, it can ruin the coffee.  It is a matter of trial and error really and a lot will depend on personal choice.  Broadly, the coffee needs to be tamped down firmly, but not too firmly.  Not firmly enough will result in weak coffee with none of the desired crema on top of the shot of coffee, and too firmly will result in strong, bitter tasting coffee.

Once you are satisfied, steam the milk using the frothing attachment.  Remember you will require steamed milk and froth, so don’t froth all the milk in the jug.  That done, extract the coffee into your cup.  You will need about 30mls of coffee for a single cappuccino.  Then pour steamed milk into the coffee.  It is best poured down the side of the cup if you can.  Fill the cup up to about two thirds full with the steamed milk, then top it off with the creamy froth.  The froth is then sprinkled with chocolate. 

Simple.  The perfect cappuccino.  It may just need some experimentation to achieve the desired tasting shot of coffee, but once that has been done, you’ll end up with a perfect cappuccino every time.