I love cappuccinos. Actually, I love well-made cappuccinos. Which means that I don’t love many.
Being blunt – Australians generally make terrible cappuccinos. To make it worse, New Zealanders tend to make really good cappuccinos.
And the reason isn’t rocket science; It’s temperature.The perfect cappuccino should be about 65°C.
But I’ve asked it to be 65° and one lady said “oh, you like it really hot”. Most of the time they just ignore me and give me a bad coffee.
But why 65°? Go above 70° and you burn the milk. The froth isn’t creamy, the milk is thinner, the flavour changes. It becomes a flat white.
A cappuccino is meant to have froth. And if that means that it isn’t piping hot, then that’s how it has to be. So next time you ask for a hot cappuccino, please do me a favour – don’t. Ask for a hot flat white.
And I will look forward to a creamy cappuccino with a nice thick layer of froth that I can carve with my spoon.
What I find really odd is that finding 65° isn’t that hard. Many baristas use their hand to judge the temperature. It’s the “oh, that’s just a bit too hot to touch, I think I may burn myself” temperature. When it’s in the cup it’s the just drinkable temperature (not the “I’ll save it for this afternoon and it may have cooled down by then” temperature). It’s the temperature at which you see nice thick froth. It’s the temperature at which you don’t see big bubbles. It’s the temperature where the thermometer goes past 60° (because if you wait for 65° it just keeps on going beyond 70 and it’s history).
BTW, I know there’s quality of beans, the grind setting, the freshness of the beans, how you can’t store ground coffee for long, the compactness of the coffee, only taking the crème and not overdrawing the coffee. I also know that chocolate always makes it taste better (well, that’s probably my bias). But let’s get the simple stuff right and not butcher the milk.