Cappuccinos are known for their foamy tops that are sometimes sprinkled with cinnamon or cocoa. They’re certainly an aesthetically appealing beverage and they taste great, but you may find yourself wondering… what exactly are cappuccinos?
One of the biggest questions that comes to mind is whether or not cappuccinos have caffeine. Perhaps you need to keep a close eye on your daily caffeine intake or you’re genuinely curious about what that cappuccino special you tried recently at your local coffee shop had in it. Either way, the answer to this question is yes, a proper cappuccino does have caffeine in it.
The caffeine content in cappuccinos is just the tip of the iceberg for this delicious beverage. We’ll uncover more about just how much caffeine is in a cappuccino, this coffee beverage’s origins, and what makes for the perfect cappuccino. Whether you’re new to the coffee scene or consider yourself an espresso connoisseur, you’ll find all you need to know about this tasty drink right here.
The history of the cappuccino
Before we dive into what a cappuccino is, let’s quickly go into its history. It is said that we can credit Luigi Bezzera, an Italian barista, for what we now know as the cappuccino. In the early 1900s, the espresso machine was fresh on the market, and Bezzera decided to try his hand at a little experimentation with the process.
By adding milk to the brewing process, he was able to turn espresso into a beverage that could be more universally enjoyed by people with different preferences. After all, a straight cup of espresso isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (see what I did there?).
All jokes aside, we must move on to discuss what the word cappuccino actually means. In all actuality, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but rather, is named after something.
The prevailing theory is that cappuccinos are named for the Capuchin monks who are said to have ordered “capuchins,” a combination of espresso and milk, at their local coffee shop. Since the color of their robe closely matched the color of this drink, it was only natural that the drink would be named after them. Over time, the moniker morphed slightly and turned into what we call it today: cappuccino.
What is a cappuccino?
You may have caught on at this point that a cappuccino is made from espresso and milk, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Lots of coffee beverages are made from this combination, so what may seem like minor differences in these drinks can actually make a major difference in the final product.
For a tried and true cappuccino, you need three things:
- One part espresso
- One part steamed milk
- One part milk foam
Many people choose to sprinkle their cappuccinos with cinnamon or cocoa powder, but these are completely optional. They aren’t essential to making a cappuccino, though they can be quite effective at adding even more depth of flavor to this beverage.
How much caffeine is in a cappuccino?
By now we know that cappuccinos take ⅓ espresso, ⅓ steamed milk, and ⅓ milk foam, but there’s no exclusively set size for this coffee drink. The most popular sizes call for either one or two shots of espresso, but we’ll cover the caffeine content of a few sizes just to give the full picture.
A cappuccino with one shot (about one ounce) of espresso would also include two ounces of milk; one of those ounces being steamed and the other made into milk foam. One shot of espresso is only going to clock in at about 80mg of caffeine. For context, 400mg of caffeine per day is considered safe, so a cappuccino this size shouldn’t put you over the edge.
If you opt for another common cappuccino size, which calls for two shots (two ounces) of espresso, then you can expect to consume closer to 150mg of caffeine in one shot. This still isn’t close to the 400mg per day that is considered safe, but just keep in mind that this is a relatively high concentration of caffeine for what would be a six-ounce drink.
If you really need a pick-me-up, a cappuccino with three shots (three ounces) of espresso will pack a punch of about 230mg of caffeine. As long as you aren’t drinking several of these a day and you aren’t very sensitive to caffeine, you likely won’t feel any adverse effects, but it will give your system quite the jolt after drinking it.
How to make a cappuccino
While the components of a cappuccino are relatively simple, they require some skill to make properly. Brewing the espresso is easy enough, but it’s the milk frothing that requires time and attention.
If using an espresso machine, you want to brew your desired amount of espresso to start. Then, using twice the amount of milk as espresso, use the machine’s steam wand to froth the milk by placing it just under the surface of the milk. Once it has become foamy and reaches just around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, move the steam wand further into the milk and continue to steam until it hits around 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
This careful process is what creates both steamed milk and milk foam. For the final step, pour the milk over the espresso to top off your drink. As mentioned before, you can sprinkle the top with cocoa powder or a seasonal spice, but that is completely optional.
The perfect pick-me-up
Now that we know cappuccinos are made with espresso, we can understand why these drinks undoubtedly have caffeine in them. While decaf espresso is available on the market, it is not as widely sold.
The bottom line is if you’re ordering a cappuccino from your local coffee shop, you can expect it to have caffeine in it. The biggest determining factor in how much caffeine you get is what size you order.
It’s always a good idea to keep tabs on what you’re putting in your body, so be sure to keep this in mind the next time you go to order a cappuccino. There’s no shame in ordering a cappuccino with three shots of espresso when you really need it, it’s probably just a good idea to not make a habit of it!