Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Do you ever wish you could re-create a barista style coffee? Do you long for the perfectly crafted caffeine fix you would get in the coffee shops? Well now you can with the help of Stokes guide to making the perfect cappuccino!

How to make a perfect cappuccino

The espresso

The perfect latte, cappuccino, or mocha all rely on one thing: the ability to make a perfect espresso. We use our Full of Beans espresso blend in our own caf├ęs - the mature thickness of Indonesian coffee combines with fruity South Americans and earthy African beans to give a perfectly balanced flavour with a strong, smooth, stimulating flavour.

  • Pre-heat a cappuccino cup with hot water. This keeps the drink warmer for longer later, and will prevent your espresso from being subject to temperature variations that can make it bitter.
  • Dispense a 7g portion of coffee into your porta filter. Tamp with good pressure ensuring the top is level to the fill line, and dust off any excess coffee.
  • Flush the group head to remove any old coffee and lock the porta filter into place.
  • The coffee starts to burn as soon as the porta filter is in place, so it is important to press your brew (or ‘one shot’) button as soon as you have locked it into place – the coffee will not stop flowing for 4-5 seconds, so you will have plenty of time to place a jug or cup under the spout.
  • Ideally, it should take about 24 seconds for about a shot of espresso to come out. Note the appearance of the espresso as it flows into the cup – it should look like a mouse’s tail. Your water temperature should be at about 92˚C, to extract the most flavour from your coffee and avoid burning it.
  • NOTE: if your espresso flows out too quickly, your will end up with a bitter-tasting coffee (to rectify this, adjust the grinder to produce a finer coffee, which will slow down the extraction time, and make sure you tamp it down with plenty of pressure) If it dribbles out too slowly, your coffee might taste burnt (adjust the grinder to make the grounds a little coarser. This will speed up the extraction time).
  • Note the colour, density and amount of crema. On the perfect espresso, you can identify the heart at the bottom, the body rising to create a crema.


It is important that you steam your milk properly, so that the milk is thick and creamy throughout. This will stop you from having a layer of hot milk and another of over-frothy foam, and will ensure that your finished drink tastes wonderful.

  • Always release a little steam from the steam wand first ( this is to get rid of any condensation or old milk that might be trapped in the wand – things you would rather not have in your finished drink) 
  • Begin with a cold jug and fresh, cold milk. This will allow you longer to bring the milk up to temperature, and to texturise the milk properly. Your jug should be at least 1/3 full of milk.
  • Place your jug under the steam wand so that the wand is submerged. Then, open the steam wand.
  • The steam quickly heats up the milk. Hold the wand in place near the surface of the milk (it might be easier for you if you tilt your jug slightly here). You will know that you are steaming correctly if you can see the milk swirling around the jug in a spiral motion, and if it is steaming almost silently. If the milk is screaming at you, your final drink will be of poor quality.
  • Steam the milk until it reaches about 65˚C (a thermometer is crucial here – overheated or burnt milk will not taste nice). At this stage, the milk will have puffed up by at least a third.
  • Before adding the milk to the cup or glass, give the jug a swirl and tap it firmly on the counter. This will get rid of any big bubbles (you want microfoam – microscopic bubbles – rather than big frothy bubbles) and leave you with smooth, glossy, creamy milk.

NOTE: We use whole milk at Stokes, as it tastes the best. As it contains the most fat, it is the most difficult to texturise, as the fats in milk tend to inhibit the foaming process. Freshness is also a factor, because milk fats do begin to break down into fatty acids which are even more destructive to milk foam. Always use the freshest milk that you can find.

Coffee Art
  • Once you have perfected your milk and espresso, you can begin to play with decoration and patterns. To produce a leaf:
  • Add a shot of espresso to a wide mouthed cappuccino cup.
  • Hold the cup on a slight angle, with the back of the cup raised up and the edge of the cup that is closest to you being slightly lower.
  • Pour your milk starting in the centre of the coffee. It might help you to rest the jug on the edge of the cup at this point.
  • As you pour, you will need to gradually but steadily raise the bottom of the jug so that the milk continues to pour at a consistent and even rate. The jug will be almost horizontal.
  • When the cup is about 2/3 full, give the jug a little side to side shake, and you should see a smooth, wiggly line of white appear against the brown of the coffee.
  • The shake should be slow – don’t get nervous and don’t try to rush things.
  • As you shake, the leaves should move away from you on the surface of the espresso. After 4-6 shakes, begin moving the jug towards the edge of the cup nearest to you, and make your shakes a little tighter.
  • Now, run a line of milk back through the centre of the wiggly line to create a stalk. Do this slowly, and elevate your pour a little to keep the stalk slim.
  • You should now have a beautiful leaf in your coffee.

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