Cappuccino

With the weather getting cooler, you’ll most likely be wanting to be curling up indoors on a cold morning. What better thing to go with change of seasons than a coffeehouse specialty drink brewed right at home. Either by yourself or with friends, you can create some special drinks with some basic equipment you might already have in your kitchen. Try this for an early brunch with friends, served in the morning by the fire.

IL CAPPUCCINO
Making a cappuccino and the frothy milk (called schiuma) is as easy as boiling milk and making coffee. Really, no expensive coffee machines needed. That’s right. Industrial-strength machines made in Italy create some of the creamiest froth, but the one made in your kitchen comes a rather close second. On our last visit to Rome, we discovered Bar Route 66 on via Cola di Rienzo in Prati, a straight shot over the Tevere from the Piazza del Popolo. The barista, Enzo, made us a cappuccino; the kind you never forget. The swirls of coffee in the milk bring to mind the work of a Renaissance master. All for €2 (GBP 1,65/USD 2,75).

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Add in the cost of the ticket to get to Rome and it’s far more economical choice to brew it right at home. Maybe it’s not the Michelangelo of cappuccini, but its a worthy addition to the canon of great coffeehouse drinks. We’ve even served this to in-the-know Italians, and even they are impressed with the results. Meaning? It’s delizioso.

THE MATERIALS
stovetop espresso maker (caffettiera)
4-cup French press
2 cappuccino cups (tazze)
skewer
finely ground espresso beans for brewing (Arabica beans)
2% milk (latte parzialmente scremato)

THE PROCESS

1. Place a cup of milk in a saucepan.

2. Meanwhile, using fresh water, fill up lower chamber of the espresso maker 2/3 full. Put the coffee holder in the chamber and fill up with finely ground coffee. Tamp down the coffee slightly, being sure the grounds have not escaped the holder. Screw on top and place on a medium-low heat source.

3. Warm milk over a medium heat source. Remove from heat just before boiling.

4. Meanwhile, the coffee will start to brew. Keep an eye on it; the process will finish in less than a minute. If you can count two seconds between each spurt at the end, turn heat off. The coffee is ready.

5. Pour milk into the French press. Place a clean dish towel over the metal lid, where your hand will rest (this part gets very hot). With your other hand, plunge the filter up and down for a minute, until doubled in volume. Let rest for a minute as the froth will take on its characteristic texture after it rests.

6. Decant the coffee into two cappuccino cups, reserving a teaspoon for decorating. You should fill each cup no more than half full.

7. With a large soup spoon, take the finest cream and stain the coffee with it. Repeat until you have used up all of the froth, divided evenly between the two cups.

8. Take the flat end of the skewer and plunge it in the reserved coffee to make a dot. Repeat as necessary to make a design. With the pointy end of the skewer, run the tip in the same direction through each circle, drawing through each to create a heart. (You must lift the skewer each time for each dot to achieve the effect).

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
•Start off with a large circle of 8 dots; as you get the feel of it, you can get fancier with the designs.