The name comes from the Cappuchin friars, referring to the colour of their robes similar to when milk is added to espresso (note not white.) A traditional Italian-styled cappuccino is a 5 or 6oz drink based on thirds,
1/3rd espresso, 1/3rd steamed milk, 1/3rd textured milk (microfoam)
Textured milk is the result of properly steaming milk and stretching it while introducing air to create a thick, rich, velvety smooth liquid which feels glorious in the mouth with a consistency of very thick warm delicious cream.
There should be no visible bubbles –just pure smooth deliciousness. A cappuccino is a perfect little drink that mingles the coffee and the milk so that the coffee comes through the milk and is smoothed out by the milk’s natural sweetness. No sugar required. It takes a considerable amount of skill and practise to produce the perfect microfoam texture in milk that will allow a barista to pour latte art.
BAD CAPPUCCINO: You might see this kind of cappuccino at coffee shops that believe the right way to do this is to spoon out gobs of foam onto your drink to produce a hot foamy mess. The natural sweetness of the milk is often destroyed by overheating it to produce that much foam.
There should be no froth piled on top of anyone’s cappuccino because foam is filled with bubbles, and, what are bubbles filled with? That’s right…air. Ask yourself; “What does air taste like?” That’s right…air tastes like nothing!
It’s like taking a straw and blowing bubbles into chocolate milk and then saying “VOILA! it’s chocolate mousse” That’s the diffence between a good cappuccino and an bad cappuccino.
Very little skill is required to produce scalded foamy milk and plop it over espresso. This kind of display should be a deal breaker when you go to a café for the first time. When a cappuccinos look like that, chances are that the milk is ruined by scalding and that you will have to add sugar and or sweeten it with a flavour shot. You should be looking to try for a different café that knows how to pour you a proper cappuccino.