Working at a variety of different cafes in both Milwaukee and Atlanta, I have seen a myriad of styles and methods behind preparing drinks. Each style and method are very personal to the barista in question, and therefore, those methods become a law to him or her, intimately attached to his or her own being. While I understand that feeling, I find so often that this attitude toward beverage preparation can be a real hindrance to the standardization of coffee across the globe. If you order a cappuccino in Frankfurt, Germany, for instance, will you receive that exact recipe once you order in Portland, Oregon? Maybe you wouldn’t. Although many might find this kind of diversity quite alluring, a lack of standardization promotes a lack of fastidiousness not only toward coffee preparation, but even in other areas of service and cafe maintenance; therefore, I would like to offer a bit of resolution.
If you have ever ordered a cappuccino before, you may take note of the primary feature: a substantial layer of foam riding the surface. Having a clear vessel will even more clearly evidence this point. I would like to congratulate you on your result: you have received what you paid for. Unlike a latte, which consists of approximately 1/4 espresso, 5/8 steamed milk, and 1/8 foam, a cappuccino revels in its reputation as a foamy beverage.
Despite these quintessential characteristics, however, the success of a cappuccino in achieving such a ratio depends on a few nuances.
To some people, terms are just labels and categories ascribed to ideas, shackling them to one person’s point of view and thus limiting their greater potential. As limiting as these words may be, they also preserve the foundation upon which new discoveries are built. Remove the foundation, and be certain that the potential energy of everything above it will result in catastrophe. We can glean from experience and learn from the past. That is why I feel the need, at least with regard to cappuccinos, for laying down the law.