From the moment the velvety foam touches your lips and you take that first sip of the warm, delicious espresso you know that a cappuccino is as close to heaven as you’ll ever get while still on this earth. The perfect combination of velvety foam mixing with espresso as they swirl their way to your mouth is a truly wonderful experience. When I lived in Paris, I would regularly indulge myself during my afternoon break from classes at the Sorbonne with a delightful cappuccino from the neighboring café, Café de la Nouvelle Marie. While the waiter would look at me a little funny for ordering a coffee with milk after lunch, I didn’t care and would wait in heavenly anticipation for my frothy treat. Not only could I sit outside and watch stylish Parisians stroll by for hours, there was something comforting, rewarding and oh so delicious about that little porcelain cup filled with espresso and foamed milk. Through stressful exams and homesickness, cappuccinos had the ability to calm my nerves and make everything seem ok.
Cappuccinos have long been a favorite beverage across Europe. The drink is Italian in origin and gets its name from the word for hood in Italian (cappuccio). In 1901, Luigi Bezzera became the first Italian to patent the cappuccino machine. After WWII, the drink spread in popularity all over Europe. Cappuccinos differ from the more popular Americanized lattes by using much less steamed milk and a higher proportion of espresso to foam ratio. There are two types of cappuccinos—dry and wet. Dry cappuccinos use more milk than normal and a dry cappuccino uses more milk than normal. Which one you order will depend on how creamy you like your coffee. Either way, I love it when they sprinkle a light dusting of chocolate or cinnamon on top of the foam.
The most important part of making the perfect cappuccino, however, lies all in technique. And cappuccinos are some of the most difficult beverages to make. The barista creates a microfaom with the steamed milk by introducing tiny bubbles of air into the milk. The result is a velvety texture and hint of sweetness. In my opinion, the perfect cappuccino is neither too wet nor too dry and has that perfect layer of creamy, velvety (but not too airy) foam over the perfect shot of espresso.
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If you are looking for a great cappuccino in Paris, head for the green-awning at Café de la Nouvelle Mairie where you can sit back, relax and sip a perfectly foamed cappuccino with the perfect dusting of bittersweet chocolate on top.
Café de la Nouvelle Mairie
19-21, rue des Fossés-Saint-Jacques
Tel. +33 1 44 07 04 41
Find it: Located near the Pantheon where rue de l’Estrapade turns into rue des Fossés-Saint-Jacques.
Photo by: Kathleen