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Cappuccino 101: 5 Tips to Making the Perfect Cup

I make a really good cappuccino. This is a fact.

Now perhaps you’re thinking, “A cappuccino is easy. It’s just espresso with a pile of foam milk.”

No, no, no. I’ve sipped some regretful cups more than once in my life, so it’s definitely possible to make a bad one. It’s all about ingredients and craft. I discovered five easy keys to transforming a sloppy cup into one you’ll savor:

Good espresso. Strong and fresh is the key. LavAazza makes a decent one. Intelligentsia’s Black Cat is another.

Cold milk. This is the key to frothing well. I fill 1/3 a mug with milk and stick it in the freezer as the espresso is brewing. Also, if you’re using skim milk, I recommend getting organic. Why? It tastes a bit creamier. Organic Valley is my pick.

Cinnamon. Dash at the bottom of an empty mug, then pour in the espresso.

Filter. After frothing, use a large spoon to filter the liquid portion first into the espresso then gently scoop the foam on top. This seems obvious, but I’ve actually seen baristas dump frothed milk into the espresso. Fail. It’s sloppy with too many air bubbles.

Cinnamon. The ultimate spice is a nice way to add a finishing touch.

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Sip and Snap: Salon’s Coffee Art Contest

W 9th's Phoenix Coffee, Cleveland, Ohio

Ever watch a the baristi autograph a caffee espresso with milk foam art in the shape of a leaf or tree? I remember watching such creation at the Ace Hotel‘s Stumptown in midtown Manhattan. It’s truly mesmerizing, and Salon is recognizing this beautiful latte art with their “Great Coffee Art Contest.”

A lot goes into those carefully crafted designs. Says Ninth Street Espresso owner Ken Nye on salon.com, “The point is to learn to control everything at the coffee bar — the beans, the roast, the right grind, the water, the timing, the machine — everything.”

Before you sip and savor, take a snap, and enter the contest. Here’s the snippet: Snap a photo of your favorite coffee art and email to coffee@salon.com. Include the the coffee shop, date and the time you took the photo. The contest ends April 6. Top five entries win prizes from Bodum.



Sunday A.M. Need. Coffee. Now.

Sometimes I’m a woman of few words. Usually this is due to a lack of caffeine…or cold weather. So I’m heading to one of my favorite spots in Cleveland for a lovely French Pressed cup of Joe and one-on-one with my gal, L.B. (hint, hint, check back later for a review about Le Petite Triangle). And in the meantime, I leave you with this album, because I’ve got one thing on my mind: quenching my coffee thirst.