The Secret Ingredient in My Low-Tech Cappuccino


The froth is the perfect warmth as it clings to my lips.   The nutmeg tastes earthy.   The espresso is strong enough without stealing the show from the froth.  And the sugar….  oh…

Starting the day with cappuccino is a fine way to practice a little self-care.  This is indulgence with a kick.


Low-Tech Cappuccino

  • 1/3 C  2% milk
  • 3 T finely ground espresso or dark roast
  • 1 t sugar – rounded and spilling over
  • pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon or both

Set the frothing cup on the edge of a burner so the handle doesn’t heat.  Set heat to medium high and add milk.  Swirl the cup once in awhile to make sure the milk doesn’t scorch.

While the milk is heating, bring water to a boil and scoop finely ground beans into a French Press.

Get out a thick mug or cup and saucer.  Save the dainty cup for tea.  Over-flow the rounded teaspoon of sugar into the bottom of the mug.

Swirl the milk again, as it heats.

When the water boils, remove from heat, letting the boil subside and pour about a 1/4 to 1/3 cup in the French Press, depending on how strong you like your espresso.

Swirl the milk.

Check email.

Pour bowls of cereal for the kids.

Check to see if milk is steaming.  You’ll be able to feel the warmth when you hold your hand over the cup.

Take the milk off the heat.

Slowly press the plunger on the French Press.

Over the kitchen sink, submerge the Aerolatte frothing wand in the top inch of the hot milk.  Watch the level of the milk rise as the foam increases.  It’s fun and somewhat magical, and it makes you feel a bit like a pro barista without the attitude.

Set the cup of froth aside for a minute to let the foam stiffen.



Pour the espresso over the sugar in the mug.  Stir.  With the same spoon, hold back the stiff foam as you pour the hot milk into the sweetened espresso.  Gently ladle the foam on top of the hot milky espresso goodness.  Keep spooning foam on top to form a peak.

Dust with nutmeg or cinnamon or the cinnamon/sugar stuff you use to make the kids’ cinnamon toast.


At this point, I let the kids watch a show while I sit by myself in the kitchen.

No one will see the foam on my lips.

No one will tell me not to add another small pinch of sugar.

No one will stand in front of me and tell me what I’ve done wrong, or what I am about to do wrong.

No one will roll his eyes at my sitting for a moment to take some time out of my morning to do something for myself.


As I take another sip and exhale from sheer contentment, I count my blessings.


No one will give me his list of what he expects me to do for him today.

No one will tell me how I over-cooked last night’s dinner.

No one will remind me that the floors need scrubbing or the laundry needs folding or the kids need haircuts.

No one will try to manipulate me or control me or dismiss me or take me for granted.

No one will tsk tsk in disgust when I use a spoon to scrape the last of the froth from the sides of the mug.



The secret ingredient in my cappuccino is freedom.







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  1. And how sweet it is!!!!

  2. Z,


    Even tho’ most mornings I drink my coffee black without sweetener.

  3. Dudette…

    I really really really dislike espresso/cappuccino.

    But I swear if I’m ever in your hometown, I will request you to make me a cup.

    Along with all of your aunts favorite recipes! :)

  4. And doesn’t that creamy, sweet, strong coffee taste a bit like peace of mind & self-respect, too? ;)

  5. Donna,

    When my aunt reads this one, she’s gonna bust a gut that anyone would refer to her recipes since she passed the wooden spoon to my uncle a few years back.

    Oh, honey. I’ll make you what you like. I’m an accommodator, remember?

  6. NM,

    YES! And the ability to breathe!

  7. When the feelings weren’t so free, did you ever want to tap the spoon on the cup or put your elbows on the table just because? I find my elbows up, cupping my mug, letting the steam hit my face while I wonder whatever it is I want to wonder. :)

  8. I need to add to that last one…so the rebellious thoughts were my internal fight to be free of the scrutiny, but the act of placing my elbows on the table without a thought of what others think of me is the return of self confidence.

  9. Great post as well as a wonderful cappucinno recipe :) Saving this one for the recipe ;-)

  10. Z,

    Yes! The return of self-confidence and acknowledging that we matter, too.

    And – for me – now there is the absence of the fear that framed everything.

  11. Jenn,

    Thanks Jenn. Hope you are feeling better.

  12. Hi Jesse,

    I love this post–I am a coffee fanatic. I love it most of all for the peace I sense in your words and spirit as you write. I am SO glad for Jen, Will, and you that you have that haven now.

    Keep on keepin’ on! You inspire me!

  13. Lynn,

    I hope you and I can share a couple of mugs of coffee together one day.

  14. Jesse,

    I will look forward to that day and the coffee! I would LOVE that!

    Hope you and yours are well. : )

  15. P.S. I need to clarify–MOST OF ALL I would really enjoy meeting you though I am sure we would have fabulous coffee too! : )

  16. Lynn,

    :) I look forward to that day, too, and not because of the coffee.

  17. And just like that, I went on Amazon and bought myself an electric brother >:)

  18. Christina,

    A frother? Or an electric typewriter? ;)

  19. Mmm, sounds like it tastes extra delicious. All that peace and tranquility that comes with that creamy, frothy goodness — divine! (Also, must seek out one of those handy little aerolatte thingamajigs! Looks like fun!)

  20. Meredith,

    We use our thingamajig every day to create thick froth on top of warm chocolate milk. Yum. Now Jenny doesn’t know how to drink “warm chocolate milky” without froth. ;)

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