Introduction: Easy Cappuccino

Picture of Easy Cappuccino

Is it a caffe latte? Is it a cappuccino? No, it’s a fakeaccino – easy, cheap and delicious!

Do you love cappuccino or frothy caffe latte, but have no fancy, expensive, bulky espresso machine?

Now you can enjoy a mug of this style of coffee at home, easily and cheaply, using just a coffee plunger (Cafetiere or French Press)* and a microwave. (Coffee purists, don’t protest- you can go the whole hog with your $500 machine if you like!)

I have one plunger at home and another at work, so I can have my fakeaccino whenever I like!

*My mum actually invented this method for frothing the milk- it's the best I've found and works for hot chocolate as well as coffee.

Step 1: What You Need

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You will need:

Large cup or mug (I use a mug which widens at the top, this seems to work better). If you want to use a smaller cup, just adapt the quantities.

Small plunger-style coffee jug (the kind that has a glass jug that lifts out of its holder, and a fine mesh plunger). I got mine for $4.

Microwave oven

Strong coffee :

~ brewed if you prefer- (you can use your plunger, then put the coffee in a pot or cup to re-heat and wash out the plunger thoroughly). The notes in italics in these instructions refer to the brewed coffee option.

or - gasp-

~ instant coffee (I actually prefer instant, to my mother and my son’s horror)

Milk (light or full fat as you prefer; not super fresh is better for frothing, apparently)

• Sugar/sweetener if you want

• Powdered chocolate/cinnamon etc to sprinkle on top if you like

Step 2: Pre-heat Your Mug or Coffee

Picture of Pre-heat Your Mug or Coffee

Boil your kettle.
If you are using instant coffee, pour boiling water into your mug and leave to stand for a minute.

If you are using pre-brewed (extra strong) coffee, pour it into your mug to about 1/3 full, then heat it in your microwave oven (you will need to judge when it is very hot, but not boiling as this is not good for your coffee).

Step 3: Heat Your Milk

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Put about  3/4 "cup"  or 170ml of milk into your glass plunger jug. It should be about 2/5 full ideally.

As soon as the microwave oven is free or while your mug is pre-heating, put the glass jug of milk (just the jug, not the holder -no metal) into your microwave and zap on high until hot but not boiling (mine takes 70-80 seconds).

Note- check how long your microwave oven takes- make sure it's good and hot, but if it starts to boil, you'll end up with a skin on your milk. Be very careful with the glass jug - I've dropped a few!

Step 4: Get Your Coffee Ready

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While your milk is heating,

Make instant coffee in your mug:

• Tip the “pre-heating” water out of your mug
• Add coffee powder/granules – more than usual (I use a heaped large teaspoon). I add my sweetener/sugar at this stage.
• Pour in enough boiling water to fill the mug 1/3. Stir to dissolve coffee powder etc.
-or if you are using pre-brewed coffee, you may want to put a cover (e.g. a saucer) on top to keep it hot.

Step 5: Froth Your Milk

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Remove your plunger jug from the microwave and replace the plunger in the jug. Agitate it vigorously 10-20 times to froth up your milk.  

Step 6: Add Frothed Milk to Coffee

Picture of Add Frothed Milk to Coffee

Pour your hot frothy milk carefully into your mug so it sits on top of your coffee (cappuccino style) or so it blends in (caffe latte style).

Add a little more boiling water
to top it up.

Step 7: Serve and Enjoy

Picture of Serve and Enjoy

Add sprinkles to the top if you wish, serve and enjoy while it’s hot!

(Note - give your plunger & jug a quick rinse/leave to soak before you serve your coffee, so they’ll be easy to wash later).

Step 8: Notes

Notes on cleaning-

Cleaning your plunger is important (but still easier than cleaning a whole expresso machine):

Make sure the jug and plunger are clean before you use them for the milk- no coffee grounds or milk deposits.

You may need to clean the mesh of the plunger with a brush or cloth if your milk was too hot and formed a skin. Use warm water and mild detergent, and rinse well.


SheenaB8 (author)2016-04-17

Alternative method

SheenaB8 (author)SheenaB82016-04-17

If you want to use your cafetière for coffee or perhaps use a coffee bag - make your fresh coffee - 3/4 mug. Meantime heat the milk in a mug in the microwave - when it's boiled pour into a 1-2 lt clean milk (or lemonade bottle) put top on tightly - shake really well - be careful as it can burn your hand if you're not careful whilst shaking... It's VERY HOT! It will have lots of froth when you pour onto your coffee - sprinkle with chocolate if desired - it's as good as Starbucks! Adjust for latte!

kbear99 (author)SheenaB82016-08-19

Wow I like this shake shake idea -- even easier and no need for a press. I'll have to look for a glass bottle for this. Like anything else it must not be capped when microwaving. Must also be careful when opening the cap after shaking.

People should also be careful when heating liquids in a microwave. I know water can store pent up energy and explode unexpectedly. I've seen it happen to someone and it caused serious burns. Best to put an object like a chopstick in the liquid while it microwaves to dissipate the energy.

Puzzledd (author)SheenaB82016-04-18

Interesting idea, thanks for sharing - though you'd have to be very careful when shaking and taking the lid off the bottle ;)

KalliA1 (author)2016-06-29

I use extra creamy cool it

AlannaA (author)2015-07-24

I love your idea and easy instructions! Will definitely try this one at home. Coffee making is what I also do love most. I don't use expensive machines when it comes to making coffee drinks. In order for me to create a quick foamy milk, I always use this handled battery operated milk frother which I have found at amazon Easy to use and won't occupy too much space.

Puzzledd (author)AlannaA2015-07-24

Hi AlannaA, thanks for your comments.
I have tried a battery-operated frother but it was a cheapie and didn't work too well (and then it broke).
I also had a hand-pumped one but I find the coffee press gives more pressure and better froth (even when I use it in a tall china mug after breaking the glass jug!).
Hope you have fun making your coffee :)

lisandj (author)2015-04-30

I tried, didnt come out good

Puzzledd (author)lisandj2015-05-01

Sorry it didn't work well for you. It can take a bit of practice, and sometimes I find the milk doesn't froth as well as other times. I think the milk can vary depending on the cows and their diet! Some people say light milk works better than full cream milk, but I now prefer full cream - and then some milk companies add extra stuff ('permeates' to the milk, too...

Omar Elnadry (author)2015-04-02

I don't know when can I pour water and what is pre-heating please reply my

** I am sorry i can't speak english well

Puzzledd (author)Omar Elnadry2015-04-03

Hi Omar, pre-heating is just to make the cup or mug hot - you put hot water into your cup and leave it in for 2-3 minutes, then tip it out and make your coffee. You don't have to do this, but I like my coffee hot, so if I make it in a cold mug, the coffee isn't really hot.

You pour the boiling water when you make instant coffee (or you can make coffee however you usually make it- just don't put too much in your cup or mug- leave room for the frothy milk).

I hope that helps - please ask if you have any more questions :)

triumphman (author)2012-01-06

Great idea! I always wanted a quick way to froth up the hot milk or 1/2 & 1/2 ! I have many french presses of various sizes. One small one makes one cup of coffee. It is perfect to froth up the hot milk. Thank you so much for the idea! Top of the Lorrry to you mate!

Puzzledd (author)triumphman2012-01-06

Glad you like the idea- people at work look at me a bit strangely at times but it's worth it ;)

kemoshea713 (author)2011-04-06

I actually tried this when we first moved into our house, and it tastes pretty close to machine quality. It just seemed like a little much of a hassel to get everything together and wait. I went and bought a $40 espresso maker with a steamer, and now it takes me less than 5 miutes to make 2 large lattes or cappucinos even early in the morning. I guess I'm a little too lazy to try other ways again.

If the machine ever breaks, I'll know that there is always another good way to make drinks. : )

Puzzledd (author)kemoshea7132011-04-07

Thanks for your comment:) Your $40 espresso machine sounds a bargain. I know a couple of people who have paid over $500 for theirs! I actually have an espresso machine in the cupboard but can't be bothered to go through all the process with ground coffee etc (plus my milk never frothed much with the machine). Guess it depends what you get into the habit of doing ;)

mollycule (author)2011-02-03

I know this is from a while ago, but I wanted to say thanks for posting, this makes an awesome soy cappucino! We have an espresso machine, but honestly I love the foam I get from using my little press pot and unsweetened soy milk.

Also with you on the instant coffee. I bought a little container of Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso to have coffee while camping, thinking that it was going to be an awful substitute but I can't camp without coffee... but it was delicious and I use it at home all the time! Sure its not the best espresso you can get, but its reliably tasty without all the work.

Puzzledd (author)mollycule2011-02-03

Thanks for the comments... I hadn't tried it with soy milk (never got use to the flavour) and I like low-fat milk ).

I took my kit away with me (just the plunger part and a tall mug that fits it) last weekend on a group camp, as I really like my fakeaccino.

Your "instant" coffee sound pretty flash to me- I just use Nescafe Blend 43/Gold mix, cheap & easy. I do love a really good cafe latte, though ;)

I'm so pleased the press "frothing" works for you!

danielcervantesph (author)2010-10-03

excellent idea for a french press
you are good

fungus amungus (author)2010-10-01

Interesting trick. I am also a little shocked at the instant coffee, but I am not one to doubt another's satisfaction.

I'd try that with my own french press, but mine is much bigger. I use a 12-cup press at home. Might just use a hand blender. Also, Ikea sells a frother for $2.

Puzzledd (author)fungus amungus2010-10-01

I've tried a stick blender, whisk , small expresso machine and a special frother (like a small plunger in a tube, made by a coffee company) but nothing worked as well as this. I was a bit obsessed!
I ended up buying a $4 cafetiere, as I think it may have been called- and it works brilliantly.
The frother was OK, though, better than nothing. You can eat your milk in a tall mug to use it. Thanks for the reminder!

tkjtkj (author)Puzzledd2010-10-02

hey ..thanks for this 'structable .. gonna try it now ..

(oh , and there isn't any 'x' in espresso ... nearly everyone thinks there is, but there isn't don't feel bad ;)

Puzzledd (author)tkjtkj2010-10-02

Thanks for the correction- you'd think with all the Italian heritage in Melbourne , we'd have our terminology more accurate, but "expresso" is the norm, as is "latte", rather than caffe latte.

Puzzledd (author)Puzzledd2010-10-02

Oh, that should be HEAT your milk in a tall mug, not eat it!

Screamo (author)2010-10-02

yumm! i love coffee but im not allowed to drink it :(

Puzzledd (author)Screamo2010-10-02

This works a treat for hot chocolate, too, if you're allowed that... ;)

jhines0042 (author)2010-10-01

I believe your "coffee plunger" to be a French Press. Is that correct or is this something different than a French Press?

Nice tip, I will have to try this at home with my Keurig machine coffee and see how it works.

Puzzledd (author)jhines00422010-10-01

Could be - I haven't heard of a French Press; we just talk about plunger coffee when we make it that way. You certainly press down on the plunger to make the coffee...
Thanks for your comment:)

killerjackalope (author)Puzzledd2010-10-01

It is, a french press or cafetiere as they're known...

Puzzledd (author)killerjackalope2010-10-01

Thanks for that- I'll add those terms in to make it clearer!

killerjackalope (author)Puzzledd2010-10-02

Cool, over here we just call it by its actual name but know the term French press...

joen (author)2010-10-01

Nice! Where did you get your $4 French press?

Puzzledd (author)joen2010-10-01

Local $2 shop - we have lots of good ones in Melbourne, with cheap Asian goods. I've also seen "metal" ones in Safeway for around $12, but I'm stingy.

(In the picture, I've actually combined an old metal plunger with a cheap glass jug as I keep breaking the jugs on my slate floor).

At work, I use a spare plunger with a tall, narrow mug as I broke the glass jug... works well but not quite as frothy.

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