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What’s A Dry Cappuccino? Tips to Make It & How to Order the Best


In the coffee-centric society that two-thirds of us live in, you will find a whole host of terms that the average person may find unfamiliar. Although there are endless jokes about coffee orders sounding more like grocery lists, there is something to be said for knowing the lingo if you want to get the best java experience possible.

Why, you ask? Coffee linguistics can make or break your cup of joe. Being able to order the coffee you really desire will not only save you from a snarky barista, but it also might open your palette to a whole new world of brews.

If you are a cappuccino drinker, this is a good article to start out with. We will share exactly what a dry cappuccino is, how to order it, and even how to make it at home. Plus, if this dry drink is not for you, we will give you the lingo for the exact opposite, as well.

Let’s get started!

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What’s a Regular Cappuccino?

Before we get into a dry cappuccino, we want to touch on the basics of a standard cappuccino. It is an Italian beverage, that interestingly enough, is named after a monkey. This tasty cup is named after the capuchin monkey as their fur is the same color as the drink itself.

In essence, a cappuccino is a hot beverage made from espresso and milk in two forms. First, you have a double shot of espresso as a base. It is then followed by steamed milk topped off with foamed milk. In a standard cap, all three parts are equal, so you should have ⅓-espresso, ⅓-steamed milk, and ⅓-foamed milk.

Credit: gadost0, Pixabay

Although those are the elements of a basic cappuccino, there are many other ingredients that can also be added. For example, many people like to sweeten their cups with sugar, honey, caramel, or alternative sugars like Sweet-N-Low. You can also choose the type of milk. There’s the basic 1 or 2% milk, or you can go with alternatives such as almond milk, vanilla soy, or even eggnog when it’s in season.

If that is not enough, you can also add flavor shots, latte art, whipped cream, sprinkles, dustings, and many other extras to your cappuccino order. It all depends on your taste, but you could make a solid hobby out of trying the different varieties available.

What’s a Dry Cappuccino?

A dry cappuccino has the basic layers of the standard cup but with different proportions. Instead of having equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk, a dry cappuccino has very little steamed milk and a lot more foam. This is why it’s called dry as the foam is the least dense (liquid) portion of the drink.

cappuccino cafe creme
Image Credit: Lex Sirikiat, Unsplash

There are several reasons why people enjoy a dry cup, as well. For one, foam is an excellent insulator and keeps the espresso hotter longer. What’s more, those who prefer a bolder more intense flavor like a dry cappuccino as the lack of steamed milk reduces the sweetness.

Many coffee enthusiasts also believe that the thick layer of foam is better for latte art, while others simply like the espresso base with the lightness of the foam. Regardless, a dry cappuccino has become a popular drink for many coffee drinkers.divider 1

Bone-Dry & Wet Cappuccinos:

The Bone-Dry Cappuccino

There is also what is called a “bone dry” cappuccino. This is when there is no steamed milk, what-so-ever. Typically, when you ask for a dry cap, you will get a small amount of steamed milk as a barrier between the other two ingredients. When you ask for a “bone-dry” option, there will be no steamed milk to separate the coffee from the foam.

Keep in mind, every coffee house is different. You may find that some consider a dry and bone-dry cappuccino the same thing and hold the steamed milk regardless of which form you ask for. If you like a small amount of steamed milk to act as a divider, be sure to specify it in your order.

The Wet Alternative

If your favorite part of a cappuccino is the steamed milk, a dry order is probably not for you. So, what is the alternative? You guessed it, the wet cappuccino. This is the exact opposite of the dry cap. Instead of being mostly espresso and foam, you now have mostly espresso and steamed milk with little foam.

Again, people like a wet cap for many reasons. For example, it cools down the espresso, plus it tones down the intensity of the coffee. It is also sweeter. If you prefer no foam at all, there is also the “super wet” cappuccino, however, that is technically a latte. A latte is made with a double espresso and steamed milk. It has no added foam, at all. So, next time you want to get a bit fancy with your latte order, go for the super wet cappuccino instead.divider 4

How to Order a Cappuccino

Being nervous about ordering a new coffee at a coffee house is not uncommon. If you are interested in trying out a dry or bone-dry cappuccino next time you visit your favorite shop, here are some tips to remember before you get to the front of the line.

  • Pick Your Milk: As we mentioned above, there are a lot of milk options available for your dry cap. Whether you want traditional dairy milk or a non-dairy option, make this base ingredient your first step. Keep in mind, thicker milk (like whole milk or eggnog) will create a thicker foam. Also, if you typically use something non-traditional, have a back-up plan in mind in case they don’t carry what you like.
  • Pick Your Sweetener: You don’t need to have a sweetener to enjoy a dry cappuccino, but many people enjoy it. Just like milk, however, you want to have your preference in mind and put it next on your order list.
  • Pick Your Flavor: Not only can you choose your milk and sweetener, but you can also have a flavor added, as well. Again, this is completely optional, but if you like a little extra flavor, some popular options are caramel, mocha, pumpkin spice, peppermint, and vanilla. Obviously, some of these are seasonal flavors, but your coffee shop will likely have a list of flavors you can choose from depending on the time of year.
  • Pick A Topping: This is also an optional ingredient, but there are many toppings to choose from including mocha powder, caramel drizzle, or sea salt. You can have foam art done on the top of your drink that gives it even more of a personal touch, as well. Keep in mind, however, the more sweeteners, flavors, and toppings you add, the more of a desert-like feel your coffee will have.

How to Make a Dry Cappuccino at Home:

If you’re a coffee drinker that prefers to make yours at home, here is a step by step guide for making a dry cappuccino.

  1. Prepare Your Milk: The first thing you want to do is get your milk ready to be foamed. If you happen to have a full cappuccino maker in your home complete with a steamer, then skip this and steam your milk as usual. If not, start by pouring 1½ cups of milk into a small saucepan and heating the milk on a low setting. You want to bring the milk to a simmer, but not a boil. As soon as you see any sign of bubbles, remove the milk from the heat right away. Note: If you want a bit of steamed milk in your dry cappuccino, put a small amount of the heated liquid to the side, and use the majority for the next step.
  2. Prepare Your Foam: Once you remove the milk from the stove, it’s time to start whipping. You can use a whisk, but a hand mixer is more efficient. It’s perfect for cappuccinos and other blended drinks. Start on a low setting until it starts to create a whipped texture. Turn up the speed and continue whipping until you have the consistency you desire. Place to the side when it’s complete.
  3. Brew Your Espresso: It’s important to keep in mind that coffee and espresso are two different things. Coffee is made by running hot water through coffee grounds. Espresso, though also made with coffee grounds, is created by forcing steam through the grounds. This causes it to be more concentrated and stronger. If you have a French press or espresso machine, you can make the espresso as normal. There are also smaller hand presses available, as well (check out our reviews on a few travel-friendly options here). If you have none of these, you can make a small amount of very strong coffee.
  4. Make Your Cappuccino: As a dry cappuccino, you will need very little to no (bone-dry) steamed milk. Start by adding your coffee to the cup first followed by any sweeteners or flavors you desire. Follow that with a small amount of steamed milk and then add the foam. Finally, add any toppings you like. A dry cappuccino should be ⅔-coffee and ⅓-foam with very little steamed milk if any. Now, it’s time to sip and enjoy!
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A dry cappuccino is a great beverage choice to add to your arsenal of coffee orders if you enjoy a strong, yet bold flavor. We hope you enjoyed this guide, and it has opened your palette to a new brew that just might be your new favorite.


Featured image credit: Pexels


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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