The Best Cappuccino on Campus!

I adore all types of coffee.

From Pumpkin spice lattes and coffee coolattas to cinnamon-dolce frappes and basic coffee with milk, I love them all. Since there are so many different types of coffee available on campus, I decided to narrow it down to one type of coffee. I began my coffee adventure at Café Diem on a Wednesday afternoon and I was in the mood for a cappuccino.

To judge fairly, I decided to order cappuccinos at different locations on campus to truly find the best one. To judge these cappuccinos, I created a rating system with categories that were worth a certain number of points - each category could rank anywhere from a high score of 5 and a low score of 0. The categories included the ratio of ingredients, overall taste, and cost.

Wait, what exactly is a cappuccino again?

From my research (and basic coffee obsession), a cappuccino should have equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foam. Sometimes baristas mix up these ratios and what you end up with then is a latté

Now that we know what we're getting, let's see what Montclair State has to offer!

Cafe Diem - Large Cappuccino (16 oz): $3.49

Ratio: 1.5 of 5

I was handed my to-go cup and my first impression was that it was empty!

Now this wasn't a total surprise as I had watched the barista make my cappuccino, but still. As she was finishing the drink, I saw she had the metal pitcher of steamed milk in her hand. But as she poured what I hoped to be espresso and steamed milk into my cup, I saw that it was mostly foam.

What was missing from this particular cappuccino was a decent (if any) amount of steamed milk. Because of this, a majority of the cup was foam until you reached the very bottom, which was the espresso. Even before I took a sip of the drink, I could see that it didn’t even reach the rim of the cup. 

Taste: 3.5 of 5

On the plus side, there was cocoa powder and cinnamon to sprinkle on top of your coffee. I love the addition of cinnamon to cappuccinos; it adds an extra level of richness. As for the coffee/espresso itself, it was piping hot (which I love). I used one sugar and it was still strong, and slightly bitter, so I added another sugar. The fact that the bottom of the cappuccino was strong and rich, even after two sugars, made me believe it was actually espresso.

Cost: $3.49, 1.5 of 5

After I bought my drink, I found that Café Diem’s online menu through the Montclair page prices cappuccinos at $1.79. I personally consider $3.49 to be an expensive cappuccino. Considering its size, and lack of actual coffee/espresso to drink, I felt like I had spent my money on whipped air. Again, this may go back to the fact that the steamed milk was missing from this cappuccino.

As one business insider article explains, some coffee chains (like Starbucks) add more steamed milk to offset the size of drink you order. So if you order a venti or a tall, both will still have the same amount of espresso -- just different amounts of steamed milk.  

Maybe, if my Café Diem’s cappuccino had more steamed milk than foam, I wouldn’t have noticed the level of espresso (and felt that I’d received a decent sized drink).

 

Café Diem Score: 6.5 of 15

I know for a fact, as I saw beautiful smoothies and iced coffees leave Café Diem, that they can produce quality drinks. However, on this particular day, with my cappuccino order, I personally was disappointed with my final product.

 

Blanton’s Dunkin’ Donuts - Medium Cappuccino (16 oz): $3.59

Ratio: 3.5 of 5

What worked with this particular cappuccino was that it was a majority of steamed milk. The ratio allowed for the espresso to mix with the milk for a decent amount of coffee to drink, with a balanced layer of foam on top. However, if I compare this ratio to the cappuccino diagram, I would say it was closer to a latte than an even cappuccino ratio. Yet after my experience at Café Diem, I was glad to have more coffee to drink then foam.

Taste: 3 of 5

What I was happy with was the fact that the foam wasn’t over-whipped; it was luscious and creamy.  

You can see that this cappuccino is pretty light (mixing with the steamed milk mellowed the flavor). I prefer to have a stronger, darker coffee and sweeten it with sugar. This cappuccino was steaming hot and had a smooth non-bitter flavor. Two sugars made it too sweet, even for me, so I would recommend not adding more than a ½ - 1 sugar packet. Once I drank away the foam, it seemed like I was drinking a normal cup of coffee, so I am unsure if this was weak espresso or if this was made with a strong batch of regular coffee. 

What's the difference?

The difference between espresso and coffee is the type of machines used. With coffee you use boiling water poured over the beans while espresso is made using pressure, therefore producing a different, final product. As you might know, espresso looks like a shot. Its colors and layers also resemble beer. Regular coffee usually is one color and is produced in larger amounts.

With these descriptions in mind, you would think it would be easy to distinguish if your cappuccino was made with coffee or espresso. Yet, I still haven’t been 100% able to state that I’ve tasted espresso (instead of strong coffee) in any of my cappuccinos so far.

Price: $3.59: 3 of 5

I was happier with Dunkin’ Donuts cappuccino compared to my first, so it was worth the extra 10 cents.

 

Blanton’s Dunkin’ Donuts Score: 9.5 of 15

Dunkin’ provided a rich velvety top to a sweet coffee drink. For my personal tastes I think it could have a stronger espresso flavor, but overall it was a good cappuccino!

 

Einstein Brothers - Medium Cappuccino (16 oz): $3.59

Ratio: 5 of 5

As I stirred in my sugar packet, I worried that maybe there was too much foam in this cappuccino. But once I started to drink it, the foam disappeared with each sip. I believe that this cappuccino had the most even amount of liquid to foam ratio.  

Taste: 5 of 5

Flavor-wise, this was exactly what I wanted from a cappuccino! I put one sugar in this cappuccino and I couldn’t even taste it. I didn’t mind that I couldn’t taste the sugar because I didn’t need it. The flavor of this cappuccino was undoubtedly espresso - rich, bold and not bitter. It was perfect!  

Price: 4.5 of 5

By the time I tried this drink, I accepted that cappuccinos on campus are $3.50. Given the fact that all categories of this cappuccino were fantastic, it was worth the price and the walk to College Hall!

 

Einstein Brothers Score: 14.5 of 15

Everything about the Einstein Brothers cappuccino is what I expect when I order this drink!

 

Student Center Cafeteria - Cappuccino (16 oz): $1.95

Ratio: 0 of 5

The hardest part about cappuccinos from a machine is that you do not get the layered ingredients. The machines stock the cappuccino flavors; when you want one, you press the button and it mixes with the hot water so all of the ingredients blend together into one drink. When the cappuccino first comes out of the machine, there are some bubbles, but not true foam. There was really no layered ingredients to judge.

Taste: 0 of 5

I’ve tried cappuccinos from the student center and I always try the “original” flavor, though they do offer french vanilla and pumpkin spice cappuccinos. While this cappuccino was “original” flavored, it tasted like hot chocolate with a coffee after-taste even though my friend and I made sure that I hit the “original cappuccino” button. I carried this “cappuccino” to class with me and my classmates even asked if it was hot chocolate because it smelled so sweet. It wasn’t a bad drink, but considering I am looking for the best cappuccino on campus, this did not even rank in this category.

Price: $1.95, 5 of 5

Ideally, I would love to pay $1.95 for all of the cappuccinos on campus! I’m a broke college student! Spending nearly $4.00 every time I want a cappuccino is not something I would do that often.

By far, the student center cafeteria has the best price for the amount of coffee you receive. However this drink doesn’t compete with the other hand-made cappuccinos.

 

Student Center Cafeteria Score: 5 of 15

Unfortunately the Student Center Cafeteria, while having the best price, does not have the same ratio of ingredients or cappuccino flavor I was looking for.

 

THE WINNER

I tested cappuccinos from Café Diem, Blanton’s Dunkin’ Donuts, Einstein Brothers, and the Student Center Cafeteria. Based on the criteras of taste, cost, and the ratio of ingredients, Einstein Brothers wins! While $3.50 is a high price, based on their fantastic flavors and competitors pricing, this was worth it!

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