Originally written on November 8, 2021. Updated 2023
Italy is delightfully popular for the variety of coffee drinks (and not only) that it produces.
Cappuccinos are loved among coffee lovers and despite a not verified history, many people appreciate this hot, foamy, milk drink, perfect on a frosty morning, meeting with friends or just to enjoy it.
So, a happy day called Cappuccino Day was born, where people from all over the world can order a frothy and whipped cup of coffee to enjoy on its own or to eat with whatever meal they’re having (despite in Italy the latter is a blasphemy!).
The name “Cappuccino” originally came from the Capuchin Friars, a minor order of Franciscan friars within the Catholic Church, headquartered in italian capital city, Rome. In the 16th century they were well known for their missionary work in helping the poor and were dedicated to extreme austerity, poverty, and simplicity. Interestingly, the word “cappuccino” is the diminutive form of “cappuccio” in Italian, meaning hood or something that covers the head.
Wearing, not by chance, a brown robe with a pointed hood, it is believed that the name stemmed from a specific person in the order, Marco d’Aviano who, when an Ottoman Turk army tried marching into Vienna in 1683, united the outnumbered Christian troops and made them victorious in defending Vienna.
According to the legend, after the Turks fled, they left behind Ottoman coffee, and because the Christians found it to be bitter, they sweetened it with milk and honey and named it after the Order of Capuchins.
Another story says that the idea of the cappuccino drink appears to have originated in the 1700’s, in the “Kapuziner” coffee houses in Austria, which contained coffee with cream and sugar and eventually added spices.
So no one really knows exactly where the name (and the drink) came from.
However, it seems that the cappuccino coffee drink that everyone knows of today was invented in Italy during the 1900’s after the invention of the espresso machine gained popularity.
The first record of the modern cappuccino appeared in the 1930’s.
Back then, espresso machines were rather bulky and complicated, and surely not something a regular person would have at home in their kitchen.
So as the coffee culture in Italy developed, it was centered around specialty cafes, and baristas who knew how to operate the machines.
After World War II, in 1945, when Achille Gaggia invented the modern espresso machine, the machine improved, and so changed the process of making cappuccinos, which now have steamed and frothed cream and thus spread its popularity around the world.
On this day, enjoy a Cappuccino at a cafe, or at the drive-through in a paper cup, despite it’s much tastier when served in a ceramic cup.
In fact, a cappuccino is actually meant to be sipped slowly over a longer period of time, preferably while sitting outside at a sidewalk cafe somewhere in Europe.
If you’d rather have a cup at home, get an espresso machine and make a cup yourself.
Either way, making a cappuccino at home is a cool skill that isn’t that difficult to master with the right tools. It takes a little practice, but it’s certainly a skill that will bring delight for years to come.
Stainless steel tools are important.
To preserve the quality and flavor of the milk, use a clean stainless steel frothing jug, spoon, and thermometer.
The secret is steamed and foamed milk. The consistency of the foam depends on the milk fat, so higher fat yields a better drink.
Start with cold milk. Using a steaming pitcher, steam until the milk reaches 65 C (or 150 F). Raising the steaming wand in the pitcher as you go will help create a rich, foamy texture.
While steaming the milk you must pay close attention to attain the correct ratio of foam, thus making the cappuccino one of the most difficult espresso-based beverages to make properly.
A skilled barman may also create artistic shapes while is pouring milk on top of the espresso coffee.
Some Cappuccinos are flavored using syrups, including vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel, pumpkin spice, peppermint, hazelnut, cinnamon, or Irish Cream.
Images from web – Google Research