iPhoneOgraphy – 07 May 2016 (Day 128/366)
A cappuccino is an Italian coffee drink that is traditionally prepared with espresso, hot milk and steamed milk foam.
Cream may be used instead of milk and is often topped with cinnamon. It is typically smaller in volume than a caffè, with a thicker layer of micro foam.
The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the colour of their habits, and in this context referring to the colour of the beverage when milk is added in small portion to dark, brewed coffee (today mostly espresso). The physical appearance of a modern cappuccino with espresso créma and steamed milk is a result of a long evolution of the drink.
The Viennese bestowed the name “Kapuziner” possibly in the 18th century on a version that included whipped cream and spices of unknown origin. The Italian cappuccino was unknown until the 1930s, and seems to be born out of Viennese-style cafés in Trieste and other cities in the former Austria in the first decades of the 20th Century.
‘Cappuccino’ comes from Latin Caputium, later borrowed from German/Austrian and modified into ‘kapuziner’. It is the diminutive form of cappuccio in Italian in Italian, meaning ‘hood’ or something that covers the head, thus ‘cappuccino’ reads ‘small capuchin’.
The coffee beverage has its name not from the hood but from the colour of the hooded robes worn by monks and nuns of the capuchin order. This colour is quite distinctive and ‘capuchin’ was a common description of the colour of red-brown in 17th-century Europe. The capuchin monks chose the particular design of their orders’ robes both in colour and shape of the hood back in the 16th century, inspired by Francis of Assisi’s preserved 13th century vestments. The long and pointed hood was characteristic and soon gave the brothers the nickname ‘capuchins’ (hood-wearing). It was, however the choice of red-brown as the order’s vestment colour that, as early as the 17th century, saw ‘capuchin’ used also as a term for a specific colour. While Francis of Assisi humbly used uncoloured and un-bleached wool for his robes, the capuchins coloured their vestments to differ from Franciscans, Benedictines, Augustinians and other orders.
The word ‘Cappuccino’ in its Italian form is not known in Italian writings until the 20th century, but the German-language ‘Kapuziner’ is mentioned as a coffee beverage in the 18th century in Austria, and is described as ‘coffee with sugar, egg yolks and cream’ in dictionary entries from 1800 onwards. “Kapuziner” was by World War I a common coffee drink in Cafés in the parts of northern Italy which at that time still belonged to Austria.
Although it seems the ‘Kapuziner’ may have had whipped cream on top, it seems likely the name comes from the specific capuchin-colour of the beverage’s mix of coffee, cream and eggs.
The use of fresh milk in coffee in cafés and restaurants is a newer phenomenon (from the 20th century) when fridges became common. The use of full cream is known much further back in time (but not in the use as whipped cream [chantilly] ), as this was a product more easily stored and frequently used also in cooking and baking. Thus, a ‘Kapuziner’ was prepared with a very small amount of cream to get the ‘capuchin’ colour. Today, ‘Kapuziner’ is still served in viennese traditional cafés: still black coffee with only a few drops of cream (in some establishments developed into a capå of whipped cream, but that’s another story).