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Cappuccino From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

Cappuccino From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

From AM breakfast time to Zeta-Jones (Catherine), a list of 26 facts and figures about cappuccino: a traditional Italian drink made with latte and espresso.

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A.M.: In Italy, cappuccino is strictly for consumption at breakfast time and up until 11 AM. It is definitely not the ‘done thing’ to order a cappuccino any later in the day.

Bezzera Luigi: Luigi Bezzera was the Italian inventor of the first espresso coffee machine in 1901. Even though cappuccino actually has earlier origins, without the machine invented by Milano-born Bezzera, the delicious exquisitely made beverage we know today would merely be a sort of frothy latte.

Croissant: what is the ideal café breakfast in the homeland of the cappuccino? Cappuccino, of course, accompanied by croissants. And the most irresistible temptation? That of dunking your pastry into the compact cappuccino froth before biting into it.

Don't: in travel guides on Italy, cappuccino is indicated as one of the delights every tourist should taste. Usually accompanied by a recommendation on what NOT to do: never order one in a restaurant at the end of a meal! On such occasions, Italians only drink espresso which is a lighter beverage not likely to ruin the lingering flavours of dinner or lunch. And besides, those who do order the famous cappuccino also risk a bit of leg pulling….

Espresso: espresso coffee is the base of a perfect cappuccino. It is the first liquid that goes into the cup and an authentic cappuccino requires a quantity of 25 millilitres.

Foam: the espresso is topped by the magic of milk: it should be half liquid and half foam, created by the steam wand of professional coffee machines. A perfectly textured foam is hard to find and something only a professional barista is able to prepare. It not only contributes to the taste of the beverage but also serves as a heat insulator to keep the coffee and milk mixture hot underneath.

Ginger: the top layer of the foam is where you usually encounter the strong flavours giving a special taste to cappuccino. Ginger, cinnamon and cocoa (sweet or bitter), all in powder form, are the most popular choices. A fine layer is sufficient, usually applied with a special sprinkler.

Hot: how hot should a cappuccino be? The milk temperature is what makes the difference: it has to be hot but should never exceed 65-70 degrees because, if any higher, it would produce an unpleasant aroma that spoils the well-balanced taste of the beverage and, besides, the foam would not form perfectly. Heat is also a question of personal taste: some like it ‘lukewarm’ and therefore ask for the addition of a little cold milk.

Italians do it better: it goes without saying that Italy is the country where the making of cappuccino has become an art and where the best baristas are trained. Watch them in action and you will discover that there is a precise technique in the way they move their hand and wrist to warm the milk, separate the froth from the liquid and, with skilful little jolts of the jug, pour it into the cup in just the right amount.

Jug: the milk warming jug, together with the espresso coffee machine, is an essential tool of the trade. It must be made of stainless steel, the material that conducts heat most effectively, enabling the milk to be heated uniformly.

Kapuziner: there are various legends regarding the origins of the word “cappuccino”. One of the most credible would have it deriving from Kapuziner, the habit worn by a Capuchin friar, Marco D'Aviano. This monk, who frequented a Viennese coffee house towards the end of the 1600s, is said to have inspired the name of the beverage with the colour of his habit.

Latte Art: hearts, portraits, foliage and works by authentic artists make their appearance on cappuccino foam for a creation that is almost too beautiful to drink. The artists specialized in “latte art” are keen baristas who often serve personalized cappuccinos to their customers for breakfast.

Marocchino: a cross between an espresso and a cappuccino, in Italy you can order a tantalizing “marocchino”. Unlike cappuccino, it is served in a small cup or “bicerin”, often made of glass, to which a layer of cocoa is added followed by a thick milky foam.

Nutrition facts: if taken without sugar, cappuccino is a perfect hunger saver. The only calories it contains come from its full fat milk, with about 70-80 to a cup. It fills the stomach, provides nutrition and often tides you over to the end of the morning to prevent those unpleasant hunger pangs.

Original: As simple as it is delicious, a cappuccino contains on all about 150/180 millilitres of liquid, consisting of espresso coffee (25 ml) and pasteurized full fat milk, which must reach the upper edge of the cup.

Potato chips: one of the most absurd cappuccino-flavoured recipes ever launched on the market is that of special potato chips sold in a packet aromatized with milk and coffee. Needless to say, they were not a great success.

Quinoa: one of the umpteen substitutes for milk and coffee used in the making of cappuccino is that of quinoa milk. It is not the only one: there are also recipes for almond, goat, camel, rice and hemp milk. Not to mention the versions in which coffee is replaced by a barley substitute, or simply by decaffeinated coffee.

Recipes: even savoury cappuccinos exist. Some ideas for a really special recipe? A mushroom and truffle cappuccino, perfect in winter or as a Christmas lunch starter.

Steam: ordinary steam also plays a fundamental role in the preparation of cappuccino. It comes out of a small wand fitted with a spout that is immersed in the stainless steel jug and held at a depth of about one centimetre from the surface of the milk. The steam heats the milk and, to ensure the perfect taste of cappuccino, it is advisable to clean the spout with a damp cloth immediately after use.

Tazza grande: is the Italian term for the cup used to serve cappuccino. Slightly wider than an espresso coffee cup, it contains up to 180 ml and is made of porcelain, usually white in colour and of simple design. In Italy, macchiato (espresso coffee with a spoonful or two of frothy milk) is often served in “tazza grande”, but only if specifically requested by the customer. Uniform: the term “cappuccino” has now entered everyday language as the name of a colour used in the textile industry. Work clothes are among the most common cappuccino-coloured garments. Why? It is an excellent colour for camouflaging stains...

Vivace: Espresso Vivace is a venue in Seattle where, would you believe it, people flock from all over the world to learn the art of making coffee and cappuccino. Its founder, David Schomer, is one of the most acclaimed champions of “latte art” in the world.

World Championship: the world championships for the best cappuccino are held each year in London, attracting baristas from all over the world. The winners? They are almost always Italian…

XXL: the biggest cappuccino in the world? It is in the Guinness Book of Records and was prepared in Milan in 2013 by 33 baristas who joined forces to mix 800 litres of coffee with 3500 litres of milk.

Yamamoto: Kazuki Yamamoto is known worldwide for his 3D cappuccinos: His 3D latte art creations are raised in height and his portraits literally pop out of the cup. He lives and works in Osaka, Japan. Follow him on Twitter. 

Zeta-Jones (Catherine): the professional dream of this actress? To become one of the "Cappuccino Girls”, an English theatre phenomenon which recounts the story of a group of women meeting up in a café whose lives unravel in front of a cup of coffee. Poised somewhere between Friends and Sex and the City, their adventures are becoming popular all over the world...

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