Is a ‘cappuccino’ a coffee, a monkey or a monk?

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I am a Cappuccino!

People who associate the word ‘cappuccino’ only with the delicious beverage made with coffee and steamed milk topped with a thick milk foam may be surprised to learn that it is named after the Italian Catholic Order of Capuchin Monks. ‘Cappuccino’ translated from Italian into English is ‘capuchin’, and comes from the Italian word ‘cappuccio’ (kahp/POOT/choh) which means a ‘hood’ or ‘cowl’ in English.

Some say the milk froth on the cappuccino is reminiscent of the monk’s hood, and others say it it is named after their traditional tonsure (where the crown of the head, or the whole head is shaved). Capuchin monkeys, with their striking colouring are also named after the monks. One thing is clear – the original Cappuccino was a monk. Nuns of this order are called ‘Cappuccina’ in Italy – we would refer to them as ‘Capuchines’.

I am the ORIGINAL Cappuccino!

How do you make a cappuccino?

A cappuccino is made with 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 milk foam or froth. Although you can use a hand-held milk frother, you cannot get a truly authentic cappuccino without a cappucciono maker. The real issue is the steamed milk – if it isn’t made under pressure, it just doesn’t come out correctly. The espresso also needs to be made in a proper espresso maker – although by itself, it is cheaper than a full cappuccino machine.

What is the difference between a cappuccino and a latte?

The difference between a cappuccino and a latte is that a latte is served without the thick milk froth. A good cappuccino has a thick milk foam.

What is the plural of ‘cappuccino’?

In English, we use ‘cappuccinos’ as the plural of ‘cappuccino’. In Italian this is incorrect – you say ‘cappuccini’.

When do you drink cappuccino?

I once saw a presenter on the BBC complaining bitterly that people in the UK drink cappuccino at all hours, when it is only supposed to be drunk at breakfast because ‘that’s what they do in Italy’. Well I know loads of Italians (from Italy) and although cappuccino is regularly drunk for breakfast, they can and do drink it throughout the day. Whether or not this is the case should not influence you – the correct time for me to drink a cappuccino is whenever I want to drink a cappuccino.

How do you ask for ‘cappuccino’ in Italy?

“Vorrei un cappuccino”, if you are asking for one, and “vorrei due cappuccini” if you are ordering for yourself and a companion.

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About the Author

Marie-Ora is obsessed with pronunciation, languages, food, wine, cooking, 4Foots. and chocolate. When she isn't working, she enjoys snacking, sipping on wine, reading and napping, and is currently researching methods to do all 4 simultaneously. Although Marie-Ora has absolutely no vices, she is easily provoked by mis-pronunciations, bad coffee, and unwarranted hype.
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