Encyclopedia > Cappuccino

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Cappuccino is an Italian typical sweet and hot beverage, prepared with coffee and milk. In Italy it is consumed almost exclusively early in the day for breakfast; in some other countries may be consumed throughout the day or after dinner.

Its preparation requires that milk is added (and cooked) with steam, so it is generally available only in cafés, bars and restaurants (unless you have a machine at home).

Even if ingredients are the same and preparations is similar, cappuccino is not "caffelatte", which is a simple mixture of hot milk and hot coffee; cappuccino requires the cream, so it has to be prepared with a machine that can throw steam in the milk. This creates the fascinating cream.

Usually a couple of teaspoons of sugar are added by consumers. In the italian habit it is often served with optional "cornetti" (croissants).

The best bartenders are able to create some elegant shapes on the top of the cream (smileys, flowers, hearts, etc.), using some tears of coffee.

The origin of the name is uncertain. According to the OED and Am. Heritage[?] dictionaries, the drink was named cappuccino because its color resembles the brown color of the robes worn by the Capuchin order of Franciscan friars. This order was, in turn, named for the capucize (cappuccio), or long pointed cowl, worn by the friars. On the other hand, in Italy, it is believed that the etymology derives from the fact that the cream typically covers the beverage as a sort of little hat (also named cappuccio in Italian).

A third legend is that during Second Ottoman War[?], the Capuchin friar Marco d'Aviano[?] (beatified in April 2003) invented the drink after the Christian forces of the Hapsburg Monarchy[?] beat the Ottoman Turks back from the siege of Vienna. Allegedly, d'Aviano added milk and honey to sweeten the bitter coffee left by fleeing Turkish armies. Since a modern cappuccino does not necessarily contain honey, and its essential characteristic is its crown of frothed milk, it seems likely that (if the legend is true) the drink has undergone some transformations from that time.

In Italy, the word "cappuccino" is also slang for condom, although this usage probably derives from the common association of condoms and hats, and not from any relationship with the coffee drink.

See also: Coffee, caffé, espresso

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