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Cappuccino art

A cappuccino with an apple drawn with the foam

A cappuccino is a coffee-based drink made primarily from espresso and milk. It consists of one-third espresso, one-third heated milk and one-third milk foam and is generally served in a 6 to 8-ounce cup. The cappuccino is considered one of the original espresso drinks representative of Italian espresso cuisine and eventually Italian-American espresso cuisine.

According to legend, the word cappuccino comes from the Capuchin monastic order. In 1683, soldiers fighting for Marco d'Aviano, a monk from the order, found a hoard of coffee following a victory over the Ottomans in the Battle of Vienna. The coffee was too strong for the European's tastes, so they diluted it with cream and honey. The resulting brown beverage matched the robes of the monk, and was dubbed cappuccino after the order[1]. However, it should be noted that this event predates espresso, one the key ingredient of a cappuccino by nearly 300 years. It is more likely that this event did lead to the popularization of coffee in the West and its rapid spread throughout Europe[2].

Cappuccino across cultures[]

Cappuccino is one of the few original espresso drinks that can be found across all major espresso cultures. The cappuccino began in Italian cafés and migrated to Italian-American menus before taking hold in American coffee houses. Today, the cappuccino remains a fixture in modern espresso culture.


The original Italian cappuccino consists of a single shot (1.26ounces) of espresso topped with a small amount of milk and froth. The milk is not heavily frothed, but is a thicker foam that becomes a part of the espresso rather than a layer on top of the coffee[3]. Generally, an Italian cappuccino will be without flavors or garnishes other than a small amount of unsweetened chocolate powder[4].

Making a cappuccino[]

With a shot of espresso, add equal amount frothed milk and top with foam. In shops where latte art is performed, clear cups are used and, done right, one can see the three layers in succession in their cup. A slight variation is the latte, where instead of one third milk, just under 2/3 milk is used and a light layer of foam on top.



See also[]


  1. BBC News - Pope beatifies 'father of cappuccino'
  2. Mark Pendergrast (1999). Uncommon Grounds: The history of coffee and how it transformed our world, 10. ISBN 0465054676.
  3. Kenneth Davids (2001). Espresso: Ultimate Coffee, Second Edition, 37-38, 41. ISBN 0312246668.
  4. Kenneth Davids (2001). Espresso: Ultimate Coffee, Second Edition, 123. ISBN 0312246668.