An order of Franciscan monks and coffee have more in common than you’d imagine. The origin of the cappuccino spans the centuries and the globe alike.
A Cappuccino is typically a drink consisting of espresso and steamed milk foam or microfoam.
The Cappuccino drink has it’s origins in 1700s Vienna as ‘Kapuziner’. It wasn’t until the 1930s it was referred to as Cappuccino in Northern Italy.
History of the Cappuccino
Today we’re looking at the origin of the cappuccino, where it came from and how it got to be the drink that it is today. Like so many things in history it’s impossible to find imperative truths but we can trace origins with some degree of accuracy.
The Cappuccino first appeared as the ‘Kapuziner’ coffee in Vienese coffee houses in the 1700s as a sweeter, creamier version of the traditional Ottoman style coffee. However, as with most of our coffee favourites, we owe the cappuccino we know and love today to the Italians.
Italian Origins of Coffee Names
The majority of the names for todays well-loved coffee drinks stem from Italy. Most of the names are terms of functionality. For example, ‘espresso’ is Italian for expressed, referring to the method of creating the coffee, and café macchiato means coffee stained or spotted with milk.
The name cappuccino rejects this trend, as its origins come from an Italian word unrelated to coffee, and instead takes its name from an order of Italian friars.
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
The Capuchin friars are members of the Franciscan order of monks. The order was founded in the 1500s in Italy, and was renowned for their dedication to simplistic living and missionary work with the poor.
The monks got their name from their distinctive dress, consisting of a long, brown robe featuring a cappucio, which is the Italian term for a hood. The cappucio gave rise to the Italian name for the order of monks.
The Name ‘Cappuccino’
When the Cappuccino coffee was first created in Italy, the colour of the espresso mixed with the steamed milk was similar to the colour of the friars’ Capuchin robes. The name cappuccino was born, and made its way across the world where it became a staple drink for coffee lovers.
It’s hard to find a cafe anywhere in the world that doesn’t serve a cappuccino today. Yet we wonder just how many daily coffee drinkers know that their morning pick me up has connections to 16th century friars, making it’s way through 18th century european coffee houses to find it’s way across the globe and into your 21st century cup.