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Flavorful Background and History of Cappuccino and Italian Crema

When cappuccino was first invented, it was a very different coffee than the ones that are typically served today. Originally it was made from coffee, sugar, egg yolks and cream. The resulting light brown shade reminded people of the hooded robes traditionally worn by Capuchin monks and the resulting name ‘cappuccino’ or ‘little Capuchin’ stuck. The Capuchin monks themselves got their name from their hoods (the Italian word for hood, ‘cappuccio,’ comes from the Latin ‘caputium’) which were long, pointed and brown, inspired by Francis of Assisi’s clothes of poverty.

The Italian coffee drink is traditionally prepared with double espresso and steamed milk foam. Variations of the drink involve the use of cream instead of milk and flavoring with cinnamon or chocolate powder. The drink also has much more recent origins than one might think. Espresso machines were introduced at the beginning of the 20th century, although the first generations of machines certainly did not make espresso the way we define it today and coffee making in cafés changed throughout the early decades. By the end of the World War II, Italians launched the ‘age of crema’ as the new coffee machines could create a higher pressure, leading to a finer grind and the now classic ‘crema.’ The machines could also steam milk and thus – the modern cappuccino was born. In Italy, cappuccino is traditionally consumed early in the day as part of the breakfast, with some kind of sweet pastry. Generally, Italians do not drink cappuccino with meals other than breakfast, preferring espresso at other times of the day and evening.