When it comes to the appropriate time to drink cappuccino, most foreigners might find that they’ve got it all wrong! There is a correct time and way to enjoy coffee drinks in Italy. So how do you know when and how to enjoy your favorite frothy drink? Let’s have a look at the following coffee breakdown to find out.
A Brief History of the Cappuccino
The cappuccino that we know today has been evolving since the 1700s. It’s a descendant of the coffee drink “Kapuziner,”
a Viennese coffee drink that began making appearances in coffee houses in Vienna in the 1700s. Said drink was described as coffee with cream and sugar. This coffee with cream and sugar was nicknamed ‘Kapuziner’. When the cream and coffee are combined, the color created was the brown robes worn by the capuchin monks. The modern cappuccino was first made mention of in northern Italy around 1930. After that, it began to evolve over the following decades and take on different variations. The steamed milk added on top of the coffee that we have come to know came as a later addition as the drink began to morph.
The standards today for a classic cappuccino are as follows: a double shot of espresso must be combined with the correct amount of milk (roughly an equal ratio of foamed to steamed milk), which should create about 2 centimeters of milk foam on top, have a velvety consistency, and a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees celsius. The milk foam results from small air bubbles being forced into the milk during the steaming process. While these are the standards for a traditional cappuccino, many 21st century versions of the cappuccino exist as well. Some variations include the “dry” cappuccino. This has less steamed milk and more foam. This is for those who prefer to taste more of the coffee’s strong flavor and less of the milk. The “wet” cappuccino, which has more steamed milk and less foam.
Thou Shalt Not Drink Breakfast Drinks After 12pm
How many times after dinner in America, when we’re out at a restaurant, have we ordered a hot, foamy cappuccino to finish
off the night? Too many to count, right? This is a huge coffee NO in Italy. Not only is it considered an eating blunder by Italians to pour a big glass of milk into your stomach on top of what you’ve just finished eating (especially if you’ve just eaten anything containing tomatoes), but cappuccino is strictly a breakfast drink and you generally will not find any card-carrying Italian drinking it after max 12pm. Though coffee is drunk continuously throughout the day in Italy, for Italians, it’s not acceptable to drink cappuccino in the afternoons.
So if a plain espresso is too bland for your midday coffee preferences, what kind of coffee drink can you order after noon instead of a cappuccino that would be acceptable by Italian standards? Consider the following options: caffè macchiato caldo (an espresso with a bit of steamed milk on top), caffè marocchino (similiar to the caffè macchiato, this drink consists of pouring a little of the steam frothed milk foam into the cup), caffè al ginseng (a creamy coffee with ginseng in it), caffè con panna (coffee with a very generous dollop of whipped cream on top), or caffè corretto (espresso that is “dirtied” with a bit of liquor, usually sambuca or grappa) to name a few.
Best Places in Rome for a Cappi
Now that you know the history of the cappuccino and when to drink it, all you need is the where. Next time you’re in the Eternal City, there are 3 places where you will be hard pressed not to find delicious “caffè,” as the Italians call it. The following places absolutely knock it out of the park when it comes to cappuccino:
Panella – L’arte del Pane located at via Merulana, 54, Rome, Phone: 06 487 2344
Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè located at Piazza di S. Eustachio, 82, Rome, Phone: 06 6880 2048
Bar del Cappuccino located at via Arenula, 50, Rome, Phone: 06 6880 6042
If you find yourself in the country where coffee was invented, do yourself a favor and, as they say, “do as the Romans do” when it comes to ordering coffee…you won’t regret it!
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