You may have ordered your daily cappuccino this morning not knowing that the drink is having something of an identity crises. Exactly what is going on with the humble cappuccino?
What Is Cappuccino?
Cappuccino is a shot of espresso with steamed milk and a meringue like milk foam on top. Traditionalists also say that the idea is to serve those three different parts as very distinct layers-coffee, hot milk and frothy foam.
The Italian way of drinking it is to then stir it so the three parts come together. When you have stirred it you get the red brown colour, the same colour of the habits worn by the Order of Capuchin Friars, believed by some to be the reason it is called a cappuccino.
In many coffee outlets you can now order your cappuccino as small, medium and large. But some purists say that cappuccino is only a 4oz drink and as such should not be available in different sizes as that affects the intensity of the taste. But others say that is nonsense, that you may not get intensity of taste with a larger cappuccino, but you still get a distinctive tasting coffee.
This is also up for debate. The Speciality Coffee Association of America and the Barista Guild say that cappuccino should have a 1 cm layer of milk foam. But some coffee shops are serving no foam, or even too much foam so that it is resembling the late. Some are serving cappuccino with 5 inches of foam topped with different sprinkles.
A flat white is now extremely popular. Essentially a flat white is espresso and milk, thought to have originated in Australia or New Zealand. But for many this is what a cappuccino was all about.
Instituto Nazionale Espresso Italian
They are very clear that a pure cappuccino is 25ml espresso and 100ml steam foamed milk. But even this is up for debate. What most people can agree on is that traditionally cappuccino was always a small drink and was considered a coffee you drank in the morning.
Where Does This All Leave Us?
If so called experts can’t really agree on what constitutes a cappuccino today maybe we do need to get less hung up on it and simply make the coffee the way we like it. Maybe names can get intimidating to the consumer. Maybe what is more important is to enjoy good quality coffee, the way you like it, whether its 2 cm of froth or 5cm!