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History of Cappuccino: Where Was The First Cappuccino Brewed?

Dave Carter

May 26, 2021

The cappuccino is a staple coffee drink in most coffee chains worldwide, classically characterized by its dry and foamed milk top. Cappuccinos were first introduced as the 'Kapuziner' in most Viennese coffee houses in the 17th century, described as coffee with cream and sugar added with spices. However, many noticed the cappuccino's lighter brown color, similar to the robes worn by the Capuchin or Kapuzin friars in Vienna. But you may wonder, where was the first cappuccino brewed? Although people used the name 'Kapuziner' to describe the beverage in Vienna, Austria, the actual coffee drink was invented in Italy, where Italians the name to "cappuccino."

The first brewed cappuccino was made in the early 1900s, shortly after espresso machines became massively popular in 1901—but the first-ever 'recorded' original cappuccino was in the 1930s. However, despite its early discovery, cappuccinos only started to become popular in America in the 1980s, leading to many believing that it's a 'new' drink. But this brew dates back hundreds of years and has been enjoyed by different generations throughout Europe.

If you're curious about the full tale and history of the cappuccino coffee and how to make it—this guide will help you throughout the journey.

Where Was The First Cappuccino Brewed? How the World Makes It

Although cappuccinos were discovered in the 17th century, it wasn't until the 20th century that the drink's actual name got coined. Pictures from Italy in the 1930s showed a coffee drink topped with whipped cream and dusted with cocoa or cinnamon powder, resembling everyone's favorite chocolate milk. Consequently, the brew gained massive popularity in the UK and across Europe—and eventually the United States, where Italian Americans brought it to the country, with New York City as the first-ever place to sell the drink. However, with the beverage spreading rapidly worldwide, you may wonder, what's in a cappuccino, and how does the world make it?

For the most part, a modern-day cappuccino consists of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. However, in some areas globally, some shops and individuals still make the drink just like the traditional Viennese Kapuziners, complete with cream and other sweeteners—including Vienna, and most parts of Austria, Europe, like Prague and Budapest. Additionally, Trieste, an Italian city, also serves traditionally brewed cappuccinos. But generally, both cappuccinos and Kapuziners have been served by baristas across different espresso bars since the 1950s. They all follow the same original recipe from the 1700s, keeping the tradition and passion for great brews alive.

What is the Origin of Cappuccino?

It's that the original 'coffee' in general initially appeared in Italy during the 17 century, where coffee shops were starting to gain the attention of people in Europe after Italy got the idea from the Ottomans. The first-ever European coffee houses were an immediate success and quickly became the go-to venues for socializing. Like most coffee drinks we know today, the original cappuccino is drastically different in style to what everyone's accustomed to today. The earliest version of the brew was coffee with cream and sugar, bearing the closest resemblance to the modern beverage known as Kapuziner. In Vienna's coffee shops in the 17th century, the drink cappuccino, previously known as Kapuziner, maintained its fame in Austria and spread to Wörterbuch, Germany. As coffee evolved, more evidence of coffee with cream, milk, or sugar began emerging under different names.

After World War II, cappuccinos went through several changes in Italy due to the better and availability of espresso machines, introducing the "Age of Crema." These enhancements and the post-World War II affluence across Europe set the stage for the drink's eventual global popularity—and after that, the rest is history. Today, you can drink cappuccino whenever you want, get them from your favorite coffee shop or make it at home.

Where was the First Cappuccino Made?

Although the cappuccino named 'Kapuziner' was famous in Vienna, the first and early cappuccino made originated from Italy, where it soon adopted the name most people are familiar with today. The first-ever cappuccino was made in the early 1900s after espresso machines gained widespread attention. Cappuccinos or 'Cappuccini,' as known in Italy, became popular in the nation, where both hipsters and ordinary individuals enjoyed the brew. However, during this time, espresso machines were complex and very bulky, so they were limited to a specialized coffee house and operated solely by baristas. They also used the devices to brew latte, cafe ole, macchiato, and mocha.

Italian coffee culture involved sitting in these cafes for hours, enjoying cappuccinos, cafe lattes, and regular coffee over conversations and reading. The era also indicated that cappuccinos often got served in the Viennese style, meaning brews are topped off with whipped cream or chocolate shavings. The cappuccino first became popular across Europe and England, which later moved on to Australia, South America, and the rest of continental Europe. It then spread to America in the early 1980s, mainly due to its marketing coffee ships, which previously had been more like diners with 'black coffee' on the menu.

A decade later, the introduction of cafe culture made the first latte macchiato, cappuccino, and similar beverages a big hit in the US.

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What is Cappuccino Made Of

Now that you know most historical facts about cappucchino, the next thing you need to ask yourself is what is cappuccino made of and what makes it unique from other espresso-based drinks? For the most part, modern cappuccinos consist of brewed espresso made from dark roasted coffee beans, steamed and frothed milk. However, in some parts of the world, many still make cappuccinos traditionally, topped off with whipped cream and other additions.

But as cappuccinos are defined today, in addition to a single espresso shot, the most crucial factors in brewing a cappuccino are the textures and milk temperature. When baristas steam the milk for cappuccinos, they create microfoam by introducing small air bubbles into the milk, giving it a velvety smooth texture. Meanwhile, the conventional cappuccino calls for a single espresso shot where the barista pours hot milk foam on top, resulting in a thick layer of steamed milk on the surface. You can make other variations by adding another espresso coffee shot, resulting in a more potent and creamier brew.

The drink's intricacy and its stringent 1:1:1 structural proportions make it one of the most difficult espresso-based beverages to recreate.

Is Cappuccino the Same as Coffee?

Since most specialty brews come from one drink, coffee, there is a lot of debate surrounding latte vs. cappuccino and questions if the latter is the same as coffee. The answer is no, and though they originated from coffee beans, they don't have many common elements. Firstly, regular coffee will always have 'weaker' or milder flavors than espresso, which gets used in cappuccinos. Additionally, traditional regular drip coffee doesn't require any milk or other ingredients, just coffee, and hot water. Meanwhile, you can virtually add anything to your cappuccino, ranging from ice cream to everything in the coffee menu.

Cappuccinos are milky espresso-based Italian classics. Its one-of-a-kind 1:1:1 proportions became standardized in 1940, making it a popular and favored brew in continental Europe and the United States. This beverage is usually served in a 6-ounce glass to show off the layering that's so distinctive that well-seasoned baristas can see and feel the difference in an excellent and poorly made cup. You usually create this brew like how you would do with a latte or flat white, just it has more espresso and steamed and foamed milk. Meanwhile, regular coffee is simpler than a cappuccino, where you can make them using standard single serve drip coffee machines.

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The Special Ingredients: What's in Cappuccino

Light and foamy Italian cappuccinos are a favorite drink of many coffee enthusiasts and have been around for centuries, but what's in cappuccino coffee drinks? And what makes it so delicious? The traditional cappuccino brewing method that people in Italy and Europe follow includes double espresso shot, steamed milk, and milk foam. If you don't like coffee with milk, you can replace it with cream instead. This drink is usually smaller in volume than lattes and boasts a thicker layer of milk foam. The espresso used comes from dark roasted coffee beans. When a barista pours espresso correctly, the foam will stay on top of the cup while mixing well with the rest of the brew.

You can make a cappuccino using espresso machines, the best cappuccino maker, or a coffee machine with a particular brew setting for cappuccinos. Additionally, just like latte art, you can also decorate this beverage using the foamy layer or adding a dash of cinnamon or cocoa powder, whipped cream, or chocolate savings, depending on your specific preferences. Although this process can be lengthy, it's usually worth the effort—and once you master the two 'basic' barista skills, pulling shots and steaming milk, you'll be able to make these coffee drinks yourself.

How Do I Make Cappuccino?

Now that you know everything you possibly can about cappuccinos, it's time to begin making some yourself. Today, it's known as the best morning drink to enjoy for those who like the strong taste of espresso alongside steamed and foamed milk's creaminess. If you have an espresso machine at home, you can start brewing a cup in the convenience of your kitchen.

Although there are several variations of the cappuccino, like the iced, wet, and bone dry cappuccino, here's how you can make the traditional brew at home.

  • Place 4 ounces of water into the tank of the espresso machine.
  • Add two tablespoons of ground espresso into the portafilter.
  • Tamp the grounds until packed tightly.
  • Put the portafilter into the espresso machine's group head and lock it in place.
  • Place a cup or carafe under the group head espresso machine and pull the espresso shot for 23 to 30 seconds or until you make a double-shot espresso (2 ounces).
  • Set aside the espresso and begin steaming milk. You can add sugar if you want.
  • Place the milk into a measuring cup or pitcher.
  • Put the steam wand into the container just below the surface of the milk.
  • Engage the wand on your espresso machine.
  • Keep the wand's tip on the container's side and then move it higher, lower, and closer to start making the milk foam.
  • Once the foamed milk is double its initial size, stop.
  • Top your shot of espresso with the microfoam.

The Proper Cappuccino Ratio

One of the most loved Italian beverages in the coffee community is the cappuccino. It's a hot caffeine-rich drink that's widely popular worldwide. It consists of an espresso coffee base and has a thick layer of milk foam. Any professional barista will tell you that the 'proper' way to prepare cappuccino is with one shot of espresso, textured or steamed milk, and a 1 cm or 1/2 inch of milk foam depth. Plus, a traditional cappuccino is a drink that ideally has 180ml in total volume (6 fl. oz.). As the conventional method of preparation would suggest, the ideal cappuccino ratio is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foamed milk—and it's typically smaller than a breve latte. You can also say that it has proportions of 1 part espresso to 5 parts of steamed milk.

Many coffee enthusiasts and casual drinkers enjoy the drink because of its versatility and flexibility of volume, size, and ingredients you can get away with when brewing cappuccino. Even if a coffee house provides several beverage sizes, the proportions of espresso, milk, and microfoam will stay the same. Additionally, you can customize your cappuccino brews using cream instead of textured milk—and add extra flavorings like syrup, whipped cream, and spices.

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It's no secret that the brew's history is an interesting one, with the term 'cappuccino' inspired by the garments 'Capuchin friars' typically worn in the past. The drink itself derived from a unique brew with the name "Kapuziner," consisting of whipped cream and spices—it's one historic beverage that people are still raving about centuries later. Despite being discovered in the 1700s, it wasn't until the 1930s when the brew made its way outside its Italian origins—where it slowly spread to Austrian cafes and the rest of the world, continually growing in popularity ever since.

Thanks to the brew's ever-growing popularity from the 17th century to the 20th century, you can now find cappuccinos worldwide, from Australia to the United States. Plus, variations of the drink have spread globally, and it's now common to find flavored and iced versions whether it's in restaurants or cafes—you can even make one at home right now!

We hope this article helped you learn more about the history and origins of the 'cappuccino,' delighting the taste buds of coffee lovers all over the world for years. If you haven't tried making a cup of cappuccino, try brewing one at home following the guide above—you'll be pleasantly surprised.


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