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How to Drink Cappuccinos Like the Italians

a cup of cappuccino

Cappuccino is a classic Italian coffee that has been adopted and changed by other coffee drinking cultures. In this article we are going to go back to the origins of this traditional beverage and explain how to drink your cappuccino in the true Italian style.

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How to Drink a Cappuccino like the Italians

Italians always order at the bar and drink cappuccino before 11 am. An Italian cappuccino is made from 25ml espresso with 50% foam and 50% milk.

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Image Credit: Matt Hoffman, Unsplash

Cappuccino Variations

Italian cappuccino is traditionally made with around 25 ml of espresso and then an even combination of milk and foam on top. Cappuccino in Italy is served lukewarm and ready to drink, in an 8oz cup.

In other western cultures, cappuccino has become something quite different. A common cappuccino recipe is one-third espresso to one-third foam and milk. This results in a stronger coffee that isn’t as balanced and sweet as an Italian cappuccino.

The cappuccino drink in America, for example, is normally served in a bigger cup, with more espresso, and at a much hotter temperature.

In some third-wave specialty coffee shops, there is very little distinction between a cappuccino and other milk-based coffees. This type of coffee usually consists of micro-foamed milk and a thin layer of foam on top with latte art. Less foam is optimum for creating latte art, which is the priority in the specialty coffee movement.

Curious what are the differences between various espresso beverages? Check our article here: Latte vs Cappuccino vs Flat White.

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How to Drink Cappuccino Coffee in Italy:

In contrast to other coffee drinking cultures, coffee in Italy is consumed standing and normally ordered and drunk at the bar. If you order it at a table, to sit down and drink your cappuccino in Italy, it will generally be more expensive.

When to Drink Cappuccino?

Cappuccino is always consumed in Italy before 11 am. This tradition comes from the fact that milk is hard for Italians to digest. Limiting milk consumption to a morning coffee allows Italians to moderate their milk intake and to avoid an upset stomach. Cappuccino is typically consumed with or shortly after breakfast.

mocha cappuccino
Image credit: Unsplash

Should You Stir a Cappuccino?

Whether you stir a cappuccino is down to personal preference. Stirring can help to properly emulsify the coffee and foam together so that you get a more even texture. Stirring coffee also evenly disperses the various coffee flavors throughout the beverage. Stirring is highly recommended if you take your cappuccino with sugar.

However, stirring cappuccino ruins the aesthetic and gives it a muddy appearance.

Does an Italian Cappuccino Have Chocolate Dusting on Top?

Traditional Italian cappuccino does not come with chocolate powder on top. Chocolate was added to cappuccino by other coffee drinking cultures.

Does a Cappuccino need Sugar?

A well-made cappuccino is a naturally sweet beverage and does not require sugar. If you are drinking proper cappuccino in Italy, I recommend trying your cappuccino first before you add sugar. I think you will be surprised by its sweetness! A properly steamed milk is naturally sweet. Steaming transforms some of the sugars in milk and brings out more sweetness.

does a cappuccino have caffeine
Image credit: Unsplash

Do You Drink the Foam in a Cappuccino?

In short: yes. The creamy foam in a cappuccino is delicious and can absolutely be drunk. For me, one of the most enjoyable parts of drinking cappuccino is leftover foam in your cup when there is no more liquid – scoop out the foam with a teaspoon and enjoy like a mini dessert after your coffee.

Special Cappuccino Requests

While a cappuccino is traditionally prepared in a specific way, most modern-day baristas are happy to accommodate special requests. For example, you can ask for your cappuccino to be ‘extra hot’ or ‘extra wet’, which means with less foam. Make sure to tell your barista as you order, before he has started making your coffee.

Enjoy Cappuccino with a Glass of Water

Coffee in Italy is often enjoyed alongside a glass of water, which is used as a palette cleanser between coffee sips.

How do you enjoy your cappuccino?


Featured Image Credit: Engin_Akyurt, Pixabay

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Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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