A cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee drink that originated in Italy, and 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.It is typically smaller in volume than a caffè latte, with a thicker layer of micro foam.
The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the colour of their habits,and in this context referring to the colour of the beverage when milk is added in small portion to dark, brewed coffee (today mostly espresso). The physical appearance of a modern cappuccino with espresso créma and steamed milk is a result of a long evolution of the drink.
The Viennese bestowed the name “Kapuziner”, possibly in the 18th century, on a version that included whipped cream and spices of unknown origin. The Italian cappuccino was unknown outside Italy until the 1930s, and seems to be born out of Viennese-style cafés in Trieste and other cities in the former Austria in the first decades of the 20th century. The drink has since spread worldwide and can be found at a number of establishments.
As cappuccino is defined today, in addition to a double shot of espresso, the most important factors in preparing a cappuccino are the texture and temperature of the milk. When a steams the milk for a cappuccino, is created by introducing very tiny bubbles of air into the milk, giving the milk a velvety texture. The traditional cappuccino consists of a single espresso, on which the barista pours the hot foamed milk, resulting in a 2 cm (3⁄4 in) thick milk foam on top. Variations could be made adding another shot of espresso resulting in a double cappuccino. Attaining the correct ratio of foam requires close attention while steaming the milk, thus making the cappuccino one of the most difficult espresso-based beverages to make properly.