The world of coffee is as diverse as the languages spoken on this planet. Each culture, each country, and even each city has its unique take on this beverage. However, when it comes to cappuccinos, the credit for popularising it worldwide goes to Italy. In the UK, our appreciation for a good cappuccino has been significantly influenced by Italian coffee culture.
So, what do Italians call cappuccino? The simple answer is, they call it cappuccino too! The term ‘cappuccino’ has Italian origins and is derived from the Capuchin friars, referred to the colour of their habits.
Why are cappuccinos only for breakfast?
It’s not that cappuccinos are only for breakfast, but in Italy, it’s traditionally consumed in the morning and is considered somewhat of a faux pas to order post-morning. This cultural habit is steeped in the nuances of Italian dining.
Digestion and Meals
The primary reason revolves around meals and digestion. Italians take their food seriously. A significant meal, especially lunch, is usually followed by an espresso to aid in digestion. A milky coffee like cappuccino is thought to be too heavy after a meal.
“In Italy, a meal has a structure, very specific: The cappuccino is a very important part of waking up, but after 11am, it’s time to have a proper meal.” – Italian Chef, Massimo Bottura.
Italians believe that consuming too much milk throughout the day, especially after morning, isn’t particularly good for the digestive system. Thus, lighter, milk-free coffees become the choice post-breakfast.
What time of day do Europeans drink cappuccino?
While Italy has stringent unofficial ‘rules’ regarding when to consume cappuccino, the rest of Europe is a tad more relaxed.
UK: Flexible Coffee Habits
In the UK, coffee habits are quite flexible. Whether it’s morning, noon, or night, if you want a cappuccino, you have it. The UK’s coffee culture, influenced both by Italian traditions and the American coffee shop wave, means you’ll find people enjoying cappuccinos at all hours.
Germany: The Kaffee & Kuchen Tradition
Germany has a delightful tradition called Kaffee & Kuchen (Coffee and Cake). This afternoon break, similar to the UK’s tea time, often sees Germans enjoying their cappuccinos with a slice of cake.
Spain: Late Afternoon Indulgence
In Spain, it’s not uncommon to see locals sipping on a cappuccino during the late afternoon. Their dining habits, which usually involve late lunches and even later dinners, allow for this milky coffee to find its place post-siesta.
Scandinavia: Fika Time!
The Swedish concept of Fika – a coffee break usually accompanied by something sweet – is deeply ingrained in the Scandinavian culture. During this break, which can occur once or twice a day, cappuccinos are a popular choice.
To provide a quick snapshot:
|Country||Popular Time for Cappuccino|
|Italy||Before 11 am|
|Germany||Afternoon (Kaffee & Kuchen)|
In conclusion, while Italy’s coffee culture has certainly left an imprint on the European coffee scene, each country has embraced, adapted, and moulded it to their tastes and traditions. So, the next time you’re sipping on a cappuccino in the middle of the afternoon, know that somewhere in Europe, someone is doing the same, albeit for entirely different cultural reasons.