A cappuccino is a coffee drink that is a mixture of espresso and steamed milk. They have become very popular in the US over the last few years where most people assume that they are a relatively new beverage. In truth they have been around for more than a hundred years and very popular in Europe for decades.
The cappuccino first came into existence around the beginning of the twentieth century as this was when the espresso machine was invented. It didn’t take long for Italians to start adding milk to the espresso and the cappuccino quickly became popular. The early espresso machines were very large and complex machines so this resulted in cafes being created specifically to serve them. This was the start of the modern coffee shop as we know it, a place where people go and sit for hours drinking things like cappuccinos and lattes. Nevertheless they wouldn’t really take off in popularity for another few years.
It was in the years just after World War Two that the cappuccino started to really become popular. This was in large part due to the fact that the espresso machines of the period were a lot better than the early ones had been. As a result there were a lot more places that could serve the beverages. It also helped that in the boom years after the war people were more affluent and had more money and time to spend in coffee shop drinking cappuccinos.
The cappuccino remained largely an Italian drink until about the nineteen fifties when the British really took to it. The reason for this is that unlike most other cultures the British had been drinking their coffee with milk for years so this was kind of a natural for them. This huge popularity in Britain did not spread across the Atlantic however and Americans would really not take to them for many years to come.
The popularity of cappuccinos in the US is largely down to a marketing effort by the coffee shops starting the eighties. Up until then a coffee shop in the US was really a place to go for food the only coffee that was served was regular black coffee. A few entrepreneurs saw the popularity of cafes in Europe and decided to bring that to the US. The early attempts were not successful however and as they assessed the reasons for this they came to the realization that it was because these shops were not really the destinations they had been in Europe. In the US people came got a coffee and left, in order to be successful they would have to get people to stay and order more beverages, preferably higher priced ones. As a result they heavily marketed drinks like cappuccinos. The results have obviously been very successful with cafes now on every corner in the US.