The other day, after reading yet another "definition of the cappuccino" post out here in electric coffee land, I decided to go looking for pictures of these famous Capuchin monks we all know so well. I've heard a number of different references to their robes (or hats) and the appearance of a cappuccino, and decided that I probably should at least know what these guys look like. Google wasn't much help, and since that's the extent of my research skill these days (ahhh... musty college library stacks, how I miss thee) I figured I'd pose a challenge to the group:

1. Answer this question: What is the relationship between these monks' clothes and our favorite beverage? Is it the color of the robe? the shape of the hat? the combination of colors? the folds of the robes? something else?
AND...
2. Post a photo (or link to a photo) of one of these monks (preferably full-color) that supports your claim. OR, I guess if you've actually met one of these mythical beings and seen the connection firsthand, please describe the garment in detail and be prepared to justify your dereliction of iPhone camera duties.

Not to be an ass, but please only post if you are prepared to respond to both halves of the question. We all know the stories your trainer told you on your first day. Lets see if we can dig deeper than that and learn something together.

(Yeah, pics of this guy don't count...
http://www.women24.com/Woman/Content_Display/E-Cards/DisplayImageBl... )

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Nobody? Damn... guess I'll have to go look through some actual books.

I know this sounds dumb and trivial, and it is. But it's stuff like this that we all hear repeated over and over without any context that is starting to drive me nuts. We need an "Espresso Mythbusters"...
Hi Brady,

Your post really sparked my interest on this topic. I had not heard of this before, but I thought I'd try to do some research. Because I work at a University (not a barista yet, unfortunately), I have access to tons of online databases for book and newspaper archives. After going through many different databases, I found a fair selection of references to the Capuchin Monks and the origin of the cappuccino. I would like to respond to your two questions as well as I can, based on what I've found.

1. Answer this question: What is the relationship between these monks' clothes and our favorite beverage? Is it the color of the robe? the shape of the hat? the combination of colors? the folds of the robes? something else?
In all of the book and newspaper references I have found, the earliest dating back to 1954, all of them cite either the monk's habit (shape or color is not specified) or the color of the robes. Most of these articles say it’s the habits. Others state that the monks actually invented the beverage, and that it has nothing to do with their clothing at all. However…
In every single article or book source I found, only one of the authors referenced a source for their information (and the source he cited was only a generic coffee website). So, although this Capuchin story is mentioned quite a number of times, nobody says where they obtained that information, which makes it difficult to draw any conclusions.

2. Post a photo (or link to a photo) of one of these monks (preferably full-color) that supports your claim. OR, I guess if you've actually met one of these mythical beings and seen the connection firsthand, please describe the garment in detail and be prepared to justify your dereliction of iPhone camera duties.
Here is a picture I found of modern, Italian Capuchin monks from what I assume is their official website:

http://www.cappucciniviaveneto.it/cappuccini_ing.html

Looking at that picture (top of the page), I don't really see a connection. However, it made me wonder: What, exactly, is different about the outfits of the Capuchin monks from other monks in Italy? (Today or historically speaking.) Why would the cappuccino be named after them, rather than any other monks? I haven’t really researched that question yet. However, I did note this passage on Wikipedia:
“ They [the Capuchin monks] were given refuge by the Camaldolese monks, in gratitude for which they later adopted the hood or capuccio worn by that order - which was the mark of a hermit in that region of Italy - and the practice of wearing a beard. The popular name of their order originates from this feature of their religious habit, and after this the Capuchin monkey and the cappuccino coffee are also named by visual analogy.”

If we assume for the moment that this passage is historically accurate (can’t always be sure with Wikipeida), it would mean that the Capuchin monks wore the same hoods as the Camaldolese monks, at least during that time. My Google searches show that many Camaldolese monks wear all white (especially in older paintings), which actually corresponds with a 1972 article from the LA times, which says that the cappuccino has “a frothy collar like the white hoods of the Capuchin monks, from which the drink takes its name” (William Tuohy). Here are some photos of Camaldolese monks, in case you are curious:

http://www.carmelitehermits.org/Seasons/Winter%2009.htm


And just for fun, here’s an old illustration of Capuchin monks I found:
http://books.google.com/books?id=PAVaAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA77&img=1...

As a final thought, I’d like to pose another question related to this topic: Does anybody have a rough idea of when the cappuccino first came into being? It would be interesting to look for pictures of Capuchin monks from a similar time period, just to see if there’s any logical connection between the way they dressed back then and the way a cappuccino looks. I'm not sure if there would even be any difference, but if so, it might help a bit in solving this puzzle.

I'm sorry I couldn't contribute more personal knowledge or experience to your question, since coffee is not yet my area of expertise, but I figured since nobody has responded to this topic yet, and since I have access to all of these academic databases, it might be of some use. Let me know if you'd like further details on any of the articles I have found.

I'm also very curious to hear other people's thoughts on this subject.
Holy complete and thorough reply Carter... I'm gun' find you next time I have a project I don't have time for! haha.

-bry

Carter Quinn said:
Hi Brady,

Your post really sparked my interest on this topic. I had not heard of this before, but I thought I'd try to do some research. Because I work at a University (not a barista yet, unfortunately), I have access to tons of online databases for book and newspaper archives. After going through many different databases, I found a fair selection of references to the Capuchin Monks and the origin of the cappuccino. I would like to respond to your two questions as well as I can, based on what I've found.

1. Answer this question: What is the relationship between these monks' clothes and our favorite beverage? Is it the color of the robe? the shape of the hat? the combination of colors? the folds of the robes? something else?
In all of the book and newspaper references I have found, the earliest dating back to 1954, all of them cite either the monk's habit (shape or color is not specified) or the color of the robes. Most of these articles say it’s the habits. Others state that the monks actually invented the beverage, and that it has nothing to do with their clothing at all. However…
In every single article or book source I found, only one of the authors referenced a source for their information (and the source he cited was only a generic coffee website). So, although this Capuchin story is mentioned quite a number of times, nobody says where they obtained that information, which makes it difficult to draw any conclusions.

2. Post a photo (or link to a photo) of one of these monks (preferably full-color) that supports your claim. OR, I guess if you've actually met one of these mythical beings and seen the connection firsthand, please describe the garment in detail and be prepared to justify your dereliction of iPhone camera duties.
Here is a picture I found of modern, Italian Capuchin monks from what I assume is their official website:

http://www.cappucciniviaveneto.it/cappuccini_ing.html

Looking at that picture (top of the page), I don't really see a connection. However, it made me wonder: What, exactly, is different about the outfits of the Capuchin monks from other monks in Italy? (Today or historically speaking.) Why would the cappuccino be named after them, rather than any other monks? I haven’t really researched that question yet. However, I did note this passage on Wikipedia:
“ They [the Capuchin monks] were given refuge by the Camaldolese monks, in gratitude for which they later adopted the hood or capuccio worn by that order - which was the mark of a hermit in that region of Italy - and the practice of wearing a beard. The popular name of their order originates from this feature of their religious habit, and after this the Capuchin monkey and the cappuccino coffee are also named by visual analogy.”

If we assume for the moment that this passage is historically accurate (can’t always be sure with Wikipeida), it would mean that the Capuchin monks wore the same hoods as the Camaldolese monks, at least during that time. My Google searches show that many Camaldolese monks wear all white (especially in older paintings), which actually corresponds with a 1972 article from the LA times, which says that the cappuccino has “a frothy collar like the white hoods of the Capuchin monks, from which the drink takes its name” (William Tuohy). Here are some photos of Camaldolese monks, in case you are curious:

http://www.carmelitehermits.org/Seasons/Winter%2009.htm


And just for fun, here’s an old illustration of Capuchin monks I found:
http://books.google.com/books?id=PAVaAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA77&img=1...

As a final thought, I’d like to pose another question related to this topic: Does anybody have a rough idea of when the cappuccino first came into being? It would be interesting to look for pictures of Capuchin monks from a similar time period, just to see if there’s any logical connection between the way they dressed back then and the way a cappuccino looks. I'm not sure if there would even be any difference, but if so, it might help a bit in solving this puzzle.

I'm sorry I couldn't contribute more personal knowledge or experience to your question, since coffee is not yet my area of expertise, but I figured since nobody has responded to this topic yet, and since I have access to all of these academic databases, it might be of some use. Let me know if you'd like further details on any of the articles I have found.

I'm also very curious to hear other people's thoughts on this subject.
Carter, thanks for the great response.

I only have two things to add this evening...

An interesting little overview:
http://www.italylogue.com/featured-articles/history-of-cappuccino-w...

Also, the one coffee book that I have access too at this minute is Corby Kummer's "The Joy of Coffee". On this subject, he says:
"...the cappuccino, a drink named for the brown and white cowl of a Capuchin monk's habit..."

Again, I've yet to see a picture or authoritative description of a brown and white Capuchin cowl... which makes me wonder how accurate this is.

At this point, the only connection that I can see between this particular order of monk and coffee is the dark brown color of their habit (which, as far as I can see, only has white trim or belt). They were also known for having a smaller cowl, compared to other Franciscan monks, which makes me think that it may really be the shape which was being referenced here.

What I'm starting to wonder is if the drink wasn't actually named for the Capuchin monkey...
http://image24.webshots.com/24/5/1/11/110150111XGaVRP_ph.jpg
though named after the very same favorite Franciscan order, this white-headed, coffee colored little guy bears a far greater resemblance to the drink. And they received their name long before the existence of espresso, much less a cappuccino, so this is plausible...

Another reasonable explanation is perhaps that the name is far more literal, "little hat", as suggested by that brief little travel piece.

Surely I have better things to do with my time?
Brady said:
Surely I have better things to do with my time?

I know what you mean. :)

But this topic has really captured my interest, so I definitely want to keep researching it.

Perhaps there is a description of a brown and white cowl out there that's yet to be found... I haven't given up yet. Maybe I need to start researching monks robes in general, just to see what I can turn up. A picture of a brown and white cowl would be an amazing find!

I had noticed the Capuchin monkeys, but it did not occur to me that the monkeys had gone by that name before the cappuccino was introduced. It's definitely something to consider.

I will stay on the lookout for pictures or something...who knows what might turn up!
Carter Quinn said:
(snip) As a final thought, I’d like to pose another question related to this topic: Does anybody have a rough idea of when the cappuccino first came into being? It would be interesting to look for pictures of Capuchin monks from a similar time period, just to see if there’s any logical connection between the way they dressed back then and the way a cappuccino looks. I'm not sure if there would even be any difference, but if so, it might help a bit in solving this puzzle.


...from Wikipedia:

"....The first espresso machines used to make cappuccino were introduced at the beginning of the 20th Century, with the first patent being filed by Luigi Bezzera of Milan in 1901.[citation needed] The beverage was used in Italy by the early 1900s, and grew in popularity as the large espresso machines in cafés and restaurants were improved during and after World War II. The cappuccino had developed into its current form by the 1950s..."
Well, I might have found something! I stumbled across this random website just now. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but the description is a bit more detailed and even includes a photograph. Check it out:

"Even our habit is closer to the original. The name comes from the Italian “cappuccino” (“ little hood”) : the children made fun of the new friars’ hoods which were not little but big in comparison with the other Franciscans’. Capuccino coffee gets its name from its color, which is supposed to be like our habit also."

Photo and text are here:

http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Society_of_Saint_Pius_X/Vocations...

Notice that the hood is a lighter color than the rest of the outfit. I haven't seen that anywhere else. Also, I like the idea that the beverage was named after the hoods because of the color and the smaller size. Seems fitting. :)
Okay, the color clears it most of the way up, for me. The drink and the hood go by the same name. I don't buy the notion that size has much to do with it since espresso is significantly smaller than a cappuccino, which is "one cup" in size (give or take a couple of ml's). By today's standards, it may seem small, but don't let later culture be a determining factor.

The color reference does seem to make sense to me, but still.. there is no concrete source aside from lore and rumor.

I think we can assume that the drink is named for the hood itself, and nothing but the hood. That seems to be a step closer.

Carter Quinn said:
Well, I might have found something! I stumbled across this random website just now. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but the description is a bit more detailed and even includes a photograph. Check it out:

"Even our habit is closer to the original. The name comes from the Italian “cappuccino” (“ little hood”) : the children made fun of the new friars’ hoods which were not little but big in comparison with the other Franciscans’. Capuccino coffee gets its name from its color, which is supposed to be like our habit also."

Photo and text are here:

http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Society_of_Saint_Pius_X/Vocations...

Notice that the hood is a lighter color than the rest of the outfit. I haven't seen that anywhere else. Also, I like the idea that the beverage was named after the hoods because of the color and the smaller size. Seems fitting. :)
Jason, I personally was thinking of it more in the context of... the hoods are small, which makes them closer to the size of a cup -- more so than a regular hood would be. Not that the cappuccinos themselves are small. But I definitely agree with what you are saying.

The one thing that still bugs me is that this is the only picture I've been able to find of this style/color of hood, and I have no idea where this picture was taken or when. I'd love to find more photos of the same style of outfit, since having just this one is not a lot to go by.

And yes, there still does not appear to be any concrete sources for all of this. Maybe they're out there somewhere, but I certainly haven't found them. Still, the color is great, and I agree, I think it seems much more likely that the drink is named for the hood. :)

Jason Haeger said:
Okay, the color clears it most of the way up, for me. The drink and the hood go by the same name. I don't buy the notion that size has much to do with it since espresso is significantly smaller than a cappuccino, which is "one cup" in size (give or take a couple of ml's). By today's standards, it may seem small, but don't let later culture be a determining factor.

The color reference does seem to make sense to me, but still.. there is no concrete source aside from lore and rumor.

I think we can assume that the drink is named for the hood itself, and nothing but the hood. That seems to be a step closer.

Check this out. I don't know if this would help any, but shoots!
Interesting! I had not seen such a clear reference to the color of the hood before. Also, when I clicked on the blue book button on that site, it took me to dictionary.com's definition of the cappuccino:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cappuccino

And if you scroll down, you can find an even more detailed description of the origin of the drink's name:

Word History: The history of the word cappuccino exemplifies how words can develop new senses because of resemblances that the original coiners of the terms might not have dreamed possible. The Capuchin order of friars, established after 1525, played an important role in bringing Catholicism back to Reformation Europe. Its Italian name came from the long pointed cowl, or cappuccino, derived from cappuccio, "hood," that was worn as part of the order's habit. The French version of cappuccino was capuchin (now capucin), from which came English Capuchin. The name of this pious order was later used as the name (first recorded in English in 1785) for a type of monkey with a tuft of black cowl-like hair. In Italian cappuccino went on to develop another sense, "espresso coffee mixed or topped with steamed milk or cream," so called because the color of the coffee resembled the color of the habit of a Capuchin friar. The first use of cappuccino in English is recorded in 1948.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


This says a "long pointed cowl", which contradicts the small hood I wrote about in my previous posts. But, note that this website actually includes a citation! That's a first. And it looks like our campus library has this dictionary available, so I'll try to stop by there soon and see if there's any additional information about it in print.

illudereludere said:
Check this out. I don't know if this would help any, but shoots!
"Again, I've yet to see a picture or authoritative description of a brown and white Capuchin cowl... which makes me wonder how accurate this is." - Brady

What about the first picture in the upper left of the first post response by Carter?

http://www.carmelitehermits.org/Seasons/Winter%2009.htm

Seems pretty darn similar to me. And similar to the capuchin monkey. In descriptions that I've been reading on these links the monks go all the way back to the 1100's, have established themselves all around the world and were/are usually found trying to be near nature for a peaceful, natural environment to further their studies and prayers. It's just a hunch, but the capuchin monkey is able to acclimate itself to most weather conditions and is native to Latin America. It could have been brought to Europe via the Brazil - W. Europe trade route into Spain or perhaps the right opposite in that the monks went to Latin America and returned with the concept. I'm willing to bet that someone influential among the capuchin monks had a fondness for the little critters. I think the tie is there, but I can't find proof. I'm trying to find out which came first, the Capuchin Monkey in Europe or these Monks in Latin America.

I'm way stoked to see where this thread leads.

P.S. Anyone else having Carmen San Diego flashbacks?

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