Happy feast my friend! Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio, and baptized by his parents as Francesco Forgione. The twentieth century saint was born so poor that he spent his childhood sleeping with a rock as a pillow. His parents were illiterate, but they never failed to cultivate their son's curiosity and narrated Bible stories from memory. His parents went through great effort to hire a tutor for young Francesco when he expressed his interest in joining the Franciscan order. Religious life required a somewhat higher level of education than what was available to Italian peasants and little did they know, their effort and trust in God’s plan for his son resulted in blessing beyond what they could’ve foresee.
“My past, O Lord, to Your mercy; my present, to Your love; my future to Your providence.”
Capuchin Monks live under the strict rules expected of any religious order and abide by simplicity in every aspect of their lives, but to no surprise, coffee makes the cut under the things that Capuchin’s consume. Padre Pio was known to drink coffee as any other respected Italian; especially when he gathered fame and started spending long stretches of time answering correspondence. We can assume that he mainly drank espressos, black drip coffee, and cappuccinos. The latter is actually named after Padre Pio’s order itself! Here is how the connection is made.
It has long been understood that the term cappuccino comes from the Capuchin Monks’ robes and the fact that the religious order and the drink share the same place of origin, but it actually goes deeper than that. What makes cappuccinos such an exquisite drink is the perfect ratio between espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. How can you make sure that you got this ratio right? You can double check by comparing the color of your drink with the color of the Capuchin Monks robes before topping your coffee with the last step, foamed milk.
Cappuccinos have long been considered the Italian staple way of drinking coffee. It is believed that Italians have lower tolerance for lactose when compared to their French neighbors. Consequently, the best way to balance the strength of an espresso is the steamed and foamed milk in a lower ratio than a latte. It is also understood that due to this reason, Italians traditionally drink one cappuccino per day and follow with espressos or macchiatos throughout the day. Macchiatos are the in-between cappuccino and espresso. The word macchiato in itself means “stained” or “spotted” and it signifies the stain or spot of foamed milk topping the espresso shot.
As much as Fridays are a day of fasting, today we can share a well done cappuccino. One with the perfect ratio to match the Capuchin Monk’s robe.