Coffee has always played a surprisingly complex role in the history of work, trade and social networking.
The Cappuccino Conquests is a fascinating study of the history of Italian coffee running through Sept. 2006 out of the University of Hertfordshire. Tracing this history from the invention in 1947 by Gaggia of a machine that produced “café crema” using piston-powered compression rather than mere steam, which led to coffee bar culture. The project offers a great case study of how technical and cultural innovation and diffusion cannot be easily untangled.
The project studies the spread of espresso-based drinks such as cappuccino from their Italian origins to their current global prominence. It analyses the reasons for Italian coffee’s increasing popularity, the variations in cultures of consumption across different markets, and the extent that these drinks are still seen as ‘Italian’ despite their appropriation by American multi-national coffee chains. Britain forms the key case study of a market in which both Italian and American influences operate to create a ‘glocal’ culture of consumption.
Listed project aims:
- To evaluate the impact of Gaggia’s invention on coffee consumption in Italy.
- To identify the mechanisms by which espresso was exported beyond Italy.
- To decode the changing ‘meanings’ and ‘uses’ of cappuccino amongst consumers.
- To analyse the social and spatial patterns of its diffusion within the UK.
- To explain the UK consumption explosion since the mid-1990s.
- To deconstruct the drink’s ‘nationality’ and the ‘qualities’ with which this endows it.
Via Michael Lissack