In a fight against against the global spread of super-sized frappuccinos and iced cappuccinos, Italy has certified what it considers the classic cappuccino.
In a snub to the Starbucks-driven craze for loading gallons of hot frothy coffee-flavored liquid into cardboard pots, Italy's National Institute for Italian Espresso is defending the traditional squirt of steamed milk over a shot of espresso that is knocked back by millions of Italians every morning at zinc-topped bars all over the country.
The newly certified milky coffee, which is served only in a ceramic cup, was offered to members of parliament and ministers at an event sponsored by the parliamentary culture commission.
The institute has already given a government-backed certification to the perfect espresso coffee.
On Sunday the organization's president, Marco Paladini, stood up for the beleaguered cappuccino, promising "to protect this important expression of our national gastronomic culture ... A great success abroad, but not always made with adequate sensory quality", the newspaper Il Giornale quoted him as saying.
More froth than liquid, the Italian cappuccino can be swallowed in seconds and according to purists should leave a smear of milk on the inside of the cup. Stirring the beverage to mix the milk with the coffee that lurks in the bottom should not produce an overall brown color, but streaks of coffee in the pure white foam.
According to many Italians, the light brown color is similar to that of the robes worn by Italy's Capuchin monks, hence the name.