Cappuccino Conquests

This website presents our research project ‘The Cappuccino Conquests. A Transnational History of Italian Coffee’. The project will run from September 2004 to September 2006 and forms part of the Cultures of Consumption Research Programme sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Board in the UK.

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 ‘global’ culture of consumption.

In 1948 Gaggia began manufacturing machines that made espresso in ways that couldn’t be reproduced at home.The project considers the impact of this in Italy; the ways in which the Italian coffee industry exported espresso drinks; the role of the Anglo-Italian community in introducing these beverages to Britain; the 1950s coffee bar fad; the creation of an American culture of speciality coffee consumption in the 1980s; the introduction of this into the UK in the mid-1990s; and the subsequent coffee shop explosion.

Evidence is drawn from published and archival records, company documentation, contemporary newspapers and journals, market research, cultural products, plus visual and material sources. Particular emphasis is placed on the use of oral history.


  • 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.

Editor’s Note: The contents published herein are restored from the old website of “Cappuccino Conquests.” All rights belong to Cappuccino Conquests. If you wish to contact us, please send an email here.