Cappuccino was inspired by 16th-century Catholic friars 


The name of the popular coffee beverage is a reference to the brown robe and white belt of Capuchin friars.

Cappuccino, a blend of espresso and steamed milk foam, is probably one of the most famous coffee beverages around the world. But not many of us may know that the name of this beloved drink goes back to Capuchin friars, a movement started in 16th-century Italy.


Founded in 1525 by Matteo Bassi, the Capuchin order was an offspring of the Franciscan movement that was dedicated to rediscovering the original values of poverty and simplicity that had inspired St. Francis in the 13th century. Capuchins choose a simple brown hooded robe and white cord belt as their dress, and allegedly got their name as local children would call them “cappuccini” (the equivalent of “hoodies”) to mock their long pointed hoods. Today, there are an estimated 11,000 Capuchin friars, and some of the most notable Capuchin saints include Padre Pio. 

©MP | Portfolio | Leemage
<font size="5">St. Padre Pio (1887 - 1968)</font>

The exact date in which the term “cappuccino” was first used to describe coffee is less clear. Some argue that its origins go back to 1680s, when Austrian Emperor Leopold I took on a Capuchin friar, Marco D’Aviano, as a confidant. That’s when Viennese coffee shops started to make “kapuzin” coffee. Others argue that the term originated in 1930s Italy, when the invention of the espresso machine made the modern version of “cappuccino” possible. 

Either way, it is to the brown and white dress of Capuchin friars that we owe the name of one the world’s most loved coffee drinks! 


Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.