“Cappuccino” takes its name from the Capuchin friars: the color of the espresso mixed with frothed milk was similar to the color of the Capuchin robe.
The Capuchin friars are members of the larger Franciscan orders of monks, and their order was founded in the 16th century in Italy. They were renowned for their missionary work among the poor, as well as their dedication to extreme austerity, poverty, and simplicity.
But Capuchins were also renowned for their dress. They wear a simple brown robe that includes a long, pointed hood that hangs down the back. The Italian word for this distinctive hood, cappuccio, gave rise to the Italian name for the order. When the cappuccino drink was first introduced in Italy, it was named after the Capuchin friars because the color of the espresso mixed with frothed milk was similar to the color of the Capuchin robe. The name, whimsical in a world of utilitarian coffee-drink names, stuck; we borrowed it into English in the late 1800s.