Cappuccino vs Frappuccino: 6 Differences to Help You Decide

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Have you ever held up a line because you’re undecided on which coffee to buy? Do you want a creamy cappuccino or a sweet Frappuccino? Wait, is a frappuccino just a blended cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a layered creamy drink with equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and microfoam. On the other hand, a Frappuccino is a Starbucks-trademarked brand of blended iced coffee. This drink typically contains espresso, milk, sugar, and other sweeteners.

Let’s take a look at all of the differences between the cappuccino vs Frappuccino. We’ll check out their flavors, ingredients, nutrition information, and even how you can make these drinks at home.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is the base for both cappuccinos and Frappuccinos. It’s really just a concentrated shot of strong coffee. It comes from an espresso machine, a type of coffee maker that exerts 9 bars of pressure and forces hot water through finely-ground coffee.

Some prefer espresso as a standalone drink, but many add sweeteners to balance its bitter flavor and high coffee concentration. The harmony of these components made espresso-based drinks (like cappuccinos) favorites in countless cafes worldwide!

What Is a Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a rich, creamy coffee drink with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. The layering of these ingredients gives cappuccinos a bold but creamy coffee flavor brought by the sweet, aerated milk.

Cappuccino vs latte

Despite their popularity, many are unsure what makes cappuccinos and lattes different. That’s understandable since these drinks have the same ingredients. However, how these components come together spells the difference in the resulting drink. Here are some of them.

  1. Cappuccinos have layers. Unlike lattes, cappuccinos do not involve stirring espresso and steamed milk together. Hence, cappuccinos have distinct layers after consecutive pouring.
  1. Cappuccinos have thicker foams. Cappuccinos use milk microfoam that is a third of its overall volume. On the other hand, lattes only use a thin layer so the frothed milk can properly sit on the mixed coffee.
  1. Cappuccinos have equal ingredient proportions. Cappuccinos follow a 1:1 espresso-to-steamed milk ratio, while lattes have a lower ratio ranging from 1:3 to 1:11. 
  1. Cappuccinos have a higher coffee concentration. Cappuccinos use 1 part steamed milk to 1 part of espresso, while lattes use at least three parts steamed milk to the same shot. With less milk added, cappuccinos contain a higher concentration than lattes.
  1. Cappuccinos have a stronger coffee flavor. The higher coffee concentration of cappuccinos means fewer milk balances the bitter flavors. Hence, lattes exhibit a sweeter, creamier, and milder coffee flavor than cappuccinos.

What Is a Frappuccino?

Frappuccino is a cold, refreshing coffee slushie trademarked by Starbucks. They typically consist of blended espresso, ice, milk, sugar, and other sweeteners. However, some newer recipes omit the coffee component and incorporate flavors like strawberry funnel and caramel.

The constant thing about Frappuccinos is their sweet flavor. The sweetness can be so overwhelming that you may even wonder if you’re drinking coffee. Unfortunately, the high sugar content of Frappuccinos can also be the reason why Frappuccinos don’t wake you up as well as lower-sugar coffees.

Although the sugar rush can be a dealbreaker for some, it is also a huge selling point. That is why this product line delivers over $2 billion in annual sales of Starbucks – about a 20% share of their earnings!

Frappuccino vs frappe

Frappuccinos and frappes are blended iced coffee drinks that serve as the perfect refreshment on a hot afternoon. Although these beverages may taste and look the same, that does not mean they are identical drinks. Here’s why.

  1. Frappuccinos are Starbucks-owned. In 1995, Starbucks gained exclusive rights for the “Frappuccino” product line, so they are the only ones who can legally sell the drink. Meanwhile, the frappe does not have a trademark, so cafes are free to use and market it in their menus.
  1. Frappuccinos use an espresso base. Frappuccinos consist of an espresso base which you can modify with extra espresso shots in your venti. On the other hand, frappes have had an instant coffee base since their accidental discovery in the 1950s. 
  1. Frappuccinos may be caffeine-free. If a Frappuccino recipe omits the coffee base, the resulting drink is a flavored milkshake with zero caffeine content. In contrast, frappes always contain caffeine due to their instant coffee component.
  1. Frappuccinos are more versatile. Frappuccinos don’t follow a strict brewing method for it to be a Frappuccino, so there’s no limit to what it can be. On the other hand, tweaking a frappe changes the resulting drink.

Similarity Between Frappuccino and Cappuccino

Frappuccinos and cappuccinos may be different coffee drinks, but they have overlapping characteristics. Aside from the same ending syllables, these drinks also share the following.

  1. Espresso base. Frappuccinos and cappuccinos use espresso as their coffee base. However, Frappuccinos may also use Frapp Roast, a Starbucks-developed instant coffee base for Frappuccino.
  1. Milk component. Frappuccinos typically use whole milk unless you request non-fat or dairy-free milk from your Starbucks barista. On the other hand, cappuccinos use steamed milk and milk microfoam in their layers.
  1. Caffeine amount. With an espresso shot as the base, Frappuccinos and cappuccinos should contain close to the same amount of caffeine – about 65 mg. This amount applies to a 12 oz Frappuccino with no extra espresso.

Difference Between Frappuccino and Cappuccino

Some confuse the Frappuccinos and cappuccinos with each other, largely due to the similar names. But there are several key differences between these drinks in terms of flavor, nutrition, serving method, and history.

  1. Frappuccinos are Starbucks-trademarked. Frappuccinos have been exclusively owned and sold by Starbucks since 1995. On the other hand, cappuccinos are not exclusive to any person or company.
  1. Frappuccinos are always cold. Frappuccinos involve blended ice, so they are typically cold-served. In contrast, cappuccinos may be hot due to the steamed milk and hot espresso or cold due to added ice cubes, frozen espresso base, or cold milk.
  1. Frappuccinos can be caffeine-free. Since Starbucks holds the Frappuccino line of products, they can release non-caffeinated flavors – either with a decaf espresso base or no espresso at all. The same does not apply to cappuccino which requires espresso.
  1. Frappuccinos are sweeter. Frappuccinos contain milk, sugar, and other sweeteners that overpower the bitter espresso. Meanwhile, cappuccinos use milk that only slightly mellows the bold coffee taste.
  1. Frappuccinos are less healthy. Frappuccinos generally have higher calorie and sugar counts than a cappuccino. For example, a grande Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino contains 510 calories and 85 g of sugar – way too many calories in one drink and way above the 25 g daily sugar limit.
  1. Frappuccinos are more versatile. Unlike cappuccino, Frappuccinos do not follow a strict recipe. You can request anything from your Starbucks barista – extra shots, type of milk, and toppings you want in your Frappuccino.

Can I Make Cappuccino and Frappuccino At Home?

Of course! All you need is a quality espresso machine to make the coffee base for your Frappuccinos and cappuccinos. Some models even come with a built-in steam wand – no need for a separate accessory to froth creamer or milk!

Once you have the coffee maker, the next step is learning how to use it. Here’s a quick guide on making espresso with a manual, semi-automatic, and automatic espresso machine.

Alternative ways to make cappuccino and Frappuccino at home

If you don’t have the budget for an espresso machine, you can still make a cappuccino or a Frappuccino at home. All you need to do is mimic an espresso using a budget coffee maker.

  • Aeropress. Aeropress mimics espresso with a coffee concentrate brewed through a manual push of a plunger. The resulting Aeropress espresso is an alternative for the coffee base of your cappuccino and Frappuccino.
  • Nespresso. Nespresso is a pod-based coffee maker that uses pre-measured coffee packets to brew coffee. You can either use Nespresso cappuccino pods or espresso pods for the base of your Frappuccino.
  • Keurig. Like Nespresso, Keurig also uses coffee pods to brew coffee without the hassle. The trick is finding the best coffee K-Cups for your cappuccino and Frappuccino. Once you have that, the machine should take care of the rest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cappuccinos hot?

Cappuccinos are served hot by default, but you can also get an iced cappuccino if that’s your preference. For a hot cappuccino, layer equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam into a cup. For a chilled cappuccino, switch to frozen espresso cubes, add ice, or use cold milk.

Are Frappuccinos cold?

Yes, Frappuccinos are always cold since they contain coffee, ice, milk, and other sweeteners. Consuming it while chilled is also best to prevent ice from melting, avoid watery coffee, and maintain its slushy consistency.

Cappuccino vs Frappuccino: A Look into Milky Espresso

Now that we’ve covered what there is to know about these milky espresso drinks, you can finally make your pick with no trouble. For sweet coffee without sugar at home, a cappuccino is your bet. If you’re feeling a little lazy and craving a sugar dose, order a Frappuccino and satisfy your sweet tooth.

Once you’re up for a challenge, you can venture into making strong coffee at home or trying the strongest coffees from Starbucks. Who knows? You might even like it! 

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