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America’s favorite fast food chain has become a surprisingly popular destination for coffee. Along with their McCafe lattes and Americanos, McDonald’s offers frappes—a blended coffee drink based on a classic but oft-forgotten style of coffee.
In this article, you’ll find all the facts you need to know about the coffee and caffeine content of McDonald’s Frappes, including the differences between the mocha frappe and caramel frappe caffeine levels.
Do McDonald’s Frappes Have Caffeine?
McDonald’s coffees all contain caffeine (except its decaffeinated drip coffee). You can’t have a frappe made with decaf coffee because the restaurant uses a pre-mixed frappe base for its drinks. This base includes a coffee concentrate which provides the coffee flavor and primary caffeine source of the drink.
Both the mocha and caramel frappes have caffeine, although the mocha does have slightly more. McDonald’s seasonal frappes also have caffeine contents which are typically similar to the caffeine level in the caramel or mocha frappes.
Does a Frappe Usually Have Caffeine?
Frappes almost always have caffeine, even if you don’t get them at McDonald’s. Frappes are often mistaken for Frappuccinos, which leads to a lot of confusion about their ingredients and caffeine content.
Whereas Frappuccinos can have a range of base ingredients, Frappes are traditionally always made with instant coffee. You could use a caffeine-free instant coffee to make a decaf Frappe, but your typical Frappe will have a caffeine content similar to that of drip coffee.
Caffeine Content in McDonald’s Frappes
While every McDonald’s frappe has caffeine, the specific amount will depend on the size of your drink and the type of frappe you order.
Do mocha frappes have caffeine?
When your local McDonald’s makes your mocha frappe, the counterperson will use a frappe base that includes regular coffee. Even if you could order a mocha frappe with decaffeinated coffee as the base, it will still contain some caffeine since it has chocolate in it.
Typically, chocolate contains varying amounts of caffeine, depending on its type. The milk chocolate syrup used in a frappe contains about 3.5 to 6 mg of caffeine per ounce. How many ounces go into the frappe depends on the size you order. McDonald’s offers three frappe sizes – small (12 ounces), medium (16 ounces), and large (22 ounces).
- Small mocha frappe — 100 mg of caffeine
- Medium mocha frappe — 125 mg of caffeine
- Large mocha frappe — 180 mg of caffeine
For comparison, a standard cup of coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine, and there are 63 mg of caffeine in a shot of espresso.
These drinks are larger than a cup of coffee or a one-ounce espresso shot, though, so the better comparison might be to some of the strongest Starbucks drinks. A tall Starbucks iced coffee has 120 mg of caffeine, and a tall clover brewed coffee can have as much as 280 mg!
Do caramel frappes have caffeine?
Although the caramel frappes use a different coffee base, it still contains the same coffee extract as the mocha base. The only recipe change stems from the exclusion of the cocoa and the inclusion of different natural and artificial flavors.
The caramel frappes come in the same sizes as the mocha but contain a little less caffeine.
- Small caramel frappe — 75 mg of caffeine
- Medium caramel frappe — 90 mg of caffeine
- Large caramel frappe — 130 mg of caffeine
What about other Mcdonald’s frappes?
Sometimes, the quick service restaurant offers limited-time or holiday drinks.
The eatery’s chocolate chip frappe, for example, isn’t on its website menu, but you can still order it at specific times of the year. It contains a greater caffeine concentration than the McDonald’s mocha frappe caffeine content or the caramel since it has more chocolate.
Do McDonald’s Frappes Have Coffee?
McDonald’s frappes are made from coffee, but not freshly brewed coffee. The frappe base includes a coffee concentrate made from Mcdonald’s usual coffee beans.
In order to reduce the bitter coffee flavor in their frappes, McDonald’s blends the coffee concentrate with milk, cream, and other flavors. That’s probably part of the reason McDonald’s frappes have become a popular drink with pre-teens and teens. By adding these other ingredients, the coffee ends up tasting more like the sweet drinks you’d get at a chain like Starbucks.
Can You Get a Decaf McDonald’s Frappe?
There isn’t an option for a decaf frappe at McDonald’s. Since they use a pre-made coffee base, there is no way for them to substitute decaf coffee into any of these drinks.
You can, however, get a decaf frappe at most other coffee shops. Since frappes are typically made with instant coffee, any coffee shop that has instant decaf coffee will be able to make a caffeine-free frappe. Just don’t be surprised if your favorite coffee shop doesn’t offer the option: frappes aren’t particularly common, and neither is instant decaf coffee.
McDonald’s is doing their best to compete with Starbucks and Dunkin’ to win the hearts of American coffee drinkers. They already have the most popular coffee shop drinks like cappuccinos and lattes (and yes, the cappuccinos also have caffeine). Toss in iced coffee drinks and blended drinks like the frappe, and there’s a whole lot to try on your next trip to the golden arches.
But there are still a few things McDonald’s is missing. For instance, Starbucks will grind coffee beans for you, a service that McDonald’s probably won’t offer anytime soon. Oh, and their espresso makers just can’t compare with Starbucks’ Mastrena espresso machines.