Frappuccino vs Frappe: Are They the Same Coffee Drink?

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Frappes and Frappuccinos are similar to coffee milkshakes, but explaining these chilled drinks isn’t as simple as that. 

A frappe is a chilled sweet drink with an instant coffee base blended with ice, milk, and sugar. Meanwhile, a Frappuccino is a chilled espresso-based drink trademarked by Starbucks. It involves milk, sugar, and toppings like whipped cream and flavored syrup.

Although these drinks are popular picks in any cafe, there are misconceptions about what makes them unique. It’s time to dig and discover all the similarities and differences between a frappuccino vs frappe.

What Is a Frappe?

A Frappe, a blended coffee drink made with iced coffee

Frappe is a chilled coffee drink blended through vigorous shaking of instant coffee, ice, and sweeteners like milk or sugar.

The continuous movement rehydrates the instant coffee, introduces air into the mixture, and gives your drink a thick, slushy-like consistency.

This texture change is the key to the rich, complex flavor of the frappe. With more air introduced, the coffee blend increases its surface area and covers more of your tastebuds with its rich and creamy flavors. Each sip is a refreshing treat you would not want to miss!

Why do frappes use instant coffee?

The creation of the frappe dates back to the 1950s when a Nescafe employee named Dimitris Vakondios wanted a cup of his usual instant coffee. At the time, he did not have access to hot water and could not make his typical cup of joe.

Fortunately, Vakondios knew of an upcoming chocolate drink made by shaking chocolate, milk, and ice. He copied the technique which led to the creation of the frappe.

Since the experiment resulted in this delicious refreshment, instant coffee became the signature base of the classic frappe. Without it, your coffee drink is not a real frappe.

Do frappes have caffeine?

Yes, frappes contain caffeine. The drink involves an instant coffee base that releases caffeine compounds when hydrated.

Caffeine content typically ranges from 60 mg to 120 mg per 8 fl oz serving in most instant coffee brands. For example, Nescafe Taster’s Choice instant coffee contains about 98 mg of caffeine per 8 fl oz serving, while Starbucks Via instant coffee is on the high side with about 135 mg caffeine for the same serving.

What Is a Frappuccino?

A frappuccino, an espresso-based drink made by Starbucks

A Frappuccino is a chilled espresso-based drink trademarked by the multinational coffee chain Starbucks. It tastes like sweetened iced cappuccino due to the contrasting flavors of the bitter espresso base and sweet milk, whipped cream, and flavored syrup. 

The famous Frappuccino is also often described as coffee milkshakes. Not only are they incredibly sweet coffee slushies, but Frappuccinos incorporate a wide array of flavors such as mocha, strawberry funnel cake, pumpkin spice, and apple crisp.

They also come in bottled servings at convenience stores and supermarkets for on-the-go coffee drinkers.

The possibilities for a Frappuccino are virtually endless, so there’s no telling what’s the next big thing for this coffee drink.

Do Frappuccinos have caffeine?

Frappuccinos may contain caffeine close to a regular espresso if they consist of an espresso base. However, some recipes omit the coffee component, so these have zero caffeine content.

For example, a grande Frappuccino (16 oz) typically contains 105 mg or less caffeine. However, that is not the case for the Espresso Frappuccino, which has about 155 mg for the same serving. It is currently the most caffeinated Frappuccino in Starbucks.

Bottled Frappuccinos also contain caffeine, as stated in the nutritional facts on the container. A bottled Mocha Starbucks Frappuccino has 50 mg of caffeine per 9.5 fl oz serving.

Frappuccino vs cappuccino

Many people assume a Frappuccino is just a blended version of a cappuccino, but these coffee drinks are very different. Here are some of their distinguishing features.

  • Frappuccinos have a sweeter flavor. Frappuccinos contain espresso, milk, sugar, and other sweeteners, while cappuccinos only involve espresso and milk. And so, the sweet component is more overpowering in Frappuccinos, making them the sweeter one between the two.
  • Frappuccinos are always cold. The Frappuccino requires ice when blending, so this drink always comes in a cold serving. Meanwhile, a cappuccino can be served either hot or cold, depending on a person’s preference.
  • Frappuccinos don’t always contain coffee. Unlike cappuccinos, the Frappuccino evolved to non-coffee flavors, so there are frappuccinos without the espresso base. The absence of coffee means zero caffeine content.
  • Frappuccinos are more versatile. Changing the composition of a Frappuccino does not alter its identity as a drink, only its flavor. On the other hand, the cappuccino has a specific brewing method, which results in a different drink when not followed.

Frappuccinos vs Frappes

It’s easy to confuse frappes and Frappuccinos as the same coffee drink. After all, the similarities are crystal clear. But, these drinks have notable differences that give them their identity.

What makes Frappuccinos and Frappes similar?

  • Chilled coffee. Frappes and Frappuccinos are chilled drinks made from blending ice, coffee, and sweeteners. Hence, they are always cold when served.
  • Slushy and aerated consistency. Frappes and Frappuccinos require vigorous shaking of the ingredients. The motion introduces air into the mixture, giving the same consistency as a milkshake.
  • Sweet flavor. Frappes and Frappuccinos give a sweetened taste due to the sugar, milk, and other flavorings present in the drinks.

What makes Frappuccinos and Frappes different?

  • Different coffee bases. The frappe uses instant coffee as a base, while a Frappuccino uses an espresso base.
  • Frappuccinos are Starbucks-trademarked drinks. Starbucks has exclusive ownership of Frappuccinos and its whole product line. Meanwhile, frappes do not legally represent any company or person – not even its discoverer, Dimitris Vakondios.
  • Frappuccinos don’t always contain coffee. Some Frappuccino recipes omit the coffee base, making the drink caffeine-free. In the case of frappes, removing the coffee base results in a milkshake, not an actual frappe.
  • Frappuccinos have multiple flavors. Frappuccinos exist in different flavors like mocha, strawberry funnel cake, and pumpkin spice, while frappes only taste like sweetened coffee.

Can I Make Frappes and Frappuccinos at Home?

Absolutely! Frappes and Frappuccinos are some of the simple brews among the different kinds of coffee drinks.

They don’t require too much accuracy, so there’s substantial room for error and adjustments. Plus, if you have the right tools and equipment, making your frappes and Frappuccinos at home will not be much of a challenge at all!

How to brew a frappe without a coffee maker

What you need

  • 2 tablespoons of instant coffee (1 packet)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup of milk or milk ice cubes (optional) 
  • Shaker (milk frother, cocktail shaker, high-powered blender, etc.)

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Combine the instant coffee, ice, sugar, and milk in the shaker. Do not pour all of the ice and milk at once. It’s best to start with less, so you can control the consistency and avoid a watery frappe.
  1. Shake ingredients vigorously. This process can take up to 20 seconds, depending on your equipment. Just remember that shaking longer results in a thicker and slushier consistency.
  1. Pour coffee into a glass and enjoy. Once you’re satisfied with the texture of your coffee, stop mixing, pour it into a glass, and enjoy while still cold. Else, the ice will melt, dilute the drink, and ruin the texture of a classic frappe.

How to Brew a Frappe using a Frappe Maker

What you need

  • 3 tablespoons of ground coffee
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cups of ice
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1-3 tablespoons of syrup (optional)
  • Mr. Coffee Frappe Maker – This machine can make your favorite frappe with just a single push of a button. It also includes a “pulse” blending feature, so you can manually adjust to the consistency you want.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Fill the coffee compartment and the water reservoir. Make sure that each section only includes the corresponding ingredient. Else, you may end up clogging the pipes and degrading the lifespan of your machine.
  1. Pour ice, milk, sugar, and syrup into the removable blender. You may opt to include other sweeteners depending on your preference.
  1. Lock the blender in place. All pieces must be secure to avoid spillage or, worse, accidents.
  1. Push the frappe button and wait. At this point, your coffee maker will make loud noises as it breaks down the ice. Do not be alarmed and wait for the light to flash, indicating that the automatic blending is over.
  1. Push the blend button to mix manually (Optional). Although your coffee maker stops after one cycle, you can continue mixing for a thicker and slushier consistency.
  1. Pour coffee into a glass and enjoy. Once satisfied with the texture, it’s time to reap the fruit of your labor and enjoy a delicious frappe!

How to Brew a Frappuccino

What you need

  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 1 cup of ice
  • 3/8 cup of milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Optional toppings (whipped cream, flavored syrup, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, etc.) 
  • Shaker (milk frother, cocktail shaker, high-powered blender, etc.)
  • Coffee machine
    • Nespresso Coffee Maker – If you prefer leaving all the work to your coffee maker, then Nespresso is a must-try for you! Their automatic coffee makers use Nespresso pods for delicious espresso. 
    • Keurig Coffee Maker – Keurig machines do not make espresso the right way. Instead of using high pressure, they offer espresso K-Cups that can copy the taste of authentic espresso.
    • Ninja Coffee Maker – Since Ninja machines don’t reach the required brewing pressure, they can only imitate espresso with their drip coffee concentrate. Here’s a guide on how to brew espresso using Ninja.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Brew an espresso shot using your coffee machine. Stick with your machine’s instruction manual since each has its features. Here’s a short overview of how to brew espresso using a manual, semi-automatic, and automatic espresso machine. These instructions are applicable for most budget espresso machines and mid-range espresso makers.
  1. Cool the espresso to room temperature. The heat from your espresso can melt down the ice and result in a watery drink, so it’s best to let it cool for a while.
  1. Pour the espresso, ice, milk, sugar, and syrup into the shaker. You can change the composition based on the flavor and amount of sweeteners you want.
  1. Shake ingredients vigorously. Frothers and blenders usually take less than 10 seconds of mixing, while manual shaking can go up to 20 seconds. Just remember that the longer you shake, the more aerated your Frappuccino will be.
  1. Pour coffee into a glass. Do not wait for the ice to melt before transferring your coffee to a tall glass.
  1. Top it off. Get your creativity running and top your drink with basically anything you want. If you’re a beginner, whipped cream and a dash of chocolate syrup are great starting points.
  1. Enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is frappe short for Frappuccino?

No. Frappes and Frappuccinos are two different kinds of coffee. Although both are chilled, milkshake-like drinks, the frappe involves an instant coffee base while the Frappuccino uses an espresso base. Also, the Frappuccino tends to be sweeter and more versatile in terms of flavor and toppings than the frappe.

Which is better: frappe or Frappuccino?

There is no sure way to verify which drink is better since the choice boils down to your preference. But, if you’re on a budget and don’t want to splurge on the top espresso machines, the frappe is an easy choice. If budget is not an issue, go for the Frappuccino to satisfy your sweet craving.

Journey to Chilled Coffee

It’s no doubt that frappes and Frappuccinos are cult favorites among coffee drinkers. They are sweet, rich in flavor, and incredibly refreshing – perfect for a hot afternoon! Luckily, the possibilities don’t end there.

Vietnamese instant coffee is an obvious choice for its strong Robusta flavor. Colombian instant coffee can also be good if you want a more mild coffee base. Or, tweak your Frappuccino by using variants of espresso like the sweeter ristretto popularized by Australia’s magic coffee.

What recipes of frappes and Frappuccinos have you tried? Let me know in the comments below!