The Difference Between a Frappuccino and a Macchiato – Explained

Updated: March, 2023

In this post, we’ll go over two great drinks that you’ve most likely come across.

It’s good to know the difference between the Frappuccino and the macchiato if you’re wondering which one to choose.

The latter’s traditional version is quite easy to distinguish.

But Starbucks has made it a bit harder, as their macchiato interpretation appears quite similar to the Frappuccino and a number of other coffee beverages they offer.

Is there really any dissimilarity between their caramel Frappuccino and, say, an iced caramel macchiato?

Let’s see.

Comparison Between a Frappuccino and a Macchiato

Here is the difference between a Frappuccino and a macchiato:
A Macchiato usually consists of a shot of espresso topped up with 1 to 2 teaspoons of milk foam.

It’s traditionally served in a demitasse cup with a capacity of 2 fl. oz. to 3 fl. oz. (60 ml. to 90 ml.).

A Frappuccino you can only find at Starbucks and it’s generally made with a blended mix of coffee, ice, milk, sugar, and condiments such as flavored syrups, and sauces.

More often than not, it’s topped off with whipped cream.

It’s usually between 12 fl. oz. and 24 fl. oz. (350 ml – 700 ml).

Therefore the difference between a Frappuccino and a macchiato lays in the fact that the former is a cold iced and blended drink of a bigger size that contains sugary condiments.

Also, a traditional macchiato has to be made with an espresso shot, while the Frappuccino isn’t always made with one.

Comparison between a Frappuccino and an Espresso Macchiato

Here you can see a classic macchiato and a Frappuccino:
Frappuccino next to a classic espresso macchiato

There are many different types of Frappuccinos, some of which contain neither espresso nor any other type of coffee.

Those are the ones from the Crème line.

In case you go for a Frappuccino from the Coffee line, have in mind that most of those drinks are made with something called a Frappuccino Roast (commonly known as Frap Roast).

This is basically instant coffee powder, trademarked by Starbucks.

They mix it with room temperature water and each drink contains a certain number of Frap Roast pumps.

They’ve come up with this alternative to the espresso because it goes with the Frappuccino recipe better.

Since the espresso is hot, after added to the iced Frappuccino beverage, it changes its thick icy texture.

The Frap roast doesn’t alter the drink’s viscosity and enhances its flavor very nicely.

You can ask to have your Frap roast substituted with espresso, so if you feel like it, do so!

The thickness of a Frappuccino is also enhanced through the use of thickening agents such as xanthan gum.

The traditional macchiato you can find anywhere, as it’s a classic Italian espresso drink that, unlike the Frappuccino, isn’t trademarked by Starbucks.

It’s a pretty simple caffeinated beverage, which I’ve always found attractive.

Its name comes from an Italian word that means “stained” as its recipe consists of an espresso, stained with some milk foam on top.

The milk foam softens the strong espresso flavor and it’s perfect for those that don’t enjoy drinking it plain.

If you want to find out what’s a topped-up macchiato, or a latte macchiato and how they compare to the espresso macchiato, check out this post.

Iced Macchiato at Starbucks – How Does It Compare to Their Frappuccino?

The macchiato, just like other classic espresso drinks, is differently interpreted among different coffee shops and cafès.

Of course, they all try to come up with something better that will make them stick out.

Starbucks has made something quite different from the macchiato’s traditional recipe and this variation has brought it closer to the Frappuccino.

To be honest, they’ve also made it quite similar to the iced caffè latte or mocha as they’ve added more milk.

If not iced, the Starbucks’ macchiato is a hot drink made with a mix of 1 to 2 espresso shots, milk, and condiments such as caramel syrup.

Still, if you’re at Starbucks and you want a simple drink that resembles the traditional version, just ask for an Espresso Macchiato.

The only milk it contains is in the foam component on top and there are no other condiments – just like the classic macchiato.

It’s also the only one which is made with up to 4 espresso shots – the 3.1 fl oz “Quad” size has that many and contains ~ 300 mg caffeine.

The Quad Espresso Macchiato is actually one of the most caffeinated Starbucks drinks.

If you want a cold Iced Macchiato, you will get a mix of 1 to 3 shots of espresso, milk, ice, sauces, and syrups, according to the type of drink you’ve chosen.

So here are the differences between a Frappuccino and an Iced Macchiato at Starbucks:

  • Compared to the Frappuccino an Iced Macchiato at Starbucks contains no Frappuccino Roast and is always made with espresso.
  • You won’t get whipped cream on top of an iced macchiato.
  • An Iced Macchiato at Starbucks hasn’t gone through a blender, while a Frappuccino has.

On the following picture you can see a side by side comparison between the Caramel Frappuccino and the Iced Caramel Cloud Macchiato:

Update: Cloud Macchiatos are actually discontinued. At the time of updating this post, the only iced Macchiato beverage that is present is the Iced Caramel Macchiato, made with milk, espresso shots, vanilla syrup, and caramel drizzle.

Actually, you can easily make a Caramel Frappuccino at home – check out this Copycat Starbucks Frappuccino recipe to find out how.

Which One to Choose?

Now that you know the dissimilarities between the iced macchiato and the Frappuccino Starbucks offers, it would be easy for you to pick.

I have one or the other only occasionally as a treat.

If I go for the Frappuccino I order it with an espresso shot instead of the Frap Roast.

I’d often choose the Macchiato at Starbucks just because it originally comes with espresso.

After all, it all comes down to personal preference.

On the other hand, if you were looking to know the difference between traditional macchiato and Frappuccino in general, you now see that they’re totally unalike.

I love the classic macchiato with its well-balanced taste, especially if the milk foam is combined with a flavorful espresso made with high-quality freshly ground beans.

If you’re looking for a similar alternative to the macchiato, you can try the cappuccino.

You can find more about it and how it compares to the Frappuccino by clicking the link here.

Anyway, I hope that you found this post helpful.

If you want, you can check out my post on the different types of coffee drinks to learn more about more than 45 beverages that are commonly listed on coffee shops’ menus.

You can also leave me a comment below if you want to ask any further questions or share your thoughts.

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