Frappe vs Frappuccino – The Ultimate Comparison

Updated: March, 2023
Judging by the names of these two refreshing drinks, we’d say they’re pretty similar, if not even the same.

But if we actually compare the frappe versus the Frappuccino side-by-side, we’ll find that they do have some dissimilarities.

In this post, I made sure to point out said differences and answer some basic questions related to the topic.

Here you will find what is considered a frappe around the world and what a Frappuccino actually is.

How do these types of coffee drinks compare to a milkshake?

Do they all contain coffee in them?

Is there any difference between the Mcdonald’s frappe and the Starbucks Frappuccino?

By reading this article, you will get those answers and it would be easier for you to choose one or the other.

So let’s get started.

What Is the Difference Between a Frappe and a Frappuccino?

The Frappuccino and frappe differences vary depending on the exact type of the former, and how the latter is interpreted and served at the place you order it.

Nevertheless there are some basic dissimilarities that you can use as a starting point.

So here is the Frappe versus Frappuccino comparison:

Unlike the frappe, the Frappuccino is a drink that is only served at Starbucks, as it’s trademarked by the company.

Even though some types of Frappuccino don’t contain caffeine, if you go for one from the Coffee line, you will get a blended mix of coffee, sugar, milk, and ice.

Frappuccinos are often topped off with whipped cream and contain different flavored syrups and sauces, added, according to your preference.

The Frappe is also a cold drink that contains ice but it doesn’t always go through a blender.

It’s not a trademarked beverage and its recipe is differently interpreted around the world.

The Greek Frappe version is made with cold, frothed instant coffee, ice, and optionally – milk and sugar.

The New England’s frappe (pronounced ‘frap’) is actually a Frappuccino’s ancestor.

It’s made with a mix of milk, flavored syrups, and ice cream, all gone through a blender.

This results in a drink with a similar to the Starbucks’ Frappuccino consistency and taste.

Outside New England, you will get pretty much the same beverage by simply ordering a milkshake.

But a milkshake in, say, Boston doesn’t contain ice cream – their frappe does.

I hope you aren’t as confused as much as I was when I was originally figuring out the aforementioned differences.

Since we’ve covered the basics, let’s go in-depth and explore both drinks further.

This would help you clear things out.

What Is a Frappe: Detailed Explanation

It’s truly a bit confusing to tell all these beverages apart, especially if not only their names, but also their ingredients, are similar.

The fact that there are different frappe variations around the world makes things even worse.

Here’s why I’ll start by simplifying things and pointing out that no matter where you are – if you order a frappe you will get a cold beverage.

In French, the word ”frappè” actually means ”chilled” if describing a drink.

The verb “frapper” on the other hand, means “to hit”.

This makes some people believe that the frappe is named so because it’s gone through a blender or a shaker.

Its ice is somewhat beaten or crushed to small pieces.

With that being said, let’s go over the two most widely spread frappe versions:

The Greek Frappe Coffee

According to my research, this recipe was invented by accident more than 60 years ago in Thessaloniki, Greece, by Nestle’s employee – Dimitris Vakondios.

As he couldn’t find hot water, he mixed his instant coffee with cold water and ice in a shaker.

This resulted in a refreshing foamy caffeinated drink that has been popular in some parts of Europe under the name Frappe (pronounced ”frappè”) ever since.

Here is what a Greek Frappe actually is:

Generally a Greek Frappe (pronounced ‘frappè’) is made with water, instant coffee, ice, and (optional) sugar.

You can also add milk to it which will make the drink lighter in color and less bitter.

It’s made by using a shaker or hand frother.

The classic recipe consists of mixing or shaking 1 teaspoon of instant coffee and 1 teaspoon of sugar with just a tiny bit of water until a thick foam is formed.

The drink is served in a tall glass and ice cubes are added to the foam.

Then the glass is topped up with either water or milk.

You can check out an easy-to-follow Greek Frappe recipe by clicking this link.

Below you can find a photo of a Greek Frappe, made with added milk:
Greek frappe, made with milk

As you can see the ice cubes haven’t gone through a blender and the consistency of the Greek Frappe doesn’t appear similar to the Frappuccino’s.

This recipe is also much simpler than the Starbuck’s drink, as it contains no syrups, sauces, toppings, etc.

The Greek Frappe itself is much more watery and doesn’t have the signature mouthfeel of the Frappuccino.

It also goes through the straw much easier than the Frappuccino or New England’s frappe.

Here you can see a photo of the slightly bitter Greek Frappe foam up close:
Greek Frappe coffee foam

This stable foam layer is present, because of the instant coffee’s chemical structure.

So you won’t be able to achieve such a result without using this key ingredient.

By the way, some high-quality coffee shops in Europe aren’t quite fond of instant coffee and use espresso in their Greek Frappes instead.

The drink that’s made in such a way is quite different from the original, though.

It’s impossible to achieve the thick foam layer that way, but they compensate that by running the espresso shot, sugar, and the milk through a blender (or a drink mixer) for longer.

This way the drink becomes sort of frothy and nicely textured.

The Greek Frappe, if made with espresso and mixed, is more akin to another espresso-based beverage that carries the name Freddo Espresso.

The process of making a Freddo Espresso

Or the Freddo Cappuccino:
Pouring cold milk foam over iced double espresso shot to make a Freddo Cappuccino

But let’s not make things even more complicated and continue on to the Frappuccino’s ancestor – the New England’s Frappe.

New England’s Frappe and How It Compares to a Milkshake

As I mentioned earlier, unlike the Greek Frappe, New England’s version is pronounced ‘frap’.

It is somewhat closer to the Frappuccino texture-wise.

It also has a consistency similar to a Mcdonald’s Frappe too.

This drink is gone through a blender and it contains flavored syrups, ice cream, milk, etc.

Now, if you’re wondering, here is the difference between a frappe and a milkshake:

In New England if you order a milkshake you will get a blended mix of flavored syrup and milk.

On the other hand, if you order a Frappe you will get a thicker beverage that also contains ice cream.

Therefore the difference between a frappe and a milkshake lays in the fact that the former contains ice cream.

This may be a bit confusing for some people that live in New England, as everywhere else in the US if you order a milkshake you will get a thick cold drink that will most likely contain ice cream too.

At the same time, many people that live outside New England have always thought that the Frappe is simply a blended coffee shake that contains no ice cream whatsoever.

Therefore when comparing the frappe versus the milkshake, their differences vary depending on your location.

What is a Frappuccino?

New England is actually the place where Starbuck’s Frappuccino comes from.

It is originally trademarked by The Coffee Connection (Eastern Massachusetts coffee shop chain).

It was invented by its marketing manager back then – Andrew Frank.

He had to come up with an iced coffee drink recipe to boost sales during the summer of 1992.

He drew his inspiration from the famous New England frappe recipe I mentioned above, and some other iced coffee drinks that were familiar back then.

This resulted in a greatly satisfying cold caffeinated drink that became a huge success – the Frappuccino.

The owner of The Coffee Connection, George Howell, was later offered by Starbucks to sell his locations and the rights to the Frappuccino name.

He was soon convinced, and the Frappuccino became a drink that is only available at Starbucks.

Today there is a large variety of Frappuccino drinks and Starbucks’ team seems to be eager to diversify their menu even more.

Nevertheless, there are some things to clarify when it comes to this beverage.

So here is what a Frappuccino is:

There are two lines of Frappuccino beverages offered at Starbucks – the Crème and the Coffee line.

They are all blended iced drinks that come in 12 fl. oz. to 24 fl. oz. (350 to 700 ml) cups.

Generally, a Frappuccino contains a mix of whole milk, ice, sugar, different syrups, sauces, and toppings such as whipped cream and caramel drizzle.

The drinks from the coffee line do contain either espresso, or something called a Frappuccino Roast (or Frap Roast).

The latter is basically caffeinated instant coffee powder, mixed with water.

Each Coffee Frappuccino drink contains a certain number of Frap Roast pumps and/or espresso shots, depending on its recipe.

Here you can see a picture of a Caramel and a Java Chip Frappuccinos side by side:

caramel and java chip Frappuccinos from Starbucks

The Frappuccinos from the Crème line are coffee-free and most of them have close to zero caffeine content.

Related post: Caffeine-free Starbucks Drinks.

An exception is the Matcha Crème Frappuccino, which is caffeinated because of the matcha powder.

Author’s Note: Did you know that matcha green tea powder contains caffeine?

If you want to find out how matcha and coffee affect us and what’s the differences between them, check out this comparison post.

Drinks from the Crème Frappuccino line are pretty similar to those thick blended milkshakes (or New England’s frappes) that you may be familiar with.

Especially if you decide to switch the whole milk with heavy cream (which I honestly recommend if you don’t mind the extra calories).

Speaking of tweaking the original recipe, at Starbucks you can always make changes by adding or replacing an ingredient if you feel like it.

For example, you can have your coffee Frappuccino with an espresso shot instead of having it with Frappuccino Roast.

Actually, the reason why Starbucks baristas use Frap Roast pumps instead of the espresso is that the espresso is always hot when it comes out of the machine.

When added to the Frappuccino cup it melts down the blended ice and changes the Frappuccino’s texture and viscosity.

This isn’t the desired effect which is why the Starbucks team came up with this alternative solution – the room temperature Frappuccino Roast.

It doesn’t affect the thick icy texture of the drink and it also adds more richness to the Frappuccino’s flavor as it has a stronger flavor.

Still, by replacing it with an espresso shot or two (depending on your drink’s size), you will get a somewhat sweeter beverage without those strongly pronounced bitter notes.

A Frappuccino made with espresso instead of Frap roast will also be slightly more watery, but just a tiny bit.

Even if made thinner milk alternative, such as skimmed or almond milk, your Frappuccino will still be thick and viscous because it contains xanthan gum.

This is a thickening agent which I also add to my Copycat Starbucks Frappuccino recipes. You can check out a few of them here:

By the way, espresso is actually used when preparing a cappuccino – a drink that the Frappuccino is also named after.

If you want to check out the differences between these two, just click this link.

You should also have in mind that a decaf Frappuccino can only be made with espresso, as there is no such thing as decaf Frappuccino Roast.

McDonald’s Frappe Versus the Frappuccino – Comparison

There’s been some sort of competition going on between the McCafè Frappe and the Starbucks Frappuccino for a while now.

Many people would cheer for the former, and just as many would be strongly convinced that the latter is better.

I’ve personally been a witness to such an entertaining discussion.

To help you figure out whether you’re on the McCafè’s or Starbuck’s team, let’s explore the differences between the McDonald’s Frappe and the Frappuccino:

The McDonald’s Frappe and The Starbucks Frappuccino are both iced caffeinated blended drinks with a rather thick texture.

Generally, the former has higher calorie content and is less caffeinated than the latter.

A McDonald’s Frappe is sweeter than a Frappuccino from the Coffee line.

The Frappuccino, on the other hand, is more expensive than a McCafè Frappe.

On the following photo you can see a Starbucks Frappuccino and a Frappe from McDonlald’s:
McCafè Frappe and Frappuccino drinks side-by-side

Both drinks contain thickening agents such as guar gum in the McCafè and xanthan gum in the Frappuccino.

It’s important to point out the fact that the McCafè Frappe contains high-fructose corn syrup, which, according to some studies, is quite addictive.

This might explain why after each McCafè Frappe cup we end up craving it more and more.

According to Starbuck’s website, Frappuccinos don’t contain this additive.

Nevertheless, both drinks are sweet and we all know that when it comes to sugar – the more we have, the more we want.

I prefer having a Frappuccino as its taste suits me better.

Even though I don’t have it daily, it’s my guilty pleasure I get to enjoy every once in a while.

The fact that I don’t have one every day is also the reason why its price doesn’t bother me.

The McDonald’s Frappe is a bit too sweet for me. Furhtemore it contains around 100-130 calories more than my Frappuccino.

Which One to Choose?

Now that you know what a Frappuccino actually is and how it compares to a frappe, you’ve most probably chosen the drink that suits your taste better.

After all the details I gave you, it’s now up to you to pick the winner of the frappe versus Frappuccino battle.

I hope I managed to give you some interesting and useful information that will let you make more informed decisions in the future.

It was quite entertaining for me to do the research for this article and write on this topic.

I just love finding out more and more about different types coffee drinks.

Here are a few other beverage comparison posts, which you may find intriguing:

By the way, if you feel like it, drop me a comment below to share your thoughts on this post.

I’d love to see what you guys think after reading my article.

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