Frappe vs Frappuccino – The Ultimate Comparison


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 we’ll find that they do have some dissimilarities. In this post, I made sure to point those differences out 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 they compare to a milkshake? Do they 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 the latter’s variation 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 basically get a blended mix of coffee, sugar, milk, and ice. Frappuccinos are often topped off with whipped cream and contain different syrups and sauces 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 optional milk and sugar. The New England’s frappe (pronounced ‘frap’) is actually a Frappuccino’s ancestor. It’s made with a mix of milk, flavoring syrups, and ice cream all gone through a blender resulting in a drink with a similar to the Frappuccino’s 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 I was when I was originally figuring those differences out.

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 those beverages apart, especially if not only their names but also their recipes appear 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 a 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 water or milk.

You can check out its easy-to-follow recipe by clicking this link.

Below you can find a photo of a Greek Frappe made with added 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 drink 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 the New England’s frappe.

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

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.

This makes the thick foam layer impossible to achieve, but they compensate that by running the espresso shot, sugar and milk through a blender for longer.

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

New England’s Frappe and How Does it Compare to a Milkshake

As I mentioned earlier, unlike the Greek’s Frappe the 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 flavoring 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 lies in the fact that the former contains ice cream.

This might be a bit confusing for some people that live there, as everywhere else in the US if you opt for a milkshake you will get a nicely textured drink that will most likely contain ice cream too.

At the same time, many people that live outside of New England have always thought 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 who 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 variations 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 a 12 to 24 fl oz (350 to 700 ml) cups. Generally, a Frappuccino contains a mix of whole milk, ice, sugar, different syrups and sauces according to your taste, 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 according to its recipe.

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

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

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

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

Especially if you decide to switch the whole milk with heavy cream (which I honestly recommend if you’re ready for 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.

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

By the way, espresso is 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:

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 personally 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 and contains 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 coffee drinks.

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 this.

Which one do you prefer – the frappe or the Frappuccino?

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