Frappuccino vs Cappuccino – How Big is the Difference?


Undeniably there is a huge variety of caffeinated drinks.

They all compete against each other for your attention and now on the battlefield are the Frappuccino VS the cappuccino. There are quite a few dissimilarities that those two have compared to one another.

I’m about to answer the most common questions related to the differences between the cappuccino and the Frappuccino. Which one of them is stronger? Are they both espresso-based drinks? Is there a hot Frappuccino or an iced cappuccino? Are those popular beverages always made with coffee? What is so special about them and could you find a true Frappuccino or a cappuccino only at Starbucks?

Let’s stop wasting any more time and get to the point.

Frappuccino versus Cappuccino – What Keeps them Apart?

There isn’t just one difference between a cappuccino and a Frappuccino. There are quite a few, so once you figure them out you will tell those drinks apart with ease. So here is the Frappuccino vs cappuccino comparison:

Cappuccino is an espresso-based Italian hot drink that’s usually made with 1 shot of espresso and equal amounts of milk microfoam and steamed milk. Its standard size is between 5 fl oz (150 ml) and 6 fl oz (180 ml). Frappuccino is a trademark of a cold beverage acquired by Starbucks and it’s essentially made with a mix of coffee, milk, sugar, and ice, all gone through a blender. Frappuccinos are between 12 fl oz (350 ml) and 24 fl oz (700 ml). To this date, there is a large variety of Frappuccino drinks, including some that contain no espresso or any other type of coffee whatsoever. Therefore the difference between Frappuccino and cappuccino lays not only in their temperature but also in their size, ingredients, calories, and caffeine content.

Here is an example of the visual difference:

More often than not the former is topped off with whipped cream and other toppings such as mocha drizzle and chocolate curls. Here on the photo, you can see a tall Caramel Frappuccino with some whipped cream and caramel drizzle on top:

There are a lot of different Frappuccino drinks made with differently flavored syrups and Starbucks sauces and the number of combinations you can make seems endless.

Diversity you can find when it comes to the milk too – usually, it’s whole, but you can have it skimmed, plant-based or even substitute it with heavy cream.

Generally, when it comes to the cappuccino there isn’t that much that you can alter. Of course, you can go for a decaf cappuccino or one made with plant-based milk.

Other than that the main variety among such espresso drinks is in the latte art made on them. This colorful cappuccino that you can see on the photo is a great example:

Shouldn’t they both contain espresso?

Those two drinks are unlike in nature in many ways.

A true cappuccino is made with an espresso shot coming out of the machine hot.

When added to the chilling Frappuccino the hot coffee melts the blended ice and changes the drink’s texture and overall mouthfeel.

That’s why Starbucks came up with the Frappuccino roast (also known as Frap Roast), which is basically instant coffee powder specially made for such a cold drink.

This powder is mixed up with water creating a strong and quite bitter coffee liquid that complements all the other ingredients.

Each Frappuccino contains a certain number of Frap roast pumps.

For example, in a Venti cup, you usually get 4 pumps in the beverage.

You can always ask for less or more pumps or to substitute them with an espresso shot or two, which would alter the Frappuccino viscosity and taste.

It will be a bit sweeter, you won’t feel quite as much bitterness and it will go through the straw easier.

Some options on the menu contain both espresso and Frap Roast, such as the Espresso Frappuccino.

What you should have in mind is that you can always alter your coffee’s ingredients at Starbucks, so feel free to do so if you have any preferences.

Just know that if you want a decaf Frappuccino – it should be made with decaffeinated espresso, as there is no such thing as a decaf Frap Roast.

Caffeine content comparison

It’s good to know which one – a cappuccino or a Starbucks Frappuccino is stronger. There are two Frappuccino lines – the Coffee Frappuccino and the Crème Frappuccino. The latter contains no coffee whatsoever. For example, the Strawberry and the Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccinos have no coffee in them, so you won’t have to worry about jitters if you pick on one of those drinks.

If you go for something among the list of the coffee line, you will more likely end up with a drink with a higher caffeine content than a standard cappuccino. An espresso shot usually contains around 65 – 70mg of caffeine. A cappuccino is generally prepared with just one of those. The caffeine content in a Frappuccino varies between 65 mg and 185 mg. It depends on the number of Frap roast pumps, espresso shots added, and the cup size you’ve chosen.

But it’s safe to say that if you usually go for a Grande, and don’t make any adjustments to the original recipe, you will end up with a Frappuccino that has more caffeine than a standard cappuccino.

What about Iced Cappuccino?

Starbucks now offers something called an Iced Cappuccino.

It has more in common with the Frappuccino because as you may have guessed – it’s cold.

It’s made with milk mixed with 1 to 2 shots of espresso, ice and topped off with cold milk foam. You can add some of your favorite syrups or sauces to adjust it to your taste.

Unlike the Frappuccino, the iced cappuccino doesn’t go through a blender, it’s always made with espresso, not Frap Roast, and has a significantly different mouthfeel.

The Iced Cappuccino isn’t as sweet and it’s a great alternative for those of you who are looking for a simple cold coffee during the summer.

Same as regular cappuccinos, you can find iced cappuccinos made in other cafès, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.

At some places, they do froth the milk using the steam wand and add hot foam on top of the frozen cappuccino mix.

Frappuccino, on the other hand, you can find only at Starbucks.

There isn’t such thing as hot Frappuccino, as its name comes from the word frappè, which in French means “chilled” or “iced” (when describing a drink). If you’re looking for a hot Frappuccino alternative I would say that ordering a Mocha or a flavored Latte are both safe picks.

Which one to choose?

I guess it won’t be hard for most of you to choose one or the other.

Deciding whether to order a Frappuccino or a cappuccino should be easy knowing all the differences I mentioned.

To make it even simpler I would say that if you are looking for a classic espresso drink that will give you the caffeine kick and won’t add much to your daily calorie intake go for the latter.

The Coffee Frappuccino is a great option when looking for a refreshing more viscous caffeinated drink that is sweet.

It can also serve you as a dessert on the go. Iced cappuccino is also a perfect alternative when opting for a simple chilling espresso drink.

So the Frappuccino vs the Cappuccino battle ends with a tie.

Which one suits your taste better? Let me know in the comments below.

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