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What Is a Frappuccino? (Facts, Flavors & More!)

frappuccino in starbucks cup

With so many coffee names thrown about by avid consumers, it is understandable that you are a bit lost about certain coffee types. One of the more popular coffee drinks that is universally adored, but seldom understood, is the Frappuccino.

With a delicious taste and longstanding popularity in the Starbucks chain, it’s no surprise that this drink is one of the more popular coffee options. It satisfies your sweet tooth while still giving you a bit of coffee. But what exactly is it?

In this article, we take a look at the Frappuccino, its history, and its competitors. Although the topic of coffee history may seem a little bit boring, the Frappuccino is pretty interesting to learn about. Let’s get started.

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What is a Frappuccino?

what is a frappucino
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A Frappuccino is a trademarked blended iced coffee drink from Starbucks. This drink has a coffee or crème base that is blended with ice and ingredients like flavors, syrups, spices, and whipped cream. You can buy a Frappuccino at Starbucks, or you can purchase a bottled version sold at gas stations, grocery stores, vending machines, and more.

The history of the Frappuccino

The word “Frappuccino” combines the words “frappe” and “cappuccino” into one. A frappe is like a milkshake, while a cappuccino is a coffee drink with frothed milk. By combining these words, the Frappuccino shows roots in both while being distinct from them too.

Although Starbucks trademarked Frappuccinos, they were first trademarked and sold at The Coffee Connection, one of George Howell’s Massachusetts coffee chains. In 1994, Starbucks purchased this chain, giving them rights to the Frappuccino.

The next year, Starbucks rolled out a new Frappuccino recipe. This recipe is based on the recipe for the coffee frap, frappe, and cappuccino. It mostly contains coffee, ice, milk, sugar, flavored syrups, and whipped cream. Today, Starbucks typically makes over $2 billion off of Frappuccino sales alone.

Two Starbucks Frappuccinos matcha and coffee with whipped cream and chocolate curls_Kate

Are Frappuccinos bad for you?

Unfortunately, Frappuccinos are certainly not the healthiest coffee option you can choose. Since they are loaded with crème, sugar, and syrup, Frappuccinos come with a lot of calories. Drinking a Frappuccino on occasion, however, won’t destroy your diet. You certainly should not drink it every day, nonetheless.

three frappuccinos
Image: AppleZoomZoom, Shutterstock

Does a Frappuccino have coffee in it?

The traditional Frappuccino does have blended coffee in it. In many ways, it is similar to iced coffee, especially because it contains brewed coffee. The traditional Frappuccino is made with a caffeinated Frappuccino roast. Because of how many other ingredients come in this drink, it is a favorite among those who don’t like a strong coffee flavor.

For the caffeine-sensitive, there are decaffeinated options. You will need to request this specifically whenever you go to Starbucks. For a decaffeinated Frappuccino, the barista will use decaffeinated espresso shots in place of the Frappuccino roast instant coffee. This creates a decaffeinated version of this favorite.

Easy Frappuccino Recipe
Here's how to make an easy Frappuccino at home! All you need are a few simple ingredients and a good blender. Add optional flavorings to take your treat to the next level.
Try this delicious recipe!

Can you get a Frappuccino without coffee?

Surprisingly, you can get a Frappuccino without coffee. Starbucks sells options that have a coffee-free base. This drink is called the Frappuccino Blended Crème. The Mocha Crème, Vanilla Bean Crème, and Caramel Crème are just a few examples. These options will have very little caffeine if any at all.divider 3

What is the difference between a Frappuccino and a latte?

Frappuccinos are commonly mistaken for a variety of other coffee drinks, one of which being lattes. Let’s take a closer glance at the difference between a Frappuccino and a latte.

Image Credit: WiPhotoHunter, Shutterstock

What is a latte?

Since we’ve already learned about the Frappuccino, let’s take a moment to learn about the latte. The latte is a pretty classic coffee drink. It is made from two primary ingredients: espresso and steamed milk. Although the exact quantity may differ, most lattes come with a ratio of 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk.

One great feature about lattes is that they can be easily customized since the base is pretty standard. You can add flavorings and syrups to add more dimensions to the latte. You can also use a variety of milk types, not just cow milk, to accommodate any eating restrictions.

Even more interestingly, you can replace coffee entirely in a latte. You can use tea instead. Chai tea, rooibos, and matcha are all popular tea-based lattes that don’t contain any coffee at all.

Frappuccino vs Latte

Now that we know about both the Frappuccino and the latte, we can look at their differences more critically. The most obvious difference between these two drinks is that Frappuccinos are cold while lattes are hot. You can get ice lattes, but you have to specifically request this.

Another difference is that Frappuccinos use crème to add a sweet and smooth taste, but lattes use milk. As a result, Frappuccinos automatically taste sweeter than a latte, unless you add certain sweeteners and syrups to the latte.

Finally, the last main difference between a Frappuccino and a latte is that Frappuccinos normally contain a Frappuccino instant coffee roast. Meanwhile, lattes are based on espresso. It is important to mention that you can get espresso-based Frappuccinos, but those Frappuccinos will typically be decaf.

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What is the difference between an iced coffee and a Frappuccino?

Frappuccinos are more commonly confused with ice coffee. Since both coffee types are cold, it makes sense as to why they are confused. Let’s take a minute to learn about the differences between a regular iced coffee and a Frappuccino.

What is iced coffee?

An iced coffee is a certain type of beverage where the coffee is served cold. There are a variety of iced coffee styles, and the coffee can be brewed in a number of ways. Some iced coffee is made through a cold brewing method, meaning that the coffee is brewed cold. Other iced coffee drinks are brewed as normal and then chilled by pouring the coffee over ice or into milk.

Since iced coffee has so many variations, it is more helpful to think of it as a category of coffee than a specific type. This will be incredibly important to remember in our discussion of how it compares to the Frappuccino.

Frappuccino vs Ice Coffee

It is not very helpful to think of a Frappuccino as being different from iced coffee. That’s because a Frappuccino is a type of iced coffee. Since Frappuccinos are served cold, they are just one example of iced coffee and belong to the category.

Starbucks Matcha Frappuccino with whipped cream and chocolate curls in to go cup_Kate

How to order “Frappuccinos” at stores other than Starbucks

Since the word Frappuccino is trademarked by Starbucks, you won’t see a Frappuccino sold at any other store. That is not because other stores don’t sell the drink. Instead, they call it something else since the word Frappuccino is trademarked.

Many stores, like Dunkin’ Donuts, sell similar drinks but call them frappes. If you are wanting a Frappuccino but don’t see a Starbucks around, most coffee shops will have another version, and they will likely call them frappes.

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Simply put, the Frappuccino is a trademarked coffee drink by Starbucks. It is an iced coffee blend that uses coffee, crème, and other additives to create a super sweet and light coffee taste. Other restaurants may sell their version of the Frappuccino under the name frappe.


Featured image credit: Olena Bohovyk, Pexels


Jaimie Wisniowski

Jaimie is a freelance writer fueled by coffee, whether it’s hot, iced, or made from a local coffee shop. She enjoys writing all things coffee, especially if it means trying the latest coffee shop trends (hello cold foam!). After spending years writing poems, college essays, and short stories, it only a matter of time to turn writing into a career. Writing about coffee simply combined two of her favorite things! When she’s not drinking coffee by the minute and writing at her laptop, Jaimie spends time hiking, exercising, and living an active life. She also loves to snuggle up with a good book and her dog, Margo. If you catch her without a cup of coffee, she’s probably on her way to the coffee maker now.

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