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What Is A Frappuccino? — The Delicious Treat Demystified

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The delectable Frappuccino is a beloved beverage.

It is available in several variants, which flirt with the domain of other beverages.

These small things can make one wonder what is a Frappuccino?

The distinction between a frappe and other beverages like iced latte and milkshakes is a thin line.

At many points, the line is blurry and even broken.

Frappe Vs Frappuccino

I’ll start simple. Frappuccino is a trademarked brand of Starbucks.

Broadly, that means a Frappuccino can be legally sold by Starbucks or by those permitted by Starbucks to use the trademark.

Frappuccino is a portmanteau of “frappe” and “cappuccino”.

The beverage was originally developed and trademarked in Massachusetts by a chain called The Coffee Connection.

The coffee shop chain was then acquired by Starbucks, who after a few changes to the recipe, brought the Frappuccino back to the market. 

Frappe V Frappuccino

By name, the distinction seems quite clear.

A (New England) frappe is a thick milkshake with icecream.

A Frappuccino adds a shot of espresso/cappuccino to that mix.

However, the recipe has undergone quite a change and strictly speaking, neither of those definitions holds.

Most variants of the Frappuccino flavors no longer contain espresso or cappuccino.

The crème based Frappuccino often contains no coffee.

Many variants where you taste coffee have a coffee base rather than actual coffee.

The most commonly used coffee powder is Frappuccino roast, which tastes something like instant coffee and is especially used for Frappuccinos.

The modern Starbucks recipe has milk, sugar, flavored syrups, and whipped cream.

Coffee and ice may be used as well. I do still prefer the old way of having an espresso shot poured in. I insist it tastes better!

You would find a modern Frappe to be quite similar.

For example, a McCafe Mocha Frappe will seem quite similar in preparation to the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino. 

The Traditional Way Of Frappuccino Vs Frappe

Starbucks’s success with the Frappuccino has inspired many companies to create their own ‘Frappuccino’.

Many of them have relied on the name of Frappe to create their own versions of the Frappuccino.

The traditional frappe rose to popularity in Greece several decades ago.

It spread from there and gained fame throughout the world.

The Greek way of making a frappe is fairly simple.

Start with instant coffee, sugar, and water (milk optional) in a cocktail shaker or mixer.

Shake it till a frothy layer is formed up top, and enjoy the frappe.

New England has a slightly different interpretation of the frappe.

The traditional beverage there is a thick milkshake with an icecream topping.

Bear in mind, this applies best to the more “purist” establishment.

As for the modern Frappuccino, all ingredients are put into a blender.

The blender runs till a layer of froth is formed.

The ingredients may include syrups and flavoring.

Once blended, the beverage is topped with whipped cream and other garnishings. 

Milkshake Vs Frappe and Frappuccino

So how does milkshake figure in the equation going beyond frappe vs Frappuccino?

We could simply say that the frappe and Frappuccino include coffee, while milkshake doesn’t necessarily include it.

Again, a more traditional interpretation is helpful, and perhaps best looked through the New England lens.

A milkshake includes milk and syrup.

The ingredients may either be blended or shaken vigorously.

A larger goal here is the consistency of the drink.

A New England Frappe is a thick milkshake topped with icecream.

On the other hand, a Greek frappe is a mix of instant coffee, ice, and water, shaken in a mixer.

Frappuccino in its conventional format is a New England Frappe with added espresso or coffee.

Again, the lines dividing these get thin, blurry, and broken all the time.

For example, many modern coffee shops and chains skip the ice cream for their beverages.

It is replaced by a thickener that helps better bind the ingredients and gives the beverage excellent consistency.

Similarly, most modern Frappuccinos do not contain espresso, unless you ask for it specifically.

Another difference is that the Frappuccino and frappe allow better control over the ingredients.

In a coffee shop, you may request the addition/removal of specific ingredients to better suit your tastes.

That reminds me, if you haven’t had a “conventional” Frappuccino yet, make it a point to have one with that espresso shot added.

Frappuccino Chips can wait for another day!

Frappuccino Ingredients – What’s In Your Frappuccino?

Given the fairly large number of flavors available, I’ll focus on the more common ingredients.

vector graphic showing a bunch of frappuccinos lined up next to one another in a starbucks store - image for what is a frappuccino post

Frappuccino Roast Coffee

Starbucks uses a special type of instant coffee for its coffee-based Frappuccino.

The Frappuccino Roast was introduced to replace the traditional shot of espresso.

Its advantage is that (compared to espresso) it gives the drink a better texture.

Additionally, espresso causes other ingredients to expand, leaving less room.

The special roast gets around that problem. 

I still believe the espresso tastes better, but as described here, Starbucks has a good reason to tinker with Frappuccino ingredients for better coffee, rather, beverages.

Popular Frappuccino flavors that use this include coffee, espresso, mocha, white mocha, caramel, and Java chip.

Frappuccino Crème

Frappuccino Crème forms a base, and most beverages that use this do not contain any coffee.

This includes flavors for special events like the Halloween Frappuccino.

Other popular flavors include Vanilla, Green Tea, and Double Chocolatey Chip.

Sauces And Syrups

Several sauces and syrups are used in various flavors. For example, the Caramel Frappuccino contains a caramel syrup as well as caramel sauce.

These syrups and sauces can serve to add flavor, and may also serve as a base for your Frappuccino.

In many flavors, a Frappuccino Syrup is used, which may be primarily responsible for the flavor of the coffee.

In many cases, this syrup can also include the coffee flavor, which can add the “coffee” taste to the Frappuccino, without it having actual coffee added.

Whipped Cream

Whipped Cream is a fixture on practically all Frappuccinos.

A Whole Lot Of Calories And Sugar

Your average Frappuccino is loaded with calories and sugar.

Interestingly, most Frappuccinos have lower caffeine than an average coffee cup.

An average Frappuccino is practically a calorie and sugar bomb. 

Most of the sauces and syrups are crafted synthetically. It’s just more economical and convenient.

An unfortunate effect of this approach is that though delicious, these are loaded with calories and sugar.

More so than the “natural” or conventionally-sourced versions.

The whipped cream is as big a draw on calories and sugar.

It’s best to avoid drinking a Frappuccino with any amount of regularity.

Maybe keep it as a guilty pleasure you enjoy once in a blue moon.

Just remember those Starbucks Frappuccino calories will need you to work out like crazy to make up for their numbers!

Starbucks Frappuccino Calories

Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino

While we are on topic, it’s best to add a little more detail on all the calories you get from a Frappuccino.

Here are the numbers The table here shows Frappuccino flavors and the number of calories they contain.

These numbers are for Grande (16 fl oz) with whole milk and whipped cream (as applicable). 

Coffee Frappuccino240
Espresso Frappuccino230
Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino430
Caramel Frappuccino420
Caramel Ribbon Crunch490
Chai Crème Frappuccino360
Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino420
Java Chip Frappuccino470
Matcha Green Tea Crème Frappuccino430
Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino500
Mocha Frappuccino410
S’mores Frappuccino490
Strawberry Frappuccino390
White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino®420

Avoiding Them Calories

Frappuccinos are, without a doubt, packed with calories and sugar.

You can, however, make some changes to reduce the number of calories you take.

For example, switching to non-fat milk or almond/coconut milk has a marked change in the number of calories. 

Giving up whipped cream is a big change.

Moving to smaller portions is useful as well, and can keep you away from calories.

Starbucks also makes available “Light” variants of many of the flavors listed here.

When you order, enquire if there is a light version available for the flavor.

When available, these “light” variants knock of a serious amount of calories from the Frappuccino.

Special Flavors And Looking For The Unicorn (Frappuccino)

Starbucks has several special flavors, where the relevant Frappuccino comes out for the season or special events.

Examples include the S’mores Frappuccino which is seasonal, or the Pokémon GO, which was tied to the event.

Of course, common flavors do have a shelf-life as well, and new ones are added while others are removed.

An interesting example of a limited-time beverage is the Unicorn Frappuccino.

It gained fame for its interesting approach. Consumers were smitten by the flavor-changing, color-changing Frappuccino.

It also attracted its fair share of criticism, considering each cup could have 500 calories and 76 grams of sugar!

Though no longer available, the Unicorn made quite a splash in its time.

Frappuccino Recipes To Try

Simple Frappuccino

The ingredients you’ll need for this are:

  • Crushed ice – 1-1.5 cup
  • Double shot of espresso (or a strong coffee)
  • Milk – ¾ cup
  • Sugar to taste
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Place all ingredients (except whipped cream) in a blender and let it run for 30-45 seconds.

Pour into a cup and top with whipped cream. Garnish it with chocolate syrup.

Caramel Frappuccino Copycat


  • Crushed ice – 1-1.5 cup
  • Double shot of espresso or strong cup of coffee (cooled)
  • Milk – ¾ cup
  • Sugar to taste
  • ⅓ cup caramel sauce
  • Caramel syrup
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Place all ingredients (except caramel syrup and whipped cream) in a blender, and let it run for 30-45 seconds.

Once you have a smooth texture, pour into the cup(s) and top with whipped cream.

Add caramel syrup to garnish.

Frappuccino FAQs

Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino

Do all Frappuccinos have coffee in them?

No. Crème based Frappuccinos often do not contain any coffee.

What is the difference between Latte and Frappuccino?

A latte is made from espresso and milk, or cooled espresso and chilled milk in case of iced latte.

A Frappuccino is always a cold beverage, served at Starbucks.

Modern Frappuccinos don’t contain espresso (though it can be added).

A latte, on the other hand, must always have an espresso.

Is there a difference between a frappe and a Frappuccino?

Frappuccino is a Starbucks trademark.

Conventionally, the Frappuccino was made by adding espresso to a milkshake or frappe.

The ingredients must always be blended.

Modern Frappuccinos don’t necessarily contain coffee and may replace it with other flavorings.

A frappe may be blended like a Frappuccino.

Traditional New England frappes are milkshakes with an ice cream topping.

A conventional Greek frappe is made by adding ice, water, and instant coffee to a mixer and shaking it until done.

What is in a Starbucks Frappuccino?

A Frappuccino will contain various ingredients depending on the flavor selected.

While many contain coffee, crème based Frappuccinos usually don’t contain coffee.

Where coffee is needed, the Frappuccino Roast Coffee is employed.

Mostly, several sauces and syrups form the flavor, as well as act to bind the ingredients for excellent consistency and texture.

Frappuccinos are often topped with whipped cream.

What’s in a Caramel Frappuccino?

The Caramel Frappuccino contains coffee, whipped cream, ice, milk, coffee frappuccino syrup, and caramel syrup.

The Frappuccino syrup is made from sugar, water, salt, natural and artificial flavors, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate, citric acid.

Are Frappuccinos bad for you?

An average Frappuccino is full of calories and sugar.

It is on the unhealthier side, but unless you go overboard, it would be overkill to call a Frappuccino bad.

Besides, you can reduce some calories and sugar by simple methods like using low-fat milk, or substitutes like almond, coconut or soy milk.

Avoid whipped cream, and try to keep sugar at a minimum.

Do frappuccinos taste like coffee?

Not necessarily – many Frappuccinos don’t even contain coffee.

For those flavors that include coffee, the taste of coffee is fairly well handled by the added flavors 

What Is A Frappuccino? — The Beloved Cold Beverage

After this detailed guide, I’m certain you know what is a Frappuccino pretty well.

While originally made using coffee, several Starbucks Frappuccinos do not contain coffee.

A trademark of Starbucks, the Frappuccino is an extremely successful line that has generated billions of dollars in revenue for the company.


May 13, 2022 0 min read


May 13, 2022 0 min read


May 13, 2022 0 min read

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