Frappe Vs Frappuccino: The Key Differences Explained

You might think the terms Frappe and Frappuccino are interchangeable, but as it turns out, these two popular cold coffee drinks aren’t actually the same thing! 

This guide is dedicated to enlightening every coffee fan with the key differences of the Frappe vs. Frappuccino. By the end of this, you’ll know exactly which one to order next time you want a delicious cold coffee beverage.  

The Frappe, pronounced fra-pay, is an iced coffee drink that originated in Greece sometime in the 1950s. It all started when a representative of the Nescafe, Dimitris Vakondios, started experimenting by combining instant coffee, water, sugar, and milk.  

However, you might know the Frappe better as one of McDonald’s best-selling McCafe menu items.

Just like the traditional Frappe, McDonald's Frappes are

"cool, sweet treats blended with ice and covered with whipped topping…."

How to Make a Frappe 

While the Frappe is always served cold, there are different ways to achieve its signature sweet flavoring. It can be shaken, blended, or beaten, and oftentimes it is topped with whipped cream and additional treats, like caramel sauce or chocolate syrup. Some people even prefer using real espresso rather than instant coffee grounds for a bolder coffee flavor. 

Frappe Vs Frappuccino: The Key Differences Explained

If you’re looking for a Frappe recipe to make your own at home, you’re in luck; there are tons of online recipes available outlining the exact steps and ingredients you’ll need. To help you get started, here’s the general gist of making a Frappe at home:  

  1. 1
    Gather your base ingredients. This consists of instant coffee granules (about 1 teaspoon), ¼ cup boiling water, 1 cup milk of choice, and ½ cup ice.  
  2. 2
    Dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water. For best results, pour this into an ice cube tray and freeze it before moving on to the next step.  
  3. 3
    In a blender, combine the milk and coffee ice cubes—cover and process until smooth. Add the crushed ice and blend. 

Feel free to use other ingredients to garnish your Frappe - or even add to the base ingredients. This can include things like whipped cream, chocolate syrup, or even Oreo cookies.  

What Is A Frappuccino & How Is It Made? 

Unlike the Frappe, a Frappuccino is a patented Starbucks drink that you’ll only find at Starbucks locations. However, Starbucks isn’t responsible for officially creating this popular frozen coffee drink. 

Take a look at the history of the Frappuccino, and you'll come to find that it was actually invented by a man named George Howell. 

According to Today,

“Howell was one of the pioneers of the specialty coffee movement in the United States during the 70s and 80s. He now operates George Howell Coffee, which has three coffee shop locations in Massachusetts.”

Starbucks Frappuccino

So what exactly is a Frappuccino? To put it simply, it’s a drink that combines cappuccino (but any concentrated coffee can be used) with a milkshake, sugar, ice, aerated cream, and sweetening agents. These are the base ingredients, but just like the Frappe, this drink can be flavored and garnished with many different things. 

How to Make a Frappuccino 

If you’re looking for the exact Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino recipe to make at home - we can’t all spend $5/day on our frozen coffee drinks! - here’s what to do:  

  1. 1
    Gather your ingredients. You’ll need 2 cups of ice, 1 cup of cooled strongly brewed coffee, 1 cup milk of choice, 3 tablespoons sugar, and ⅓ caramel sauce.  
  2. 2
    Blend all of the ingredients together on high until the consistency is smooth. If you prefer a chunkier drink, then blend to your preference.  
  3. 3
    That’s it! 

The Big Differences Between A Frappe Vs Frappuccino 

The main difference between Frappe and Frappuccino drinks is that the Frappe traditionally uses instant coffee, while the Frappuccino uses strongly brewed or concentrated coffee. This isn’t the only difference, though:  

1. Caffeine Content

A Frappe will technically always contain caffeine, and this is because it always contains coffee. A Frappuccino, on the other hand, can be made with coffee that has been decaffeinated, and depending on the Frappuccino you choose, there might not be coffee in it at all! For example, the Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino contains absolutely zero coffee, so there is no caffeine.  

2. Coffee Used

Most Frappes are made with instant coffee or natural coffee flavoring, while most Frappuccinos are made using strongly brewed or concentrated coffee. 

3. Milk Content

Both of these drinks contain about the same amount of milk. If you’re making a single Frappe or Frappuccino for yourself at home, use 1 cup milk. This can be full-fat, fat-free, or even a dairy-free milk alternative like oat, almond, or soy milk. 

4. Taste

In terms of taste, both of these drinks are DELICIOUS. However, traditional Frappes typically taste less sweet since there is less sugar used (this isn’t so much the case for McCafe Frappes), but this depends entirely on how you order it. 

5. Healthiness

To be quite honest, neither of these drinks can be deemed “healthy." Both typically contain sugar, which means there's a decent amount of calories in both the Frappe and Frappuccino. However, it’s possible to order a Frappe without sugar - this is quite common in Europe. If that’s the case, then your Frappe would have about 150 calories, while a Frappuccino usually has 250+ calories. 

6. Variations

The main variations of the Frappe include the original version from Greece as well as the popular New England Frappe. If you’re ordering at McDonald’s, though, you can choose between Mocha or Caramel. For the Frappuccino, there are many more variations available. If you look at a ranking of the best Starbucks Frappuccinos, the most popular options include Java Chip, Pumpkin Spice, Mocha, Caramel, Strawberries n’ Cream, and Vanilla Bean.

7. Extra Additions

Both drinks come with the option for extra additions. In fact, they’re usually both topped with a thick layer of whipped cream and some type of sweetened syrup. It’s also possible to order extra flavoring, like vanilla, lavender, or hazelnut.

Starbucks Frappuccino Vs McDonald's Frappe (Which To Order?) 

The Starbucks Frappuccino and McDonald’s Frappe are pretty much neck and neck when it comes to popularity. The one you order really comes down to your personal taste preferences. 

Like most treats at McDonald’s, the Frappe is extremely sugar-packed. If you’re not a fan of sweetness, then you’ll probably want to steer clear of this beverage. But if you have a sweet tooth and are in the mood for a cold coffee drink, it’s an excellent choice. 

At Starbucks, you have a lot more control over sweetness depending on how you order and the Frappuccino variation you’ve chosen.  

Mcdonalds McCafe

Common Frappe Vs Frappuccino Questions

Does Starbucks own the word Frappuccino? 

Yep! Starbucks officially trademarked the word Frappuccino back in 1995. 

What was the first Frappuccino at Starbucks? 

According to a Starbucks Fact Sheet,

“Starbucks launched the first Frappuccino® blended beverages, Coffee and Mocha, in the U.S. in 1995 with a proprietary blend of coffee, milk and ice. Today, almost two decades later, customers can enjoy more than 36,000 different combinations of Frappuccino® blended beverages.”

Can you put a Frappuccino in the fridge? 

Yes, but just realize that the ingredients are likely to separate. Before you sip on your Frappuccino after taking it out of the fridge, give it a good stir, or you can even reblend it in your home blender.  


Now that you know the difference between Frappe vs. Frappuccino, you can now order your favorite cold refreshment with confidence!