They sound alike, but they don’t exactly taste alike. Find out the difference between a Frappuccino vs Cappuccino and how to make each one. The good news: you don’t need to be a trained barista to make these specialty coffee drinks at home.
Ahh coffee. One simple word, endless possibilities. The humble coffee bean has been inspiring caffeinated innovation for centuries. Even some of the fancier coffee drinks we know today go back as far as the 18th century.
Cappuccino is one of them. It gained popularity in the early 1700s in the coffeehouses of Vienna and has since become of the world’s most well-known coffee drinks.
Frappuccino enjoys a similarly storied past. It gained popularity among coffee-fueled high school and college students in the late 20th century in the coffeehouses of Starbucks. You may have heard of them.
But what makes these two drinks so special? Let’s find out what sets them apart, what their differences are, and how to make them without visiting your local coffee shop.
- The main difference between cappuccino and frappuccino
- What is a frappuccino?
- Are frappuccinos coffee drinks?
- Do frappuccinos contain caffeine?
- What is a frappe?
- What is a cappuccino?
- Frappuccino vs cappuccino: a simple breakdown
- Is it easy to make frappuccinos and cappuccinos at home?
- More coffee answers
The main difference between cappuccino and frappuccino
If you knew nothing about coffee, you could be forgiven for thinking these two beverages had a lot of similarities simply based on their like-sounding names. But they’re actually quite different drinks.
A cappuccino is a hot drink made with steamed milk, espresso, and a top layer of pillowy milk foam. A frappuccino is a proprietary Starbucks drink usually made with espresso, milk, and ice. It is served cold and often includes whipped cream on top and other mix-ins or flavorings.
Frappuccinos are derived from a cold coffee drink popular in Europe called a frappe. It uses the same base as a frappuccino (espresso, milk, and ice), but is typically thinner in consistency than the Starbucks drink.
So how do you make each of these at home? And is one better for you than the other? Let’s take a look.
What is a frappuccino?
A frappuccino is a blended coffee drink created by Starbucks. It’s made by combining ice, coffee, and other flavorings, and usually capped off with whipped cream.
The popular coffee chain trademarked the term for this cold drink, and now it boasts over 30 different frappuccino varieties. About half are made with a coffee base. A coffee frappuccino usually contains caffeine.
The other half use a milk base and are called creme frappuccinos. They typically do not contain coffee, but you can add coffee or espresso to them if you wish. You can substitute the milk for a non-dairy option if you prefer.
Different flavors range from pistachio to chestnut praline to peppermint white chocolate and are usually created by using flavorings (like caramel syrup or chocolate syrup). You can also choose different toppings.
Some of the most popular flavors of this blended drink include caramel frappuccino, mocha frappuccino, and javachip.
Other coffee chains sell these types of cold beverages, but they mostly list them simply as blended coffee drinks.
Are frappuccinos coffee drinks?
Coffee frappuccinos are usually considered coffee drinks, even though coffee may not be the star ingredient. They mostly contain a special Starbucks type of coffee called Frappuccino Roast Coffee (not espresso). This lends them a subtle coffee flavor.
Even though creme frappuccinos don’t contain coffee, some retailers and consumers still include them in the coffee beverage category. But their flavorings are primarily syrup-based.
Do frappuccinos contain caffeine?
A coffee-based Starbucks frappuccino has about 100mg of caffeine per 16 oz drink. This is one reason these are popular summer coffee options as alternatives to hot coffee, as they can still provide the caffeine energy jolt.
The frappuccinos with a crème base do not contain caffeine. These are great options for those who are caffeine-averse or for kids who are looking for a cool treat. Of course, if you add coffee or espresso to them, caffeine will come with that.
What is a frappe?
Whereas the frappuccino is a recent American creation, the frappe dates back to the middle of the 20th century and has its roots in Europe.
The term frappé is French in origin and refers to a chilled or partly frozen mixture that can contain fruit juices or other beverages.
But the coffee frappe drink as we know it today was invented by a Greek Nestle employee. His drink was a cool, frothy sensation that used a cocktail shaker to combine Nescafe instant coffee and cold milk. It quickly became a hit in Greece.
Now they’re popular throughout Europe. They often omit the coffee altogether and are instead blended with fruit flavors to resemble a milkshake with a thinner texture.
What is a cappuccino?
If you’ve ever had a well-made cup of cappuccino, you likely remember it’s creamy milk foam topping that blends perfectly with the steamed milk and hot espresso underneath. In fact, it’s one of the most popular coffee drinks.
So a cappuccino is an espresso-based drink. It’s basically equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. Traditional cappuccinos are made with 1 shot of espresso and served in 5 to 5.5 oz cups. That’s to help create an ideal balance between the ingredients. But it’s not uncommon to see them have a double shot of espresso and served in larger sizes.
A cappuccino is similar to a latte in that the ingredients are the same. In lattes, however, the milk foam layer is much thinner. Both still boast a delicious coffee taste which is mellowed by the hot milk.
Frappuccino vs cappuccino: a simple breakdown
Here are some of the major differences between these two popular beverages:
- A cold, blended beverage developed and trademarked by Starbucks
- Can be coffee or milk based.
- Coffee-based frappuccinos contain caffeine by default, usually around 100 mg per 16 oz serving. Creme ones do not.
- Various flavorings, syrups, and toppings can be added to frappuccinos. These also make them fairly sweet.
- Mainly served in 16 oz cups or larger.
- Calorie count ranges from about 210 to 470 calories for a 16 oz serving.
- Developed in the early 18th century in Europe.
- A hot drink made with one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third milk foam.
- Contains about 65 to 130 mg of caffeine, depending on whether there are 1 or 2 shots of espresso. A double shot of espresso contains a robust caffeine kick.
- Are not very sweet as no sugar is added when making.
- Usually served in 5 to 8 oz cups.
- About 80 calories for a 6 oz serving.
- Cannot really be served cold or as an iced cappuccino, as the milk foam is made by steaming hot milk.
Is it easy to make frappuccinos and cappuccinos at home?
You can make either of these delicious coffee drinks at home.
How to make a frappuccino at home
To make a basic frappuccino, you just need:
- Rich coffee (or espresso)
- Ice cubes
- Sweetener (like granulated sugar)
- Whipped cream (optional)
You make it by simply mixing the ice, coffee, sugar, and sweetener together in a blender, then topping it with whipped cream. You can also add in things like chocolate chips or caramel sauce for additional flavor and texture.
How to make a cappuccino at home
Making a cappuccino at home is a bit harder but certainly not too difficult. This is mainly due to the equipment you’ll need:
- Espresso maker to make the espresso or a coffee machine that can make a very rich cup of coffee (it really does need a shot or two of espresso or rich coffee – not just regular coffee – in order to get the right consistency)
- Whole milk
- Milk frother or espresso machine (or whisk) to make the milk foam
First, you make your espresso. Then either steam your milk with the espresso machine steam wand or heat it on the stovetop. If using the stovetop, heat the milk until it’s hot but not bubbling. Then use a milk frother or whisk to create the milk foam. Pour the milk and foam over the espresso in a 5-8 oz cup and enjoy!
The basic ratio is 1/3 each of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. So, a standard double-shot espresso should have about 4-6 ounces total of milk and milk foam. You can adjust those amounts based on how much foam you prefer.
The addition of chocolate is the main difference. A cappuccino is made with espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, whereas a mocha is made with espresso, steamed milk, and chocolate syrup. Mochas can also be topped with whipped cream.
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