One of these beverages can be made either hot or cold. The other is served only as a cold drink. And that’s just the start. Discover the key differences between latte vs frappuccino.
I love an ice cold frappuccino. It can be the perfect drink on a hot summer day. And so can an iced latte, especially if you also want a caffeine-fueled pick-me-up.
But I also won’t say no to hot lattes. These espresso-based drinks are among the most popular with coffee lovers due to the delicious balance of coffee and milk.
In this guide, I’ll take a look at each drink, how they originated, and what they taste like. Plus, I’ll go over how to make each one at home. It’s easier than you think!
- What is a latte?
- Can lattes be made hot and cold?
- How do you make a latte?
- What’s a frappuccino?
- What’s the difference between a frappuccino and a frappe?
- Do frappuccinos contain coffee?
- Do frappuccinos have caffeine?
- How to make a frappuccino
- Latte vs Frappuccino summary: key differences
- More coffee related answers
What is a latte?
A traditional coffee latte includes one to two shots of espresso, along with steamed milk and topped with a thin layer of foam. The combination creates a smooth, balanced coffee drink with a milky taste. And that’s no surprise, since the word latte is Italian for “milk.”
A version of the coffee latte is believed to have originated in Europe as early as the 17th century. Various forms of coffee mixed with milk were consumed in France (as a cafe au lait) and later in Spain (as cafe con leche).
They differed from modern-day versions of those drinks, since one of a latte’s key ingredients, espresso, wasn’t developed until the early 20th century.
Some say that’s when the “Caffè Latte” first came to prominence in America. It’s credited to the owner of the Caffè Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California. He made it after customers complained that his cappuccinos were too small and had a bitter taste. By adding more steamed milk, he created the latte as we know it today.
The latte soared in popularity in the United States in the 1980s and ’90s after coffee chains like Starbucks started offering both original lattes and flavored versions. Worldwide, it’s now one of the most widely consumed coffee drinks.
Can lattes be made hot and cold?
One of the main differences between a latte and a frappuccino is that lattes can be served either hot or iced, while frappuccinos are solely cold drinks.
While traditional lattes are prepared hot, using both hot espresso and warm milk, iced lattes use essentially the same ingredients. They’re simply poured over ice to cool the drink down. And sometimes flavorings like vanilla are mixed in as well.
So it’s really up to your personal preference as to which you choose.
How do you make a latte?
Whether you’re in the mood for a hot latte or an iced one, either is easy to make at home.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to make a hot latte.
- First, make the espresso. You can use a single or double shot of espresso depending on your tastes. If you don’t have an espresso machine at home, you can use a coffee machine that makes very rich coffee.
- Heat up whole milk. Typically, you’ll want a large amount of milk compared to espresso — around 8-15 ounces of milk per 1-2 shots of espresso. The milk is meant to make the drink less bitter. You can heat it up with a steam wand, on the stovetop, or in the microwave.
- Steam the milk. If using a steam wand, you want to steam it until you get just a thin layer of foam. Another option: you can use a frother on your coffee machine (or even just shake the warm milk vigorously in a mason jar for a few seconds).
- Assemble. To assemble the latte, add the hot espresso shots to a cup, then pour the hot milk gently over the top. That’s it! Now you have a tasty hot latte.
⭐️ Note: Feel free to use non-dairy varieties like oat milk, almond milk, or soy milk instead of whole milk if you prefer.
☕️ Each shot of espresso contains about 65 milligrams of caffeine, so a double shot latte would have around 130 mg.
Since the ingredients in hot and iced lattes are mostly the same, the process of making them is very similar.
To create an iced latte:
- Add ice cubes to a tall glass.
- Make your espresso or very rich coffee.
- Pour the espresso over the ice.
- Add your choice of milk and any sweetener or flavored syrup to a mason jar and shake until the milk starts to froth.
- Pour the milk over the espresso and ice. Enjoy!
What’s a frappuccino?
Now that we know what a latte is, let’s take a closer look at the frappuccino.
A frappuccino is basically a blended coffee drink originally created by Starbucks. It’s made by typically combining coffee, ice, and other flavorings. Then it’s usually capped off with whipped cream.
The ubiquitous coffee chain trademarked the term for this icy cold beverage, but only about half are actually made with a coffee base. The other half are called creme frappuccinos. They use a milk base.
Most frappuccinos — both coffee and creme varieties — are made with whole milk. But you can easily substitute for another kind or a non-dairy option without significantly affecting the taste or texture.
You can enjoy over 30 frappuccino varieties. Different flavors range from white chocolate to java chip to matcha creme. Many are created by using flavorings (like caramel syrup or chocolate syrup). And you can choose from a variety of toppings.
Some of the most popular flavors of this blended drink include caramel frappuccino, mocha frappuccino, and the straightforward coffee frappuccino.
Other coffee chains sell these types of cold beverages, but they mostly list them simply as blended coffee drinks.
What’s the difference between a frappuccino and a frappe?
A frappuccino is a proprietary Starbucks drink often made with coffee, ice, and milk.
But they’re derived from a popular European cold coffee drink called a frappé (ryhmes with flambé).
But let’s back up a bit. The word frappé is French — it refers to a chilled or partially frozen mix that can contain fruit juices or other drinks. The coffee frappe was actually invented by a Greek Nestle employee in the middle of the 20th century.
His original beverage used a cocktail shaker to combine Nescafe instant coffee and cold milk. The result was cool and frothy and it quickly became a hit in Greece. Now they’re popular all over Europe in various styles. Some omit the coffee altogether and instead blend in fruit flavors. Others swap the milk for water.
For another twist, head on over to New England, where frappes refer to ice cream blended with milk. They’re simply pronounced “frap.”
Do frappuccinos contain coffee?
Coffee frappuccinos are typically considered coffee drinks, even though coffee may not be the main ingredient. They do however usually contain a special type of Starbucks blend called Frappuccino Roast Coffee, which is not an espresso. It gives the drinks a subtle coffee flavor.
Creme frappuccinos don’t contain coffee. But some retailers and consumers will still include them in the coffee beverage category. Their flavorings are primarily syrup-based.
Do frappuccinos have caffeine?
Coffee frappuccinos do contain caffeine. On average, a coffee-based Starbucks frappuccino has about 100mg of caffeine in a 16 oz drink. So you’ll still get a caffeine-fueled energy jolt with them.
The frappuccinos with a crème base don’t contain caffeine unless you request coffee be added. So they can be great options if you’re caffeine-averse or for kids.
How to make a frappuccino
To make a basic frappuccino, you just need:
- Rich coffee
- Ice cubes
- Sweetener (like granulated sugar)
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Flavored syrups (optional)
Simply add the ice, coffee, sugar, and flavorings together in a blender, then blend until smooth. Top with whipped cream. If you prefer, add in things like chocolate chips or caramel sauce for additional flavor and texture.
Latte vs Frappuccino summary: key differences
To recap, here are the major differences between these two popular beverages:
- Dates back to 17th century Europe, but the modern espresso version was popularized in America in the 1950s.
- A hot drink made with 1-2 oz of espresso and generally more than 8 oz of steamed milk.
- Contains about 65 to 130 mg of caffeine, depending on whether it has 1 or 2 shots of espresso.
- Not very sweet as no sugar is added. But flavorings can add sweetness.
- Usually served in 12oz cups and larger.
- About 125-200 calories for a 12 oz serving, depending on added sweeteners.
- Can be made hot or iced.
- A cold, blended iced coffee drink developed and trademarked by Starbucks.
- Can be coffee or milk based.
- Coffee-based frappuccinos usually have a caffeine content of around 100 mg per 16 oz serving. Creme frappuccinos do not contain caffeine.
- A range of flavorings, syrups, and toppings can be added to frappuccinos.
- Mainly served in 16 oz cups or larger.
- They contain about 210 to 470 calories for a 16 oz serving, depending on which flavor you choose.
A cappuccino is made with steamed milk, espresso, and a top layer of airy milk foam. It is served hot, usually in a 5-8 oz cup. A frappuccino is a proprietary Starbucks drink that’s made with milk, ice, and in many cases coffee. Though some kinds called creme frappuccinos do not have coffee. Frappuccinos are served cold and often come with whipped cream on top, along with other mix-ins or flavorings.
A well-made latte should be served at around 155° to 160° degrees Fahrenheit (68°-71° Celsius). It can be achieved by balancing out the temperature of the espresso and milk.
Espresso usually reaches temperatures between 190°-200° F. But the milk should only be warmed to around 150° F. Since there’s usually much more milk than espresso in a latte, when the two are mixed they should produce an ideal warm latte.
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