Difference Between Frappuccino vs Cappuccino

One of the most commonly asked questions by coffee novices is “what’s the difference between frappuccino and cappuccino”. Well, the question is worth asking because they both have one part (or more) of milk and one shot of espresso (except for some cases). So, in this article, we are going to end this confusion once and for all.

Before we compare Cappuccino vs Frappuccino, let’s take a brief back to basics lesson on Cappuccinos. This is important because most people do not know the basics of Cappuccinos.

Cappuccinos – Origin And Ingredients

Cappuccino is an Italian drink that originated quite a few centuries ago. It traveled throughout Europe only to become a popular beverage in the US as lately as in the 1980s. Its name came from its color’s resemblance to the robes of Capuchin (‘Kapuzin’) friars. Due to its long history and diverse presence throughout the world, it was never patented. 

Yet, despite its unpatented existence, it continues to follow strict adherence to coffee. This is worth noting because recipes of all sorts, lose their main ingredients over time. This is not the case with Cappuccino. Sure, decaf cappuccino exists but it still contains coffee. We will get into its details later on. 

For now, a drink containing one shot of espresso and equal amounts of milk microfoam and steamed milk is a cappuccino. It’s usually 5 fl oz but you might find bigger servings. However, the ratio of these three ingredients that we just mentioned remains the same. 

A Cappuccino is usually made in an espresso machine but you can also make it using the old-school stove method. Also, one can add sugar and cinnamon without disturbing the essence of Cappuccino. Cold or Iced Cappuccinos also exist, in fact, they are becoming a more popular summer beverage. However, if you add chocolate pieces to it, it’s not a Cappuccino anymore, it’s a Mocha. 

Let’s boil down the essentials of a cappuccino for the sake of simplicity.

  1. One espresso shot, one portion of steam milk, and one portion of milk foam are essentials of a cappuccino
  2. A Cappuccino can be cold, iced, or decaf but not without coffee
  3. A Cappuccino can contain sugar, cinnamon but not chocolate
  4. Cappuccino is not a patent drink, anyone can make it

Frappuccino – Origin And Ingredients

Frappuccino on the other hand is a combination of “frappe” and Cappuccino, frappe is a french word meaning iced or chilled. Hence, Frappuccinos fall in the category of chilled drinks rather than hot beverages. This should answer the most commonly asked questions, “is a frappuccino cold?”. Yes, it may or may not contain coffee but they can never be hot. 

Frappuccinos were initially trademarked by a smaller chain of coffee, named The Coffee Connection. They were popular in but also limited to Massachusetts, somewhere in the early 1990s. But, Starbucks acquired the chain in 1995 and reserved Frappuccinos to itself. Thus, no other restaurant or coffee shop can sell Frappuccinos, or at least with the same name. 

Frappuccinos originally contained at least one shot of espresso, combined with milk, cream, sugar syrup, Ice, and some other fruits. However, Starbucks has replaced the typical espresso shot with its proprietary frappuccino roast. Not only does the Frappe roast change the texture of the drink but it also helps in reducing the overall time it takes to make a frappuccino. 

Still, if you prefer the taste of an espresso, the espresso Frappuccino is also an option on Starbucks ’ menu. On the other hand, the Strawberry and the Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccinos are options completely devoid of coffee. And yet, they are very popular. 

So if we boil down the essentials of a Frappuccino for the sake of simplicity, we end up with:

  1. It’s a cold beverage, more like a milkshake than a coffee
  2. It’s only available at Starbucks
  3. Its recipe is flexible except for the cold part
  4. It’s full of calories

Now that we are clear with what both of these drinks are, we can easily compare them. 

Frappuccino vs Cappuccino – Comparison Simplified

Let’s analyze the difference between cappuccino and Frappuccino point by point.

Frappuccino Is A Trademark While Cappuccino Is Not

You will only find Frappuccino at Starbucks (or those licensed by Starbucks) and nowhere else. While you can easily find cappuccinos at any coffee house or restaurant. This is why Starbucks can introduce as many variants it likes and thereby change the recipe as much as they want. 

A Frappuccino Is A Cold Milkshake-like Beverage While A Cappuccino Is A Hot Espresso Drink

As we’ve mentioned before a Frappe means Iced, therefore, a Frappuccino contains ice as an essential ingredient. So, there can never be a hot Frappuccino because that would kill the purpose of it. Besides this rule, you can change the recipe as much as you like, even removing coffee is fine. 

A Cappuccino on the other hand has a hot espresso base. Sure cold Cappuccino exists but you’ll have to mention “cold” when ordering them. Otherwise, when you order a “Cappuccino” it will only arrive hot.

You Can Add Fruits And Flavored Syrups To A Frappuccino But Not To A Cappuccino

Like we’ve said before, Cappuccino is mainly an espresso shot with a decent amount of steamed milk. Its purpose is to give you a hot coffee feel and if you add fruits or flavored syrups to it, it’s no longer a cappuccino.

Like we’ve said before, Cappuccino is mainly an espresso shot with a decent amount of steamed milk. Its purpose is to give you a hot coffee feel and if you add fruits or flavored syrups to it, it’s no longer a cappuccino.

A Frappuccino on the other hand is flexible in this regard. You can add ice cream, fruits, and flavored syrups when ordering at Starbucks. There are several Frappuccinos on Starbucks’ menu, such as:

  • Chestnut Praline Frappuccino
  • Pumpkin Spice Coffee Frappuccino
  • Salted Caramel Mocha Coffee Frappuccino
  • Java Chip Frappuccino
  • Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino
  • Strawberry Crème Frappuccino
  • Matcha Green Tea Crème Frappuccino

There are others on the list but you get the point. You can always customize a drink at Starbucks as per your own liking. 

A Frappuccino Is Dense Calorie-wise Whereas Cappuccino Is Not

Cappuccinos are usually served in 6 or 8 oz cups and without pre-added sugar. Sugar is offered separately. Hence, a normal cappuccino consists of roughly 36 calories. 

However, this number doesn’t stand true for Starbucks cappuccinos because they believe in “the bigger the better”. Therefore, even the smallest cappuccino cup at Starbucks is 12 oz. Nonetheless, this cup size still does not compare to a similar-sized Frappuccino in calories. 

Frappuccinos are caloric bombs. Since they consist of creams, syrups, and high doses of sugar, they pack a ton of calories, usually in the range of 400-500.

A Cappuccino Contains An Espresso Shot Whereas A Frappuccino Contains A Frappe Roast

Starbucks rolled out its own Frappuccino Roast Coffee, commonly called a Frappe roast. It improved the texture a bit and made the process somewhat “instant”. You can buy Frappe roasts from Starbucks, Amazon, or eBay if you want to try making Frappuccino at your home.

On the flipside, Cappuccinos use espresso shot(s). There’s a noticeable difference between the taste of these two.

Final Words on Frappuccino vs Cappuccino

Well, we believe this should settle the Frappuccino vs Cappuccino confusion. Cappuccinos are your average cup of coffee unless you are an americano lover but you wouldn’t be here if you were. On the flip side, you can have Frappuccinos as your once-in-a-while drink. You can have it whenever you feel like giving yourself a treat or when chilling on a hot summer day. 

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