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What are the differences between a Cappuccino and a Frappuccino?

A Frappuccino

If you like coffee, then you’ll be familiar with the cappuccino. The combination of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk is one of the most popular coffees in the world today.

You may be less familiar with the Frappuccino. Unlike traditional coffees – such as the cappuccino, americano, and latte – the Frappuccino is a trademarked drinks brand created by Starbucks. 

Available in a wide variety of flavor combinations, a Frappuccino is a type of iced drink. It consists of coffee or creme, blended with syrups, topped with a generous helping of whipped cream, and in many cases, further topped with syrups or spices.

The word Frappuccino combines frappe – a coffee drink made from instant coffee, ice, milk, and sugar – and cappuccino.

Surprisingly, for a drink named after two types of coffee, not all types of Frappuccino include coffee at all! Coffee-free, creme-based cappuccinos are available in flavors such as strawberry, caramel, pumpkin spice, and chocolate cookie.

Though the two drinks share a similar name, they have many differences. We explore the six key differences below and explain how cappuccinos and Frappuccinos are made.

6 Differences between a Cappuccino & a Frappuccino

The six major differences between a cappuccino and a frappuccino are:

1. Temperature

One of the biggest differences between a cappuccino and a Frappuccino is that cappuccinos are hot, whereas Frappuccinos are cold.

When making a cappuccino, the milk is heated to a temperature of around 65°C (149°F).

In contrast, a Frappuccino contains ice and is always served cold, regardless of whether or not it contains coffee.

2. Caffeine content

You can, technically, get a decaf cappuccino by pulling a shot of espresso made from decaf coffee beans. However, this is unusual.

Cappuccinos are usually made from either one or two shots of espresso, which gives the typical cappuccino a caffeine content between 64mg and 128mg per serving.

Along with temperature, their caffeine content is probably the biggest difference between a cappuccino and a Frappuccino, as many Frappuccinos don’t contain any coffee at all.

Caffeine-free Frappuccinos include strawberry crème, caramel ribbon crunch, white chocolate, and vanilla.

Starbucks also regularly releases seasonal Frappuccinos, such as pumpkin spice versions, available in the fall.

3. The need for espresso

Cappuccinos are always made with an espresso shot.

Even if your drink is one-third coffee, one-third steamed milk, and one-third foam, if it’s made from a different type of coffee (for example, french press or even instant coffee), then it’s simply not a cappuccino.

Unlike the strictly defined cappuccino, Frappuccinos are much more flexible and can be made from any type of coffee (french press coffee works well, for example).

4. Proportions

Speaking of cappuccinos being strictly defined as an espresso coffee drink, they are also strictly defined by their proportions. To be a cappuccino, your drink needs to be one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third milk foam.

This is another difference between cappuccinos and Frappuccino, as once again, Frappuccinos can be much more flexible.

Frappuccino ingredients and proportions are much more varied. As long as it’s an iced coffee or creme drink with syrups and whipped cream, you can call it a Frappuccino. 

Just remember that the word Frappuccino is trademarked by Starbucks. So you can call your drink a Frappuccino at home, but if you sell it in your coffee shop, you will want to come up with a different name!

5. Calories

Unsurprisingly given their blended syrups, toppings, and generous helpings of whipped cream, Frappuccinos contain more calories than cappuccinos.

You can expect a standard cappuccino to contain somewhere around 150 calories.

The number of calories in a Frappuccino is often significantly higher, with even the smallest sizes containing 250 or more and larger options containing over 400 calories.

6. Serving size

A standard cappuccino is served in a 6-ounce cup, whereas Frappuccinos are at least double the size.

Starbucks defines a ‘Tall’ cappuccino as 12oz, a ‘Grande’ cappuccino as 16oz, and a ‘Venti’ cappuccino as a massive 24oz.

If you order a Frappuccino, you should expect a big serving!

How to Make a Cappucino

A cappuccino is equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. A cappuccino serving is usually around 6oz.

To make a cappuccino, you need an espresso machine with a steamer, ground coffee beans, and milk.

First, you make a shot of espresso.

Next, steam and froth the milk. The best way to do this is to insert the steam wand into the milk so it sits slightly below the surface. Keep the steam wand near the surface throughout, even as the volume of milk increases. This will result in lots of foam on top of your milk.

Remember – on top of the espresso, a cappuccino is one-third steamed milk and one-third foam, so you want to ensure that plenty of foam is produced ready for pouring.

Swirl the milk to release air bubbles, then pour onto the espresso from a low height to avoid splashing.

If necessary, shake the milk jug slightly while pouring to ensure enough foamed milk is transferred to the cup. 

Finally, sit back and enjoy a delicious cappuccino!

“How to Make a Cappuccino | Perfect Coffee” by HowcastFoodDrink on YouTube.

How to make a Frappuccino

As Frappuccino is a trademark of Starbucks, it’s arguably only possible to get a real Frappuccino from your local Starbucks coffee shop. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to reproduce the drink at home.

To make your Frappuccino, you’ll need:

  • Strong coffee (ideally espresso, though french press works too)
  • Ice (crushed ice works well)
  • Milk of your choice, including oat, soy, or almond milk if you prefer
  • A sweetener such as sugar or honey
  • Whipped cream
  • Any other toppings you may choose, such as flavored syrups

To make your Frappuccino, simply mix the cold coffee with the ice, milk, and sweetener. 

Next, apply a generous helping of whipped cream on top.

And finally, add any syrups or other toppings of your choice.

You can experiment with different flavors, and you don’t have to include coffee if you don’t want to.

Just remember that virtually all Frappuccino ingredients are packed with sugar, so your drink will be high in calories. A Frappuccino is a type of coffee that should probably be an occasional treat rather than a substitute for your morning coffee!

“Making Starbucks Drinks At Home | But Better” by Joshua Weissman on YouTube.

FAQ – Differences between a Cappuccino and a Frappuccino

Is a Cappuccino stronger than a Frappuccino?

No, a Cappuccino normally contain around 65 mg of caffeine per serving. A Frappuccino with caffeine usually start at around this number and can go as high as a triple shot (65*3 = 195 mg of caffeine).

Is a Frappuccino just a frozen Cappuccino?

When the idea of the Frappuccino was first brought to life, it was originally designed to be a cold version of a Cappuccino, but it has developed into much more than that. As a Frappuccino today is mixed with other ingredients, and prepared in a different way – it can probably best be described as a mix between an iced Cappuccino and a milkshake.

What is the difference between a Frappe and a Frappuccino?

A Frappe is a blended iced drink served with whipped cream and toppings. A Frappuccino (which is a trademark of Starbucks) can best be described as an iced Cappuccino blended with milkshake and other types of flavors.

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