A New Twist On An Old Favorite: What Is A Frappuccino?

by | Oct 16, 2019

If you love coffee, you’ll know at least some of the fun is in rolling those delicious-sounding terms around on your vocal cords. (We’re assuming you love drinking it too, obviously!) And new coffee terms are constantly being coined, like “frappuccino”.

Terms like “café au lait”, “Americano” and even “flat white” are now part of everyday speech, but that wasn’t always the case. It’s not so long ago that the word “cappuccino” was relatively exotic outside Italy. Just as we were all getting a little blasé about cappuccino, which was once the pinnacle of fancy milky coffee drinks, along came the frappuccino. (By the way, did you know café au lait has a day of its own?)

Many of the lovely words we use to describe coffee-based drinks come from Italian, with some from French. Not only do they roll off the tongue, they almost sound like music. (It’s no coincidence that so many operas are written with an Italian libretto.) The Frappuccino trademark has been registered by Starbucks with the US Patents office – more about the Starbucks range a little later.

Frappe or Frappuccino?

While hot black coffee is often a beverage of choice in colder climates and the autumn and winter months, frappes allow us to indulge our taste for coffee in warmer climes and seasons. Frappes have become a very common choice on summer menus, but just what is the difference between a frappe and a coffee frappuccino?

Although, as the story goes, it was invented in Greece, the word “frappe” comes from the French verb to hit. Since frappes are created when the liquid ingredients and ice hit the walls of a cocktail shaker, and a cocktail shaker or blender is used to whip up a frappuccino, you can see where the description came from.


What Is A Frappe?

Frappes are often made with instant coffee (although not always). The delicious concoction known as a frappuccino has a much higher sugar and cream content than a frappé and is topped with lashings of whipped cream. Most frappucino drinks use brewed coffee as the base, often cold-brewed. Crème varieties don’t include coffee.

The Starbucks Frappuccino range uses a special syrup as the base, and variations have included flavors such as strawberries and cream, mango crème and mocha mint. That’s before we investigate the cornerstones of the range like ordinary mocha, caramel, and regular seasonal favorites like pumpkin.


How To Make A Frappe

You’re going to need your favorite coffee (instant or brewed), sweeteners to taste, and ice: plenty of ice. We’d recommend using crushed ice to speed up the process. Use equal quantities of coffee and ice: so if you’re using 1.5 cups of coffee, say, make sure you’ve got the same amount of ice to hand.

When you’re adding milk, add about a third as much as the coffee. In this example, half a cup of milk should be fine. Add a couple of tablespoons of sugar or another sweetener to taste. (We’ve tried honey and Stevie.) If you’re wondering about the coffee proportions, use a ratio of around 4 tablespoons of coffee to 1.5 cups of water.


Keeping It Cold

You need cold coffee for a frappe, so if you’re in a hurry, you can put it in a suitable container and place it in the freezer for a while. A metal or freezer-proof glass container, the shallower the better, will help the liquid cool more quickly. You can always “pre-cool” it in the freezer before you add your coffee mixture. Around twenty minutes should be long enough to reach the right temperature.

Add your chilled coffee to a blender and add milk of choice – dairy, soya, almond, oat, rice. (We haven’t tried this with goat’s milk though. We’re not quite sure how that would taste.) Add the ice. Blend the mixture until it’s smooth. (We like to use the pulse option on our blender for this process but every device is different!)


Frappe Tips

For maximum enjoyment, we’d recommend using a tall glass to serve your frappe, and if you’re feeling extra indulgent, a little whipped cream on top won’t go amiss. Or chocolate sprinkles or a few chopped nuts. We’re huge fans of walnuts and hazelnuts – or you could add a dash of flavored syrup at the “add sweetener” stage. If you’re feeling really indulgent add a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream along with the milk.

Add your sweetener while the coffee is still hot; or if you’re using cold brew coffee, leave it overnight to get that lovely, intense flavor. You could also add other flavors to your frappe recipe – vanilla extract, or cinnamon, or nutmeg, or mixed spice, or even, if you’re feeling really adventurous, a dash of pumpkin and a pinch of chili powder. (We’d definitely recommend going easy on that last one though.)

Of course, you can always whip up a caramel latte, or even better, a salted caramel frappe, with the help of a delicious syrup or two. If you’re going to add flavors and other ingredients, add them when you put the mix into the blender.


What Is A Frappuccino And How To Make It?

Starbucks has made the drink very much its own, and the company is constantly devising seasonal and themed variations. One of the most unusual was the Unicorn Frappuccino, which literally went viral on social media in spring 2017. Other widely available variations include the caramel frappuccino, the mocha frappuccino, the java chip frappuccino, and the vanilla bean frappuccino.

Our most recent favorite is probably the Ultra Caramel Frappuccino but there is a range of truly gorgeous concoctions to try. They allow you to enjoy what is essentially a dessert in a glass, masquerading as a coffee.


How Do You Make A Homemade Frappuccino?

Well, technically, as we’ve stated above, the actual word is a Starbucks trademark, although it wasn’t actually a Starbucks that came up with the drink. The inventor was George Howell, an employee of the Coffee Connection, a company that Starbucks later purchased. So our Frappuccino recipe instructions you through how to make a frappuccino-style beverage instead.

The exact recipe for the Frappuccino syrup is a carefully guarded secret, but if you’d like to make a frappuccino-style 16 fluid ounce drink at home, start with a shot of espresso. Alternatively, start with between two to four tablespoons of brewed coffee, double-strength. Add three-quarters of a cup of the milk of your choice, or a scoop of ice cream, or a mix of milk and cream.

You’ll also need around 16 fluid ounces of ice and any other ingredients you’d like to add. You’re only limited by your imagination. Unless you’re making one of the crème variations, brew your coffee, and make it strong. We’ve suggested one shot of espresso, but if you like your coffee strong, use two shots.

Add all the ingredients to your blender. Add between half a cup and a full cup of milk to the mixture, then add thickener: ice cream, vanilla smoothie powder, chocolate or even green tea powder are just a few options. Add ice, press the “start” button, and blend to the consistency you want. Then simply enjoy it!


Final Words: Frappuccino Or Frappé?

What is the difference between a frappe and a frappuccino? Both drinks make a refreshing summer cool-me-down or an anytime-pick-me-up, and it’s really up to you which one you choose to enjoy. Opt for a frappé if you’re not keen on adding milk, and you don’t want too much sugar; or if confectionery is one of your pleasures in life, choose a frappuccino. With or without unicorns!

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