What Is A Frappuccino?

When the sun comes out, iced coffee can be the best thing in the world.  Cool and refreshing, but with that little pick-me-up that only coffee can provide. The perfect antidote to a hot, sticky afternoon.

One of the most popular iced coffee drinks in the US is the Frappuccino. But what is it? How are they made? And how do they differ from the many other iced coffee drinks that are available today?

We’ll be answering all of those questions in this article, as well as looking at our favorite Frappuccino recipes for you to try.

What is a Frappuccino?

The Frappuccino was originally created, and trademarked, by a coffee chain in Boston, Massachusetts called The Coffee Connection. It was a relatively small chain, with 18 stores dotted around the city when in 1994 they were acquired by a slightly bigger chain – Starbucks.

Now, Starbucks knows what it is doing when it comes to mass-producing drinks for a very wide market, so they took the Frappuccino, altered the recipe a bit, and then relaunched it under their own name – and that is where it has remained. They own the trademark on the name ‘Frappuccino’ so every official Frappuccino that has been made since 1994 has been made by Starbucks.

And by 2012 they were selling $2 billion worth of them a year.

Where does the name ‘Frappuccino’ come from?

The term Frappuccino, as created by The Coffee Connection in the ’90s, is a portmanteau combining two words:

Frappé – pronounced frap-pay, a frappé is an iced beverage, often made with ice cream and syrup, that is blended, shaken or beaten to create a foamy, refreshing drink.

Cappuccino – an espresso-based coffee, that is prepared with steamed milk.

Combining these two words gives us a fairly accurate description of what a Frappuccino is, but crucially, it is a lot of fun to say. This goes a long way when it comes to marketing!

What is a Frappuccino made out of?

In order to get the best picture of what a Frappuccino is made out of, let’s take a look at the classic from Starbucks.

The coffee part of a Frappuccino is made from specially designed instant coffee. They use this, rather than a shot of espresso which was used originally, as they believe that the instant coffee gives it a smoother texture when combined with the other ingredients. Plus, espresso shots can cause some of the other ingredients to expand, which means there isn’t as much room for different flavors.

The other crucial ingredient is the Frappuccino syrup. While there are so many different options when it comes to flavors for a Frappuccino, even the basic Coffee Frappuccino will be made with syrup. This helps to add to both the texture and flavor of the drink and is an incredibly versatile ingredient.

The standard Coffee Frappuccino Syrup is made from – sugar, water, natural flavor, salt, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate and citric acid.

These two ingredients are then blended together with ice and milk to create a basic Frappuccino.

What customizations can I make to a Frappuccino?

There is almost no limit to the number of changes you can make to even just a standard Coffee Frappuccino to ensure that your drink is exactly how you like it. You can alter the:

Milk: Change your standard milk to 2%, half and half, heavy cream or one of the many non-dairy kinds of milk that are available at Starbucks today.

Extra shots: Need an extra little kick today? Then you can add expresso or affogato-style shots to your Frappuccino, from all kinds of different roasts.

Fruit: Add a banana to the blend for an extra hit of potassium

Frappuccino chips: These delicious cookie crumbs, covered in chocolate and sugar, can be added to the blend to give extra depth to the flavor and a thicker texture.

Flavors: There are at least 10 flavored syrups and 4 flavored sauces for you to add to your drink – there is no excuse for drinking a drink that you don’t find absolutely delicious.

Toppings: Cinnamon sprinkles? Caramel drizzle? Mocha drizzle? Cinnamon powder? Whipped cream? Finish your drink off in style with these deliciously customized toppings.

Sweeteners: If you still haven’t got it exactly how you like it, there are a host of different sweeteners that you can add to your Frappuccino.

There is plenty to experiment with here and remember, this is all just for the Coffee Frappuccino – there are so many different types of Frappuccino available.

What different Frappuccinos are available at Starbucks?

Starbucks makes two different types of Frappuccino, the Coffee Frappuccino and the Crème Frappuccino. Each of those comes in a few different options:

Coffee Frappuccinos:

Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino

Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino

Espresso Frappuccino

Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino

Caramel Frappuccino

Mocha Frappuccino

Java Chip Frappuccino

White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino


Crème Frappuccinos:

Chocolate Cookie Crumble Crème Frappuccino

Caramel Ribbon Crunch Crème Frappuccino

Strawberry Crème Frappuccino

Chai Crème Frappuccino

Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino

Matcha Crème Frappuccino

Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino

White Chocolate Crème Frappuccino

Are Frappuccinos bad for you?

Well, you will have probably noticed that we have been mentioning a lot of delicious foodstuffs in this article so far, but not many of them are particularly good for you! Syrups, whipped cream, sweeteners, sugar – they all help to make the Frappuccino taste amazing but are also loaded with fat and calories.

It is thought that a grande sized Caramel Frappuccino contains over 350 calories, which is an awful lot for one drink. For context, a standard black coffee contains just 2 calories.

Drinks can be quite sneaky with their calorie count – we have such a strong association between calories and food that we sometimes ignore the drinks we are consuming, which can be a little bit careless. Frappuccinos are wonderful drinks, but should probably be seen as a nice treat, rather than a daily drink.

What Is The Difference Between Frappuccino And Iced Coffee?

A Frappuccino is a type of iced coffee, given that the definition of iced coffee is “any kind of chilled coffee”. Usually, though, an iced coffee is when coffee is poured over ice, for example, a cold brew.

As such, an iced coffee tends to be a bit colder than a Frappuccino, but as the ice melts the taste of the drink changes a little.

You also tend to get a huge selection of flavors when it comes to Frappuccinos, whereas iced coffee tends to be served as just cold coffee – delicious and refreshing in its own way.

A great Frappuccino recipe

If you would like to try to make a Frappuccino-style drink in the comfort of your own home, then it is possible, and probably not as complicated as you expect.

Essential Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coffee – you can use espresso, a filter coffee or even instant – try with different ones to find your preference
  • 2 cups ice
  • 1 cup milk – whole milk works best, but you can use any type
  • 1 tbsp sugar – you can use any type of sweetener here

Optional Ingredients:

  • Whipped cream – for a topping
  • Flavored syrup – add before blending
  • Cocoa powder – add before blending


Add all of the ingredients (except the whipped cream) to a blender and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a blender, you could add it to a freezer bag and crush it by hand, just ensure that you have securely fastened the bag first!

Once it is blended fully, add to a chilled glass and top with whipped cream (and any other toppings that you might fancy, like cinnamon powder and chocolate sprinkles.


Flavored syrups are very easy to come by these days, so you can customize your homemade Frappuccino-style drinks with these different flavors, should you wish. Just be aware of the extra calories!


There are some days that are absolutely perfect for drinking an iced coffee – those days when the sun is beating down on you and you just fancy a sweet treat that provides you with a delightful little pick-me-up to get you through the afternoon. A Frappuccino is as good as any iced coffee in those situations.

The main drawback of them, of course is that they are only available in Starbucks – and even though you are never too far away from a Starbucks, it is not always convenient to go and get one. Fortunately, there are many other suitable alternatives available in almost every other coffee shop, even if they do go by a different name.

You can even make them at home without too much trouble. All you really need is a blender to make it simple, and a few ingredients that you may well have in your kitchen already. This gives you full control over what flavors you focus on, and also the calorie content.

As a special treat, an iced coffee such as a Frappuccino is one of the most refreshing drinks you can have, whether it is an official one bought from Starbucks with countless syrups and toppings or one that you have made in your kitchen with a blender and a load of ice.

Here’s to summer!

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