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The cappuccino and the Frappuccino are two of the most popular drinks that you can order from a café. With similar-sounding names, one can’t help but think that maybe they’re different names for the same drink. You’re not wrong.
They sound the same, but they’re not the same.
In this article, we will go over the Cappuccino vs. Frappuccino comparison and talk about each drink, how they’re the same, and how they’re different. By the end of this article, you’ll hopefully know enough to be able to decide which one to go for when you’re having a sudden craving.
What is a Frappuccino?
The Frappuccino brand name got its name from the frappe (being an iced coffee beverage) and the cappuccino (an espresso drink with milk foam on top). It is a Starbucks patented drink, as such, only Starbucks can sell this drink and other related products under the Frappuccino brand. Other cafes that sell drinks called Frappuccino can be sued by Starbucks for infringement.
This drink is popular among Starbucks regulars. Although this coffee shop chain has other offerings on the menu, none is more iconic than the Frappuccino. Made up of ice, milk, sugar syrup, base flavor, topped with whipped cream and chocolate or caramel sauce, the Frappuccino has come a long way since it was first introduced in the early to mid-90s as an alternative to brewed coffee for the university crowd.
With those ingredients, combined with the fact that are all blitzed in a blender, you’re entirely wrong to think that it’s a milkshake. Although it was meant to be the iced counterpart of a coffee, it evolved into something else as the years went by. What started with coffee-based Frappuccinos has now evolved into other non-coffee flavors, which fall under the Crème Frappuccino category. You’ll even find regional and limited edition Frappuccinos that make an appearance on menus every once in a while!
What is a Cappuccino?
The cappuccino is an espresso-based drink combined with steamed milk and frothed milk all in equal parts. Any slight changes (whether intentional or not) will result in a different espresso-based drink. Seasoned baristas and coffee experts may add their special touches (like latte art or adding a pinch of salt), but they don’t mess with the proportions of espresso, steamed milk, and foam.
Cappuccinos have maintained their popularity for decades because it’s the smoother and creamier option. Not everyone can tolerate the strong taste of espresso first thing in the morning. If you’re not in the mood for something as strong and bitter as espresso, you can order a cappuccino instead. You still get that jolt of caffeine from the espresso, but the strong taste is offset by the creaminess of the milk. Cappuccinos are usually served hot, but they can also be served iced. As with any café, any hot drink will likely have an iced counterpart. If you’d like to learn more about the Cappuccino and how it compares to the Flat White, check out our article: Flat White Vs Cappuccino
Cappuccino vs. Frappuccino – Although their names rhyme, the cappuccino, and Frappuccino could not be more different. First off, the former is an espresso-based drink, while the latter is more like a milkshake.
A cappuccino cannot be called such without its basic ingredients: espresso, steamed milk, and foam—whether you have it hot or cold, the espresso flavor remains evident. A Frappuccino, on the other hand, as mentioned, is like a milkshake. With base ingredients of milk, sugar, syrup ice, and flavoring (strawberry, vanilla, matcha, etc), it’s more like a sweet treat that you can indulge in occasionally. You can even make a coffee-flavored Frappuccino (news flash: this flavor exists!). Aside from the different flavors, you can also play around with the type of milk you use: oat, soy, almond, skim, etc.
Which one is better? It’s hard to answer that question. It’s about preference. If you want an espresso-based drink, then you should get a cappuccino. With this drink, you can enjoy the experience of an actual coffee drink, with its unique flavor, aroma, and caffeine kick. If you want a milkshake-type drink that may or may not have coffee in it, then you can go for the Frappuccino.
A Frappuccino will more likely contain more calories than a cappuccino. It contains additional artificial flavors and sweeteners unlike the cappuccino, which is just espresso and milk. Cappuccinos have fewer calories compared to Frappuccino.
Iced Cappuccino vs Frappuccino
Here’s a rundown of the similarities and differences of these popular beverages:
- The cappuccino has been around for decades, whereas the Frappuccino was a more recent invention.
- The Frappuccino is a patented drink. Starbucks owns the trademark, and therefore, they’re the only coffee shop that’s allowed to sell Frappuccinos.
- The iced cappuccino is an espresso-based drink. It follows the same standard recipe of the hot cappuccino, except for the addition of ice. That’s it. Of course, there are different ways to make espresso: espresso machines, pods or capsules are quite common. Other than that, the recipe is standard across the board, regardless of which café you’re ordering from.
- Between the two, iced cappuccinos can be an alternative to iced coffee if you want something creamy and foamy (and sweeter if you add sugar). I would discourage ordering a Frappuccino as a coffee replacement. It has a lot of artificial flavor and sugars, which is terrible for people who have diabetes or are trying to manage their weight.
- Cappuccino can be ordered hot or iced, but you can’t order a hot Frappuccino. First of all, Starbucks does not have it on its menu, and second, do you want a hot milkshake? Doesn’t sound so appetizing, does it?
- Drinking an iced cappuccino is quite the experience. You have a foamy layer on top, followed by a creamy espresso drink. If you’re drinking it without a straw, do not be surprised if you get a cute milk foam mustache when you first take a sip! Because the Frappuccino is blended, its consistency is quite thick. You need a straw to drink from to get past the thick layer of whipped cream and syrup on top.
- Both drinks are available for purchase in supermarkets in bottled and canned packaging.
Do Frappuccino’s have Caffeine?
Cappuccinos and coffee Frappuccino have caffeine content unless you opt for the decaf option when making either drink. Since the cappuccino is made of espresso, the caffeine content is strong. However, an espresso shot contains about 70mg of caffeine, so a single serving of cappuccino will contain just that much caffeine.
Coffee Frappuccinos are made with instant coffee, and it’s combined with a bunch of other ingredients which make it more like a coffee-flavored sweet treat. However, you can opt for an Espresso Frappuccino if you want a stronger coffee flavor.
For both drinks, if you order a bigger size (maybe a Grande or venti), the recipe will be adjusted. More espresso will be used along with the other ingredients. Strictly speaking, the caffeine content for both an Espresso Frappuccino and a cappuccino will be the same, except that the Frappuccino will have other extra sweeteners.
As with any other café, you can always customize your drink. If you want a coffee Frappuccino with a stronger coffee or espresso taste, you always request to add one or two shots of espresso to your drink. In this case, the caffeine content will increase.
As previously mentioned, not all Frappuccinos contain coffee, so the non-espresso-based types will not give you that caffeine kick. If you’re feeling extra energetic after drinking a Crème Frappuccino, it’s probably the sugar rush. To learn more about the caffeine content in your coffee check out our article on How much Caffeine is in your Coffee
Frappe vs Frappuccino
Frappe, like the Frappuccino but unlike the cappuccino, is made of instant coffee. Like the cappuccino, the frappe has been around for a long time. Whereas a Frappuccino has a hefty list of ingredients and has many variations, a frappe is made of instant coffee, water, and ice. To be honest, a frappe is a fancy name for iced coffee.
One can infer that the name “Frappuccino” got its name from both the frappe and the cappuccino—frappe means iced, while the cappuccino for its combination of ingredients. Since then the Frappuccino brand has expanded to other flavors with both coffee and non-coffee options.
Another difference between the two is the method in which they’re made. A Frappuccino is made using a blender, while the traditional frappe is made using a shaker. This has implications on the texture. The Frappuccino will end up having a richer, thicker consistency, while the frappe will be less viscous, but will have a light foam due to being shaken. If you’d like to learn more about the Frappe coffee drink, check out our article on What is a Frappe? Is it the same as a Frappuccino?
Frappuccino or Cappuccino? Which one should you order?
It depends on what you’re in the mood for. Both the Frappuccino and cappuccino are excellent and offer something unique. If you’re in the mood for a sweet drink, then go for a Frappuccino. The cappuccino is less sweet, more so if you don’t add sweeteners to the drink. It’s a good substitute for brewed coffee for days when you’re trying to be kinder to your stomach. If I may say so, Frappuccino is best treated as a treat or dessert because of its high sugar and fat content. Don’t drink it too often as it may have severe negative long-term effects on your health.
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