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Frappuccino vs Cappuccino: What’s the Difference?

There are so many different coffee varieties out there, it can sometimes be hard to tell which is which! The names for different types of coffee based drinks can sometimes be confusing, and this is definitely the case with the frappuccino and the cappuccino. 

On the face of it, these may sound like quite similar drinks, but they are actually very different indeed! 

Whilst both frappuccinos and cappuccinos are very popular, they serve very different purposes and are made in completely different ways! 

So, let’s dive into the key differences between a frappuccino and a cappuccino, and which one you should choose! 

What is the Difference Between a Frappuccino and a Cappuccino?

There are a few key differences between a frappuccino and a cappuccino. Frappuccinos are served cold, are blended to create a thicker texture and are usually topped with flavored syrup and whipped cream. Whereas, cappuccinos are served hot, contain steamed milk and froth, and are usually topped with cocoa powder. 

Whilst these two espresso based drinks sound similar, they are actually completely different! 

Now, let’s take a closer look into each drink more closely, and then discuss what sets a frappuccino apart from a cappuccino in more detail. 

What is a Frappuccino?

A frappuccino is a blended iced coffee drink that is a delicious, refreshing sweet treat! The word frappuccino was actually coined by Starbucks. According to this article by Starbucks Stories and News from March 2015 “Frappuccino Turns 20: The Story behind Starbucks Beloved Beverage”, Starbucks introduced the Frappuccino to the U.S. in the summer of 1995. 

The name Frappuccino originated from The Coffee Connection in Boston, a coffee house that Starbucks acquired in 1993. They had been serving cold, blended coffee through their slushy maker for customers that wanted a cold, refreshing pick me up on a hot summer’s day. Starbucks took the name and ran with it, and the frappuccino is now one of the coffee giant’s most popular iced beverages. 

The traditional frappe on which the frappuccino is based, started life a few decades earlier, in Greece of all places! 

A frappe, or frappuccino as it is more commonly referred to these days, is made by combining a double shot of freshly brewed espresso, ice cubes, milk, sugar, syrup and water in a blender and whizzing it up until a thick, creamy, smoothie-like consistency is formed! It is then topped with whipped cream and extra syrup and enjoyed with a straw. 

If you would like to learn how to make a fantastic frappe from the comfort of your own home, check out my article on this topic here

If you would like to learn about how a frappe compares with other chilled coffee drinks, like iced coffee or cold brew coffee, check out my article on the topic here

Where a Frappuccino Comes From

As per The Spruce Eats’ article by Mariette Mifflin “What Is a frappé?” (24/06/2022), the first versions of frappés were introduced in Greek trade markets in the 1950s. Back then, instant coffee was used and the story goes that the frappé was actually created by accident. 

One of the representatives of Nestle who was working at the Thessaloniki trade fair, was trying to demonstrate how to use an instant chocolate based drink in their new metallic shaker (like a cocktail shaker). 

Then, another worker could not find any hot water for his instant coffee that he was going to drink on his coffee break, so instead took inspiration from the cold shaker, added milk, instant coffee and ice cubes to one and hey presto, the first frappé was born! 

After this revelation, Nestlé went on to make the frappé one of the most popular drinks in Greece. It is found in virtually every coffee shop there and has since been further popularised by coffee giants Starbucks, with their trademarked frappuccino. 

What a Frappuccino is

Well, it is a coffee based, iced drink that is blended to give a smooth consistency. Rather than a traditional iced coffee that has ice cubes floating in it, frappés have a thicker texture and are usually topped with whipped cream and flavored syrup. 

Frappés are usually made from strong freshly brewed coffee, milk, ice cubes and some form of sweetener to give it a more dessert-like taste. 

Frappés are not always made from coffee however. They can also use flavored teas, juices or hot chocolate as their base.

What is a Cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a very popular, traditional espresso based drink that combines rich, earthy, dark roasted espresso with equal parts hot, steamed milk and foam. The foam itself comes from the aeration of the milk, which is produced when the milk steaming wand is held on the surface of the milk. 

A cappuccino is usually topped with chocolate sprinkles or cocoa powder, to give it an extra hit of sweetness. When you drink a cappuccino, there is often a fair amount of foam left in the bottom of the cup, or around your mouth! This can then be enjoyed at the end of the drink, making it a longer, more luxurious drinking experience. 

Generally speaking, dark roasted coffee is used to add a bit of sharpness to the drink and cut through all of that milk and foam! This offsets the sweet, creamy texture of the cappuccino and gives a welcome bitterness to the drink. 

Where a Cappuccino Comes From

The origins of the cappuccino date back to the 1700s, and, as with a lot of coffee history, is a hotly debated topic. Most sources, such as the cappuccino Wikipedia page, concur that the first cappuccinos existed in Vienna and were drunk by the Habsburg Monarchy. In those days, the cappuccino was referred to as “kapuziner”. 

The origins of the cappuccino’s original name “kapuziner” was so called because of the dark brown color of the Capuchin Monk’s robes, as this represented the rich brown foam that topped the cappuccino even back then!

What a Cappuccino is

A cappuccino is a creamy, velvety smooth espresso based drink that is made from equal parts foam, steamed milk and espresso. 

Generally speaking, dark roasted coffee beans are used to ensure the drinker can still taste the coffee amongst all of the creamy milk and foam! 

I wrote an article explaining what a cappuccino is and how to make one here, so if you are interested in giving it a go yourself from the comfort of your own home, check it out! 

The Differences Between a Cappuccino and a Frappuccino: Explained

So, here are the main differences between a cappuccino and a frappuccino. Whilst they may sound relatively similar, there are actually a number of key differences between them! 

Frappuccinos are Served Cold, Whereas Cappuccinos are Served Hot

Of course, the main difference between the frappuccino and the cappuccino is the temperature that they are served! Whilst a frappuccino is the perfect thirst quenching drink for a hot summer’s day, a cappuccino is better suited to a cooler autumn day. 

Frappes Come from Greece, But Cappuccinos Come from Vienna

Whilst many coffee based drinks originate from Italy, both frappes and cappuccinos actually started life elsewhere. 

Cappuccinos are Topped with Foam, Whereas Frappuccinos are Topped with Whipped Cream

Cappuccinos and frappuccinos are both velvety smooth, espresso based beverages that are usually enjoyed long and slow. However, frappuccinos are often thought of as more of a sweet treat, due to the addition of whipped cream and flavored syrups! 

A Cappuccino is a Layered Drink, Whereas a Frappuccino is Blended

A cappuccino features three distinct layers that give them its characteristic texture. The bottom layer is a double shot of espresso. This is then topped with an equal helping of steamed milk, which is then followed by an equal amount of foam. 

This means that as you drink a cappuccino, you can actually feel the espresso and milk cutting through the foam and into your mouth. 

However, a frappuccino is a blended drink topped with cream, so is a lot more uniform in texture and taste compared to a cappuccino. 

Frappuccinos are Much Sweeter and More Calorific than Cappuccinos

Finally, a frappuccino tends to taste a lot sweeter than a cappuccino. This is because frappuccinos tend to be loaded up with flavored syrups and sugars but also because cappuccinos are traditionally made using dark roasted espresso. 

The dark roasted coffee beans give the cappuccino a more bitter and intense flavor, whereas a frappuccino has a hint of coffee to balance out all of the milk, ice and syrup! 


Here’s a useful table summarising the key differences between a Frappuccino and a Cappuccino:

Cappuccino Frappuccino
Construction Espresso, Steamed Milk, Foam Blended Milk, Coffee, Ice
Espresso Shot Double Double
Intensity Mellow Mellow
Size 8oz 12 oz
Milk Type Steamed, Aerated Foam Cold, Blended/Whipped
Origin Vienna Greece
Texture Creamy, Dry Smooth, Creamy, Slushy
Acidity Medium Low
Taste Frothy, Dry Very Sweet, Bitter Notes

So, Which Should You Choose? 

Well, given that frappuccinos and cappuccinos are pretty different drinks, which one you choose will depend on the situation you are in. 

If you are looking for a refreshing, ice cold sweet treat to quench your thirst on a hot day, then of course a frappuccino would suit you best. Whereas, if you are after a hot, warming drink that has a layered texture and offers a more intense coffee flavor, a cappuccino is much more up your street. 


Overall, whilst frappuccinos and cappuccinos sound very similar, they couldn’t really be any more different! The cold, blended sweetness of a frappuccino is commonly associated with the Starbucks logo, making it a pop culture staple. 

On the other hand, the traditional cappuccino has been around for centuries and is a classic coffee drink that combines two different forms of milk with sharp espresso. 

Related Questions 

Are a Frappuccino and a Frappe the Same Thing? 

Yes, a frappuccino and a frappe are actually the same drink. Starbucks coined the term frappuccino in 1995, and uses it to describe their take on the traditional Greek frappe. 

Which is Healthier, a Frappuccino or a Cappuccino?

Since a cappuccino contains a lot less sugar, milk, fat and calories than the typical Starbucks frappuccino, it is easy to argue that the cappuccino is healthier. 


Frequently Asked Questions

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