Starbucks went from being a small Seattle chain with a cult following to the world's biggest seller of coffee almost overnight. They're also largely responsible for popularizing the frappuccino. Starbucks states that you can make over 36,000 variations of the drink and it is by far their most popular and recognizable product.
Fewer people know about its cousin, the frappe, however. Frappes have been around for decades and were consumed way before Starbucks became the household name it is today. And, while they share a few things in common, frappes and frappuccinos have a few notable differences. Let's take a close look at the history of both drinks and what makes them different.
A Short History of the Frappe
The term “frappe” to describe cold drinks made with ice cream and milk has been in use since the late 19th century, but frappes as we know them today were invented by a Nescafé representative by the name of Dimitris Vakondios in Thessaloniki, Greece.
The drink was born in 1957 at the Thessaloniki International Fair. One of the colleagues of Vakondios, Giannis Dritsas, was demonstrating a new instant chocolate drink product that was made by adding the formula to milk and using a shaker to mix it. Vakondios wanted to enjoy his usual lunch break coffee, but couldn't get his hands on hot water, so he took the shaker, added instant coffee, cold water, and ice, mixed it, and the frappe was born.
This experiment eventually made the frappe one of the most popular drinks in Greece, and Nescafé did everything it could to capitalize on it. They started marketing it heavily and attached their name to it. This is why the drink is still called a "Nescafé frappe" by many people in Greece to this day.
How a Traditional Frappe is Made
A frappe is one of the simplest drinks that you can make, but if you want to do it in the most authentic way possible, you will need a cocktail shaker, ice, water, and instant coffee. You can also make it the modern way and use a milkshake machine or an electric milk frother.
How much coffee does a frappe have in it and does a frappe have caffeine in it? Well, it depends on how strong you want to make it. If you don't want it to have coffee, you can always use decaffeinated instant coffee. If you want to have that caffeine kick, however, it's recommended that you add one to three teaspoons of instant coffee per 8 ounces of water. You can make it slightly stronger too if you want, but it will affect the taste.
To make a frappe, you first have to add a little bit of water to your instant coffee. You then have to shake or mix it until the mixture turns into a thick foam. Then, pour the mixture into a glass and add water, ice cubes, and evaporated milk (the milk is optional). You can also use full fat or 2% milk if you want to make the drink a little bit lighter.
What’s the Difference Between a Frappe and a Frappuccino?
While frappuccinos and frappes are very similar, they are not the same. One of the things that differentiate the two drinks is that frappuccinos use cappuccino, which is a coffee drink made of espresso and milk, as the base.
Are frappuccinos coffee? Well, it all depends on what you qualify as coffee. We could call frappuccinos coffee because they usually have coffee in them but, in reality, frappuccinos are pretty much milkshakes with a twist. All frappuccinos have ice cream, however, which makes them heavier and more calorie-dense than the average frappe.
So, is there coffee in Starbucks frappuccino? The answer is ‘not necessarily’, as there are many variations of the drink, some with absolutely no coffee in them.
How Was the Frappuccino Born?
The frappucino as we know it today was born in New England and is said to be one of the reasons why the Starbucks chain rose to popularity. Interestingly, Starbucks did not come up with the name frappuccino. The drink was created by a man by the name of Andrew Frank who was working as a barista at the Coffee Connection, a coffee chain based in Eastern Massachusetts.
In the meanwhile, Starbucks was still a fledgling chain with about 300 locations in the US and Canada. Dina Campion, the manager for Starbucks Southern California district, was looking for ideas to boost sales in the summer as coffee was still seen by many as a cold-weather drink.
Campion asked for help from one of her former store managers, Dan Moore, who had been relocated to Seattle. The Seattle district had been experimenting with cold drinks for a while, and she pitched the idea of trying cold drinks in Southern California as she felt it would be a natural fit.
She convinced the Seattle branch to test the idea in a location in the San Fernando Valley. They then tested cold drinks in a busier location in Santa Monica so they could get feedback from a more diverse mix of customers.
The drinks became a hit and soon, all stores in the Southern California district were serving cold blended coffee drinks. This is when Starbucks decided to buy the Coffee Connection and add the frappucino to their selection.
The people at Starbucks felt like they had something there and aggressively started to market cold drinks the following summer. Moore was now president of marketing and was responsible for the rollout.
Starbucks started rolling out the drinks to all their stores across the US and Canada in the summer of 1995. They originally only had two flavors - Mocha, and Coffee - and they weren't even topped with whipped cream yet. Their objective for the first week of the rollout was to sell 100,000 drinks and they ended up selling 200,000. They then sold 400,000 the next week and 800,000 the week after. The company expected the drink to be popular in California only, but it ended up blowing up in all of its locations.
The drinks changed the trajectory for Starbucks forever. The company went from 500 locations to 1200 quickly after the new drink was released. The frappucino brought in customers who weren’t coffee drinkers, which is what ended up transforming the brand. This is also when they started experimenting with all sorts of flavors and variations of the drink.
The drink allowed Starbucks to make money at times when other coffee chains couldn't. Starbucks was able to make profits all year long while other coffee chains saw massive dips during the second and third quarters. Starbucks was also able to attract people in the late afternoons and evenings which is not the best time for average coffee shops.
Does a Frappuccino from Starbucks have Coffee in it?
Even though frappuccino is a portmanteau of “frappe” and “cappuccino”, it doesn’t necessarily need to have coffee in it. It is only a trademarked name for a line of drinks Starbucks offers.
Does a Starbucks Frappe have Coffee in it?
Starbucks' frappes are another story, however. All Starbucks frappes have coffee, and you can't call anything that doesn't have coffee, either caffeinated or not, a frappe. So, if you want a cool drink with caffeine in it but none of the heaviness and calories that come with a frappuccino, you can always go for a frappe.
But do Starbucks fraps have coffee? Again, it all depends on what you mean by a frap. If by frap you mean frappuccino, then know that not all Starbucks fraps have coffee. But if by frap you mean a frappe, then yes, it will have coffee.
How Much Coffee does a Frappuccino have?
Well, it depends on the type of frappuccino. Frappuccinos can have a little bit of coffee or lots of it and it's all a matter of personal taste.
Do Starbucks frappuccinos have coffee in them? Not all of them. Frappuccinos can be anything the company wants them to be since they own the name, but a frappuccino is pretty much nothing more than a milkshake with whipped cream and toppings which may or may not contain coffee.
If you're still asking yourself, 'is there coffee in Starbucks frappuccino?' because you're worried about caffeine, know that some frappuccinos have more caffeine in them than others. The Java Chip Frappuccino and Coffee Frappuccino both have the highest caffeine content at 105mg per serving. If you want something that has no caffeine in it, you can try the Strawberry Crème Frappuccino, White Chocolate Crème Frappuccino, or the Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino.
Now that you know the differences between frappes and frappuccinos, you’ll be able to make better selections next time you hit the closest Starbucks. They’re both delicious drinks, however, so try as many variations of each as you can until you find your go-to.