What Is A Frappe & Is It The Same As A Frappuccino?

The frappe is something you’ll find in almost any second wave coffee shop chain, and it is one of the most popular beverages on a hot day. 

It can come in different flavors, but there are a few boxes that a true frappe has to tick. For one, It has to be cold, thick, and refreshing.

Which begs the question, how did this drink become a worldwide phenomenon? If you want to find out, then read on below and find out what makes the frappe special.

Frappes

Frappé Means Served Over Ice

When you think of a frappé nowadays, it’s like you’d typically think of cold coffee drinks that can satisfy their sweet tooth. This wasn’t the case back in the 19th century where it was associated with any kind of blended, iced, or semi-frozen drink

Think of the traditional one as more of a snow cone than ice cream. Usually, fruit juice and liqueurs were served over shaved ice or blended to a consistency reminiscent of a slushy. 

Coffee or café frappé was also documented at the time, with some reports having it served as typical iced coffee while others were similar to a coffee slushie.

This makes sense as the word Frappé means a beverage over ice when loosely translated from French. The word can also mean to be beaten or shaken, which is also how the drink is made.

iced frap

But What Is A Frappe?

A frappe can have plenty of variations depending on the barista or coffee shop, but the Greek version (café frappé), is the original that started it all.

The original recipe calls for two tablespoons of instant coffee, cold water, ice cubes, and sugar to taste. Milk is entirely optional if you prefer a creamier drink. The components are then shaken using a mixer or cocktail shaker until the beverage has a frothy texture.

Nowadays, most frappes are usually blended, which cuts the prep time in half. The modern version of the drink can be mixed with different syrups, flavorings, and even alcohol. You can also cap them with a wide array of toppings such as ice cream, milk foam, and whipped cream.

Some smaller coffee shops go through the traditional route, while some substitute the instant coffee granules with drip coffee or espresso. Either way, the frappe is a highly customizable drink that can fit any coffee lover’s taste.

Frappuccino vs frappe

Frappe vs Frappuccino

One of the most recognizable coffee drinks in the world, the frappuccino is a highly versatile coffee drink. You may think that a frappé and frappuccino are the same, but there are differences between them that make each one unique.

The Frappe has its roots in Boston, where instead of a frothy coffee, the frappe is a type of milkshake made with ice cream. But, this desert-like drink is now popular elsewhere too.

A good example is Rhode Island. Stop by at any coffee shop and ask for a “cabinet” and you’ll get a glass of milkshake topped with vanilla ice cream! A rather interesting name for this Frappe vs the original. 

On the other hand, the Frappuccino is a consequence of another invention, and no, not by Starbucks

In 1992, an employee from The Coffee Connection, a New England-based coffee retailer, developed a new and exciting drink to edge over the competition. It was called a frappuccino, and it is a portmanteau of the desert-like frappe and cappuccino.

Just like the original frappé, this iced coffee consisted of milk, sugar, coffee, and ice, but the difference is it was all mixed in a frozen yogurt machine. This unique method gave the frappuccino a unique creamy and smooth consistency.

This thick coffee frappe proved so popular that it profoundly affected Boston’s coffee consumption and helped the company expand. In 1994, Starbucks was interested in the New England retailer. The Coffee Connection and its recipes were sold to the Seattle-based coffee chain.

The original frappuccino recipe was updated, giving it a base that you can mix with an assortment of ingredients. It was also mixed using a blender to fit the Starbucks chain’s fast-paced production and to give it a thicker texture.

Another notable difference between a frappe vs a coffee-based frappuccino was the use of espresso coffee instead of instant coffee. This switch enhanced the body of the drink, giving it a heavier and creamier mouthfeel. Some frappuccinos don’t use coffee at all and are more in line with a milkshake instead.

Usually, their recipes are topped with whipped cream and other additives such as caramel or chocolate syrup too.

As such, the frappuccino had a major impact on Starbucks, with the drink quickly selling 200,000 units in its first week alone on sale at the coffee conglomerate. Alongside cafes, it was also sold as bottled coffee in convenience and grocery stores all over the world.

iced frappe

How To Pronounce Frappé?

There are two ways to pronounce frappe for many casual coffee drinkers, and it can be confusing which is the correct way to say it. I myself am guilty of pulling the old switcheroo between the New England variant and the one from the Greeks.

While Greek in origin, the name Frappe comes from the French. As we mentioned, the frappé means chilled or partly frozen and is pronounced as “fruh-pay” with an emphasis on the last syllable. It can apply to all kinds of drinks but it mostly applies to the original shaken variations.

Unlike the French word, the product from New England has a one-syllable pronunciation as “frap“. These types of frappe drinks are usually mixed in a blender and use milk as a primary component.

An easy way to remember which name to use is if you get a milkshake, it’s pronounced frap. If you get a slushy like drink with water as its base, then it is a fruh-pay.

Frappé Origins

The modern-day frappe coffee was actually based on an instant chocolate drink specifically made for children. During the 1957 Thessaloniki International Fair in Greece, a Nestle representative demonstrated it by mixing a chocolate base with milk.

Another representative by the name of Dimitris Vakondios wanted a quick caffeine fix but had no access to hot water. Being resourceful, he decided to mix his usual instant coffee with cold water, sugar, and ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, and the rest is history.

This led to a number of variations of the frappe that can be found all over the world. The Greeks are still using instant coffee to this day but the rest of the countries use espresso as their base.

Bulgaria has its own type of frappé, which uses coffee, sugar, and ice but instead of using water, Coca-Cola is the mixer of choice, which is unique, to say the least. From my personal experience, mixing cola and coffee can work given the right ratios.

For others who prefer a heavier coffee, Frappés from Denmark are made with cold milk instead of water, giving it a creamier taste and mouthfeel.

Buying a frappé in Serbia will get you a glass made with milk, ice cream, and whipped cream, which is more in line with the Starbucks frappuccino coffee.

The differences end with the components used but the how to make a glass still follows the same process. Combining all the ingredients in a blender or shaker and mix well until the desired foam and texture.

Summary

To sum up, what sets the frappe apart from other cold coffees is its rich taste and texture. 

Whether you’re making the original shaken recipe or going out for a milkshake or cafe-style frappuccino, each can be a good choice if you’re looking for something cold and delicious to cool off a hot day.

You can also try out your own take on this tasty treat so feel free to experiment with different flavor combinations for your own frappe.

Philip Daniel Felongco

Philip Felongco

Ex-Barista

A life long coffee drinker, Philip has been looking for new ways to enjoy coffee since he started in the coffee industry in 2017. His favorite coffee is a light roast Rwandan single origin. If he’s not binging on food shows or trying out new coffee recipes, you can catch him here at Sip Coffee!