Last Updated on May 24, 2023 by Practical Cooks
Cappuccinos are a fancy type of coffee. They’re jam-packed with the sweet, sweet taste of caffeinated luxury. And yet, legend has it that these delicious drinks were invented back in the 18th century by an Italian monk. Yep, even men of the cloth need a pick-me-up once in a while.
Hundreds of years later, Starbucks launched their top-selling drink, the Frappuccino. It’s also milky and somewhat decadent, packing a tasty caffeine punch. So, what’s the difference? Are Frappuccinos just cappuccinos with a Starbucks stamp on them?
Though similar, Frappuccinos and cappuccinos are not the same. The ingredients and methods of preparation are different. Also, Frappuccinos are usually cold drinks, while cappuccinos are usually hot drinks.
What is a cappuccino?
A standard cappuccino is espresso-based, which means it’s made with espresso, steamed milk, and foam. This is part of the reason the cappuccino has its reputation for being fancy. It takes time and effort to prepare, which means you can’t just dash it off on your way out the door.
People who drink cappuccino often take time to savor the aromas and the experience. You’ll often see a cute design on top of the drink made with thick cappuccino foam.
Because preferences vary, there are many variations of cappuccino recipes. Some versions allow for milk substitutes, which is fantastic for those with allergies. Generally, though, cappuccinos are lighter on milk than a standard latte.
Another variation is the cold cappuccino. Cappuccinos are traditionally served hot, but where there’s a customer, there’s a way. Thus, the iced cappuccino was born.
What is a Frappuccino?
Invented in the mid-1990s, the Frappuccino is a coffee-based drink. This is the first difference between it and the cappuccino, which is espresso-based. It’s usually filled with sweeteners, ice, syrups, and milk, and topped with whipped cream.
Just as with cappuccinos, the Frappuccino has several variations to please a wide range of customers. There are dairy-free versions, as well as decaffeinated options.
Unlike cappuccinos, however, the Frappuccino does not have a hot alternative. This drink is always iced.
Frappuccino vs Cappucino - Comparison Table
|Definition||A blended iced coffee beverage||A traditional Italian espresso-based drink|
|Texture||Thick, creamy and icy||Creamy and velvety foam|
|Temperature||Cold or chilled||Hot|
|Ingredients||Coffee, milk, ice, flavored syrups, whipped cream||Espresso, steamed milk, foam|
|Espresso||Not a primary component||A crucial element|
|Serving Size||Typically larger||Smaller|
|Caffeine Content||Varies depending on size and recipe||Generally higher caffeine concentration|
|Flavor Options||Wide variety available||Limited to traditional coffee flavors|
|Sweetness||Generally sweet and dessert-like||Less sweet|
|Origin||Introduced by Starbucks in 1995||Originated in Italy|
|Popular Variants||Java Chip, Caramel, Mocha, Green Tea||Traditional, Hazelnut, Vanilla|
How did Starbucks come up with the name “Frappuccino?”
Actually, the name came from a former company called The Coffee Connection that Starbucks bought out. This Boston-based company had a slushy-like, iced drink called a “frappuccino,” and Starbucks liked the name. They didn’t keep the recipe, but they decided Frappuccino was the new moniker for their latest drink.
The geniuses at The Coffee Connection who came up with the name were George Howell and Andrew Frank. The made-up word was meant to be a portmanteau – a blending of two existing words. The goal was to conjure up mental images of cappuccinos and “frappes,” or milkshakes.
Later on, Starbucks decided to enter the iced coffee market to help customers beat the summer heat. They just happened to have this word at their disposal by then, and it paid off.
Which drink is stronger?
If we’re talking about caffeine alone, then cappuccino wins this, hands down. Using hardly any sweeteners, the cappuccino is pure wakeup juice. It’s stronger than coffee and less bitter than pure espresso, so it truly delivers when it comes to caffeine.
If we’re talking about stronger in terms of taste, this is open for debate. The Frappuccino will have a distinctly sweeter taste. A standard cappuccino will have more of an espresso aroma that adds to its flavor.
Which tastes better?
Of course, this comes down to your personal preference.
You love coffee:
This will be a tossup. Both drinks feature a coffee flavor, though the ingredients make each experience different. If you like the taste of strong, espresso-based drinks, then you want a cappuccino. If you prefer your coffee to taste more like dessert, then reach for a Frappuccino.
You love iced drinks:
Again, you could go either way with this one. The Frappuccino is probably your better bet because it’s designed to be cold. However, there are some great iced cappuccino variations out there. Give them a try to see what you love!
You love hot drinks:
You need a cappuccino in this case. There aren’t hot Frappuccinos, though Starbucks does have hot drinks on their menu.
You love sugary drinks:
Frappuccino, all the way. The cappuccino is designed to get you your ultimate espresso experience without too many additives. The Frappuccino, however, is there to be your go-to dessert drink. It’s meant to be a sweet treat, and it absolutely delivers where sugar is concerned.
Which one is better for you?
This answer depends on your dietary needs. Generally, though, the cappuccino wins this by a landslide.
Cappuccinos are packed with antioxidants, and they make the brain-strengthening caffeine the star of the show. They’ve been studied for their ability to improve cardiovascular health, skin, and memory.
Of course, everything is best in moderation. There are also drawbacks to drinking too much espresso.
Frappuccinos, however, are loaded with fats and sugars, which are unhealthy in large amounts. These are considered better served as treats, the same way you’d eat a brownie or a piece of cake. They’re likely not a good everyday choice, if you’re concerned about health.
Can I make them at home?
You can make cappuccinos at home pretty easily. A lot of people do this to save time and money. Others do it because they love the quiet moments they spend with their drinks.
In fact, there have been studies done on the positive mental health effects of making coffee or tea at home. There’s just something soothing about spending a few minutes all to yourself.
To accomplish this, simply get a cappuccino machine and start exploring the fun world of cappuccinos.
When it comes to Frappuccinos, though, it depends on whether you’re a purist. Technically, a Frappuccino comes from Starbucks. But if you want to make a copycat version at home, it’s pretty simple to do. Loads of people have shared their DIY recipes online, and some of them are pretty delicious!