What Is A Frappe? Difference Between Frappe/Frappuccino Vs. Milkshake

What is a Frappe? Difference Between Frappe/Frappuccino vs. Milkshake

At first, identifying frappuccinos and milkshakes appears to be a no-brainer: One contains the energizing jolt of coffee while the other is just pure sweet ecstasy.

But what about non-espresso-based frappuccinos? How are these different from milkshakes? And really, aren’t milkshakes and frappuccinos practically the same thing?

The Origins of the Frappe

The Frappe

Frappuccino comes from the word “frappe,” which literally means “iced” in French.

Before, frappe was used to refer to any frozen drink, not necessarily containing coffee. In fact, the term “frappe” was used to describe frozen fruit juice and even any liquor served over shaved ice.

During the 1957 International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki, Greece, a representative of Nestle was exhibiting a kid’s drink — instant chocolate and milk blended using a shaker.

That rep was craving coffee himself but discovered that he was out of hot water. 

His improvisation of blending instant coffee with cold water and ice using a shaker is what led to the frappuccino of today.

Since then, the frappe has remained one of the most popular drinks in Greece, sometimes even being dubbed its national coffee drink.

Traditional Frappe vs. Modern Frappuccino

The Greek way of preparing frappe is pretty simple: Combine instant coffee, sugar, and water in a cocktail shaker or mixer.

Milk is optional. Keep shaking or mixing until a frothy layer forms at the top.

The New England way — which incidentally is also how Starbucks and most coffee shops do it — is to mix all the ingredients using a blender.

Also, they add ice cubes, flavorings or syrups, and sometimes even alcohol.

As a finishing touch, the frothy combination is topped with ice cream, melted chocolate, sprinkles, cinnamon powder, whipped cream, or any other sweet garnishings.

Fun fact: The first-ever frappuccino was made and trademarked by The Coffee Connection, a coffee shop in Massachusetts.

They were bought out in 1994 by Starbucks, which tweaked the recipe a bit and popularized the sweet coffee drink that everyone loves today.

How About Milkshakes?

Milkshakes

Most people assume that milkshakes contain ice cream.

While that is generally the case, it’s different in New England states, particularly Massachusetts.

There, milkshakes are made of just milk and syrup (chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry). If ice cream is added to the mix, the drink is considered a frappe.

Another fun fact: In Massachusetts, a frappe is pronounced as “frap.”

Still confused? Here’s a quick guide:

Remember that ice cream should be your defining differentiator. Milkshakes don’t contain ice cream, but frappes (and frappuccinos) do.

  • Frappe is made of milk, ice cream, and syrup.
  • Milkshakes are milk and syrup combined via vigorous shaking, either in a blender or shaker.
  • Frappuccinos are milkshakes with espresso or coffee.

Generally, the presence of ice cream is what produces the thick texture of frappes. On the other hand, milkshakes are thinner (and easier to gulp down) but are equally frothy from all that shaking.

But a final caveat: Most coffee chains today opt to skimp on the ice cream and replace it with a thickener to help bind the ice and liquid ingredients. It’s probably only in “purist” areas such as Massachusetts where you can find good old’ frappes made with ice cream.

Frappe/Frappuccino vs. Milkshake: Other Differences

Aside from ingredients, preparation, and process, frappes and milkshakes offer different calories.

For the weight-conscious, frappes are the better option, since you can control the calorie count.

You can go with sugar-free and non-fat ingredients with frappes; not so with milkshakes, unless you can easily source skim or low-fat milk and/or sugar-free ice cream, or be willing to substitute ice cream with low-fat frozen yogurt.

And if you want a drink to perk you up in the middle of the day, a refreshing frappe or frappucino is your best bet. Because it contains coffee, the drink will give you a much-needed energy boost.

Lastly, because frappes and frappuccinos are more flexible when it comes to ingredients, you have more recipes to play with.

Milkshakes are mostly composed of milk and syrup (and a touch of vanilla in special cases), whereas you can experiment with additional ingredients for frappes and frappuccinos.

Homemade Frappe/Frappuccino Recipes

Whip up your very own power drink at home.

Classic Mocha Frappe

DIY Mokka Frappe

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons ground dark roast coffee or espresso beans
  • ½ cup of water
  • 14 to 17 ice cubes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons hot fudge dessert topping

Steps:

  • Brew the coffee using the beans and ½ cup water.
  • In a blender, place the ingredients in this order: ice cubes, sugar, hot fudge dessert topping, and milk. Keep mixing until well-blended.
  • Pour in the coffee and blend again.

Hazelnut Mocha Frappe

Hazelnut Mocha Frappe

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons ground dark roast coffee or espresso beans
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 14 to 17 ice cubes
  • ¼ teaspoon hazelnut extract
  • 1 teaspoon hazelnut syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

Steps:

  • Brew the coffee using the beans and ½ cup water.
  • In a blender, place the ingredients according to this order: ice cubes, sugar, hazelnut syrup, chocolate syrup, vanilla extract, and milk. Keep mixing until well-blended.
  • Pour in the coffee and blend again.

Vanilla Cappuccino Frappe

Vanilla Frappucino

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons ground dark roast coffee or espresso beans
  • ½ cup of water
  • 14 to 17 ice cubes
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps:

  • Brew the coffee using the beans and ½ cup water.
  • In a blender, place the ingredients in this order: ice cubes, sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Keep mixing until well-blended.
  • Pour in the coffee and blend again.

Homemade Milkshake Recipes

Think milkshakes are boring, cut-and-dried recipes? Give it a tasty twist with these unique suggestions.

Salted Caramel Milkshake

Salted Caramel Milkshake

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons warm caramel or caramel syrup
  • 5 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 peach slices
  • Sea salt
  • Whipped cream

Steps:

  • In a blender, combine vanilla ice cream and milk. Keep mixing until the texture is smooth and frothy.
  • Pour the mixture into 2 tall glasses. Drizzle milkshakes with the caramel and a pinch of sea salt. Top with the peach slices and whipped cream, and add more caramel and sea salt as desired.

Nutella Milkshake

DIY Nutella Milkshake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 3 scoops ice cream or yogurt

Steps:

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  • Keep mixing until well-blended. Serve immediately.

The Verdict

In most parts of the world, frappes, frappucinos, and milkshakes are interchangeable: a cold, thick drink made of milk, ice cream, ice, and syrup.

It’s only in New England when the delineation becomes tricky: Milkshakes don’t contain ice cream, frappes do, and frappuccinos are frappes with coffee or espresso.

Ultimately, in the debate of frappe/frappuccino vs. milkshake, there is no clear winner.

One drink isn’t necessarily better than the other, and vice versa. It will depend on one’s taste preference and dietary needs.

If you’re counting calories, the safer choice is a frappe or frappuccino. On the other hand, if you just want to satisfy your sweet tooth craving, an ice-cold milkshake will do the trick.

Finally, if you want a sweet kick to help you power through the rest of the day, an espresso or coffee-based frappuccino is just what you need.

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