Whether or not you're new to coffee, no doubt you have heard about a certain drink called a Frappuccino. You may have wondered if a Frappuccino really contains coffee at all. Or maybe it's your preferred type of beverage and you're curious just how much caffeine it contains, if any. Either way, wonder no longer. I have scoured the deep reaches of the internet to get an answer for you!
Does a Frappuccino have coffee in it? Depending on the type of Frappuccino, yes. Some are in fact made with a form of coffee. Others don't have coffee at all.
Confused? I was too. As with everything involving coffee, this takes a lot more than a yes or no to answer properly. Read on to learn some interesting facts about this subject.
Is there a difference between a Frappuccino and a frappé?
Sort of, it mostly depends on where you are ordering one. In some parts of America, a frappé, pronounced fra-pay, is a cold, blended drink. Again, depending where you are, it typically contains syrups, cream, espresso, and or ice cream along with blended ice. They are then sometimes topped with whipped cream, syrups, nuts, sprinkles, or other various treats. Not exactly health food, but damn if they aren't tasty.
In Greece, where it is assumed the frappé originally came from, they use spray-dried instant coffee with a little water and sugar. This is all beaten together in a drink mixer with some ice. This version is noted for having a very frothy, airy feeling to it. Milk, typically evaporated, is optionally used in some instances as well, to add a little bit of smoothness and body.
Maybe it's a fancy milkshake?
However, in the northeastern area of New England, a frappe, spelled without the accent and pronounced frap, doesn't typically contain any coffee. In fact, they are really just another word for milkshakes. Sure, there are some versions that might have coffee in them—just to add a splash of flavor. However, they are just what some people call milkshakes there, and don't really have much else in common with the other entries on this list. Don't get me wrong, they sound great in their own regards, but they still aren't the same.
The official Frappuccino is special
Finally, a Frappuccino—with a capital F—is a trademark of Starbucks. They typically make all their Frappuccinos with either a coffee or cream base. The coffee they use isn't a typical brewed cup of coffee like espresso. It is more like a really strong instant coffee they call Frappuccino Roast. It's not available for sale at any stores. It has been described to be “not very good” when consumed on its own. They then pair that with a syrup-like espresso concentrate for the body of the drink.
Contrary to homemade frappés, Starbucks' Frappuccinos are not usually made with actual espresso. You can, however, ask for an espresso shot instead of their Frappuccino Roast if you want, or as an addition to it for extra oomph. It was claimed they don't use espresso because it alters the texture of the Frappuccino, causing it to become too watery and giving you overall less caffeine.
I'm not sure I believe that, but it did come from Starbuck's employees' mouths.
As you can see, there are many specialized types of frappés or frappes, all separate but still containing the same echo of each other. However, only Starbucks can use the name Frappuccino—big F—, because it is their trademark.
What kinds of Frappuccinos have coffee in them?
As you can see, there are a lot of options when it comes to the official, legally licensed Frappuccinos from Starbucks. But do they have real coffee in them? If you're hankering for a cup of Joe, you don't want to purchase a fake coffee drink, so it's worth knowing these next points.
Official Frappuccinos usually say on the menu whether they are made with coffee, and therefore have caffeine, or not. Remember that it's that weird instant stuff and not fresh coffee. Some menus have the caffeine content listed as well, and they have most nutritional information on their site.
Starbucks' cream-based Frappuccinos contain no coffee. These types usually have the word cream or crème in the name.
You may also ask for a traditionally caffeinated Frappuccino to be decaf, or cream-based. Since there isn't a decaf option for the instant Frappuccino Roast, they will most likely use decaf espresso in its place, or cream Frappuccino ingredients, respectively.
Cream-based and coffee-free Frappuccinos include, but are not limited to, the White Chocolate Cream, Vanilla Bean, Strawberries & Cream, Matcha Green Tea, and Pumpkin Spice Cream Frappuccinos.
Even if a Frappuccino is cream-based and has no coffee, if it contains chocolate it's still possible there may be a very small amount of caffeine in it. This caffeine is what is naturally occurring in chocolate.
Coffee based Frappuccinos include, but are not limited to, the Mocha, Caramel, Hazelnut, Toffee Mocha, Java Chip, and Cinnamon Roll Frappuccinos.
Homemade and others locations
Frappés from other locations may or may not have their signs list whether they have coffee in them or not. If it isn't listed on the menu, it is best to ask the barista.
If they are homemade, there are recipes for frappés with either coffee or no coffee, and should say in the recipe what kind of coffee and how much, but it is typically chilled espresso or instant coffee.
Is a Frappuccino with coffee in it better than one without?
A question like this is mostly defined by your own personal tastes. If you're looking for a Frappuccino to give you a little buzz, then go with a coffee-based Frappuccino. Maybe even ask for a shot or two of espresso instead of the nasty instant stuff. If you want just a cold and tasty beverage but don't need a caffeine boost, then a coffee-free, cream-based Frappuccino is best.
Having coffee or not also has an impact on flavor. A coffee-based Frappuccino will be sweeter than black coffee for sure, but a cream-based Frappuccino is bound to be the sweetest option. It is best to keep this in mind when ordering one, as not everyone wants an overly sweet Frappuccino to kick them in the face, or a surprisingly bitter than expected sip.
Can you specifically ask for coffee in your Frappuccino?
Depending on where you get your Frappuccino, it couldn't hurt to ask for coffee in it if it doesn't come with any. If you're unsure whether it contains coffee or not, and can't see it listed on a menu, you can always ask your barista. It's not like it's a special hidden secret that they'll kick you out of the restaurant for asking.
Just be wary adding espresso or other types of coffee as it may make the Frappuccino have a different taste and texture than it normally would. While it will be a stronger Frappuccino with more coffee flavor, it will also probably become much waterier.
Some Frappuccinos do actually have coffee in them. It typically isn't a lot, but it's there for the flavor. They may also contain caffeine, but nowhere near as much as your average cup of black coffee.
Frappuccinos come in many sizes, flavors, and coffee levels. But whether they have coffee or not, Frappuccinos are no doubt delicious and a unique type of beverage that you can really get creative with.
What does Frappuccino and frappé mean?
Frappé is based on the French word
Frappuccino is a combination of frappe, the milkshake from New England I mentioned earlier, and cappuccino. It was originally created by a coffee shop chain in Eastern Massachusetts called Coffee Connections when they mixed a milkshake and cappuccino together. When Starbucks bought them, they also acquired the copyrights to the name Frappuccino.
How much caffeine is in a Frappuccino?
Caffeine content varies from the type of Frappuccino and how it's made. Not only does each different type of Frappuccino have significantly different nutrition information than the other, but each barista is going to make one slightly different than another barista does, that's just how humans work. For instance, one barista might squirt just a little more of the thickening base, while another one might add more of the Frappuccino Roast.
Even with all these wonderful flavors of Frappuccinos, they still have less caffeine than black coffee does. For instance, a Tall Caramel Frappuccino, which is 16 oz, has approximately 65 mg of caffeine. Whereas just 8 oz of black coffee has approximately 95 mg of caffeine. That's quite a difference!