Cappuccino vs Frappuccino? – Discover 6 Big Differences

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Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the drinks with Italian names on the menu at the coffee shop? For non-baristas, differentiating between cappuccino vs frappuccino is never an easy task.

If you tend to get the two types of coffee mixed up all the time, keep on reading to end the confusion now!

What Is There In A Cup Of Cappuccino?

Cappuccino is a balanced combination of espresso, frothed milk, and foam. A well-made cup of cappuccino should be creamy, with a hint of sweetness from the formula. Also, since the milk stays still when served, the espresso would give out a strong flavor.

On top of a cappuccino is a microfoam poured in the shape of a heart or fern leaf. The baristas can also add a sprinkling of cocoa or cinnamon powder to enhance the flavor of the coffee.

What makes cappuccino unique is the layer of milk foam, 2-3 cm in thickness. In terms of taste, the milk foam increases the creamy texture and aroma. It can also reduce the acidity and bitterness of coffee.

Besides, this layer of milk foam can also keep the heat, making the cappuccino hot and tasty for longer. Upon request, the baristas can decorate the foam layer with various shapes. It is to make the drink look more pretty and toothsome.

Where Does Cappuccino Come From?

Cappuccino originates in Italy, the heaven of good coffee. At first, people enjoyed coffee with sugar and cream and called it Kapuziner in Viennese cafés. After the invention of the espresso machine, the drink became known as “cappuccino.” 

Back in the 20th century, the Capuchin friars wore light brown robes that reminded people of the color of the espresso and milk mixed. Thus the tasty drink has got the name “cappuccino.”

Over time, the drink has gone through plenty of simplifications and improvements. In various places, people make cappuccino variations with foamed or hot milk instead of steamed milk. Baristas can also replace milk with whipped cream. And the coffee can have additives such as caramel, vanilla, or peppermint.

What Is There In A Cup Of Frappuccino?

Frappuccino is a mixture of coffee and cream, shaved ice, flavored syrup, and a big heap of whipping cream on top. Usually, baristas would serve glasses of frappuccino directly at the counter. You may also find this beverage sold in bottles at convenience stores and vending machines.

You are free to alter the flavor and texture of this drink by combining various ingredients to your liking. The most common additives are whipping cream, extracts, flavoring sauces, drizzles, and syrups. 

For instance, chocolate syrups are for mocha frappuccinos. Or cinnamon roll frappuccinos can pair with cinnamon dolce syrups. 

Generally, you can enjoy these blended drinks with a wide range of mixing flavors. These include caramel, cinnamon, lemonade, cookie, raspberry, and vanilla. Nonetheless, the more things add up, the higher calories it gives. So remember to watch out if you are on a diet!

Where Does Frappuccino Come From?

Frappuccino is a registered trademark of Starbucks, the world-famous coffee chain. It means you can only get these blended drinks in Starbucks coffee houses or those approved by Starbucks to sell the branded product.

The story of frappuccino dates back to the 1990s. The Coffee Connection, a coffee chain in Massachusetts, has developed the mixed drink. Since it quickly became a hot item, they trademarked the term “frappuccino.” The name is a portmanteau of cream milkshake (frappe) and cappuccino.

In 1994, Starbucks purchased The Coffee Connection. The company also acquired the rights to use, produce, and sell the Frappuccino®. In 1995, Starbucks used the term “frappuccino” for its new blend of coffee. By 2012, the product had achieved over $2 billion in annual sales.

In the summer of 1995, the frappuccino owned by Starbucks only came in two flavors: coffee and mocha. Most frappuccinos have roasted Italian coffee bases. 

At that time, fresh whipping cream had not yet appeared. Through recipe changes, current frappuccinos include brewed coffee and shaved ice. There are also other additives such as milk, sugar, flavored syrups, and whipped cream.

Cappuccino vs Frappuccino: 6 Major Differences

How They Are Served?

Frappuccino is a cold beverage only available in Starbucks or branded bottles. Cappuccino is a typical Italian Espresso drink that you may find in any coffee shop.

About the temperature, cappuccinos are warm and suitable for cold weather days. A cup of hot cappuccino in the morning not only brings warmth but also helps boost your productivity.

In contrast, frappuccinos are icy and refreshing. The blended drink is perfectly suitable for blazing summer days. You can enjoy the thirst-quenching taste of blended ice and whipped cream together. And the ice chips from a sip of frappuccino will blow the heat away.

The easiest way to distinguish cappuccino from frappuccino is to see how they are served. Commonly, baristas would serve cold frappuccino in tall glasses with dome lids. In contrast, cappuccino would best be served hot in cups or mugs, with a nice layer of milk foam on top.


Frappuccinos have a consistency that resembles smoothie drinks. Their key ingredients are ice, milk, extract, syrups, and coffee. On top of the glass are whipped cream and frappuccino toppings. Some people enjoy the drink with ice cream, making the texture even thicker.

Cappuccinos have an equal ratio of espresso as the base, steamed milk in the middle, and foam op top. The hardest part to make a cappuccino is steaming milk. The baristas need to take great care to get the milk foamed well for a velvety consistency.


Frappuccinos taste creamy with a mild coffee flavor. The type of flavoring syrups would determine the flavor of each frappuccino. The addition of ice cream and sprinklings would also give the blended drink some icy bites.

Cappuccinos have a bittersweet taste. From the first sip, the drink will welcome you with a solid taste of milk foam. What follows is the aroma of coffee with milk below.

With a sense of sweetness from the milk, cappuccino develops a rich and creamy taste as you stir and enjoy the drink. It also gives a strong bitter taste from the espresso base, along with the frothy texture of the foam op top.

Caffeine and Calories Contents


On caffeine comparison, a cappuccino has higher caffeine content than a frappuccino. 

On average, there is roughly 80 mg of caffeine in a 6-ounce cup of cappuccino with a single shot of espresso. If you make a cappuccino with a double shot of espresso, the caffeine amount will increase to 160 mg. This amount is like a typical cup of drip coffee.

Frappuccino only contains a small amount of caffeine for the sake of flavor. The caffeine content varies among different frappuccino recipes. Thus, it is rather hard to present an exact number. 

For example, White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino has an amount of caffeine six times higher than a Red Velvet Frappuccino. The gap is reasonable because the nature of mocha is coffee plus chocolate. 

Nonetheless, the caffeine content in a glass of frappuccino would never go higher than a cappuccino or the regular black coffee.

On top of that, if you are highly caffeine-sensitive, you may even ask for a decaf frappuccino. Then, the baristas will replace the ingredients with non-caffeine materials. Or they can use decaf espresso instead.


Another concern for many when choosing cappuccino vs frappuccino is their calorie contents. Contrary to the previous defeat, frappuccino ranks first in the calories level chart. 

The blended drinks are well-known as sugar bombs due to the heavy heaps of toppings and whipped cream. The sugar and fat content translates to the calories level. An ordinary Coffee Frappuccino has 200 calories. But the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino has a whopping amount of 500 calories in one glass.

On the other hand, an average cup of cappuccino is moderate in calories. Milk, sugar, and other artificial sweeteners are good sources of carbohydrates in this espresso-based drink. Usually, a cup of cappuccino would contain 65-120 calories. The exact number depends on the recipe and your drinking preferences.


According to the Starbucks menu, there are 3 sizes of a frappuccino. They are tall (12 oz), grande (16 oz), and venti (24 oz). Meanwhile, cappuccino has only one standard size of 6 oz in almost any coffee shop.

Recipe Flexibility

Frappuccino recipes are highly flexible. Seasonal varieties, espresso or crème-based frappuccinos, and even secret menus are all available. Unrivaled flexibility to give you an impressive range of choices to explore!

Besides, you can customize your frappuccino to your personal needs. The baristas can help you opt for nut milk like soy or oat milk for a vegan frappuccino. 

Dairy-free and calorie-minimizing options are always right up your sleeves. Baristas are also ready to skip or reduce the topping cream and syrups whenever you request.

Cappuccinos do not have as many flavors as its counterpart. But there are still several variations. Italian people love to enjoy a hot cappuccino in the morning. But iced or flavored cappuccinos are well-liked at any time of the day in many regions around the globe.

All cappuccinos include shots of intense espresso and a layer of velvety frothed milk. Wet cappuccinos have a mild, dissolved espresso flavor. The recipe for it calls for more steamed milk and less microfoam. Wet cappuccinos taste a bit like a latte.

If you are especially fond of the topping foam of the drink, a dry cappuccino is a perfect choice for you. The barista would use much less heated milk and add more foam to fill in the missing space. That gives the drink a strong espresso taste and also a darker hue. Dry cappuccinos tend to stay hot for longer since the foam acts as heat insulation.

Tips To Make Cappuccino & Frappuccino At Home

For Cappuccino

The hardest part of making a cappuccino is to steam the perfect milk. It might require some practice with the right equipment. You will need an espresso maker with a steam wand. If you do not have an espresso maker, prepare the coffee with a thin filter.

150 ml (5 oz) of cappuccino contains 85 ml of milk and 25 ml of espresso coffee. Then the frothing process would fill in the space. The fat content of the milk would determine the foaming texture. It is advisable to use unsweetened pasteurized milk for any Italian coffee drink.

To make the foaming process go well, you should store fresh milk at a cold temperature of 39-42 degrees Fahrenheit in advance. The next step is to steam the milk until it reaches 142°F (65°C) (check with a cooking thermometer). Or you can wait until the foam doubles in size.

For Frappuccino

There is no need to head to any Starbucks nearby to satisfy your frappuccino craving. Homemade frappuccino might taste as good and is super easy to prepare.

The instructions for making this drink are similar to those of a smoothie. There are a host of recipes for various types of frappuccino online. And the necessary ingredients should be available in most supermarkets.

First, mix everything in a blender. Second, pour it into a glass. The final touch is a dollop of whipped cream on top. Voila, the delicious blended drink is ready to serve!

Since the recipe is as simple as it can get, the only secret to a good frappuccino is its ingredients. Get the best ice cream and syrups for your drink, as well as fresh milk with a distinct aroma and not overly diluted coffee.


Despite some minor similarities, the distinction between cappuccino vs frappuccino is abundant. Frappuccino is a blended ice drink that suits hot summer days. And everyone would love a hot cappuccino on a winter morning.

We hope the article has provided you with a detailed explanation to distinguish the two types of coffee. People always joke that “the day without coffee is a day no one can imagine.” Now that you have a deeper understanding of cappuccino and frappuccino, it could be easier to pick your favorite. So, have fun ordering coffee the very next morning!

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Almost 20 years already spent committed to coffee and more than 3 years of experience as a barista at Starbucks. Madelyn Doyle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California and finished the Coffee Skills Program at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).