What is a Frappe? Does it stand for frappuccino? Is it a milkshake?

By Adam •  Updated: 10/12/20 •  5 min read

You’ve seen them everywhere. You’ve seen them with Instagram models, movie stars, fashionistas, celebrities and your friends. 

But what is a Frappe? Does it stand for frappuccino? Is it a milkshake? Is it a smoothie? Does it even have coffee in it? 

Any coffee-house or trendy cafe will have them on the menu. There are so many options and all of their names are fancy, sophisticated or relate to some sort of popular culture. 

If you search for a frappe on the internet or on your local coffee place’s menu, you’re bound to get a case of deja brew. Everywhere has contradicting coffee information!

What is the difference between a frappe, iced latte and a frappuccino? It would literally be easier to understand the ending of Inception than which is which. 

Some say that the word ‘frappe’ is just a shortened version of a ‘frappuccino’, others say it’s an iced drink without the coffee. The possibilities are relentless. This is where we come in. We are here to settle this age old debate for once and for all. 

What is a Frappe?

What is a Frappe?

What is a Frappe

A Frappe is typically a drink that is blended or shaken together, sometimes in a sort of cocktail shaker. This gives it that frothy, milky or velvety texture that we all love. It is usually served (in a coffee house) in a cold, clear glass with a straw to slurp up all the cream and foam. If taken away, frappes tend to come in a plastic cup also with a lid and straw.

The term frappe, pronounced ‘frapp-ay’ is derived from the 19th century and originated in Europe. The original term is ‘caffe frappe’ which tends to pertain to a cold or chilled milk drink, with coffee. 

The earliest known mention of a ‘caffe frappe’ transpired from Greece. The ‘caffe frappe’ is to this day, a renowned Greek specialty. The tale goes that long before the arrival of coffee corporations, Nescafe created the OG iced coffee. 

The coffee legend began at the 1957 Thessaloniki Trade Fair. According to the story, an employee of the Nestle company Dimitris Vakondios, was looking to make his usual cup of Nestle coffee. The trouble started when he had no hot water available. 

Luckily, the employee was promoting a new chocolate milk product that was produced with a shaker. He mixed his coffee with the cold water and a shaker and the frappe was born! 

However, this adds to the confusion as to whether the frappe is a coffee drink. The frappe originated as its greek form, but the first frappuccino came from a coffee shop in Massachusetts. This company was then bought out by Starbucks who have popularized and perfected the modern sweet frappe that we all know today. 

The modern ‘frappe’ generally pertains to a cold or iced beverage that has been mixed, blended or foamed to create a creamy, refreshing drink. Frappes are often detailed and elaborate, with whipped cream, syrups and flavorings that make them very desirable as a coffee or hot drink alternative.  

In recent years, popular coffee giants have perfected the technique and now use blenders to mix ice, milk and flavorings to create popular frappes.

With the explosion of coffee culture and social media, it has become a fashionable trend to try new, aesthetically pleasing and unique coffee-house beverages. These drinks taste great, look great and become a hot-new-thing that everyone wants to try. 

How to Make Coffee Frappes


‘Frappe’, in Italian actually means milkshake. A frappe can sometimes be a blended drink with milk, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. Frappes tend to have a thicker consistency that is created with the ice, milk and cream.

Just like a milkshake, it even has that bubbly, frothy texture sitting right on top. However, to make it a frappe, it usually has whipped cream and syrups added to the mix to make it a sweet, sugary delight. 

The great thing about the frappe is that it can be altered and changed with new flavors, combinations and toppings. Some coffee houses have over 20 different frappes. Some of the more popular types today are caramel, vanilla, mocha, chocolate, salted caramel, pumpkin spice, matcha and sometimes even coffee. 

As usual, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The nature of a frappe means that there is a lot of sugars, sweetener and fat in it. The syrups combined with heavy or whipped cream make them so delicious also make them a little fattening and not a great choice for the health-conscious. 


A frappe is the perfect alternative to ordering a hot coffee. Think of a hot, sweltering summer’s day. You want something to wet your whistle. Something refreshing to cool you down. The thought of a hot coffee is almost too much to bear. 

This is where the frappe is your friend. The milk blended with ice revitalizes and tantalizes your taste buds. If you opt for a frappuccino with coffee in, you can still get your fix whilst the crisp and chilly frappe is a great substitute for hot drinks and the perfect summer beverage.

The confusion comes in with the ‘frappe’ and ‘frappuccino’ which so easily mixed up.

The easy way to remember the difference is that a frappuccino sounds like cappuccino, and thus typically has coffee in it. A frappe on the other hand may be a cold, blended drink with various flavours, often sweetened with syrups and does not contain coffee. However, many coffee bars will call a frappe a frappuccino and a frappuccino a frappe. So it is useful to make sure you ask about the ingredients or flavors of the items on the menu. 

Don’t worry, be frappe!


Hailing from the United Kingdom, Adam has a wealth of experience in building websites including researching, designing, content creation and website optimisation. Adam and his team were instrumental in helping create the master plan for Portafilter and subsequently designing and launching the site.

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