Frappuccino vs Iced Coffee

A refreshing iced coffee vs a sweet frappuccino with caramel to keep your energy up. Both sound equally fantastic, don’t you think? To me, they most certainly do.

But how do you choose between them? We’ve all been there, holding up the coffee shop queue, trying to choose which coffee to get and the barista (not to mention other customers!) getting increasingly impatient.

So, let’s break it down. What’s really the difference and when should you choose which? Or rather: which refreshing cold coffee do you want right now?

A frappuccino is a creamy, sweet cocktail of an iced coffee that’s trademarked by Starbucks. Outside of Starbucks, a very similar drink is sold as a Frappe.

An iced coffee is, by definition, any kind of chilled coffee. So a frappuccino is also a kind of iced coffee, even if Starbucks most certainly wouldn’t agree.

However, an ‘iced coffee’ is usually made by pouring a coffee (or cappuccino, flat white, latte…) over ice. On the other hand, the frappuccino has heavy cream or a sweet flavor syrup added. 

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between Frappucino vs Iced Coffee!

What is a Frappuccino?

A frappuccino is a trademark of Starbucks, originating in 1990s Massachusetts. It’s basically a sweetened cold latte with cream on top and syrup all over. You can read more about how it differs from a latte here.

What’s to note is that frappuccino is foamy, just as the Italian cappuccino, and a really light, sugary coffee drink.

If you’ve just had a long shopping trip in the summer heat, there’s nothing more refreshing than a frappuccino!

Frappuccino vs Frappe

Frappuccino and frappe sound remarkably similar, don’t you think? Both are relatively new, less than 70 years old, and both were developed by brands: Starbucks and Nescafé.

They’re both iced coffees, and both tend to be quite sweet, although frappuccino tends to be sweeter. Both are creamy, and both have a refreshing kick.

Both have a thick layer of a thick coffee-and-milk mixture as a ‘hat’ – but this hat is different.

In a frappuccino, the hat is an iced version of the hat of a cappuccino. In a frappe, this hat is a combination of instant coffee, milk powder and ice that becomes foamy the way a cocktail does. It’s therefore thick more than creamy, a textured version, you might say.

I’ve already mentioned the history of frappuccino which started in the mid-1990s U.S., but the history of frappe is interesting too.

History of the Frappe

The word ‘frappe’ comes from the French café frappé. However, it’s known from its Greek variant thanks to an innovation by Dimitris Vakondios of Nescafé.

The story goes that his co-worker, Giannis Dritsas, was showcasing a new product to children for Nestlé in 1957 at the Thessaloniki International Fair. The product was a chocolate instant drink that you make by mixing powder with milk in a shaker. Sounds familiar? That’s right, it was the Nestlé chocolate drink!

Dimitris wanted to have his usual Nescafé instant coffee during his coffee break, but he couldn’t find any hot water. Instead, he took inspiration from the shaken chocolate drink they were showcasing. Dimitris mixed the instant coffee with milk and ice cubes in a shaker, and thus, the frappe was born. 

The frappe has been developed further by Nescafé, and is now a must-have in cafés around the world.

I have to say, I’m biased here, because the frappe is my favorite iced coffee. It’s also the easiest one to make, as long as you have a cocktail shaker. Just mix some ice, instant coffee and milk or milk powder (the powder does magic to the texture) with some sugar and shake. 

How to Make a Frappuccino

Making a frappuccino is actually just as easy, as long as you can make a cappuccino.

Make your cappuccino first. If you’re at home, you’re best of if you have an espresso machine and a milk frother. However there’s an alternative to this if you don’t have this equipment. You can make the coffee in a moka pot, using more coffee and less water to make it extra strong, like an espresso. You can also use a French press to froth the milk by hand.

For the cappuccino, make a double coffee shot. Froth the milk as much as you can without breaking the protein in the milk, that is, without over-heating it.

Next, pour the milk gently over the coffee, making sure you’re pouring the foamiest part of the top of your milk into the coffee. Now that we’ve got a cappuccino, let’s sweeten it: 2-3 teaspoons should do the trick, but do it up to your taste. 

Once we have a sweet cappuccino, let’s turn to making it into a frappuccino. For this, we’re going to need ice – crushed ice is best.

There are a few alternatives, either you can combine the milky coffee and the ice in a blender and turn it on (be careful if your blender can’t handle ice!), or crush it by hand using a ZIP-bag and something to smash it with or smash it against the sides of the sink, and then combine everything in a cocktail shaker.

You’re going to want to shake the cocktail shaker until it’s so cold that you can’t hold it in your hands any longer. That’s it, in theory. Now comes the fun part. Fancy heavy cream? Fancy some caramel syrup? Chocolate? Vanilla? Hazelnut? Pick your favorite and pour it on top. 

What is an Iced Coffee?

An iced coffee is just ice and coffee, right? Well, kind of.

It’s true that iced coffee is a coffee made to be drank cold. However, there’s actually an incredible variety of iced coffees. Iced coffee made with cold brew, iced coffee made with normal coffee and milk added afterwards, coffee with milk poured over ice, a milky coffee shaken with ice, the student variant of a coffee that you’ve put in the freezer for an hour, and of course frappuccinos and frappes!

How to Make Iced Coffee

Most iced coffees you’ll get at a coffee shop are actually either cold-brewed or made using instant coffee, like when you’re making a frappe.

That said, on a Spanish beach there’s nothing better than getting a cortado con azúcar y hielo, cortado with sugar and ice, from the beach hut. This will get you a cortado that they’ll pour a teaspoon of sugar into and then over a plastic cup filled with ice.

When you’re making iced coffee at home, this is by far the easiest way to make iced coffee, just make sure to add the sugar (if you have your coffee sweet, which you’ll probably want if you’re having iced coffee as the flavor decreases the lower the temperature is) before you pour it over the ice as otherwise it won’t combine.

The proper way to make iced coffee otherwise is to make a cold brew, because this way you make sure that the hot coffee won’t be too acidic and that it doesn’t melt all the ice as the combination of hot liquid and ice actually destroys the flavor even more.

The problem here is that the lower the temperature, the less flavors you can taste, so you want to maximize flavor while not bringing out the acidity of the coffee beans. OK, so that’s the theory behind it, but how do you actually make a cold brew? Making a cold-brewed coffee at home is actually very easy as long as you’ve got a filter and a French press. Some modern coffee machines even let you make the coffee cold-brewed, all you need is a bit more time than for a normal coffee.

How to Make Iced Coffee with a French Press

When making a cold-brewed coffee in a French press, you’ll be doing the same thing as you do when making it with hot water, but use cold water instead.

However, cold water and coffee don’t react as well to each other as hot water and coffee do, so you’ll need to up your coffee ratio. Use 2-3 times more coffee than you would normally, and leave the French press without pressing it down for a while, between 20 minutes and an hour is ideal.

Depending on what coffee beans you’re using, you’ll want to tweak the ratio. For Kenyan or Ethiopian coffee, you don’t need to increase it as much as the coffee itself is very strong. For Brazilian coffee, which is what I use, the soft flavor of the beans really needs to be enhanced so I would use four times as much coffee as I do normally.

Froth your milk or cow milk alternative, or just use plain cold milk, and add it to the coffee. Don’t worry if the milk is warm, as it doesn’t have a negative reaction when combined with ice, you’ll just need to use some more ice than you would if you used cold milk. Combine with crushed or whole ice and either shake in a cocktail shaker or a blender, or else just stir it. 

What’s the Difference Between a Frappuccino vs Iced Coffee?


While the frappuccino is trademarked, an iced coffee can be next to any coffee with ice. However, the addition of syrup and heavy cream common to frappuccino tends to make it more of a just-below-room-temperature cold coffee drink while the iced coffee is icy cold.

Type of Coffee

If you’re making it at home, frappuccino and iced coffee will end up using the same kind of coffee. If you’re getting it at a coffee shop on the other hand, the frappuccino is more likely to be made using a hot brew while the iced coffee uses a cold brew.


You can use any kind of milk for both frappuccino and iced coffee, whether you’re making it at home or getting it at a coffee shop. The frappe kind of iced coffee uses milk powder, the poured over ice iced coffee uses milk frothed in a similar way as the frappuccino, and the cold brewed iced coffee is more likely to be with cold milk, making a less frothy variant.


As with all coffees, you can add any flavor you like to a coffee. For maximum coffee flavor, make a strong cold brew, add cold milk and ice, and shake in a cocktail shaker. The frappuccino is, in contemporary coffee culture, a flavored coffee, so you’ll have caramel, chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, raspberry flavors of it, while the iced coffee is more of a “simple” coffee and milk flavor.

Frappuccino vs Iced Coffee Calories

So, you’re familiar with the differences in taste and ways of making frappuccino vs iced coffee. What about the calories? Which one is best for you if you’re on a diet?

Well, you need sugar to make both frappuccino and iced coffee.

With a frappuccino, however, you’re likely to add more flavors to it or even heavy cream. This makes it richer in calories than a regular iced coffee. With a frappe, you’ll be getting all the additional sugar and calories that you’ll find in the Nescafé instant coffee and the milk powder.

As an iced coffee can be made without milk, and therefore contain almost no calories, it is the healthier option of the two.