A mouth-watering frappuccino melting on your lips on a hot summer’s day. The light, creaminess of the milk of a latte enjoyed on your morning drive to work. There’s a time and a place for any coffee. Surely, you prefer one coffee drink over another. What is your favorite? And what is actually the difference between the different coffees?
With this piece, we’re continuing on our series exploring the difference between various coffee kinds. This time, it’s frappuccino – the branded Starbucks coffee with its origin in 1990s Massachusetts – and latte which comes in countless forms and variants since its beginnings in the 17th century. Can the two be more different?
Read on to learn all about the differences and similarities between a frappuccino vs a latte. I’ll show you how to make both of them at home, so you can always enjoy the perfect coffee for any occasion!
What is a Frappuccino?
A frappuccino is basically the kid of cappuccino and frappe. Though many people assume it was invented by Starbucks, that actually isn’t true. In 1992, in Boston, Massachusetts, a man named Andrew Frank thought a milkshake-coffee-with the cream of a cappuccino would be the marketing trick of the decade. And it was, boosting summer sales for the Coffee Connection chain. Starbucks bought the chain and the rights to the frappuccino name a couple of years later.
Today, frappuccino owned by Starbucks brings in the highest annual income of any trademarked coffee drink anywhere. Surprised? The very thought of the creaminess of the frappuccino should make you realize why.
It’s creamy, it’s sweet, and it’s got that particular texture. An ice cream with coffee, how can it be better than that? Turns out, while the frappuccino has been bringing in sales to Starbucks since the mid-1990s, the sales have now actually gone down.
Frappuccino vs Frappe
So we know that Starbucks own the rights to the frappuccino. But you’ve likely come across a very similar drink elsewhere – the frappe.
There are two versions of frappes: the French and the Greek.
The French version, lait frappé, literally means frothy milk and was very popular in Massachusetts in the 90s. It was, and still is, a milkshake of ice cream and frothed milk.
The Greek version is also frothy, but it’s made in a cocktail shaker by shaking instant milky coffee powder with ice and is also a thick, creamy, milkshake-like thing.
The frappuccino is closer to the Greek frappe, but instead of using instant coffee and milk, it uses real coffee and real milk – or a non-dairy alternative. Instead of the ice cream of the lait frappé, too, you can get whipped cream on top of your frappuccino.
How to Make a Frappuccino
Making a frappuccino is basically making a cappuccino, sweetening it, and then blending it with the crushed ice using either a cocktail shaker or a blender. Let’s look at that step by step.
First, pour a double shot of espresso using your espresso machine. Then, foam your milk using a frother or a bellman. When you’re frothing your milk, make sure that you froth for longer than with other coffees, and get more foam. Keep the wand of the steamer very close to the surface.
The sound of the milk bubbling should be louder when frothing cappuccino-kind of milk than when you’re making any other kind of coffee.
Pour the coffee into the milk, trying to use as much of the foam you can. Add two tablespoons of sugar and stir the coffee. If you’re lacking an espresso machine and a milk frother, there are some alternatives you can use that we’ve covered in some other articles here.
Now, crush some ice. A good way to do this is to put ice cubes in a ziplock or plastic bag. Close the bag and crush the ice, either with a bottle in the sink or by slamming it against the sides of your sink.
Next, you’ve got two options: either pour everything in a blender and press mix, or pour it in a cocktail shaker and shake until it’s so cold you can’t hold it in your hands anymore. Pour it in a glass, add straw and top it off with whipped cream and a syrup if you’d like.
What is a Latte?
A latte is a completely different story. In contrast to frappuccino, which is trademarked by Starbucks, a latte comes in hundreds of forms and types. An over-argued coffee drink, perhaps, but a deliciously hydrating and protein-rich one at that. It should therefore not be surprising that it was first a drink that was served at the house, for breakfast, and not in public coffee houses.
Latte means milk in Italian, and really that’s all it is: hot, steamed milk and coffee. In Italy, it’s traditionally served at home, with the milk only hot, not foamed at all. In the UK and US, however, the latte is slightly foamy and often poured in a tall glass.
You’ll get baristas who will tell you that the only way to make a latte is by pouring the steamed milk first, pouring the hot coffee into it. Of course, there’s those who’ll swear by the opposite, serving it a cup, slightly bigger than the one for cappuccino.
Regardless of where you are, the latte you’ll get at a coffee shop is the milkiest coffee drink you can get.
How to Make a Latte
To make a latte you need a large glass or cup, about 8 oz, coffee and milk. Any milk alternative will work as well, so feel free to use your favorite. You’ll also need an espresso machine or a moka pot, and a milk steamer.
Pour a double shot of espresso, and steam your milk. This time, keep the wand further into the coffee, making sure that the milk is a combination of steam and foam but not quite as foamy as in a cappuccino.
Pour the milk into the coffee, keeping the milk jug at an angle, and there you go: a latte ready to be served.
Even to the generalized latte there are some alternatives, of course. In Italy, the caffè latte is made in a moka pot and combined with hot – not foamed – milk. In the States, the latte is almost always sweet, but it’s not a necessity that makes up a latte.
What’s the Difference Between a Frappuccino vs Latte?
Now that we’ve looked closer at frappuccino and a latte, let’s really look at the difference between the two drinks. Their differences are many if we look at them closely but there’s a way to make them almost the same. You see, the bubbles in the cappuccino, when blended with the ice easily break, making the frappuccino very similar to a cold, sweet latte.
Frappuccino vs Latte Temperature
While the frappuccino comes served ice cold, the latte is a warm coffee drink at heart even if you can twist and turn it to whichever temperature you wish.
However, there are some generalizations on latte temperatures. The Italian traditional variant in particular is served very hot as the milk is simply heated, for example. The one served in our coffee shops tends to be hotter than other milky coffees, too.
In terms of temperature, the two are very much the opposite!
Type of Coffee
You can make a frappuccino more like a frappe, if you’d like, and use instant coffee. You can make it using coffee from a moka pot, a French press, or anything else. Sure, it does make a difference, but it doesn’t make as big of an impact on the taste as when making a latte. Why? Because in a frappuccino, there’s a lot of other tastes: you’ve often got sugar, caramel or chocolate if you’re adding that on as a syrup, cream… Moreover, when something is cold, we need more flavor to get the taste of something. In a latte, even if it’s the coffee with more milk than other coffee drinks, there’s more coffee flavor coming out to the fore than in a frappuccino.
You can use any kind of milk for both frappuccino and latte and it is almost as frothy. However, the milk in a frappuccino is combined with the coffee and ice into a silky almost sticky foam – the milkshake texture.
While both a latte and a frappuccino are very milky coffees, the non-coffee part of the frappuccino is milk and ice, so really it is a watered-down version of the milk.
Flavor of Frappuccino vs Latte
Today, you can get any syrups to go in both lattes and frappuccinos: caramel, dark chocolate, vanilla… However, adding flavor to your frappuccino is one of its characteristics – not least as it’s so closely connected to the brand that owns the right to the name, Starbucks.
Frappuccino vs Latte Calories
In theory, you could make a frappuccino and a latte have just as many calories: use the same milk, add equal amounts of sweetener or sugar to both, don’t add the whipped cream or the syrups to the frappuccino… After all, they’re the same size. However, the point of the frappuccino is really in the thick heavy whipped cream on top, the caramel taste, the sweetness. You can make anything have as many calories as you wish. If you’re getting it in the coffee shop? Well, chances are, the frappuccino will have more calories. After all, it’s a drink made out of an idea of a milkshake.