What Is а Frappé? Everything You Need to Know About This Iced Coffee Drink

At first, identifying frappuccinos and milkshakes appears to be a no-brainer: the former contains an energizing jolt of caffeine, while the latter offers pure sweet ecstasy.

However, things can get a bit confusing when frappés enter the conversation. Aren’t coffee frappés and frappuccinos practically the same thing? How are frappés different from milkshakes?

Don’t worry, you’ll find out everything you need to know about this popular coffee beverage in this article. Once you read it, you’ll be ready to impress the baristas at your favorite coffee shop

First Things First: What Does Frappé Mean?

The word frappé comes from French where its literal meaning is iced. This word was used to describe just about any drink chilled with ice (like frozen fruit juices and liqueurs served over shaved ice, but not ice creams).

Today, however, we associate this French word with the cold coffee drink we’ll talk about in this article.

The Origins of the Coffee Frappé

The Frappe

In the 19th century, references to a number of different cold coffee beverages named ‘café frappé’ emerged. Some of them were similar to iced coffee, while others were more like slushies.

However, the popular coffee drinks we know today as frappés were born more than 60 years ago. During the 1957 International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki, Greece, a representative of Nestlé was exhibiting a new kid’s drink — a chocolate beverage blended with milk using a shaker.

Also Read: Where Do Coffee Beans Come From?

The rep was craving coffee but wasn’t able to find any hot water. He decided to mix his usual instant coffee with cold water and a shaker. This is when the magic happened.

His improvisation of blending instant coffee with cold water using a shaker is what led to the famous Greek frappé.

Since then, it’s become one of the most popular drinks in Greece (particularly on hot summer days), being served at practically all cafés. It’s sometimes even dubbed the ‘country’s national coffee.’

Traditional vs. Modern Frappé Preparation

The Greek way of preparing a frappé is pretty simple. All you need to do is blend one or two teaspoons of coffee, sugar to taste, and water in a cocktail shaker or a hand mixer.

 Keep shaking or mixing until a foamy layer forms at the top. Once you see the frothy layer, stop and pour the drink into a tall glass.

Last but not least, add cold water and ice cubes to the mixture (milk is optional).

As you might have guessed, the modern frappé preparation includes a blender. Today, most coffee bars throw all the ingredients (strong coffee, sugar, ice cubes, water, milk, flavorings, and syrups) in a blender and wait for the machine to work its magic.

As a finishing touch, the frothy combination is often topped with vanilla ice cream, melted chocolate, sprinkles, cinnamon powder, whipped cream, or any other sweet garnishes.

Frappé Variations

Here are a few fun facts for you:

  • Unlike the tradition-respecting Greeks, the rest of the world likes using espresso when preparing frappés;
  • Some coffee bars add liqueurs like Kahlúa to this coffee beverage;
  • In Bulgaria, people use Coca-Cola instead of water;
  • In Denmark, coffee lovers use cold milk instead of water;
  • In Serbia, this drink is prepared with milk or ice cream.  

Are Frappuccinos and Frappés the Same Drink?

The short answer is: no, they’re not.

Let’s start the long answer by analyzing the word frappuccino. It’s a made-up word combining the meanings of frappe (pronounced ‘frap’) and cappuccino (espresso with frothed milk). A frappuccino is basically an iced cappuccino mixed with a milkshake and all kinds of flavorings.

We can’t say for sure whether the term frappe is taken from the Greek frappé or from the Boston area term used to describe a thick milkshake.

The first-ever frappuccino was made, named, trademarked, and sold by The Coffee Connection, a coffee shop chain in eastern Massachusetts.

The New England company was bought out in 1994 by Starbucks. Starbucks got the rights to market this drink as a frappuccino. They tweaked the recipe a bit and popularized the sweet coffee beverage that everyone loves today.

At Starbucks, you can find Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino, Espresso Frappuccino, and many other blends.

As you can see, frappés and frappuccinos are not the same drink.

Okay, What About Frappés and Milkshakes?


Most people assume that milkshakes contain ice cream and they aren’t wrong.

Traditionally, a milkshake is prepared by blending milk, ice cream, and flavorings/sweeteners like chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, fruit syrup, etc.

While this is generally the case, it’s different in New England states. There, milkshakes are made with just milk and syrups (chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry). If ice cream is added to the mix, the drink is considered a ‘frappe.’

Still confused? Here’s a quick guide (keep in mind that ice cream should be your defining differentiator):

  • Frappés are made with instant coffee, water, sugar, and sometimes milk.
  • Milkshakes contain milk, ice cream, and flavorings combined via vigorous shaking, either in a blender or a shaker.

Generally, the presence of ice cream is what produces the thick texture of milkshakes. On the other hand, frappés can be thinner (and easier to gulp down) but are equally frothy from all that shaking.

Additionally, it’s interesting to know that frappés and milkshakes offer different calories.

For those of you who want to keep their weight at bay, frappés are the better option because you can control the calorie intake.

You can go with sugar-free and non-fat ingredients with frappés, but not so with milkshakes, unless you can easily source skim or low-fat milk and/or sugar-free ice cream, or be willing to substitute ice cream with low-fat frozen yogurt.

If you want a drink to perk you up in the middle of a hot day, a refreshing frappé is your best bet. Since it contains coffee, this drink will give you a much-needed energy boost.

Lastly, since frappés are more flexible when it comes to ingredients, you have more recipes to play with.


Homemade Frappé Recipes

Whip up your very own power drink at home.

Classic Mocha Frappé

DIY Mokka Frappe


  • 3 tablespoons ground dark-roast coffee or espresso beans
  • ½ cup of water
  • 14 to 17 ice cubes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons hot fudge dessert topping


    • Brew the coffee using the beans and the water.
    • In a blender, place the ingredients in this order: ice cubes, sugar, hot fudge dessert topping, and milk. Keep mixing until well-blended.
    • Pour in the coffee and blend again.

Vanilla Cappuccino Frappé

Vanilla Frappucino


  • 3 tablespoons ground dark-roast coffee or espresso beans
  • ½ cup of water
  • 14 to 17 ice cubes
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Brew the coffee using the coffee beans and the water.
  • In a blender, place the ingredients in the following order: ice cubes, sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Keep mixing until well-blended.
  • Pour in the coffee and blend again.

The Verdict

The frappé is definitely worth the hype! This delicious cold drink can come to your rescue when drinking a hot coffee beverage is the last thing you want to do.

You can try one of our recipes and make this drink in the comfort of your home or visit the nearest coffee bar and treat yourself.

With so many recipes and variations on the market, finding one you’ll fall in love with will be an absolute breeze!