Cappuccino vs Frappuccino

Photo of a cappuccino on the left and a frappuccino on the right. Cappuccino vs Frappuccino

These two popular drinkers are popular orders at your favorite coffee shop. But what separates them? Take a look and see for yourself the differences between Cappuccino vs Frappuccino!

While they sound very similar, a cappuccino and a frappuccino are very different. A cappuccino is made from equal thirds of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. This is a hot drink that you can make at home or order at a coffee shop. A frappuccino is a trademarked drink from Starbucks, and it has a cream base blended with flavored syrups and spices. There are many flavors to choose from. All of these are layered iced drinks.

Curious to know more? There’s a lot more waiting for you below!

What is a cappuccino?

A cappuccino is a combination of a shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and frothed milk. Each component is equal, resulting in a strong, milky drink. It’s served piping hot and often is dotted with cinnamon and potentially latte art in the milk foam.

What is a frappuccino?

This store-made drink starts with instant coffee mixed with cold water or an espresso (depending) and then is mixed with a cream base and flavored syrup. After that’s well mixed over sweetened ice cubes, it’s topped with whipped cream and more syrup for flavor and sweetness. It’s served cold. If you get the bottled frappuccino, it won’t have ice.

Fun Fact:

Did you know there are 19 different bottled frappuccinos and 36.000+ different store-made frappuccinos?

Cappuccino vs Frappuccino key differences

They certainly sound pretty different now that you’re a bit more familiar with the offerings, but there’s still a lot to know about these popular kinds of drinks since you want to order something that will give you the kick of flavor that you’re looking for.


The cappuccino comes originally from Italy. The frappuccino, both the store made and the bottled type, come from Starbucks, specifically Boston. You can get many versions of a frappuccino at Starbucks around the world. You can also get similar look-alike drinks at coffee shops, but the name itself is trademarked!


Since you’ve been following along, you already know that there will be many different ingredients that essentially make these two drinks nothing alike. Let’s take a closer look to get a feel for what you’re looking at!

A cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The dusting of cinnamon or chocolate is optional. Simple and delicious.

A frappuccino has a whole grocery list of ingredients, including: 

  • Instant coffee and water (or espresso)
  • Cream bases
  • Flavored syrups
  • Whipped cream
  • Sprinkles or syrups for the whipped cream

Admittedly, it does sound delicious, even just with the description alone. However, it certainly does differ from the simplicity of the cappuccino above.

Brewing process 

As you can guess, the brewing process will be even more different between these two popular drinks! 

When brewing a cappuccino, you extract the espresso and put it into the cup. Then add in the steamed milk. You can either leave it layered or mix it. Add on the milk foam and decorate with latte art, cinnamon, or chocolate. It’s served in a small cup with a saucer.

To brew a frappuccino, mix the instant coffee with water or brew an espresso. You put that in the bottom of a tall cup and then add a large amount of crushed or cubed ice. Then pour in the calculated amount of cream base. 

After that, add in the flavored syrup, which often will differ depending on the type of frappuccino you order. Flavored syrup examples include vanilla, mocha chocolate, peppermint, etc. At this point, you can add in a pump of extra syrup for a flavor combination. Otherwise, it’s the whipped cream dollop on top and then drizzled with more flavored syrup. 

The frappuccino is served in a tall cup that displays its layers. Not going to lie; there are a lot of steps to making even the simplest versions of the frappuccino!


Typically, a cappuccino will be 5 oz (150 ml), making it just right for an afternoon treat or as part of a dessert. The minimum size for a frappuccino is 11.8 oz (350 ml).


Now for one of the best parts: the taste. A cappuccino will be rich and milky and have a strong coffee flavor thanks to equal ingredients. It’s also creamy, frothy, and smooth overall. This is a popular drink because it blends all of its ingredients into a beautiful final effect.

A frappuccino will be sweet, thick, rich, and creamy. It’s an excellent choice for decadent, sweet, and flavorful drinks. The coolness of the ice is also a great way to essentially enjoy a fancy milkshake with a subtle coffee flavor. You’ll find the cream base and the flavored syrup the most dominant flavor in this drink, rather than the coffee.

Why was the frappuccino made?

When you think about these two drinks, you just assume that one is the original hot version and the cold version. After all, that’s how the idea for the frappuccino came about. Now you can get literal iced cappuccinos at many of your favorite shops, including Dunkin’ DonutsTim Hortons, and even Starbucks themselves.

So…why does the frappuccino still exist? The frappuccino now has a dedicated following for those that don’t like the coffee taste of other options and want to go wild with flavor shots, etc.

What is stronger: a cappuccino or a frappuccino?

You’ll find that cappuccino wins on both the flavor front as well as the caffeine front. This is mainly because, well, a frappuccino doesn’t contain much (if any) coffee. If caffeine is your primary concern, then a frappuccino certainly wins. But there’s flip side to that…

Does a frappuccino have a lot of sugar?

Absolutely. A frappuccino has a lot (and I mean a LOT) of sugar. The simplest version has between 35-66 g per drink. To put it in perspective for you, recommends that men and women should have no more than 36 grams (and 25 grams, respectively) of sugar per day. That’s right; a frappuccino contains a literal day’s worth of sugar in it. It makes you think differently about it, right? 

TIP: Love frappuccinos but are concerned about the sugar? Skip the add-ons like whipped cream and enjoy these as a treat every once in a while.

Calories in a cappuccino vs. a frappuccino

Since the sugar is so high, you can bet that calories will follow suit in many ways. A cappuccino has 80 calories, and a frappuccino has at least 160 calories minimum, according to FastFoodNutrition.

Which is better: a cappuccino or a frappuccino?

It’s hard to compare these drinks because they are so different and have different profiles on our health. Generally, a cappuccino will be better for coffee flavor, caffeine boost, and health. A frappuccino is an excellent choice for those who want a mild flavor, experiment, and enjoy a creamy drink as a treat.

Fun Fact:

37% of Italian shoppers preferred a frappuccino in the shop.

It’s pretty neat to learn that a cappuccino and a frappuccino are so different from each other, even though many confuse the two at first. A cappuccino is made using equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam for its top. It’s decorated with latte art, cinnamon, or chocolate dust and served hot. A frappuccino is made using a small amount of instant coffee or espresso (optional) and then combined with a cream base layer, flavored syrups, and whipped cream. It’s served over ice cubes or ice shavings.

Know someone who’s always wanted to know what the differences between these two drinks are? Share this with them and help them do just that!

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Robert Knowlton is an expert barista with more than 15 years of experience. Robert's main goal is to make sure everyone can enjoy the perfect cup of coffee regardless of their skill level.