There are so many specialty coffee drinks available that it’s easy to get confused with all the similar-sounding names unless you work in a cafe.
If you’ve ever wasted time looking at a menu, trying to decide what the difference is between a Frappuccino vs. a Cappuccino, after reading this article you will have new confidence in all your future orders!
So what are the main differences between smoothies, Frappuccinos, and cappuccinos? A smoothie is a mixed drink, usually made with espresso, ice, and milk. A Frappuccino is a series of Starbucks-branded mixed drinks, generally considered to be smoothies. A cappuccino is an espresso topped with steamed milk and a thick layer of milk froth; it is similar to a very frothy latte.
In the rest of the article, we’ll go into more detail about each drink choice, carefully explaining the differences and similarities between all of your favorite coffee treats.
A quick note: some terms may be used differently depending on the store – or the country!
However, as always, we’ll adopt traditional and “official” definitions of coffee – the type your local barista would prefer – whenever possible. It is the fairest basis that we can find.
When a glass has different “official” definitions in different countries, we have chosen the American definitions because they are what we know best.
What is a Strike?
The knocking (pronounced frap-pay) may seem like a relatively modern invention, having only been popular in North America since the rise of Starbucks, but they were actually invented in 1957.
Since shortly after World War II, frappes have been popular hot weather and sunny treat in Greece and Cyprus.
Frappe is thought to be derived from the French term for a frozen or mixed drink, such as a milkshake or frozen juice. However, it is also an Italian word that means something similar.
It’s no surprise, then, that the term “hits” generally refers to blended coffee or similar blended drinks sold in coffee shops throughout the United States – and elsewhere.
The original smoothie was specifically invented by a representative of Nescafé in Greece. This is probably why they usually refer to a coffee drink mixed with ice. However, the original version was made with instant coffee.
The original coffee smoothies can be made with either a shaker or a milkshake machine. Instant coffee, water, and sugar are shaken or mixed until it becomes frothy. It is then poured over ice and, if desired, topped with a little milk
These smoothies are usually served in tall glasses with straws as the foam itself can be quite bitter. Sometimes the smoothies are topped with whipped cream to combat this bitterness.
However, in the United States, a keystroke is almost always a gently blended coffee, made with espresso, milk, ice, and any flavor you want.
The coffee-based hit you’re more likely to encounter in coffee shops is made by throwing espresso, ice cream, milk, and sweeteners into a blender to achieve that perfect creamy texture.
Nowadays, more and more smoothies around the world are made with espresso and are either the American milkshake-like consistency or thicker, so little or no milk is added.
Depending on where you go, “hits” can also refer to milkshakes and similar non-coffee drinks such as mixed juices, so it’s always a good idea to check with locals before ordering unless you do not like surprises!
Iced Coffee vs Frappe
If the definition of a smoothie sounds a lot like iced coffee, you’re not alone. There is, however, a difference.
Iced coffee refers to just about any coffee served over ice – although this is rarely used to refer to a blended coffee or a smoothie.
Iced coffee can be “regular” (drip) coffee poured over ice or espresso-based drinks served cold over ice. It is usually prepared the same way as hot coffee, with espresso, milk (cold, no steam), and often with sugar or another sweetener.
A shake, as stated earlier, is almost always mixed with a creamy texture similar to a milkshake. Although in some countries, including Italy, a smoothie can have a more icy and crunchy texture because little or no milk is added.
Although the traditional term hits may refer to shaken drinks, these drinks are rarely referred to as such.
In the United States, they are often referred to simply as ” shake coffees”, “shake iced coffees” or simply “iced coffees”, with no reference to how they are made. In Italy, these coffees are often referred to as Caffe shakerato – which, you guessed it, means shaken coffee.
Strike Vs Smoothie
Smoothies, especially if you use the French definition of a frozen drink or a drink mixed with ice, are often confused with a smoothie or even a milkshake.
They’re very similar, but the secret to a real hit, at least traditionally, is the frothy texture.
While a smoothie or milkshake is blended long enough to create a smooth, creamy consistency, a traditional smoothie is shaken or mixed for the specific purpose of creating foam.
Unless you speak French, however, a hitting is almost always used to refer to a coffee made from a mixed drink, as defined earlier. Smoothies in the United States are most often made using fruit.
And milkshakes, for that matter, are usually made with ice cream or frozen yogurt.
What is a Frappuccino?
Frappucinos are a drink invented, named, and registered by Starbucks.
They define “Frappuccino” as a drink made with coffee or cream, mixed with ice and flavored syrups, then topped with whipped cream and chocolate or spices.
Flavors and toppings will vary according to personal preference as well as signature drink. Frappuccino options vary depending on location and season, but the selection is usually extensive. In their online menu, there are approximately 30 different varieties listed.
However, in most other cafes in the United States, these are simply referred to as smoothies or mixed drinks. Most consider them to be the same type of staple drink.
Are Frappuccinos Coffee?
If you still don’t know what a Frappuccino is made of and wonder how much coffee is in a Frappuccino, the truth is it varies!
While coffee Frappuccinos are popular, they can also be coffee-free.
Starbucks’ Coffee Frappuccinos are made from their special roasted coffee Frappuccino and whole milk. The flavors and toppings added vary depending on which one you order. You can also usually replace milk with a non-dairy option.
Typically, these should contain 95 mg of caffeine in a large or 16-ounce beverage. Their Espresso Frappuccino has a shot of espresso in addition to the standard coffee, increasing the caffeine content to 155 mg.
Their crème Frappuccinos, on the other hand, contains no coffee at all. They are only flavored with their signature aromas and the spices or syrups that have been requested.
Frappuccino Vs Latte, what’s the difference?
Frappuccinos and lattes are made from coffee and milk, so the two are often confused, especially by people who are not familiar with the ins and outs of brewing coffee!
However, the drinks are quite different.
The most obvious difference is that a Frappuccino is a cold mixed drink while a latte is traditionally hot coffee.
Lattes are always made with Espresso whereas Frappuccinos are made with regular roast coffee, with no coffee at all, or maybe espresso (if requested). The high milk content is really the only comparative aspect.
Lattes can be iced instead of hot, which brings the two a bit closer, but they’re still fundamentally different drinks.
A traditional latte is an espresso-based drink, to which steamed milk with a thin layer of microfoam is added. The texture should be slightly foamy and creamy, but still quite milky. The foam will look like tiny bubbles on the surface.
You can add sugar or flavors to a spruce latte in place. A latte can also be iced, by pouring shots of espresso over ice and adding cold milk to fill the cup. Iced lattes are usually served without any froth, as froth is usually made by steaming milk (defeating the purpose of an icy drink).
Frozen lattes can look like a shake hit, and if a shake hit is espresso-based, both will taste pretty much the same.
If you blend a latte, however, your blended coffee will effectively become a basic smoothie! But at this point, it normally takes a different name.
When you hear the word latte, you have to assume that it is the hot version, and you have to assume that an iced latte is not mixed.
What is a cappuccino?
A cappuccino is basically a type of latte made with more foam and a smaller layer of steamed milk. The ratio for a traditional and “correct” cappuccino is 1/3 espresso to 1/3 steamed milk to 1/3 milk froth , in that order from top to bottom. Traditional cappuccinos weigh about 6 to 8 ounces.
These days there is often a lot more milk and froth in the cup, especially when ordering larger sizes such as 16, 20 or even 24 ounces! While there is usually more espresso added, the ratio will not follow the milk added (which is a good thing, as that would be a lot of espresso!).
Once this ratio is mastered, variations can be made, just like with a latte. The cream can be used in place of milk for a thicker, richer cappuccino. Flavor shots can be added. The mousse can be covered with a dash of cocoa powder or cinnamon.
Either way, with a cappuccino the espresso, is obvious, but smooth and chewy thanks to a good amount of milk.
It is still light to drink, due to the high proportion of froth in the milk. The mousse itself can have a bitter edge, which is one of the reasons the mousse is often coated in sugars and sweet or spicy powders.
Cappuccinos are very similar and yet different from many types of coffee, both hot and cold, so let’s take a closer look at the differences between the types of coffee.
Latte Vs Cappuccino
Confused yet? Let’s go over the differences between a latte and a cappuccino.
Lattes are basically espressos with steamed milk. They have a very thin layer of micro-foam on top, but they are definitely a milky drink.
They often have patterns or “art” made with foam on top (thanks to a special way of pouring the steamed milk over the espresso).
Cappuccinos are a type of latte, but with a lot of milk froth. The resulting drink is lighter and much less milky, although there is still steamed milk.
You can think of a cappuccino as a special latte.
The two drinks are sometimes served differently.
Cappuccinos are usually in small, round cups with a wider top and a narrower base. They are easy to learn. Lattes are often served in large, short cups; this is often to show off any latte art made in the mousse.
Frappuccino Vs Cappuccino
Frappuccinos and cappuccinos may sound similar, but they are very different drinks!
To recap, Frappuccinos are a drink exclusive to Starbucks, but the coffee blends are made with regular roasted coffee as the base. If requested or in specific varieties, espresso is added to regular roasted coffee.
Cappuccinos are special espresso drinks with a special ratio of steamed milk and milk froth. They are light, airy, hot drinks.
Frappuccinos can sometimes be confused with what some people call “frozen cappuccinos” or “frozen capsules”.
As we said before, if you ask a barista, there is no iced cappuccino!
What people call an “iced cappuccino” is really just a cold latte, on ice. Although sometimes people use the term to refer to a blended coffee drink.
But again, that would never fly in a barista room!
Frappe Vs Cappuccino
We’ve covered the smoothies and cappuccinos extensively, so we’ll make this brief.
A knock is a lot like a Frappuccino – unless it’s not dropped off by Starbucks. The hits are usually espresso-based and almost always mixed. It is always cold.
A cappuccino is a special espresso-based drink best known for a heavy layer of milk froth. It is made with steamed and frothed milk, always hot and generally light.
Both are usually espresso-based and are traditionally known for their frothy or creamy textures. Although both features may or may not be present in a keystroke, depending on where you order it.
The hits are often sweet. Cappuccinos are traditionally unsweetened; however, you can add sugar or flavors to them.
Agnes is a kitchen and cooking enthusiast as well as a fitness fanatic. She loves to help readers upgrade their kitchen with the best available products!