For those new to the extensive offerings of specialty coffee shops like latte vs. frappuccino, the menu will confuse or even frustrate you. So with this in mind, let’s look at two popular coffee offerings: what’s the difference between a latte and a frappuccino?
A cafe latte, or a latte for short, is a coffee drink made with coffee and steamed milk. On the other hand, a frappuccino is an umbrella term for a series of drinks served by Starbucks most relative to the frappe.
If you are still scratching your head trying to find the differences between the two, I suggest you read on.
We all know them; we all love them: the latte. It has been theorized that the origins of the latte can be traced down to Italian homes serving cappuccino. It arrived in the United States in California in the 1950s but was only famous in Seattle in the 1980s.
Latte creators had made innovations to the traditional cafe latte. It was introduced by baristas back then and still is famous to this day. Today, most cafe lattes come in with some latte art added to it – a heart, or maybe a flower of some sort.
In addition to that, even latte art comes with its own innovations. There has been a new latte art craze in Japan called selfie foam art. It incorporates your own face into the latte art itself, all made by a machine!
However, before we go crazy on the selfie foam craze, let us first get to know the latte, its ingredients, preparation, and taste. Afterward, let us compare it to the frappuccino.
Cafe lattes are pretty simple drinks. They do not require exotic ingredients, only available in Chile or the North Pole or something. However, their flavor is so complex that it is mindblowing that all of it stems from just three key ingredients.
These three ingredients are steamed milk, milk foam, and espresso. These three key ingredients are the heart and soul of the modern cafe latte. Complimenting each other, these three make the latte like no other.
One essential thing to note is that cafe lattes do not use just any milk. Baristas recommend that for the perfect steamed milk and milk foam, one percent or two percent milk usage is a must.
This specific ingredient is recommended because when the steam wand is introduced to the milk, it will create better foam than whole milk and will have more flavor when compared to low-fat milk.
The espresso is made from pressurized water and ground coffee. This process brews the coffee and what results is a thick, concentrated, and bitter drink. Most cafes opt to use Arabica coffee beans.
However, some cafes, especially cafes in coffee-producing countries like Vietnam, prefer the more assertive and more aggressive Robusta coffee beans. But if you live in North America and Europe, chances are your espresso is made from Arabica beans.
Preparation (How To Make My Own Latte)
1. Starting with the Espresso
Lattes start with the espresso as its base. To make the espresso, it is essential to use an espresso machine since humans are not good at creating pressurized water and coffee by hand. However, if you do not have an espresso machine, you can use the Keurig machine with espresso K cups.
One thing to note is that the Keurig machine does not have pressure capabilities. It means that the result will never indeed be the classic espresso we come to know and love. But don’t fret, as this may be sufficient enough for personal consumption.
However, if you like having control over your cup of espresso or you want to have the most authentic latte ever possible, then I suggest you buy or use an espresso machine. You can also use espresso machines with most cafe recipes, so if you drink a lot of coffee, the purchase may be worth it.
Using an espresso machine, please opt to use Arabica coffee beans as they are generally much smoother and much more familiar to most coffee drinkers. Be sure to use the most appropriate ground coffee texture and the right temperature to brew coffee on.
2. Steaming the Milk
Most people go ahead, steaming the milk, but I have prepared specific steps for you to create the best-steamed milk. Steaming milk is a challenging, messy process (if you’re a beginner) that requires a lot of training and expertise. However, a simple beginner can get started anytime, as long as you have a steam wand.
A tip when steaming coffee is to use icy milk. Only take the milk outside the refrigerator when you are about to use it.
Afterward, fill your steaming pitcher to up to a third of its overall size. When steaming milk, this action is done because when steaming milk, you will need extra space for the milk to expand whenever air and steam come through the steam wand.
Check the steam wand for any residue water before aerating or steaming. To remove any residue water, put a damp towel while turning on the steaming wand.
Now that you have checked for any residue water, place the steaming wand into the steaming pitcher and turn it off-center. Putting the steaming pitcher off-centered will make the milk rotate or flow in a circular motion. It is essential to keep the steaming wand submerged to avoid large bubbles that will splatter.
However, please don’t go overboard and dunk it into the steaming pitcher. Just put it a little bit below the surface. After finding the optimal location, please make sure to stay put until the process is done and have your desired result or consistency.
3. Fixing It Up
At this point, all you need to do is put all the ingredients together into one cup. The espresso will be our base so that it will go in first into the cup. The amount of espresso to be used for a cup of latte is one-third of the size of the cup.
Afterward, you will pour the steamed milk into the cup, encompassing the rest of the cup, so two-thirds of the whole cup. The milk foam will come in last. Of course, don’t forget to enjoy your cafe latte afterward.
The Taste of a Cafe Latte
The taste of cafe latte may vary greatly, but overall, expect a milky coffee taste. Since we are using steamed milk, the result will be sweeter. Steaming the milk will break down the lactose (a type of sugar) within the milk and caramelizes the whole drink.
The first thing you need to look into when considering the cafe latte’s taste is the coffee beans used for the espresso. I’m not necessarily referring to whether the bean is Arabica, Robusta, or anything, but just, in general, the quality of the beans.
For example, using light roast coffee will result in a mildly bitter flavor, especially when compared to a dark roast. Mixing types of roasts together will overall create a more balanced flavor to the espresso.
The type of milk will also influence the overall taste. For example, if low-fat milk is used, the steamed milk will not be as flavorful.
Can Cafe Latte be Cold?
Although traditionally, a cafe latte is usually served as a hot beverage, a cafe latte can also be served with ice. The prime definition of a latte is espresso coffee with steamed milk and milk foam. Whether it’s hot or cold is totally up to your preferences.
Frappuccinos are not just any drink. Unlike the cafe latte, which can be sold in virtually any cafe out there, from your local cafes to the big corporate ones, Frappuccinos are drinks that Starbucks has trademarked and are drinks that only Starbucks can sell.
What is a frappuccino?
In general, Starbucks frappuccinos are a milkshake, an ice cream, or iced tea milk with coffee. Most contain coffee, but some are also served without coffee. You can also mix them with espresso.
Frappuccinos are just blended ice and steamed milk and can be blended with coffee or espresso. Typically, they can also have whipped cream on top or may contain syrup or even fruit. A frappuccino sounds a lot like your regular frappe.
Wait, what’s the difference between a frappe and a frappuccino again?
Not a lot or nothing at all. Since frappuccinos and frappes contain many selections under their umbrella, they may seem very different than they are. The truth is that the main difference is that one is trademarked (frappuccino) and one isn’t (frappe).
Frappe and frappuccino used to be distinct in one way: frappe used instant coffee, and frappuccino used espresso. However, now that Starbucks makes use of the frappuccino roast, the line has now blurred.
How do I create my own frappuccino?
Unless you ask Starbucks and grant it, creating your own frappuccino is close to impossible (unless you work in a Starbucks). However, you can create your own frappe, and creating your own frappe is not so hard.
To create your own frappe, be sure to have a high-powered blender. After all, we can’t create a milkshake-like product without “shaking” it. Having a high-powered blender ensures that we can break down the ice into crumbs: the size we want it to be.
However, if you don’t have a high-powered blender, an ice crusher will do the same trick for you. Do note that you’ll still need a blender afterward, but it doesn’t need to be high-powered this time.
So for a frappe, using chilled espresso or even instant coffee will work. Have 200 ml for your coffee base together with 50 ml whole milk. Create sugar syrup by melting sugar into a mixture of water.
If you want, you can add whipped cream or ice cream. Of course, let us not forget the ice. Crush the ice into the ice crusher or a high-powered blender.
Afterward, add the coffee base together with milk and sugar syrup. Blend until the desired consistency is achieved. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream if desired.
Frappuccino vs Latte: The Truth
Frappuccinos and lattes at this point may sound a lot different to you. However, they have more similarities than you think. Essentially, both are just milk with coffee.
Nevertheless, through their different creation methods and varying ingredients and flavors, they will deviate from each other. We have listed their differences to make it easier for you to understand.
Most frappuccinos are served in a tall cup with lots of ice. They are also topped with whipped cream or ice cream. On the other hand, lattes are served with foam art and are served in small cups called demitasse cups.
Since frappuccinos are known as very diverse drinks and appeal to diverse people, Starbucks offers many flavors and sizes for its frappuccinos. The sizes are called tall, grande, and venti. What exactly are the ratios for each one?
A tall is a 12 oz frappuccino containing two frappuccino roast pumps, or you can also opt for the espresso option, wherein a tall contains one shot of espresso. For syrup flavors like raspberry and caramel, it has one pump of syrup.
It contains one pump of sauce and two scoops of inclusions like java chips. For the base, a tall usually contains two pumps.
A grande is a 16 oz drink containing either three frappuccino roast pumps or two espresso shots. It also contains three pumps of the base, one pump of sauce, two pumps of syrup, and three scoops of inclusions.
A venti is a 24 oz drink with either four frappuccino roast pumps or three shots of espresso. It also contains four pumps of the base, two pumps of syrup, two pumps of sauce, and four scoops of inclusions.
Below is a table simplifying the information:
|Size||Frappuccino roast pumps||Espresso shots||Pumps of base||Pumps of syrup||Pumps of sauce||Scoops of inclusions|
|Tall||12 oz||2 pumps||1 shot||2 pumps||1 pump||1 pump||2 scoops|
|Grande||16 oz||3 pumps||2 shots||3 pumps||2 pumps||1 pump||3 scoops|
|Venti||24 oz||4 pumps||3 shots||4 pumps||2 pumps||2 pumps||4 scoops|
Lattes are flexible drinks. They can be served hot or cold, depending on your preference. However, frappuccinos are only served in one type of temperature: cold.
Frappuccinos need to be cold due to the presence of ice. Frappuccinos need to have a lot of ice to achieve the frappe consistency. However, for lattes, the only consistency they need to achieve is the consistency of being sippable.
Frappuccinos, due to the whipped cream or ice cream, have that sort of creamy taste. Since they are also made from crushed ice, their texture is smooth compared to the latte’s very liquid texture.
A frappuccino is also much sweeter; meanwhile, lattes have a much more coffee profile to them. It means that a frappuccino is better for sweet lovers while lattes, despite being sweet, have bitter notes. Another implication this brings is that a frappuccino may not even contain any caffeine, compared to lattes, containing a lot of caffeine.
Three Frequently Asked Questions About Frappuccinos and Lattes
What are the differences between Lattes and Cappuccinos?
Lattes and cappuccinos may seem like they are the same. After all, lattes were derivatives of cappuccinos. Both are also espresso with steamed milk, which makes differentiating them not an easy task.
However, upon close inspection, you can spot the differences between them. Unlike lattes, cappuccinos are made up of equal parts steamed milk, milk foam, and espresso. On the other hand, Lattes comprises one-third part espresso and two-thirds part steamed milk with thin milk foam at the top.
Another drink closely related to these two is the macchiato. However, unlike lattes and cappuccinos, macchiatos don’t contain any milk foam and have more espresso parts than steamed milk parts.
What makes a frappuccino different from a smoothie?
Another case of similar drinks, frappuccinos, feel a lot similar to smoothies. Frappuccinos and smoothies are all drinks blended with ice. However, there are critical differences between these two.
The first difference is that a smoothie is blended in a relatively shorter time when compared to a frappuccino. The frappuccino is blended longer because it needs to achieve a foam-like consistency with its ice, unlike the smoothie, which requires ice to be blended thoroughly.
What flavors are available for the frappuccinos?
Starbucks offers the frappuccinos in these flavors:
- Toffee Nut
- Cinnamon Dolce
- White Mocha
- Pumpkin Spice
- Caramel Brulee
- Java chips
- Vanilla Bean Powder
- Dark Caramel Sauce
- Tazo Chai
- Teavana Oprah Chai
- Vanilla Bean Powder