Mocha vs frappuccino, you ask? Have you ever wanted a cup of coffee, like a regular run-of-the-mill cup, to boost your energy? So you entered a local coffee shop expecting to grab a cup of coffee only to be flooded with a gazillion choices. What are affogato, espresso, and most especially, their differences—especially Mocha and Frappuccino?
There are a lot of differences between Mocha and Frappuccino. Mocha is made of chocolate and coffee, while Frappuccino (frappe) is an iced beverage blended or beaten to produce a foamy drink.
There are many more differences, and let us look at each one of them.
What is Mocha?
Originating from the city of al-Makha, or the city of Mocha in Yemen comes the chocolatey-earthy flavor of coffee: mocha. It used to be an umbrella term used to describe all coffee originating from Central Yemen.
It used to be the consensus among coffee drinkers worldwide that Yemeni coffee had an earthy, chocolatey flavor. It is the only real relationship of the city of Mocha to the definition of mocha we correlate to it today.
The origins of the mocha recipe we learn to identify today come from 18th century Italy. People would serve a small glass hot beverage with espresso mixed with milk and cocoa (chocolate drink). Mocha was initially known as bicerin or bavareisa, and this drink would eventually become the mocha drink we know and identify today.
What is Frappuccino?
Frappuccino is a trademarked named of the coffee drink frappe. These days, Frappuccino has slightly departed from the usual frappe, though the origins and the result most likely look and feel the same.
Frappe is an iced beverage that’s blended, shaken, or beaten. It results in a foamy drink served cold with whipped cream and optional toppings. Most frappe is coffee, but you can also make some frappe with juices, tea, or hot chocolate.
Initially from Europe, the name frappe originated from the cold drinks named “café frappé” from 19th century Europe. Oddly, the drink was not established until only relatively recently.
At the international trade fair in 1957 Thessaloniki, a representative from Nestlé was supposed to showcase their new product for children; an instant chocolate drink that’s mixed with milk produced through shaking it with hot water in a shaker.
During the fair, hot water was unavailable, so instead of hot water, the representative used cold water and ice cubes instead. The resulting product was a foamy, chocolate milk-like product.
Ever since the incident, Nestlé has started to market Frappé to market their instant coffee products. Today, a frappe is one of Greece’s most popular beverages and is available at all Greek cafés.
Since then, frappe has evolved from an instant coffee drink to a drink made with a double espresso and white sugar shaken on a shaker with ice. There have also been many alterations to the drink as some countries, like Bulgaria, substitute Coca-Cola for water. Another example comes from Serbia, where a frappe comes with milk or ice cream.
The Starbucks Frappuccino differs slightly from the usual frappe and is more like a milkshake combined with coffee. Unlike frappe, where you can use instant coffee, Frappuccino exclusively uses espresso.
Mocha vs. Frappuccino
Taste – Mocha
Mocha is known for its earthy, chocolate flavor. It is because mocha comes mixed with coffee and chocolate. The type of chocolate they use may vary, as per the preference of the customer, or the café serving, or the barista creating the drink. Some use melted chocolates to loosen preparation time, while some opt for chocolate powder or chocolate syrup.
When we say something is “flavored with mocha,” the usual associations would taste as sweet as chocolate with the particular “oomph” of coffee. Mocha may be more coffee-like or chocolate-like, depending on the ingredients and ratios.
Some baristas label something as “mocha” even though coffee is not necessarily within the drink as some ingredients may mimic the taste, feel, or aroma of the good ol’ coffee bean. Some baristas also label something as “mocha” despite it not having any chocolate at all. The rationale is that the drink may contain hints of chocolate even though chocolate is thoroughly absent within the creation process.
The most important part of preparing mocha is that the ratios are correct. According to Edgar Kazlauzks, a barista and a coffee roaster residing in the United Kingdom, “If the ratios are off, it doesn’t matter how good the rest is.”
Taste – Frappuccino
Contrary to popular belief, frappe does not have to taste like coffee. Some frappe recipes do not even include coffee. However, most come with coffee, so expect a hint of coffee whenever you drink one. Starbucks sometimes offers Frappuccino with no coffee at all, like the Starbucks’ Strawberry Frappuccino.
Frappes are cold drinks, so plan to drink one on a hot day. Most frappes come made of ice, milk, or ice cream, after all. Even the Starbucks version is consistently cold.
The taste of frappes and Frappuccino, in general, vary greatly as some may contain specific ingredients like chocolate, fruits, ice cream, and even tea! It is why describing the frappe and Frappuccino in a single flavor palette is hard. Expect a foamy, milky, sweet drink, though.
Presentation – Mocha
Mocha is everywhere. On cakes, on flavorings, on ice cream—it’s like an omnipresent flavor almost as famous as the legendary vanilla itself. It is where you’ll see how mocha may present in many different shapes and sizes.
Mocha drinks usually serve to you hot, though some serve it cold. It is usually more of the traditional coffee in comparison to Frappuccino and frappes. Mocha can also come with whipped cream up top (for cold servings) or microfoam milk (for hot servings).
The whipped cream used in cold servings usually uses shaved chocolate or cocoa powder for toppings. Meanwhile, you will use microfoam milk for hot servings and even style into various shapes and sizes. Some resemble hearts, some swans, and a lot more.
Presentation – Frappuccino and Frappes
Frappuccino and frappes are like the cool kids on the block. They’re new, they’re flashy, and they’re delicious. Frappuccinos and frappes usually sport the haircut-like whipped cream on top of it.
Usually, caramel, strawberry, and chocolate syrups come as toppings for the whipped cream. Some include pearls or boba originally from milk teas to enhance the flavor and a fun twist for frappes.
Some Frappuccinos and frappes include ice cream to have that sweet, creamy flavor. Other frappes include unique combinations like milk and Coca-Cola, as stated earlier.
Compared to mocha found in many shapes and sizes, Frappuccino and frappes typically come as cold drinks served in tall glasses and nothing more. If mocha comes in many form factors, Frappuccino comes in many colors and flavors.
For a comparison between Macchiato and Frappuccino, you can refer to this post which I wrote.
Three Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Mochas and Frappuccino
Is Frappuccino and Frappe different?
No, not necessarily. Instead of significant differences, Frappuccino and frappe differentiate because of legal reasons. Basically, Frappuccino currently is, was, and will only be served at Starbucks.
Starbucks has tried to differentiate their very own Frappuccino from the run-of-the-mill frappes found in your neighborhood cafés, but at the very heart, they are the same. Shaken blended iced coffee drinks that soothe your soul.
Frappe versus smoothies. What’s the difference?
Smoothies and frappe seem very similar. Both are blended cold drinks, so what exactly are their differences?
Mocha versus lattes. What’s the difference?
At the core, mocha and lattes are similar. Both are drinks made with one standalone drink and coffee. But the result couldn’t vary more. Mocha is chocolate and coffee; meanwhile, lattes are milk with coffee.