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Starbucks Drink Guide: Blended Coffee Frappuccinos

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I've been a Starbucks barista for over 10 years, and I love sharing my coffee knowledge with anyone who will listen.

Infographic: What comes standard in a Starbucks Frappuccino.

Infographic: What comes standard in a Starbucks Frappuccino.

For those who would like to know how Starbucks baristas make a Frappuccino, specifically a coffee-based one, here is a step-by-step guide to the ingredients in a standard drink plus ways you can customize your order.

Frappuccinos are unlike anything else on the Starbucks menu. These iced, blended beverages underwent a huge recipe change in recent history, and as a barista who was there when the swap took place, I can honestly say it was all for the better. Now, every step of making a Frappuccino can be customized to fit a customer's particular preferences.

Step One: The Coffee

The best way to explain what goes into a Starbucks Frappuccino Blended Coffee beverage is to break it down by component. The first and perhaps most obvious ingredient is the actual coffee. Starbucks developed a unique blend called Frappuccino Roast. It's a special blend that comes in a powder form, which is specifically formulated to be used cold. By itself, Frapp Roast is strong and doesn't taste that great, but when it is combined with other Frappucinno ingredients, it's delicious.

When Starbucks rolled out the new Frapp Roast, it became possible for customers to order extra coffee in their Frappiccinos. In a standard drink, there are 2, 3, or 4 (Tall, Grande, Venti) pumps of coffee. If the customer asks for extra coffee, their drink receives 3, 5, or 7 pumps. You can still have as many or as few pumps as you'd like, but that's what you'll get if you just ask for extra.

You can also substitute the Frapp Roast with shots of espresso. This table shows how many pumps of Frapp Roast or shots of espresso go into each Frappuccino size.

Frappuccinos are only available in the three sizes listed above.

SizeFrapp Roast (Pumps)Shots of Espresso

Tall (12oz)

2

1

Grande (16oz)

3

2

Venti (24oz)

4

3

Since there is no decaf version of Frapp Roast, baristas use decaf espresso to make a decaf coffee-based Frappuccino. A very common spin on this recipe is to add shots of espresso along with the Frapp Roast for a little extra kick of caffeine and stronger coffee flavor.

Keep in mind that espresso is hot, while the Frapp Roast is designed to be used cold. The addition or substitution of espresso to a Frappuccino does change the consistency of the drink. It also alters the taste of the beverage a good deal. Espresso is much smokier and a bit sweeter than Frapp Roast. Personally, I enjoy a Frappuccino made with either ingredient, but I prefer the stronger coffee flavor that comes with adding espresso to the recipe.

There's a unique term that applies to how barista adds the espresso—affogato. Instead of blending the espresso with the rest of the drink, a barista making an affogato frappuccino pours the espresso down over the top as a last step. The hot espresso melts down through the drink and creates a new texture as well as a very strong, smoky flavor.

Step Two: The Milk

The second major ingredient in a coffee-based Frappuccino is the milk. Baristas will use whole milk unless you request otherwise. I rarely drink my Frappuccinos with whole milk and usually opt for skim instead. Given the other components, I don't find that the type of milk affects the taste quite as much as it does in other coffee drinks. Granted, the whole beverage is a little bit less creamy if the milk has less fat, but that difference has never bothered me. Swapping the type of milk is the first thing I suggest for people looking to cut back on calories.

On the other hand, if you're looking for the creamiest, most ice cream-like Frappuccino possible, try substituting the whole milk for heavy cream. It might sound a little gross, but the result is a lot like a milkshake.

People with dairy allergies, or those who are looking to cut down on dairy, can request vanilla soy milk. The consistency of a soy Frappuccino is just a little bit different from one made with cow’s milk and is still quite delicious. In fact, the unique vanilla flavor enhances some of the Frappuccinos.

Infographic: How to customize your Starbucks' Frappuccino.

Infographic: How to customize your Starbucks' Frappuccino.

Step Three: The Base

The third ingredient in a Frappuccino is the base. Frappuccino bases are a line of syrups that Starbucks uses specifically in these beverages to thicken the drink and add sweetness. There are two types of base that can be used to make a coffee-based Frappuccino: regular and light. The regular base is made with sugar. By itself, it tastes like maple syrup. Asking for fewer pumps of regular base will alter the texture of the drink, making it less smooth and also reducing the sugar content.

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The light base is not 100% sugar-free but is mostly sweetened with Splenda. Choosing a light base will cut calories and change the taste drastically. Usually, I don't taste much of a difference in the light or skinny versions of Starbucks beverages, but the light Frappuccino is very noticeably different. It's worth a try if you want to cut back on your calories, but be prepared for an entirely different beverage.

A breakdown of how much base, syrup, and inclusions go into each size Frappuccino.

SizePumps of BasePumps of Syrup (ex. Raspberry, Caramel)Pumps of Sauce (ex. Mocha, White Mocha)Scoops of Inclusion (ex. Java Chips, Vanilla Bean)

Tall (12oz)

2

1

1

2

Grande (16oz)

3

2

1

3

Venti (24oz)

4

2

2

4

Step Four: Ice

The fourth component of a blended coffee Frappuccino is the ice. It might not seem worth mentioning, but the amount of ice in these drinks can actually change the whole experience. Usually, a barista adds an amount of ice equal to the size of the beverage. There are special ice scoops that Starbucks uses that come in the same sizes as the beverages. If you want a thicker or thinner Frappuccino, the first thing the barista will adjust is the amount of ice.

There are some terms that are specific to Frappuccinos. We say "light" instead of "skinny," for example, and "affogato" for poured, not blended, espresso. A Frappuccino can also be made "double-blended" if requested.

Step Five: The Flavors

The unfortunately seasonal Caramel Brulee Frappuccino.

The unfortunately seasonal Caramel Brulee Frappuccino.

Before the Frappuccino is blended, baristas add the flavoring ingredients. Any syrups and inclusions (dry ingredients/toppings) can be mixed for a unique Frappuccino.

Here's a list of Starbucks syrups and inclusions. Keep in mind that you can try any combination of these. (Raspberry, Mocha, and java chips? Mmm.)

  • Vanilla (available sugar-free)
  • Caramel (available sugar-free)
  • Cinnamon Dolce (available sugar-free)
  • Hazelnut (available sugar-free)
  • Toffee Nut
  • Peppermint (available sugar-free, seasonally)
  • Raspberry
  • Mocha (available sugar-free)
  • White Mocha
  • Gingerbread (seasonal)
  • Caramel Brulee (seasonal)
  • Pumpkin Spice (seasonal)
  • Peach (seasonal)
  • Blackberry (seasonal)
  • Dark Caramel Sauce (seasonal, and usually used as a topping rather than blended in)
  • Tazo Chai
  • Teavana Oprah Chai
  • Vanilla Bean Powder
  • Java Chips (or Frappuccino chips, which are chocolate chips specially made for Starbucks blended beverages)

Step Six: The Toppings

Toppings done right.

Toppings done right.

Unless you order a regular coffee Frappuccino or another other Frappuccino “light,” your drink will come topped with whipped cream. Baristas can add caramel drizzle to any beverage (for an additional cost) but it comes standard on the Caramel Frappuccino. It is much the same with mocha drizzle, but the only coffee Frappuccino that comes with a mocha drizzle standard is the Java Chip.

Seasonal Holiday Toppings

NameTopping

Peppermint Mocha

Chocolate curl

Salted Caramel Mocha

Caramel drizzle and sea salt

Mocha Cookie Crumble

Chocolate whipped cream and cookie crumble

Caramel Brulee

Candy topping

Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin Spice powder

Gingerbread

Spiced whipped cream and molasses drizzle

Carmel Ribbon Crunch (summer only for this one)

Seasoned dark caramel sauce and caramel crunchies

Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino Recipes

NameAdded Ingredients

Plain

No extra ingredients

Espresso

One shot of espresso

Mocha

Mocha syrup

White Mocha

White mocha syrup

Cafe Vanilla

Vanilla bean powder

Java Chip

Mocha syrup and java chips

Caramel

Caramel syrup

Hazelnut

Toffee nut syrup, whipped cream, hazelnut drizzle

Peppermint Mocha

Peppermint and mocha syrups

Mocha Cookie Crumble

Mocha and vanilla syrups, java chips, seasonal toppings, chocolate whipped cream, cookie crumbles

Caramel Ribbon Crunch

Caramel syrup, seasonal dark caramel sauce, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, seasonal caramel crunchies

Gingerbread

Seasonal gingerbread syrup

Caramel Brulee

Seasonal caramel brulee syrup

Eggnog

Eggnog instead of milk

Pumpkin Spice

Seasonal pumpkin spice syrup

Salted Caramel Mocha

Toffee nut and mocha syrups

Questions & Answers

Question: If I add more pumps of frappuccino roast but cut the syrup base in half, could I reduce the calories in my drink?

Answer: Coffee, in general, has very few calories. A cup of coffee is generally estimated at five calories. The frappuccino roast wouldn't be totally calorie free, but it would be very few calories. Cutting the syrup base in half and adding more frappuccino roast will absolutely save you calories.

Question: Does extra ice make a Frappuccino thicker?

Answer: Extra ice makes a Frappuccino chunkier. In a way, it's thicker, but not creamy thick. Extra base and a heavier milk (like half-and-half or heavy cream instead of whole milk) will make it thicker and more ice cream like.

Question: what are the electrical requirements for the Starbucks frappuccino machine?

Answer: Starbucks doesn't use a Frappuccino machine. They have blenders that the ingredients are mixed into. I am not sure about the electrical requirements, but I think if you research restaurant grade blenders, that might answer your question!

© 2012 Amanda W

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