Starbucks Drink Guide: Blended Creme Frappuccinos
This is yet another installment in my series of Starbucks menu guides. As a certified barista, my favorite part of my job is helping customers gain a better understanding of the menu. Previously, I talked about Blended Coffee Frappuccinos. In this part of the guide, I'd like to address the other half of the Frappuccino section - the blended cremes.
Put into the most simple of terms, the Blended Creme Frappuccino is the version of Starbucks' iced blended drink that doesn't contain any coffee. As such, a large number of these beverages are decaf by default. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule. First, let's take a look at the recipe.
The Blended Creme Frappuccino has four major components - milk, creme base, ice and flavor. The default milk used is whole milk, but there are plenty of ways to mix it up. There is only one base that can currently be used to make these drinks. The Creme Base that Starbucks uses is sweetened with sugar and as such, there is currently no true light option for a Creme based Frapp. You can certainly save a few calories by choosing skim milk, leaving off the whipped cream and substituting sugar-free syrups where it's an option, but keep in mind that the base itself has a fair amount of sugar in it. You can limit how many pumps of base are going into your drink, but it will definitely alter the taste and consistency of the beverage.
If you want a more in-depth look at how Frappuccinos are made and what types ARE available in a true light version, please check out the previous installment in my guide.
Pumps of Creme Base
Pumps of Syrup (ex. Vanilla, Caramel)
Pumps of Sauce (ex. Mocha, White Mocha)
Scoops of Inclusion (ex. Java Chips, Vanilla Bean Powder)
The recipes for each Blended Coffee Frappuccino are a little more standard than the Blended Creme Frappuccinos. Here's a quick list of all of the flavors available for these beverages, followed by a closer look at the individual recipes.
- Strawberries and Creme
- Double Chocolatey Chip
- Vanilla Bean
- White Chocolate Creme
- Tazo Chai Creme
- Tazo Green Tea Creme
- Chocolate Cookie Crumble (seasonal)
- Caramel Ribbon Crunch Creme (seasonal)
Any of the flavors and inclusions Starbucks has can be mixed together to create a unique Creme Blended Frappuccino. When ordering, make sure that you specify you want the Creme version. For example, ordering a Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino will usually result in one made with coffee. However, if you want the creme based one, simply order a Cinnamon Dolce Creme Frappuccino.
- Vanilla (available sugar-free)
- Caramel (available sugar-free)
- Cinnamon Dolce (available sugar-free)
- Hazelnut (available sugar-free)
- Toffee Nut
- Peppermint (available sugar-free)
- Mocha (available sugar-free)
- White Mocha
- Gingerbread (seasonal)
- Caramel Brulee (seasonal)
- Pumpkin Spice (seasonal)
- Peach (seasonal)
- Blackberry (seasonal)
- Dark Caramel Sauce (seasonal, usually used as a topping rather than blended in)
- Tazo Chai
- Teavana Oprah Chai
- Vanilla Bean Powder
- Matcha Powder
- Java Chips (these are just chocolate chips and do not contain coffee)
- Eggnog (though this is a seasonal dairy choice, its kind of a flavor, so I decided to include it here.)
Strawberries and Creme
So we've learned that traditionally, a Creme Frappucino is made with milk, base, ice and a flavoring ingredient. The Strawberries and Creme varies from this standard just a bit. Instead of there being a Strawberry syrup, Starbucks actually uses a strawberry puree to make this beverage. It packs a lot of natural strawberry flavor, and is not sweetened with any additional sugar. Because of this, there are actually two flavoring components to the Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino.
Instead of being composed of just milk, this Frappuccino has equal parts milk and strawberry puree. There is more liquid in this beverage than any other Frappuccino, so it can tend to be of a thinner consistency. In addition to the puree, classic syrup is added to sweeten the mix. Again, it varies from the norm - usually, these types of syrups are added to Frappuccinos as 1-2-2 for tall-grande venti. For the Strawberries and Creme, Classic is added as 2-3-4. This is a very sweet Frappuccino and I recommend cutting back on the pumps if you have less of a sweet tooth than the average person.
There's a very interesting off-the-menu drink that uses the Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino as a base. Try adding a little bit of Toffee Nut to this beverage - in my Starbucks, we call it a Crunchberry Frappuccino.
Double Chocolatey Chip
The Double Chocolatey Chip Frappuccino is the creme based version of the Java Chip Frappuccino. Although everything in this Frapp is added according the the standard, its such a popular beverage that I thought I would provide a little bit of additional information. Not a lot of people are aware of the nature of the ingredients that go into this.
This creme based Frappuccino is just as caffeine free as the Strawberries and Creme or the Vanilla Bean. It is made from mocha syrup and java chips, but both of these ingredients are just fancy ways of saying chocolate. There is not actually any coffee in either the syrup or the chips and this is a point I've sometimes struggled to get across to the customer. I can understand associating the words mocha and java with coffee based beverages, but beyond what is found in any chocolate, I can assure you that there's no additional caffeine added to this drink.
The only thing non-standard about the Double Chocolatey Chip is that in addition to the usual whipped cream these Frappuccinos are topped with, this one comes with mocha drizzle as the default.
Much like the Double Chocolatey Chip, the Vanilla Bean Creme Frappuccino doesn't actually vary from the normal Blended Creme recipe. I've decided to make a special mention of it because its one of the only Frappuccinos that's made with just a powder instead of a syrup or some combination with a syrup. The usual whole milk, base and ice are added, but Vanilla Bean powder is the sole flavoring agent.
For a fun twist, try this drink with caramel syrup and/or caramel drizzle. The addition of both makes it taste like a vanilla milkshake. Almost anything can be successfully added to the Vanilla Bean Frappuccino - another favorite is adding java chips.
Tazo Chai Creme
I mentioned that there are some Blended Creme Frappuccinos that contain caffeine, and the Tazo Chai Creme is the best example of that. Currently, Starbucks does not offer any caffeine free alternative to any of their Chai beverages. Both the Chai concentrate and full-leaf Chai tea bags contain a decent amount of caffeine.
The Tazo Chai Creme Frappuccino is made with the Tazo Chai concentrate. The amount of pumps in this recipe deviates from the standard. Instead of the 1-2-2 for regular syrups or the 1-1-2 for sauces, the formula is actually 2-3-4 for tall, grande and venti. Since there is so much Chai in this drink, it tends to be a bit thinner than an average Frappuccino, but its absolutely delicious. Before I ever worked for Starbucks, this was the only drink on the menu I knew and its still an old favorite.
There are a lot of fun variations for the Chai Frappuccino. My favorite is to add a shot affogato (poured over the top.) Chai is a pretty unique tea in that it pairs well with coffee. Other great flavors to try with Chai are caramel, vanilla, cinnamon dolce or, for the very adventurous, raspberry.
As of 2014, Starbucks has changed tea brands from Tazo to Teavana. However, this Frappuccino is still usually made with the Tazo Chai Tea Concentrate. It can easily be substituted with the new Teavana Oprah Chai Concentrate!
Tazo Green Tea Creme
The last Creme Frappuccino recipe that I want to touch on is the Tazo Green Tea Creme Frappuccino. This beverage is unique in every sense of the word. With matcha as the main flavoring ingredient, it isn't a drink for everyone. I've talked about matcha in previous guides, but I'll say this about it now - it has a very distinct, earthy taste to it. Matcha is made from ground up green tea leaves and it is caffeinated.
The Green Tea Creme Frappuccino is most closely related to the Strawberries and Creme. Although there is no additional liquid added, it does have two flavoring components - not just matcha, but classic syrup as well. As with the Strawberries and Creme, the amount of Classic added is different than you might suspect. Instead of the standard 1-2-2, there are 2-3-4 pumps for tall-grande-venti.
One of my favorite Frappuccinos is the Green Tea Creme minus the classic syrup and with peppermint in its place (using 1-2-2 pumps.) It sounds totally out there, but it actually taste a lot like a McDonald's Shamrock Shake.
Thanks for reading! I hope you found this guide helpful. If you'd like to learn more about what the Starbucks menu has to offer, check out my next guide, which covers Smoothies.