Macchiato vs Frappe: 5 Key Elements You Need to Know!

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Two macchiato and frappe drinks on a wooden table.
Table of Contents
Two macchiato and frappe drinks on a wooden table.

Key Takeaways:

  • Macchiatos are known for their strong, bold flavors of espresso and a small amount of frothy steamed milk, while frappes offer a balance between sweetness and creaminess with a cool blend of ice, milk, syrup, and sometimes less emphasis on espresso.
  • Macchiatos generally have higher caffeine content compared to frappes due to the stronger espresso flavor. A standard macchiato contains about 75 milligrams of caffeine on average, while a frappe typically has around 50 milligrams per serving.
  • The preparation methods for macchiatos involve brewing an espresso shot and adding steamed milk, while frappes are made by blending together ice, milk, and optional coffee for a refreshing chilled beverage.
  • Macchiatos tend to have fewer calories than frappes since they consist mainly of espresso and a small amount of steamed milk. Frappes can be higher in calorie content due to additional ingredients like syrup, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle. Customizations also play a role in calorie count.

Macchiato vs Frappe: Exploring the Differences

A macchiato is an espresso-based drink with a small amount of milk added, creating layers of strong coffee and creamy richness. A frappe, on the other hand, is typically a blended beverage made with ice, milk, and flavored syrup or coffee concentrate.

Are you a coffee lover seeking insight into the complex world of popular brews? Navigating the vast menu at your favorite café can be daunting, especially when terms like ‘macchiato’ and ‘frappe’ pop up.

This insightful guide will elucidate the distinct differences between these two beloved beverages, from their unique preparations to taste profiles. Let’s dive into this delicious discourse!

Taste and Flavor Profile

The taste and flavor profile of Macchiatos and Frappes create a divide as vast as their origins. A Macchiato is tailored for coffee aficionados who appreciate the strong, bold flavors of espresso.

This punchy brew owes its signature strength to an intense shot of espresso cut by a mere dash of frothy steamed milk. A Frappe offers a delicate balance between sweetness and creaminess.

Its taste leans more towards indulgence rather than intensity and largely attributed to the cool blend of ice, milk, syrup, and at times with less emphasis on espresso. Depending on your personal preference for coffee power or sweet creamy delight should steer you towards either selection.

Caffeine Content

When comparing the caffeine content of macchiatos and frappes, there is a noticeable difference. Macchiatos are known for their strong espresso flavor, which means they pack a higher caffeine punch.

The small size of a traditional macchiato contains about 75 milligrams of caffeine on average. Frappes often have slightly less caffeine since they are blended with milk and ice to create a smoother texture and milder taste.

A standard frappe typically contains around 50 milligrams of caffeine per serving. So if you’re looking for that extra jolt in the morning or need an afternoon pick-me-up, the macchiato might be your go-to choice for its higher caffeine content.

Calorie Content

The calorie content of a macchiato and a frappe can vary significantly. A typical macchiato has fewer calories compared to a frappe, primarily because it consists of only espresso and a small amount of steamed milk.

Frappes tend to be higher in calorie content due to additional ingredients such as syrup, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle. It’s important to note that customization options also play a role in calorie count – opting for sugar-free or reduced-fat alternatives can help reduce overall calories.

So whether you’re watching your waistline or simply curious about the nutritional aspects, being aware of the calorie differences between these two coffee beverages is essential when making your choice.

Texture and Consistency

The texture and consistency of macchiatos and frappes differ greatly. A macchiato typically has a smoother, velvety texture with a thinner consistency due to the minimal amount of steamed milk added on top of the espresso shot.

This creates a layered effect, where the boldness of the espresso is complemented by the subtle creaminess of the milk foam. Frappes have a thicker and icier texture since they are made with ice, milk, and sometimes even blended with additional ingredients like chocolate or syrup.

The result is a rich and creamy drink that offers a refreshing coolness on hot summer days or whenever iced coffee cravings strike. Whether you prefer something silky smooth or thick and frosty depends on your personal taste preferences when it comes to texture in your coffee beverages.

Popular Variations and Customizations

Coffee shops around the world offer a variety of popular variations and customizations for both macchiatos and frappes, allowing coffee lovers to personalize their favorite drinks.

Starbucks Classics

Starbucks has a range of classic macchiatos and frappuccinos that have become incredibly popular among coffee lovers. These signature drinks offer unique flavors and textures that keep customers coming back for more. Here are some of the Starbucks classics you can enjoy:

  • Caramel Macchiato: This delightful macchiato combines rich espresso with steamed milk and a sweet caramel syrup. It is finished off with a drizzle of caramel on top, adding an extra layer of decadence to each sip.
  • Vanilla Latte: If you’re a fan of vanilla, this latte is perfect for you. It features smooth espresso combined with creamy steamed milk and a touch of vanilla syrup. The result is a comforting and aromatic beverage that will satisfy your taste buds.
  • Mocha Frappuccino: This indulgent frappuccino brings together the rich flavors of chocolate and coffee in one delicious drink. Made with a blend of coffee, milk, and mocha sauce, it’s topped with whipped cream for an added treat.
  • Green Tea Frappuccino: For those looking for something refreshing and slightly different, the green tea frappuccino is a great option. It combines matcha green tea powder with milk, ice, and classic syrup to create a vibrant and energizing beverage.
  • Java Chip Frappuccino: Chocolate lovers rejoice! The java chip frappuccino is made with a blend of coffee, chocolaty chips, milk, and ice. It’s then topped with whipped cream and mocha sauce for the ultimate chocolatey treat.

Unique Coffee Shop Creations

Coffee shops around the world have put their own unique twists on macchiatos and frappes, resulting in a wide array of delicious creations. Here are some of the most popular and innovative variations:

  • Caramel Macchiato: This indulgent twist on the classic macchiato adds a rich caramel syrup to enhance the sweetness of the drink. It’s topped with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce for an extra treat.
  • Matcha Frappe: For those looking for a refreshing and vibrant frappe, matcha powder can be added to create a unique green tea flavor. The earthy notes of matcha blend perfectly with the creamy texture of the frappe.
  • Mocha Macchiato: Combining the flavors of chocolate and coffee, this variation adds a spoonful of chocolate syrup to the traditional macchiato. It’s a great option for those who enjoy a hint of sweetness in their coffee.
  • Salted Caramel Frappe: This sweet and salty combination takes the frappe to another level. A dash of salted caramel syrup is added to create a deliciously balanced flavor profile that will satisfy any dessert cravings.
  • Coconut Macchiato: Adding coconut milk or coconut syrup to a macchiato gives it a tropical twist. The creamy coconut flavor pairs beautifully with the boldness of espresso, creating a unique and summery drink.
  • Nutella Frappe: Nutella lovers rejoice! This decadent frappe combines hazelnut syrup or Nutella spread with espresso and milk. Topped with whipped cream and crushed hazelnuts, it’s like sipping on liquid chocolate heaven.
  • Vanilla Almond Macchiato: By substituting regular milk for almond milk and adding vanilla syrup, this macchiato becomes nutty and fragrant. It’s perfect for those who prefer dairy alternatives or enjoy subtle flavors in their coffee.

Customizing Your Drink

Customizing your macchiato or frappe allows you to tailor the flavors and ingredients to your personal taste preferences. Here are some popular ways to customize your drink:

  1. Syrup Options: Add a drizzle of flavored syrup to enhance the sweetness or add a unique twist to your beverage. Popular syrup flavors include caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, and mocha.
  2. Milk Choices: Experiment with different types of milk such as almond, soy, or oat milk for a dairy-free alternative. Each type of milk can lend its own distinct flavor and texture to your drink.
  3. Toppings and Garnishes: Sprinkle some cocoa powder or cinnamon on top for an extra burst of flavor. You can also add whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or caramel sauce for a decadent touch.
  4. Extra Espresso Shot: If you prefer a stronger caffeine kick, consider adding an extra shot of espresso to your macchiato or frappe.
  5. Blending in Mix-Ins: Customize your frappe by blending in mix-ins such as chocolate chips, cookie crumbs, or fruit for added texture and variety.
  6. Adjusting Sweetness Levels: Control the sweetness of your drink by adjusting the amount of sugar or syrup used in the recipe. Remember that certain syrups may already contain sweeteners.
  7. Ice Preference: Depending on how icy or smooth you like your frappe, you can adjust the amount of ice used in the blending process.
  8. Cold Brew Variation: For an alternative twist on both drinks, consider using cold brew coffee as the base instead of traditional espresso shots.

Understanding the History and Origins

The macchiato has its roots in traditional Italian coffee culture, where it was originally made with a shot of espresso “stained” with just a spoonful of milk foam.

Traditional Macchiato

The traditional macchiato is a classic Italian coffee drink that packs a punch. It starts with a single shot of espresso, which is made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee.

This results in a strong and bold flavor that true coffee enthusiasts appreciate. To add some balance and texture, a small dollop of milk foam is then spooned on top of the espresso shot.

This creates a beautiful contrast between the intense espresso and creamy foam. The traditional macchiato is perfect for those who enjoy the pure taste of coffee without any added sweetness or frills.

Evolution of the Frappe

The frappe has come a long way since its inception. Originally, it was a simple iced coffee made by blending instant coffee with ice and milk. Over time, this refreshing beverage has evolved into a more elaborate and indulgent treat.

Nowadays, you can find countless variations of the frappe in different flavors and with added toppings like whipped cream or chocolate drizzle. This evolution is largely thanks to Starbucks, which popularized the frappuccino by adding their signature touch to it.

With each passing year, new frappe creations hit the market, enticing coffee lovers with their sweet and creamy concoctions. Whether you prefer classic flavors or experimental combinations, there’s no denying that the frappe has transformed from a humble iced coffee into a beloved indulgence for many caffeine enthusiasts.

Making Your Own Macchiato or Frappe

To make your own macchiato or frappe, start by selecting high-quality ingredients such as freshly ground coffee, milk, and any additional flavorings or syrups you desire.

Selecting Ingredients

To make a delicious macchiato or frappe, it’s important to select the right ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Coffee: Choose high-quality coffee beans or ground coffee that suits your taste preferences. The type of coffee used will greatly impact the flavor profile of your drink.
  • Milk: Opt for fresh milk or non-dairy alternatives like almond, soy, or oat milk. Use whole milk for a creamier texture and richer taste.
  • Sweeteners/Syrups: Enhance the flavor of your macchiato or frappe with sweeteners like sugar or syrups such as vanilla, caramel, or chocolate. These add depth and sweetness to your drink.
  • Ice (for frappes): If you’re making a frappe, don’t forget to have enough ice on hand. It helps create that refreshing and chilled consistency that makes frappes so enjoyable.
  • Whipped Cream (optional): For an extra touch of indulgence, consider adding whipped cream on top of your frappe. It adds a creamy and decadent finishing touch.

Preparation Techniques

To prepare a macchiato or frappe, here are some key techniques to keep in mind:


  • Start by brewing a shot of espresso using hot water and finely ground coffee.
  • Steam a small amount of milk to create smooth and velvety microfoam.
  • Pour the espresso shot into a small cup or glass.
  • Gently spoon the milk foam on top of the espresso, creating a visible mark or “stain” on the surface.


  • Fill a blender with ice cubes.
  • Add milk, sweetener, and any desired flavor syrups to the blender.
  • Brew a shot of espresso and let it cool slightly before adding it to the blender.
  • Blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Adjust the consistency by adding more ice or liquid as needed.

Tips for Perfecting Your Drink

To make the perfect macchiato or frappe, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Start with quality ingredients: Use freshly ground coffee beans and high-quality milk for the best flavor.
  2. Experiment with different syrups: Add a flavored syrup like caramel or vanilla to give your drink an extra burst of sweetness.
  3. Use the right brewing method: For a macchiato, use an espresso machine to brew a strong shot of coffee. For a frappe, blend ice, milk, and espresso until smooth.
  4. Pay attention to temperature: Make sure your milk is steamed to the right temperature for a macchiato, and use chilled ingredients for a refreshing frappe.
  5. Don’t forget the foam: A macchiato should have a dollop of milk foam on top, so practice your frothing skills to create that perfect foam layer.
  6. Sweeten your frappe just right: Adjust the amount of syrup or sweetener you add to your frappe based on your personal taste preferences.
  7. Garnish and toppings: Get creative with garnishes like chocolate shavings or whipped cream for added visual appeal and flavor.
  8. Play with textures: Some people prefer their macchiatos or frappes smoother, while others enjoy a slightly chunkier texture. Adjust blending times accordingly.
  9. Serve it in the right cup: Presenting your macchiato or frappe in a stylish glass or cup can enhance the overall drinking experience.
  10. Practice makes perfect: Don’t be afraid to experiment and tailor these tips to suit your own taste buds. With time and practice, you’ll be able to create barista-level macchiatos and frappes at home.


Whether you enjoy the bold and strong flavors of a macchiato or prefer the sweet and creamy indulgence of a frappe, knowing what sets these drinks apart allows you to confidently order your favorite beverage at any coffee shop.

So next time you’re craving a caffeinated delight, remember the distinctions between these two popular drinks and enjoy every sip!


Do macchiatos and frappuccinos contain coffee?

Yes, both macchiatos and frappuccinos contain coffee. Macchiatos are made with a shot of espresso, and frappuccinos are made with coffee.

Are macchiatos and frappuccinos served cold?

Yes, both macchiatos and frappuccinos are served cold. Macchiatos are typically served over ice, while frappuccinos are blended and served with ice.

What is the difference between a macchiato and a cappuccino?

The main difference between a macchiato and a cappuccino is the ratio of coffee to milk. Macchiatos have a higher concentration of coffee, while cappuccinos have more milk and less coffee.

How is a frappuccino different from a milkshake?

A frappuccino is a trademarked term used by Starbucks to describe its blended coffee drinks. While a frappuccino may resemble a milkshake, it is made with coffee and typically contains less ice cream than a traditional milkshake.

Does a frappuccino have caffeine?

Yes, frappuccinos contain caffeine. The amount of caffeine in a frappuccino can vary depending on the type and size of the drink.

What is the difference between a frappuccino and a frappe?

The terms frappuccino and frappe are often used interchangeably, but they can refer to slightly different drinks depending on the region. In general, a frappuccino is a blended coffee drink made with ice, while a frappe is a cold coffee drink often made with instant coffee, milk, and sugar.

What is a caramel frappuccino?

A caramel frappuccino is a variation of a frappuccino that includes caramel syrup or caramel sauce for added flavor.

What is a latte macchiato?

A latte macchiato is a coffee drink made with steamed milk and a shot of espresso. Unlike a traditional macchiato, the espresso is added to the milk, creating a layered effect.

How much caffeine is in a Starbucks frappuccino?

The amount of caffeine in a Starbucks frappuccino can vary depending on the type and size of the drink. On average, a Tall (12 oz) frappuccino contains approximately 65 mg of caffeine.

About the Author:
Oliver Bennett, a seasoned barista, focuses on the technical aspects of coffee-making. His journey from local cafes to specialty coffee shops has equipped him with skills in the science of coffee, from grind size to latte art. Oliver's articles and how-to videos delve into brewing techniques and coffee science, fostering a community of home baristas and elevating the home coffee experience.