A frappe is one of those basic but essential summer drinks. It’s got summer vibes , and you can feel the warm sand and smell the sea when you just look at it.
But no one can really agree on just how to make a frappe. Everyone’s got their own recipe, so guess what ?
Here’s my take on it, the way I love to make my frappes. I’ll cover other options as well in this post, but for know you should know that everyone’s going to tell you something a little different.
What is a frappe ?
A frappe is a coffee based drink, usually made with instant coffee as was the original recipe. That being said, you can sometimes find frappes made with espresso and they’re almost as good.
Aside from the coffee, frappe also consists of a milk base, and always comes iced. It may have frothed milk on top, but most often you’ll find it with a generous serving of whipped cream, and sauces/flavorings are common as well.
The frappe usually has instant coffee since it was invented by a Greek at an instant coffee convention half a century ago, where they were trying to come of with a new coffee drink to market the instant coffee, make it something most folks would buy.
The frappe was born, and all of Greece and its immediate neighbors went crazy for the caffeinated drink.
It’s a beach staple, and you’ll find it on literally every coffee menu in Europe, along with icons such as latte, cappuccino and macchiato.
Does a frappe have coffee in it ?
Yes, a frappe can have regular, brewed coffee in it. It’s not the common way of preparing it but in truth each coffee shop has its own rules and they’re very flexible.
I’ve had frappe made with coffee and made with instant coffee, and there is a clear difference.
The coffee frappe is a little more mild, the flavors blend a little better and you don’t get that sharp acidity instant coffee can sometimes just throw at you.
On the other hand they’re usually less sweet, and thus come with less garnish or flavorings.
Instant coffee frappes are way more frothy, and because of this are more showy. They’re also quicker to make, meaning the barista will get it ready for you in a shorter amount of time.
Do you have to use instant coffee in a frappe ?
Well, in a way yes, you do have to use instant coffee in a frappe. This is the original way the frappe was made, so if you’re trying to be authentic then you’ll need instant coffee.
That being said if you really can’t stand the taste (some people can’t) then feel free to use espresso.
The main reason swapping frappe with espresso is because it’s a different flavor, and this translates into a different drink entirely.
You see, it’s the bitterness and acidity in instant coffee that dictates how much milk, or ice cream or whipped cream is necessary to balance the drink out.
And it also means there is no need to add a sauce or topping, otherwise the whole drink really does become too sweet.
Finally, still related to flavor, chilled espresso really isn’t that great. Bear with me here.
In general flavors that were brewed or steeped at a high temperature are not going to taste too good if they’re anything but hot. You can notice this with tea for example.
Make a cup of hot tea, any tea you like, and take a sip of it warm. Then let it cool completely, maybe add an ice cube. Taste it again. It’s got a whole new flavor, and not necessarily a better one when cold.
This happens because (incoming geek moment) water temperature really affects the rate at which flavor and nutrients are extracted from the coffee beans, and some notes will be much more front and center than others.
As a hot drink, this is fine, but the same notes as a cold drink can translate to wet paper or too earthy, to name a few.
The same thing happens with brewed coffee, but there is a way around that if you really, really don’t want instant coffee.
Try cold brew coffee. It takes a few hours (overnight, actually) to brew but you can make a big batch and have a bunch of friends over for frappe Sunday maybe ?
The point is that a cold brewed coffee is going to taste great in an iced drink – whether it’s an iced latte or iced coffee or a frappe.
Why doesn’t anyone agree on the recipe of a frappe ?
I really don’t have a good answer for that. I’m guessing you could chalk it up to most folks’ aversion towards instant coffee. Yes you read that right, aversion.
I for one can’t stand instant coffee, except in a frappe. There’s many other people like me, and apparently there’s enough of us to try and figure out a way to make frappe without instant coffee.
So you could say the brewed coffee frappe came about as an alternative to instant coffee frappe. Which is funny, because the frappe was made specifically to boost instant coffee sales. Ah well.
Another reason, and this doesn’t really have much to do with flavor preferences, is that baristas all over the world always have their hands on an espresso machine, or are within 2 feet of one.
Making almost every drink with a shot of espresso can turn into something of a reflex you won’t even think about. So it could be that too.
The truth of the matter is, there is no internationally accepted standard recipe for frappe, and this might actually be a good thing. There’s lots of room for creativity when there isn’t a set recipe but rather a loose set of guidelines.
I my hometown I took it upon myself a few years ago to go to each coffee shop and have their version of a frappe.
Some have frappe with ice cream and whipped cream – a lot like a coffee milkshake – while others will just blend instant coffee with water, shake like there’s no tomorrow and pour over ice.
There’s a wide space between those two extremes, but you get the gist of it. Both are valid versions of a frappe.
How to make a frappe at home
Alright, now let’s get to actually making our frappe. This is going to be actually fun, since there’s just a few guidelines, and no real heard set rules.
Meaning I’ll show you here the recipe for my favorite frappe, and also tell you how to you add or subtract ingredients to make your own perfect frothy iced coffee.
For an glass of frappe you’ll need:
- Coffee, preferably instant coffee. Can be espresso if you like, but will taste different.
- The coldest water you can get you hands on.
- Ice cubes, as many as you want. You can also add coffee ice cubes.
- One straw to drink.
- (optional) sweetener of your choice.
- (optional) milk of any kind.
- (optional) whipped cream for garnish.
- (optional) vanilla ice cream.
- (optional) any sauce of drizzle you like. I usually get strawberry.
- (optional) cocktail shaker to really blend the drink together.
Alright, that looks like a lot but really it’s up to you if you want to add more than the first 3 ingredients.
I prefer my frappe with instant coffee, a bit of milk, a scoop of melted (or melting) ice cream, 3-4 ice cubes, sugar, strawberry sauce, and 1/3 of the cup whipped cream, with a little dome.
It sounds like a lot, yes, but that’s the way I like my frappes. Barely resembling coffee. Now, if you’d like to brew yours much simpler, no worries, you can follow this guide and still do that.
I won’t give you any measurements aside from the coffee itself, since how thick or milky or watery the drinks ends up is up to your preferences.
1. Make or brew your coffee
Whether you’re using espresso or instant coffee you’ll need it brewed. If using espresso, I’m going to assume you know how to pull a decent shot.
But if not, you can check out my guide on brewing espresso at home.
If you’re using instant coffee, you have 2 options: brew it with the water, or directly with the cold milk, if you plan on using any. Making instant coffee with the milk is going to give you more froth.
In both cases, you’ll need about 2 heaping teaspoons of instant coffee, place them into the empty glass.
Add just a bit of water or milk. If you’re using any sugar, now is the time to add it since it helps froth the coffee. We’re going to make a sort of thin paste and mash the sugar with the water and coffee, and this should result in a certain amount of foam, more or less.
Once you notice it’s coming together, slowly add more water or coffee, and keep stirring. If you want a glass full of frappe, with no garnish then just go ahead and fill the glass, leaving some room for ice cubes.
If you want to leave more room, like for a big dollop of ice cream or whipped cream, only fill it up 2/3 of the way.
For those who would like to keep their frappe dead simple, just stop here after mixing the coffee. Add nothing else, and you’re good to go. As long as the drink has instant coffee, ice and some water or milk, it’s done.
Everything else is just frills.
2. Mix it with the ice cream or milk
Alright, now you’ve got the coffee ready. If you’ve used instant coffee and already blended it with the milk when brewing, then now all you’ve got to do is add whatever else you like, like ice cream or more milk. Add ice as you see fit.
If you’ve decided to use espresso, it should be cool when you add it to your glass. Add the ice cubes into the espresso shot, and the milk, ice cream or whatever else you’d like to add to your drink.
Mixing them together will be fairly easy, as long as you’ve got a long spoon. Simply stir the drink a little and everything should come together.
For those who would like a more showy presentation and final product, ice a cocktail shaker to mix everything together. Add in your coffee (instant or espresso), ice cubes, milk, water, and sugar and shake until your arms fall off.
Pour everything into a big, beautiful glass you’re going to drink from, and you should see a boatload of froth throughout the drink.
3. Add any toppings or syrups you like
If you’ve got any sauces or syrup to add, now is the time. Know that thicker sauces will harden when in contact with the ice cubes, so make sure you select a brand that’s a little on the thin side.
If you’re using whipped cream or ice cream, make sure to drizzle a little on top of those as well. And if you’d like to add any sprinkles or something like cocoa powder or cinnamon, feel free to do so.
Plop in a straw and you’re done !
4. Enjoy !
You can drink this frappe whatever way you like. If you want to go all out, then you’re probably going to build a frappe like mine, with so much going on it won’t really resemble coffee anymore.
If you want to keep it simple then you can just mix the water, milk, ice, instant coffee, and maybe sugar as you see fit and its done.
There are so many ways to do this there’s really no way to tell which is ‘the right way’. You do you and whatever you happen to like.
If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?