One of the most popular drinks produced by the famous Starbucks coffee houses is the Frappuccino, an iced coffee beverage designed for those who would rather cool down on a hot day instead of drinking a traditional cup of hot coffee. Over the past few years, Starbucks has distributed a bottled version of the drink to stores and supermarkets around the country. After noticing that a few other people had developed an affinity for the drink, I looked at the ingredients list on the bottles and decided to try making my own “copycat” version to see if I could bring the taste and flavor close enough to the original to qualify it as an acceptable alternative.
After a few months of tweaking the ingredient amounts, I have successfully developed a replica for both the vanilla and mocha versions of the Starbucks Frappuccino. Although many other copycat recipes use espresso, this one uses coffee made with a standard coffee maker where the coffee is brewed by heating the water and dripping it through a filter that is filled with a few scoops of ground coffee beans.
The cost of the final beverage is mostly dependent on the price of the milk; the amounts of sugar, coffee, vanilla, and cocoa that are used for a single bottle constitute such a small fraction of the whole container that these costs are almost negligible. The cost for 16 ounces of “Frapp” made with this recipe, which will fill a 13.7 ounce bottle with a couple of ounces left over for sampling, generally ranges between 30 and 40 cents. This compares to $2.75 for each 13.7 ounce bottle purchased from our local supermarket.
- 10 ounces milk
- 6 ounces coffee
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (if making the vanilla version)
- 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder (if making the mocha version)
In a large glass or other suitable container, combine the sugar, coffee, and milk, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. A convenient way to measure the coffee and milk is to use an angled measuring cup (this happens to be the same one I am using), which will allow you to measure both liquids accurately without having to mess around with two or more measuring cups. If you are making the vanilla version, simply stir in the vanilla extract and you are done. You can add some ice to cool it down and drink it at this point, or you can pour it into a bottle and refrigerate it for later. For storage I have actually been using the same bottles that were left over from previous store-bought versions. Two such bottles, which I had recently filled with replica beverages, are displayed in the image above.
For the mocha version, add the cocoa powder to the sugar in your mixing glass before pouring in the liquids. It is advisable to add a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients at this stage also; the salt acts as a catalyst and will help to dissolve the cocoa and prevent it from forming concentrated lumps. If you are bottling the mocha frappuccino for later, remember that the cocoa powder will have a tendency to separate from the rest of the drink and settle at the bottom, so make sure to cap the bottle tightly and shake it before drinking so that the flavors can be evenly distributed. If you really want to get fancy, it is possible to avoid this separation and emulsify the cocoa better with a little xanthan gum but this is an optional step.
If you omit both the vanilla and the cocoa, combining only the milk, coffee, and sugar, you will have the basic “Coffee” flavor of the Starbucks Frappuccino. You can use this as a base and experiment with other flavorings such as caramel, cinnamon, or maple. Some people also like to use chocolate syrup instead of cocoa powder to create the “Mocha” flavor. Regardless of which flavor you choose, however, you are guaranteed to save money if you have become accustomed to purchasing frappuccino drinks from your local grocery store or from any of the Starbucks coffee shops.