Considering how the consumption of beverages has evolved over time, we often find new ways to create new flavor combinations and innovate drink recipes. The frappé is a perfect example of this.

Developed in the early 19th century, a selection of inventive cold coffee drinks called “café frappé” stimulated coffee consumption on hot days. Similar to slushies and iced coffees, the café frappé was the first cold coffee drink of its time and since then, variations of the drink have remained popular around the globe.

In honor of National Frappe Day, we’re exploring the origin of this delicious beverage and how it forever changed what the world is drinking.

Creating the First Frappé

In the September heat of the 1957 Thessaloniki International Fair in Greece, Nestlé representative Giannis Dritsas successfully engineered a new beverage product for children. Using a shaker to combine chocolate powder with cold milk, Dritsas creatively designed an instant chocolate milk drink that could be enjoyed in the warmth of summer. Its sweet, chocolatey taste and foamy texture made it a delight to consume, leaving kids begging their parents for more. Soon after, it was established as Greece’s most popular cold beverage.

But what followed, completely by accident, was the creation of an adult version of the drink. Made using Nestle’s instant coffee mix rather than the chocolate powder, the café frappé, which translates to “whisked coffee,” became the frozen modern delight we know and love today. While still primarily marketed by Nestlé, the frappé remains a Greek staple, found at nearly every café in the country. Beyond that, the frappe drink category has become popular worldwide.

The Science Behind the Frappé

A traditional Greek frappé consists of four simple ingredients: instant coffee, sugar, ice cubes, and water. So how does it get its signature foam?

No milk or eggs are necessary here. Thanks to the dehydration process that instant coffee goes through, only a small amount of water is needed to make the drink’s characteristic foam. Typically, spray-dried instant coffee is used because it contains almost no oil — just tiny coffee solid particles, a variety of molecules responsible for flavor and taste, and caffeine.

When dissolved, spray-dried coffee forms a simpler and more stable colloid relative to traditionally brewed coffee. This allows foam to form, and the absence of oil makes it longer lasting. Sugar also helps maintain the foamy texture, as it increases the viscosity of the drink. Using an electric hand mixer rather than a shaker can also contribute to a longer lasting foam, as smaller and more uniformly sized bubbles have a reduced pressure gradient.

How the Frappé Changed What the World is Drinking

While the frappé remains a staple in Greece, other variations of the drink can be found across the globe, making the frappe a universal treat.

In the US, there are two definitions of the frappé: one alludes to an iced coffee beverage called a frappe (without the accented ‘e’); the other relates to a milkshake-like drink that can be found in any neighborhood Starbucks chain, more commonly known as a frappuccino. Some versions substitute coffee for the higher caffeine buzz of espresso, while others don’t contain coffee products at all, aligning more similarly to Giannis Dritsas’ chocolate milk than the coffee-based Greek classic.

Other parts of the world enjoy their own versions of the frappe, often used as a blanket term for any blended, frozen drink. Some of these frappe variations include fruit-flavored deserts with shaved ice, frozen teas, and savory blends mixed with clam juice.

Try one out!

You can easily make your own frappé concoction in the comfort of your home. Using a cocktail shaker or hand mixer, blend together one to two teaspoons of traditional instant coffee and ice (milk optional), along with your preferred sweetener and spices. Serve your creation in a tall glass, then make it your own by adding whip cream and your favorite toppings.

If you’re interested in trying a classic Greek frappé, follow along with the video below:

However you choose to enjoy them, frappes have shaped the way we drink and consume cold and coffee-based beverages today. The invention of the frappe is a good reminder that anyone with an idea, no matter how crazy it is, has the potential to shape our culture and change what the world is drinking.

If you think you’ve got an idea good enough to rival the legacy of the frappe, Flavorman can help you bring it to life. Get started by filling out this webform or calling (502) 273-5214.


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Written on October 7, 2019.