I wanted one. Badly. The intoxicating sip of caffeine and the sweet taste of sugar, all blended together into a mixture of iced creamy goodness and designed to melt in your mouth. Yep, there’s nothing quite like the seductive taste of a Starbucks Frappuccino on a hot summer’s day.
With my resolve kicked to the curb in favor of a self-indulgent caffeine hit, I walked into the nearest Starbucks with my wallet in hand. It had been years since I’d ordered a Frapp, so I was fairly shocked by the variety of flavors available, but I was mostly appalled by the price — $3.45 (plus tax) for a tasty Tall! WTF? (Yeah, what the Frapp?)
Take a guess: One is real. The other is cheaper, but just as tasty.
Now I’m not a complete cheapo (cough) and I do enjoy an indulgent treat every now and then, but shelling out nearly $4 for a chilled coffee beverage seemed a bit steep. What’s in a classic Starbucks Frappuccino anyways? Coffee, milk, ice, and sugar? For $4? How’s that for a brain freeze?
The Starbucks barista must have been used to caffeine-starved customers with mouths agape, ’cause she stood there patiently waiting for me to order. But the only words that dropped outta my gap formed this question: What ingredient keeps the Frapp from separating?
“Oh, that’s just a little xanthan gum — it’s a food thickener, and it keeps blended drinks mixed,” she said.
So I bit my frugal tongue, ordered a classic Tall Frappuccino for $3.86 (including tax), and went home to replicate this costly drug for dimes a drink.
Frapp Price Attack: You’re saving around 92%
Talk about a steep latte factor — a copycat classic coffee Starbucks Frappuccino (using my recipe) can save you 91.7% on a 12 oz (354 mL) Tall sized beverage. Can you really see the difference?
Here’s the caffeinated cost breakdown for each ingredient scaled to a Starbucks Tall.
Bottom Line: Make your own copycat Frappuccino at home and save $3.54 — that’s nearly 92% — on a Tall.
But here’s the thing — my tasty recipe yields around 2.5 cups of frappy goodness. Since I got a little cranked on caffeine for this experiment, I did the mathy math for the total cost of my recipe too.
Bottom Line: Share a little chilled coffee goodness with a friend (or pour yourself a second serving) for just $0.53 per recipe.
But what about my Mocha Soy Venti? I only did the math on a Tall classic Frappuccino. Calculating the cost of coffee grams per cup, sugar weight, milk measurements, and xanthan gum nearly killed me. Feel free to measure the cost of a homemade Mocha Frapp on your own dime — I’m almost certain you’ll save a lot of moolah!
Homemade Frappuccino Recipe
Make a copycat Starbucks Frappuccino for a fraction of the cost in three easy steps.
STEP ONE: Gather your ingredients.
Frappuccino ingredients: makes 2.5 cups (590 mL)
- 1 cup double-strength Starbucks coffee OR 3/4 cup fresh espresso (cold)
- 3/4 cup milk (low fat, 2%, whole or whatever)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or to taste)
- 2 cups ice
- Secret ingredient: Pinch of xanthan gum OR 1 teaspoon dry pectin (keeps Frapp from separating)
Since I don’t own an espresso machine, I went to Costco and bought a bag of Starbucks Pike Place roast to best mimic the Frappuccino recipe. Brewed strongly, I think these beans did the trick.
STEP TWO: Toss your Frapptastic ingredients into a mixer and blend. Some of my friends swear by the Magic Bullet blender, but I’ve been happy with my simple Cuisinart for years.
Depending on the strength of your blender, it may take a few stirs to get the ice moving.
STEP THREE: Pour Frapp in a cup. Use an authentic Starbucks cup to fool your friends. Sneaky, I know.
Warning: Photographing a Frappuccino for hours may cause coffee separation. Grumble.
Admire your handy work. Add toppings at the will of your waistline. Oh it’s summer so friggits — full whip with chocolate syrup, please!
Your Thoughts: What’s in your homemade Frappuccino coffee drink? Are the savings worth it?
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