Ah, the Frappuccino. A Starbucks commodity. A word that wasn’t even on our tongues just 20 years ago. The Starbucks Frappuccino essentially ushered in the second wave of coffee in America, with sugary sweet, frothy concoctions that consumers flocked to. And to look back on the story of Frappuccinos — and the crazy flavors made across the globe — is pretty fun.
It’s hard to believe there was a time when Starbucks wasn’t ruled by Frappuccinos, but as CEO Howard Schultz explains in his book Pour Your Heart Into It, he wasn’t always a believer. Schultz writes that he resisted Southern California’s granitas trend in the 1990s because he believed the sugary, frozen drinks diluted the integrity of Starbucks’ coffee. Still, three store managers in Southern California experimented with making Frappuccinos beginning in 1994, using a powdered base (that everyone hated), and eventually using freshly brewed coffee. Eventually, the beverage director handed over the new Frappuccino recipe to a team of food consultants, who came up with a Frap made with low-fat milk. Eventually, everyone, customers and Schultz alike, saw the light — or should we say, saw the drink.
The name Frappuccino actually comes from the former coffee chain The Coffee Connection, which Starbucks acquired back in 1994. (In fact, the founder of The Coffee Connection made his own cold, slushy coffee for sale, but Schultz noted that Starbucks didn’t like the drink.) Despite the hurdle of introducing Frappuccinos (and blenders) to the 550 existing Starbucks stores, the Frappuccino was immediately a hit with customers. In 1996, Schultz notes in his book, the first full fiscal year the Frappuccino was sold, Starbucks sold more than $52 million worth of the drinks. It was even named one of the best products of the year by Businessweek.
What’s crazy to think is just how Schultz and the Starbucks team brought the Frappuccino to existence (Schultz writes in the book, "I was wrong, and I was delighted about it"). He writes: "Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this story is that we didn’t do any heavy-duty financial analysis on Frappuccino beforehand… No corporate bureaucracy stood in the way of the Frappuccino. It was a totally entrepreneurial project, and it flourished with a Starbucks that was no longer a small company. Even when I doubted it, it went ahead." We now know who to thank for such a drink (even if they’re, well, making it harder to fit into our summer swimsuits).
Today, there are 17 Frappuccino flavors on the menu — but that’s just in the U.S. While Americans love their Caramel Frappuccinos (the number one selling Frappuccino in America), Starbucks customers across the globe have very different flavors to choose from. Most use local flavors and ingredients combined with the traditional Frappuccino coffee base that’s a staple in the Starbucks drink — and we sort of wish we could get our hands on them in the U.S. Click ahead to find the world’s most popular Frappuccino flavors, the flavors you’ve never heard of.
1. Asia-Pacific & Japan — Coffee Jelly Frappuccino
Imagine a coffee-flavored bubble tea wrapped up in Frappuccino form, and you have the Coffee Jelly Frappuccino. Three delicious textures add up to pure pleasure — coffee jelly, made from actual brewed coffee, is topped with a creamy Coffee Frappuccino and whipped cream. It’s not a total surprise that the flavor was a hit in 2008 when it debuted for the summer; coffee jelly topped with whipped cream is a popular dish in Japan.
2. Japan — Coffee & White Tiramisu Frappuccino
Japan, the Coffee Tiramisu Frappuccino starts with a Coffee Frappuccino base, followed by a layer of crumbly bits of cookie and brownie, and is then topped with cream cheese moose and dusted with cocoa power. The White Tiramisu Frappuccino is a white caramel crème Frappuccino followed by crumbled bits of cookie and white chocolate brownie topped with cream cheese moose and caramel sauce. Foodbeast reports that Starbucks had to serve it with a bigger straw, so consumers could suck up the cookie and brownie bits. But hurry in — the Tiramisu Frappuccino flavors are only in stores until July 4, 2013.
3. China & Asia-Pacific — Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino
Beans in your Frapp? This Frappuccino is most striking for the sweetened whole kernels of red beans scooped on top of a Green Tea Frappuccino. The Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino was introduced last year, and is available again this summer. Most reviews say that the Frappuccino is surprisingly sweet, considering that there’s a legume floating on top.
4. Peru — Algarrobina Frappuccino
Algarrobina, a syrup made from the black carob tree that has high levels of proteins, iron, and vitamins A, B1, D, is extremely popular in Peruvian cuisine. First introduced in 2011, the Algarrobina Frappuccino uses the Algarrobina sauce blended with the Frappuccino roast, chocolate chips, mocha, milk, and ice. It is then topped with whipped cream and swirl of Algarrobina sauce. In a 2011 press release about the new Frappuccino flavor, marketing manager Pamela Ceballows said, "In Starbucks we have always focused on innovation of our products.Today more than ever, we are committed to the inclusion of Peruvian flavors, as a contribution to the appreciation of our culture, which goes along the world's best coffee…"
5. Greece — Yoghurt Frappuccino
New this summer and only available in Greece, the new Yogurt Frappuccino is handcrafted with fresh Greek yogurt. It is available in three flavors: strawberry, banana and honey. Last year, Starbucks Melody reported that the company was testing yogurt-based "Frappuccino Smoothies" in two flavors (strawberry and passion fruit) in California; could the yogurt Frappuccino be heading to the U.S. next?
6. Brazil — Brigadeiro Frappuccino
Brigadeiro is a very popular Brazilian chocolate bonbon that is usually served at birthday parties or as dessert. Introduced in 2012, the Brigadeiro Frappuccino is a blend of the Frappuccino roast, chocolate chips, white mocha sauce, mocha sauce, classic syrup, milk, and ice. It's served in a cup lined with Brigadeiro sauce and topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.
7. Japan & Asia-Pacific — Hojicha Frappuccino with Earl Grey Jelly
It’s a twist on the popular Green Tea Frappuccino that’s East meets West. This Frap is made from creamy Hojicha (a Japanese green tea that’s gently roasted over charcoal) and balanced with an aromatic Earl Grey tea jelly. The Hojicha Frappuccino with Earl Grey Jelly was introduced in 2012 for a limited time.
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