The Frappuccino Has Come a Long Way Since Its Boston Days

The Starbucks namesake drink, originating right here at the Coffee Connection in 1992, is getting six new blended combos. Here, a look back at its evolution.


Photo via Starbucks/Newsroom

Starbucks is the obvious champion in the tournament of influential coffee chains, offering a bevy of treat-like coffee blends from macchiatos to chai lattes, and now its six new Frappuccino flavors the chain announced on Monday. But before Starbucks had a monopoly with the blended espresso drink over every other coffee shop, big or small, the idea of the Frappuccino was sprouted right here in Boston with George Howell and the Coffee Connection.

Boston‘s former senior editor Janelle Nanos is credited as the insider on the story and timeline, having written a 2012 feature on Howell and his business endeavors since selling the Coffee Connection and the Frappuccino name to Starbucks for $23 million in 1994. It’s been over two decades since the sale, yet Howell’s exemplary espresso-milk-sugar hybrid drink is still a leading player—perhaps the leading player—in the competitive arena of specialty coffee.

When the Coffee Connection debuted the Frappuccino (a nod to New England’s milkshake, the frappe) in 1992, it had one flavor with three ingredients: espresso, milk, and sugar. It was supposed to be Howell’s solution, invented by his marketing manager, to keep sales during the summer.

Coupons from Coffee Connection's launch of the Frappuccino via 'The Story of the Frappuccino' by Janelle Nanos

Coupons from Coffee Connection’s launch of the Frappuccino
via ‘The Story of the Frappuccino‘ by Janelle Nanos

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz eventually changed the recipe after buying the Coffee Connection. Right now, in addition to its new 20th anniversary flavors—Caramel Coco Cluster, Cinnamon Roll, Cotton Candy, Cupcake, Red Velvet Cake, and Lemon Bar—Starbucks regularly offers tens of dozens of Frappuccino combinations. In 2012, Janelle Nanos reported that the post-2011 version of the drink had 7 ingredients. With all its different flavors now, the drink surely has a variety of different ingredients combinations.

Below, see a glimpse at the 20th anniversary blends (though it’s been more than 20 years, technically), and salute the birthplace of the finest chilly drink out there.

Cotton Candy Frappuccino: Vanilla bean, raspberry syrup, milk and ice, whipped cream.

Lemon Bar Frappuccino: Lemonade, vanilla syrup, milk and ice, whipped cream and caramel sugar.

Caramel Cocoa Cluster Frappuccino: Toffee nut syrup, Frappuccino roast coffee, milk and ice, whipped cream and mocha drizzle.

Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino: Cinnamon dolce syrup, white chocolate mocha sauce, vanilla bean, Frappuccino roast coffee, milk and ice, whipped cream and cinnamon dolce topping.

Cupcake Frappuccino: Vanilla bean, hazelnut syrup, milk and ice, whipped cream.

Red Velvet Cake Frappuccino: mocha sauce, raspberry syrup, vanilla syrup, Frappuccino chips, milk and ice, whipped cream.