These Were The First Starbucks Frappuccino Drinks Ever Created

Come heatwave or cold snap, we love a Starbucks Frappuccino, but we may not have even had these blended treats if not for two intrepid Starbucks employees. Admittedly, however, the original drink looked and tasted quite a bit different back then, but was born of necessity. 

Back in 1993, when the U.S. was in the grip of unusually high temperatures, Southern Californians were asking their Starbucks baristas for iced blended drinks. Recognizing an opportunity, two employees began to experiment. The Frappuccino had humble beginnings, with early versions just a simple blend of ice, milk, and espresso.

After early tests in L.A. County, it was clear that customers were on board. By 1994, the company was gearing up to launch the drink across all its stores, but the drink didn't have a name. A well-timed acquisition would assist with that. In June 1994, Starbucks acquired The Coffee Connection, a Boston-based coffee retailer that served, you guessed it, a Frappuccino. Its recipe was different, a cold slushie made in a soft-serve machine, but Starbucks recognized the opportunity and seized it. Coffee Connection's drink was ultimately dropped from the menu, and the name was recycled. By early 1995, the Starbucks Frappuccino was being served across the U.S. and Canada.

How do early Frappuccinos compare to today?

The most notable difference in that first Starbucks Frappuccino is its simplicity. Its initial make-up of only three ingredients left it tantalizingly open to customization, leading to the first flavors — coffee and mocha — hitting branches in the same year as the launch. For the first few years, the Frappuccino was missing a couple of iconic elements. For instance, the domed lid and green straw, so inextricable from the drink in our minds, were not introduced until 1999 when the caramel flavor debuted. It can be surmised that the domed lid was added to accommodate another prominent feature of the caramel flavor: whipped cream. That's right, there was no whipped cream on your Frappuccino for the first four years.

In 2002, Starbucks debuted another take on the Frappuccino made without coffee or tea. These drinks, dubbed Crème Frappuccino, set the stage for extensive customization over the decades to come for both the crème and coffee or tea versions. It seems strange to think about the Frappuccino without all of its wildly popular flavors and expansive secret menu options, but even the most elaborate beverages have to start somewhere. With the drink hitting its 30th anniversary in 2025, and with such an easily modified base to work with, there's no telling where the Frappuccino will go next.