Starbucks has been lying to you; a frappé is more than just coffee mixed with ice and enough sweetened milk to give you a cavity. The original use of the term frappé was for a Greek iced coffee, using instant coffee and foamy milk. You’d think that instant coffee wouldn’t have become the vehicle of choice for one of Greece’s most popular post-war drinks, but the absence of oils in spray-dried instant coffee allows the foam to rest atop the miniscus of the liquid better; and thus, more, and longer-lasting, milky foam. The American version of a frappé these days uses espresso instead of instant coffee, and has specialized machines to maintain the milk foam (or does away with the foam altogether and just adds whipped cream to the top). Our definition of frappé has expanded to any sweet, frozen coffeehouse treat, whether the base be coffee, espresso, or even teas. Starbucks has definitely changed the way we think about our morning caffeine pick-me-up 😉

New York City seems to fully embrace the West Coast decision to label anything milkshake-y a frappé, and even non-chain coffee houses are putting interesting–but not coffee-based–versions of frappés on the menu. Try out Cafe Zaiya’s version of a frappé: made with sweetened milk and coffee, this cool drink has an extra special ingredient that sets it apart from the rest: black sesame paste. The taste of the black sesame isn’t overwhelming, and its nuttiness pairs well with the coffee. Try out their green tea frappé instead if the idea of drinking your sesame seeds, and not eating them, upsets you, but either eay, Cafe Zaiya is dishing out frappés with flavors you definitely won’t find sold by the green mermaid. This Japanese twist on an American version of an originally Greek drink is so multicultural –isn’t that what New York City is all about?

Cafe Zaiya
1073 6th Ave, 2nd Fl

“A varied drinks menu offers everything from green tea lattes to the black sesame frappes, pictured above. Think of the frappe as a milkshake meets Starbucks Frappuccino with a generous helping of ground black sesame paste. Make sure to keep stirring the drink as the black sesame quickly settles to the bottom. Whipped cream is optional, but why ever refuse cream? Fantastic on a sunny day.”–Serious Eats

“Sit down for a coffee—they brew Seattle’s Best—or better yet, a green tea latte. On hot days, Cafe Zaiya regulars recommend the black sesame frappe, a frothy milkshake made with ground sesame paste. Pair the drinks with a savory bun like the C.O.B. (corn, onion and bacon) or satisfy your sweet tooth with yakimochi, a grilled rice cake stuffed with mashed azuki beans.”–New York Daily News

Some reviews from

“I also finally tried the Black Sesame Frappe and it was delicious!!! Over five dollars is a bit much for a frappe (for some reason it’s pricier here than it is at the other location), but it’s one of those things you have to try…and will continue to buy on the rough days that you want to treat yourself at work. I’ll be back!”–Joanna C.

“they’ve got breads, cakes, premade sushi & katsu lunches, sandwiches, tea & coffee drinks, great for a quick snack! NOT TO MENTION that black sesame frappe which had a really good subtle black sesame flavor that paired well with a hint of coffee taste!!”–Jenny S.


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