I'm aware that "café frappé" may mean the Greek foam-covered iced coffee drink made from instant coffee. But is this phrase ever used today to simply mean "iced coffee"? Not a single French speaker I've asked has ever heard of this latter sense of "café frappé."

I'm puzzled because all French-English dictionaries I've looked at (each of which purports to describe the current usage of the language) include the meaning "to ice" in the entry of "frapper" (without affixing to it the "archaic" or "obsolete" label) and some translate the above phrase as "iced coffee:"

See frappé (2) and frapper (5) in le Robert & Collins; frappé (1) in Larousse; frapper (I.A.b) and frappé (3) in the CNRTL dictionary; frappé (2) in Collins; café frappé on reverso.net; and frapper (5) in Merriam-Webster.

Perhaps this usage of "café frappé" is extremely infrequent, or has it completely died out?

  • Yes, indeed, "frappé" can mean "iced" in French ! I think it is not commonly used with "café" because it is not in French habbit to drink iced coffee. Like Italians, French people mostly drink their coffee hot and strong (correct me if I'm wrong French people ^^). You'll more likely see "citron frappé" or "vodka frappée". But concerning language only, "café frappé" is alright.
    – Eria
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 15:56
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    @Aubrey I think there is a difference. "Ice tea" and "Iced coffee" are different. One is just cold, the otherone has crushed ice
    – Random
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:16
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    For me, "glacée" means "frozen", like an ice cream for example. Maybe Starbucks has a category for both kind of drinks, or maybe Starbucks doesn't use right French language (which is not impossible). I won't see a situation in which "frappée" could mean "mixée" (blended). I think many French people don't know the sense of "frappé"... So companies like Starbucks or Colombus might use it as marketing and not for its real sense.
    – Eria
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:17
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    The Starbucks menu is intriguing with boissons frappées et glacées (note it says au café in the header for a section); then in Canada you have a different take on this, where they only say cafés frappés and not boissons !! It's all quite interesting: 1, 2, 3. From p. part. frappé de glace originally, the transfer of the cold onto the object.
    – user3177
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 7:54
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    Also, I noted one for the books on Larousse in one of the meanings for frapper : Faire prendre une crème ou un appareil glacé dans un moule entouré de glace. Quoi ?! I don't think this comes from Henri Babinski's Gastronomie pratique. We may never know. Maybe someone is reading frappé as fouetté, etc. Then there's the brand, and other meanings in English, where frappé/frappe/frappuccino (brand) exist; frappe for a milk shake for instance(AHDotEL) is possible, as well as for sorbet-like. like s.o explained etc. Could frappé even be a loan word in some cases in French? Cheers.
    – user3177
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


Yes, indeed, "frappé" can mean "iced" in French !

I think it is not commonly used with "café" because it is not in French habits to drink iced coffee. Like Italians, French people mostly drink their coffee hot and strong (correct me if I'm wrong French people ^^). You'll more likely see "citron frappé" or "vodka frappée".

But concerning language, "café frappé" is alright and totally means "iced coffee" !

To complete my answer, and pursuing the commentary debate above, here is the definition of the French Academy for "frappé" :

(1) FRAPPÉ, -ÉE adj. XIXe siècle. Participe passé de frapper.

  1. TEXTILE. Qui a subi une impression produisant un dessin, un relief. Du velours frappé.
  2. MUS. Temps frappé (vieilli), temps fort, accentué. Par ext. Un vers bien frappé, au rythme marqué. Une maxime bien frappée, fortement exprimée, qui se grave dans la mémoire.
  3. Qu'on a mis à refroidir dans de la glace pilée ; très frais. Une vodka bien frappée. Du café frappé. Par ext. Une carafe frappée.
  4. Pop. Fou, extravagant. Il est un peu frappé.

The difference with "glacé" is that it's not ice yet, it's just very cold.

But I'm pretty sure most French native speakers can't tell the difference between "frappé" et "glacé", and neither do the marketing services who employ it in their menu ^^.

So "café glacé" and "café frappé" are quite synonymous.

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    In my opinion, a "café glacé" is just a cold coffee. I don't expect any crushed ice in it. Whereas a "café frappé" must contain crushed ice in it.
    – Random
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:51
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    @Random In Canada, I hear café glacé more than café frappé.
    – AboveFire
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 20:04
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    Totally agree with @AboveFire. I don't think I would have understood café frappé to mean iced coffee.
    – Kareen
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 2:34
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    In France café frappé is the word, and people understand it
    – Nikko
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 7:19
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    I'm surprised that nobody talked about wine which can be served “frappé” and is nowhere close to iced. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 9:30

As clearly stated by all comments and answers, the general sense of "frappé" as "cooled using ice", for a drink, is commonly recognized and understood in France.

But comments and answers also state that, either:

  • crushed (or blocks of) ice may be really blended to the drink.
  • or the drink container (glass, carafe, ...) has been put in an ice bucket.

Note: as stated by the @Eria's answer, strictly speaking only the latter sense is confirmed by dictionaries; but by a usual language abuse the former is definitely also well admitted and understood, which causes ambiguity.

So this point keeps discussed and doesn't get unanimity, and it's where I want to bring my point of view. In my opinion it depends on three factors:

  • kind of drink: as remarked by @Stephane Gimenez, wine may be frozen but never blended with ice (at least in France, where it'd be regarded as a sacrilege :), while as stated by @Random coffee may be either merely frozen or really contain crushed ice; more generally, almost every strong alcohol may be served with crushed (or blocks of) ice in the glass.
  • culture: unlike French, Spanish people like (even red) wine to be strongly frozen (and this habit currently begins to spread in the southern France), so I'd not be surprised that they come soon to drink wine with ice inside.
  • and finally, epoch and fashion (and here is what I wanted to especially point regarding the precise OP's question on "café frappé"): I agree with comments saying that drinking cold coffee (whatever its form) is not currently in the French habits.
    But it was the fashion in France in the sixties, and at this time there was no ambiguity: a "café frappé" was nothing else than hot coffee blended with crushed ice and shaked like a cocktail, to be served finally fresh and foamy.
    Reading that Starbucks and Columbus currently propose something similar, I wonder if they respect this old recipe.

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