Coffee Frappé

Shirts off, everybody.

Coffee beans in a blade grinder

There was a study in the late 1960s that tested children’s self-control. They were given a marshmallow with the promise that they’d get another marshmallow if they didn’t eat the first marshmallow for 15 minutes when the observer came back in the room. The goal of the experiment was to determine the mental processes that allowed some children to wait, while most just ate the marshmallow. It really got interesting when they did follow-up studies.

I’d like to think that I’d pass with flying colours, or, uh, two marshamllows, but that’s only because marshmallows aren’t that exciting to me. Say the professor offered a quarter cup of milk with chocolate syrup instead of a marshmallow. After the 15 minutes, he’d find me with my shirt off rolling around in an inexplicable puddle of chocolate syrup on the floor like a cat with catnip; a thick, chocolate syrup goatee coating my chin. “Where did you get the…? I don’t even … It was mixed before I gave it to you. Where’d all this syrup come from?!” I’d shrug. He’d be puzzled at first, but then he could make an academic career out of my syrupy ass. Papers in journals! Conferences! Book deals! Getting on Dr Phil!

A favourite after-school treat was chocolate milk watching that handsome scamp, Zack Morris, get into crazy shenanigans at Bayside high school on TV. Not store bought in a carton though, the chocolate milk you made yourself. A tall glass of cold milk, squeeze in the syrup1, stir with a spoon. And then, drink it with the spoon. Oh, man! I could only do that for four spoonfuls, then I’d chug the rest. And then, get some more. You can’t be surprised that I didn’t just put a little in. I’d squeeze until the milk started changing colour without stirring.

You’re also probably not surprised that I may occasionally (like every weekend in the summer) enjoy a Mocha frap from Starbucks. But they’re SO expensive, right? I may, on a busy weekend day, not drink all the coffee I make that morning. It would be a shame to pour it down the sink, right?

Imagine my pleasure at finding, in one of the unlikeliest places, a recipe (or, application) that solves both those problems. And gives me an excuse to have chocolate syrup in the house. I was reading through Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen, by Alton Brown—a book only true kitchen nerds would enjoy. There, in the chapter on blenders, in sweet step-by-step instructions, a recipe for Coffee Frappé! His was subtle and balanced. I fix that below.

Coffee Frappe

Makes 2 glasses, adapted from Coffee Frappé, in Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen, by Alton Brown

  • 1 cup cold, strong coffee
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half (10% cream)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp chocolate syrup, according to taste

Put all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.


  1. Never the powdered stuff. Stir for 10 minutes, then still get a mouthful of chocolate sawdust. Yuck! []

Jason Kemp is a geek trapped in a cool guy's body. He hand crafts software for the web and mobile devices. He excels at user interface design, the deadlift and barbecue. He is @ageektrapped across the internet.

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