Mocha vs. Latte: What Is the Difference?


The best way to start your day is with a cup of coffee. Most people have only one favorite coffee beverage that they drink every day. That’s why it is easy to get confused when it comes to other coffees. For example, many people don’t know the difference between a mocha and a latte, even though they aren’t that similar. So, what’s the difference between a mocha and a latte?

The biggest difference between a mocha and a latte is in its ingredients. Latte is made with 2 shots of espresso and milk, while a mocha is made with 2 shots of espresso, hot chocolate, and milk.

Some other differences are their origin, taste, cup sizes, and the way they are made. If you want to learn a bit more about mocha and latte, keep reading. Maybe you’ll decide to try them out.

Differences between mocha and latte

The most obvious difference between mocha and latte is how they are made. Latte is made with 2 shots of espresso and milk, while mocha is made with 2 espresso shots, hot chocolate or chocolate syrup, and steamed milk.

Once we look at their ingredients, it makes sense that mocha is sweeter than a latte. However, you can also add some syrups and toppings to your latte to make it sweeter than it usually is.

If we consider that mocha contains chocolate, it is clear that it contains more fat and calories than a latte. One cup of mocha has about 310 calories, while one cup of latte only has about 120 calories. That makes latte healthier than mocha.

Latte is made out of mostly milk, and because mocha has less milk than a latte and the same amount of espresso shots, it is stronger than a latte.

When it comes to taste, mocha has a sweet, rich, and chocolatey taste, while latte has a more espresso-forward taste and is less sweet. However, while mocha only tastes like chocolate, latte can taste like any syrup you put in it.

If you are looking for a sweet coffee that you can add whipped cream and other toppings to, choose mocha. It will give you the coffee kick you need, but without a coffee-prominent flavor.

If you prefer the taste of espresso in your coffee and make it taste however you like by adding syrups, choose latte. It is less sweet, has a rich espresso taste, and creamy milk.

What is mocha?

Origin of Mocha

Yemen and Ethiopia are always arguing about who has a bigger claim on coffee’s origin. It seems that the coffee plant emerged in Ethiopia, but that it matured in neighboring Yemen.

To start at the beginning of the history of coffee, we would have to go back centuries in time. By the 15th century, Sufi monks in Yemen had begun cultivating, drinking, and producing coffee for trade. As time passed, the Yemeni improved their utilization of Yemen’s unique environment and terrain to produce a distinct and delicious coffee.

Back in the day, coffee represented a focal point for trade, social interaction, and even religious piety. The consumption of coffee led to the beginning of coffee shops, a new export for Yemen. However, the effects weren’t all positive, and Yemeni coffee would also carry the brunt of controversial bans, be a spoil of war, and even inspire heist and espionage.

The best way to tell the dramatic contribution of Yemen’s coffee to world history is through its iconic port town of Al-Makha. While Yemen was under the Ottoman Empire, it fine-tuned and cautiously guarded their precious caffeinated commodity. They refused to sell live coffee plants or seeds, and thanks to that, they established a global monopoly on the coffee trade centered around this sleepy port.

The coffee from Al-Makha began being referred to as simply Mocha coffee. The name originally had little to do with the chocolatey coffee drink you can buy today. The name is also used to refer to a coffee variety originating from Yemen, which the SCA describes as “genetically very close to Bourbon.”

Yemen couldn’t guard their coffee plants forever, and Dutch traders eventually managed to get their hands on a live coffee plant. A few decades later, plantations had begun to spring up outside Yemen and the Ottoman Empire’s borders. One of the world’s oldest and most well-known coffee blends, Mocha Java, originated from Al-Makha port’s connection to the Indonesian island of Java. These beans are now commonly called Arabica beans.

Even though the world eventually caught up to Yemen in terms of coffee cultivation and production, Yemen has quite impressively maintained renown in the world of specialty coffee. Their beans have a wild and distinctive flavor that’s unique and it continues to entice drinkers.

Coffee farms in Yemen today seem the same as they did a few centuries ago. They find that the only appropriate way for harvesting the coffee sprouting on Yemen’s jagged mountaintops is 100% all-natural selective harvesting and dry processing.

The Yemeni farmers have a saying that translates to “You must care for the coffee as you care for a child.” The farmers foster their coffee with an intimate delicacy handed down from generations past. You can notice a lack of chemicals and a surplus of hands-on care and precision on any of their coffee farms.

Nowadays, the name mocha is used for any coffee with chocolate flavoring, which also includes a simple mix of hot chocolate and coffee.

It’s difficult to determine when and how exactly the term mocha came to be used for coffee and chocolate, but it is often said that the beans had a distinct chocolate taste. The chocolaty coffee flavor is nothing new. When chocolate was introduced to Europe, it did not take long for people to figure out that they can mix the flavor with coffee.

During the 16th century in Venice and Turin, some of the earliest coffee houses were opened where chocolate was mixed with coffee and called bavareisa. Another popular drink in Italy was bicerin, which was served in a little clear glass of espresso and chocolate with visible layers.

It is believed that the original Mocha beans had distinct chocolatey flavor characteristics, and that was the origin of this name for the modern beverage.

How to make Mocha

Mocha is usually made with an espresso machine, but don’t worry if you don’t have it, because you can also make mocha without a machine.

To make mocha with an espresso machine, you will need milk, a shot of espresso, and some chocolate syrup.

Start by pouring your milk of choice into a frothing pitcher. Use the steam wand attachment on your espresso machine to froth the milk by inserting the steam wand into the milk pitcher until it is immersed. Immerse the steam wand quickly, so you don’t make too much foam or excess bubbles while heating milk.

When you feel the bottom of the pitcher getting too hot to hold, it means that it is time to remove the steam wand. Make sure you wipe down and blow out the steam wand after removing it from the pitcher, so the milk doesn’t clog the wand.

Next, swirl your hot milk around in the pitcher to mix it in with the foam you just created. You will clearly see your milk’s texture becoming richer as you fold in all of the foam. If you keep the foam and milk separate, you will get a lighter milk texture with thicker foam.

Once you achieve your desired milk consistency, set the milk aside while you prepare the rest of your mocha. Pour your espresso shot into a cup. You can add as much cocoa powder or chocolate syrup to the cup as you’d like and mix it with the espresso until everything is well combined. It’s easier to attain a smooth and consistent chocolatey flavor throughout the mocha if you stir the chocolate into the espresso before you add milk.

When your chocolate and espresso are thoroughly combined, pour the milk you frothed into the chocolate espresso mixture and you’re done.

If you don’t have an espresso machine, you will need a microwave, milk, a shot of espresso, and some chocolate syrup.

Start by pouring your preferred milk into a mason jar and putting it in the microwave on high for just long enough to get it warm and slightly steaming.

While the milk is heating, place a small saucepan over medium-low heat and start melting your chocolate in it. Add a single shot of espresso and as much sugar as you want in the saucepan and stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

Incorporate the heated milk into the chocolate mixture slowly to avoid clumping. Add only a tablespoon at a time and reserve a quarter cup of the milk for later. While you are doing this, you might want to increase the burner’s heat to medium to help your chocolate to continue to melt and the mixture to keep heating.

Then, make the foam for your mocha by placing a lid on the mason jar that contains the remaining milk. Shake it vigorously until bubbles start to form, and the milk gets frothy.

Lastly, transfer the chocolate mocha mixture to a mug, pour the newly foamed milk over it and you can top it with whipped cream, sprinkles, or chocolate shavings.

Caffeine in mocha

Mocha contains caffeine, as it is made with espresso, which means that it has the same amount of caffeine as two espresso shots, about 154 milligrams. If you are making your mocha at home, you can add more espresso shots, or use decaf coffee, which then increases or decreases the caffeine in your mocha.

The best chocolate for mocha

You can use three different forms of chocolate to flavor your mocha and those are chocolate powder, chocolate syrup, or melted chocolate. The option that you choose will largely depend on how much time you have. In case you don’t have time to wait for your chocolate to melt, use syrup or powder. The flavor of the chocolate will depend on your personal preference. Dark chocolate embraces the bitterness of the coffee, and white chocolate and milk chocolate sweeten and lighten the coffee.

Food that pairs well with mocha

The flavor of mocha is different from the flavor of your usual morning cup of coffee. That is why you should pair your food accordingly to have the best experience. It might seem hard to find a food that is going to work well with both the bitter undertones of coffee and the sweet notes of chocolate, so here are five suggestions of the five best mocha and food pairings.

Scones work well with mocha, especially if they have a sweet flavor. Choose chocolate or blueberry scones.

Croissants are also a good choice. They are buttery, flaky, and they go even better with mocha if they are chocolate stuffed.

French toast and pancakes are a great way to start your day, and they will work nicely with your mocha.

Anything with a chocolate spread will go great with mocha. Spread some chocolate on a waffle, pancake, or bread.

Tiramisu is a great after-dinner treat to pair up with mocha. The coffee flavor will complement the mocha nicely.

Mocha recipes

If you spend too much money on coffee in coffee shops every day, you can make your own mocha syrup that will make you home-made mocha taste as it came right out of the coffee shop.

To make your own mocha syrup, you will need 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup strong brewed coffee, 1 cup white sugar or coconut sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Start by stirring all ingredients together in a heavy, medium saucepan. Heat the mix on medium until it starts boiling. Make sure you stir often. Keep boiling and gently whisking constantly until it becomes thickened. Pour the syrup into a jar and cool it. You can store it in your fridge for one week.

Add 2 tablespoons of syrup into your morning cup of coffee.

Drinking mocha every day can get a bit boring. Here are some ideas on how to make your mocha a bit different.

Mexican Mocha

To make Mexican mocha, you will need 2 cups freshly brewed coffee, 1/2  cup nut milk, 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, 3 tbsp cacao powder, 1/2 tbsp raw honey, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne.

Put all your ingredients in a blender. Blend on a high setting for about a minute until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour it into a mug, and you can enjoy your Mexican mocha.

Spiked eggnog mocha

Spiked eggnog mocha is a great drink for the holidays. To make it, you will need 1 cup brewed coffee, 1/2 cup eggnog, 1 oz spiced rum, 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, half-and-half, whipped cream, and chocolate chips.

Mix hot brewed coffee, rum, and eggnog in a cup. Make sure you stir it well. Add in cocoa powder, and be sure it mixes well by stirring vigorously. Top your drink with a dash of half-and-half or warm milk foam. Add some whipped cream and chocolate chips and you’re done.

What is a latte?        

Latte is known as caffe latte, cafe au lait, or Cafe con Leche. It is a drink that has stood the test of time, and it became one of the essential drinks of the modern coffee shop.  It is made out of one-part espresso and three-part milk.

The modern combination of latte is usually a double shot of espresso mixed with steamed milk. Caffe Latte can be made hot or iced, and it comes in a variety of flavors.

It is believed that Europeans have been mixing coffee and milk since at least the 17th Century, but the term coffee latte was first used by William Dean Howells in his 1867 essay “Italian Journeys”. During that time in history, coffee became a worldwide sensation, but the brewing methods were still very primitive as espresso machines had not been invented yet.

Illy, an Italian coffeemaker, defines an authentic espresso as, “A jet of hot water at 190°-200°F passes under a pressure of nine or more atmospheres through a .25 oz cake-like layer of ground and tamped coffee.”

The first patented espresso machine could only produce a pressure of 1.5 atmospheres, and it was created in 1884.

There were many improvements over the years, but the issue wasn’t solved until the 1940s.

Achille Gaggia solved this problem by adding a spring-piston lever to be operated by the barista. That also explains the origin of the phrase “pulling a shot” which is still widely used today though the levers have been abandoned.

Because the consumers were worried about the “scum” floating on top of their coffee, Gaggia started advertising it as “Caffe creme,” which suggested that the coffee could produce its own cream because of its high quality.                      

Nowadays, the latte is popular because of its “latte art”, which is making aesthetic designs that are formed using microfoam.

Latte is one of the most famous espresso drinks, but it actually contains a lot more steamed milk and foam than espresso. While making a latte, for every ounce of espresso you put in, there can be as much as six ounces of milk.

How do you make a latte?

A latte can be made with or without an espresso machine.

The main ingredient of any latte is coffee. You can get whole coffee beans and grind them, or you can buy pre-ground coffee at a local coffee store. It is best to get dark-roasted espresso beans.

A latte is mostly milk, so it is crucial which milk you choose. The whole mil will give you the richest taste, but you can also use alternative milk types.

The usual latte cup is 8oz. It is best to get a cup that is similar in size to a latte cup because it will help you measure the ideal amount of milk that you need to pour.

If you have an espresso machine at home, you will need espresso coffee beans, milk, a latte cup, an espresso machine, and some additional toppings.

Start by preheating your cup. By preheating your cup you prevent your espresso shot from going cold while you steam and froth your milk.

Most espresso machines will have a cup warmer. If yours doesn’t, fill your cup with hot water and let it sit for a minute while you prepare your shot of espresso.

For every cup of latte, you want to make brew a double shot of espresso and pour it into your latte glass. If you want your coffee to be weaker, add only one shot.

To froth your milk, put your milk of choice in a frothing pitcher and steam it using your machine’s wand. If you are using regular milk, the ideal temperature would be 150°F. If the temperature rises above that, you will risk burning your milk, which will reduce the milk’s natural sweetness and ruin the flavor.

Hold the wand about half an inch below the milk’s surface so that you end up with mostly hot milk and a little froth on the top. Then, pour the steamed milk into your latte cup. Make sure you take your time with this and try not to splash or spill any of the hot milk or espresso.

If you don’t have an espresso machine, you will need an espresso or strongly brewed coffee from an Aeropress, milk, a latte cup, and a jar with a lid.

Start by making your espresso or strongly brewed coffee.

Next, you will froth the milk. To do this, you will pour milk into the jar about halfway. Screw the lid on tightly, and shake the jar as hard as you can until the milk is frothy and has roughly doubled in volume, which will take you some 30 to 60 seconds.

Then, take the lid off the jar and microwave uncovered for 30 seconds. The foam should rise to the top of the milk and the heat from the microwave will help stabilize it.

Pour your espresso or a coffee in a latte cup. Using a large spoon, hold back the milk foam, and pour as much warm milk as you would like into the espresso.

You can add as much milk foam to your latte as you like. You can also add some cocoa powder on top of the foam.

Caffeine in Latte

Since latte is made out of 2 shots of espresso, it has a lot of caffeine. One 16oz cup of latte has approximately 154 mg of caffeine.

Latte variations

You can make your latte taste like peppermint, caramel, and so much more by just adding a syrup.

For example, caramel Latte is a bit sweeter than vanilla. It has a buttery and rich texture, and it reminds many people of the caramel candy they had in their childhood.

If you want to add a cozy element to your drink, try adding hazelnut syrup to your latte.

Coconut syrup is a perfect addition if you want to make an iced latte, as it is very refreshing and reminds people of summer.

Charlie McFarlane

Technology professional with 20 years in the industry providing solutions to customers based on IT. Recently got interested in the art and science behind of specialty coffee and decided to document this journey, sharing it with public.

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