White Mocha: What Is It and What Does It Taste Like?

There are so many types of coffee out there. We’re bombarded with new kinds of coffee almost daily, and they all seem very similar. There is latte, cortado, lungo, americano, red-eye, and so many more. It’s easy to lose track and get very confused when you walk into a coffee shop with so many coffee types on the menu. One of the newer types of coffee is white mocha. It left many people wondering what white mocha is and what it tastes like?

White mocha is a coffee drink made out of an espresso shot, hot milk, and white chocolate syrup. White mocha is almost identical to regular mocha, but it doesn’t taste as chocolatey as regular mocha since it uses white chocolate. Most people agree that it tastes like sweetened condensed milk.

There are different variations of white mocha. You can drink it hot or iced, and Starbucks has its holiday variation called Toasted white mocha. This mocha tastes a lot like roasted marshmallows. White mocha has the same origin as regular mocha since the coffee used to make it before is the same in both drinks. Keep reading to find out more about white mocha and how you can make your own, healthier version at home.

What is the white mocha?

White mocha is a coffee beverage with white chocolate syrup. Initially, there was only mocha, a type of coffee bean that tastes like chocolate. As the years passed, the term mocha became more flexible. Nowadays, mocha is mostly coffee with chocolate syrup. Starbucks uses its Mocha sauce in almost everything from lattes to hot chocolates. Speaking of flexibility, it doesn’t matter if you add chocolate syrup, chocolate sauce, melted chocolate, or even just cocoa to your coffee; it’s all considered to be mocha. Similarly, you can add melted white chocolate, white chocolate syrup, or white chocolate sauce to your coffee and make it a white mocha.

History of white mocha

Even though today’s mocha consists of espresso, chocolate, milk, and cream on top, it wasn’t always like that. The history of mocha goes back to the 15th century. The 15th-century mocha was far away from the mocha we drink today.

One of the most extended arguments in the world is between Yemen and Ethiopia. They are always fighting about where coffee originated from. Some people would agree that the coffee bean first appeared in Ethiopia, but Yemen turned it into the famous mocha.

The specific date of origin of mocha can’t be found anywhere; we know it was sometime during the 15th century. During that time, Sufi monks in Yemen were cultivating and producing coffee for trade. With time they improved how they used their environment and managed to create a very distinct coffee.

During the 15th century, coffee was the focus of trade and all kinds of social interactions. The first coffee shops started to open up as more and more people started drinking coffee. This provided a new export opportunity for Yemen. That being said, not everything about this coffee was great. The coffee had to carry the burden of conversation bans and promoted robbery and spying. The army would always steal coffee as a victory prize.

The port Al-Makha played a massive role in coffee production and trade in Yemen. This was while Yemen was under the Ottoman Empire. Yemeni took this as an opportunity to improve their coffee. They were asked to sell the seeds and the coffee plan,t but they refused many times. Because of that, they had a global monopoly on coffee, and the coffee trade became centered around Al-Makha.

The coffee that was produced in Al-Makha was called mocha. This coffee beverage was far from the mocha that we know and love today. The name mocha is also used for a type of coffee that comes from Yemen, which is believed to be genetically quite close to Bourbon.

Unfortunately for Yemen, it couldn’t protect its coffee plats indefinitely. One day, the Dutch traders got their hands on only one plant, but that was more than enough. This resulted in many plantations appearing outside of Yemen and the Ottoman Empire, just a few decades after the Dutch traders stole it. What we today know as Arabica beans are beans that appeared in the connection between Al-Makha and the Indonesian island of Java.

Today the rest of the world is well caught-up with Yemen’s production and cultivation of coffee. However, Yemen has managed to stay very well-known in the world of specialty coffee. Specialty coffee is a name for the coffee of the highest grade possible. The term was invented by Erna Knusten in,1974 who first used it for coffee beans that were cultivated in micro-climates. The definition of specialty coffee that has been widely accepted is coffee that has scored at least 80 out of 100 points on the Coffee Review Scale. If the coffee scales between 85 and 89.99, it is graded as Excellent, and if it scales above 90, it is scaled Outstanding. Three minimum requirements have to be met to consider any coffee as a specialty coffee. The coffee has to be hand-picked by picking mature beans, it has to score at least 80 on the coffee grading scale, and it can have a maximum of 5 defects on every 1.4 cups.

The reason why Yemen is still so well-known today is that its coffee still has that distinct, delicious taste that many people like. If you were to step into one of Yemen’s coffee farms today, you’d feel as if you’ve stepped back into the 15th century. Yemen farmers plant coffee on their mountain tops and use all-natural selective harvesting and dry-processing. They believe that you’re supposed to take care of coffee as you would take care of a child. The farmers care for their coffee with techniques that have been handed down for generations. They don’t use any chemicals.

If you were to order mocha today, you’d get any coffee with chocolate syrup or even a mix of hot chocolate and coffee. If you have a particular coffee type in mind that you’d like to add chocolate to, specify it when ordering your mocha.

No one is certain of when the term mocha started to be used for coffee with chocolate. We do, however, know that the coffee beans for Yemen always has a particular chocolaty flavor, which is why adding chocolate syrup to coffee and calling it mocha isn’t really a shocking revelation. Once the coffee was brought to Europe, the Europeans quickly realized that they could mix it with chocolate to make it taste better.

Venice and Turin had the first coffee shops in the 16th century, and they served coffee with chocolate, a drink called bavareisa. Bicerin was also served in those coffee shops, which is a traditional Italian coffee drink that is served in a small clear glass with visibly separate layers of chocolate and coffee.

Is there coffee in white mocha?

White mocha is made out of espresso coffee shots. It has about 152mg of caffeine which is served in 12 fl. oz cup. This isn’t a set amount of caffeine because the amount of caffeine in any coffee depends on the quality of coffee and how many espresso shots you put in it. Some people like to put only one; others put two or even more espresso shots. You can also get decaf white mocha if you use decaf espresso to make it.

What does white mocha taste like?

Most people say that the syrup for white mocha tastes like really sweet condensed milk. However, when you mix it with coffee to make mocha, it doesn’t taste as sweet anymore. It definitely makes the coffee sweeter, so you won’t have to add any sugar. Most people can’t taste the chocolate in white mocha distinctly as they can in regular mocha.

Is white mocha bad for you?

One white mocha only contains 420 calories, which is almost a quarter of what’s considered to be an average amount of calories an adult should consume. It also has 18 grams of fat and 53 grams of sugar.

If you don’t want to stop getting your white mocha from Starbucks, there are some ways you can try and make it healthier.

Unless you request something else, Starbucks will use whole milk. However, Starbucks also uses non-fat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and almond milk. If you use non-fat milk instead of whole milk in your tall white mocha, you can save almost 80 calories. You can also choose almond milk, which is the best low carb, low fat, and low-calorie milk you can find at Starbucks.

Starbucks usually uses about four pumps of syrup in their grande drinks. Once the pump has 20 calories, so four pumps will be 80 calories. To decrease the number of calories in your white mocha, you can ask them to put fewer pumps in your drink. You can also ask for a sugar-free version of the syrup.

White chocolate comes with a whipped cream on top, which adds about 80 more calories to your white mocha. You can decrease the number of calories in your white mocha by almost 100 if you just skip out on whipped cream.

Benefits of white chocolate in a white mocha

While mocha that you buy in coffee shops might not be the healthiest choice, you can make it more nutritious making your mocha at home. You can melt white chocolate instead of using white chocolate syrup, and white chocolate has many benefits.

White chocolate consists of milk solids, cocoa butter, and sugar. It doesn’t contain any cocoa. It got the name “white chocolate” because of its slightly yellow color. White chocolate should have at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids, and 3.5% milkfat.


White chocolate is made out of cacao plants, which are known to contain antioxidants called flavonoids. These antioxidants can also be found in seeds of colored plants. Antioxidants are very important because they neutralize free radicals in our body that damage the cells and increase the risk of diseases.

 Reduces signs of aging

Many people believe that antioxidants help delay signs of aging. Antioxidants also help with acne and other skin blemishes.

Boosts cardiovascular health

It is believed that white chocolate is good for the heart. This is because flavonoids that are found in the white chocolate prevent any clumping in your arteries, which lowers the risk of heart diseases.

A study in 2015 found that people who ate more chocolate had a lower risk of developing any cardiovascular diseases. The reason for this would be the flavonoids, but also the milk byproducts, for example,  calcium and fatty acids.

Prevents diabetes

It is believed that white chocolate can be very beneficial when it comes to preventing diabetes. This is because it plays a crucial role in the regulations of blood sugar levels. It is believed that eating one bar of chocolate a day can help reduce your insulin resistance.

Reduces hypertension

White chocolate is known to lower the risk of hypertension. This is because it contains linoleic acid, an acid that is very suitable for the blood vessels. Lactic acid promotes proper blood flow.

What is the difference between mocha and white mocha?

The only difference between mocha and white mocha is the syrup that is used to make them. Mocha uses chocolate syrup or even just chocolate powder to make the drink taste more like chocolate, while white mocha uses white chocolate syrup. How different 1 cup of mocha and 1 cup of white mocha are depended on how customized they are. Both mocha and white mocha are made with the same amount of espresso and milk, but you can always add less or more.

If you want to try, Torani has a White Chocolate Syrup (Get it on Amazon) and Sugar Free Chocolate (Get it on Amazon).

What is the difference between white mocha and toasted white mocha?

White mocha is a drink that you can get all year round in most cafes. Toasted white mocha is a drink that you can get in Starbucks during the winter holidays. The most significant difference between the white mocha and toasted white mocha is the taste. Toasted white mocha tastes like chocolate fudge and is topped with candied cranberries and caramel. Most people find it to taste a bit like marshmallows that were toasted on a campfire, but they also think that it’s less sweet than the usual white mocha.

How to make white mocha?

Depending on whether or not you have an espresso machine at home, you can make a mocha with or without it.

How to make mocha with an espresso machine

To make mocha with an espresso machine, grab your milk, a shot of espresso, and white chocolate syrup.

Choose which milk you want to use and pour it into the frothing pitcher. To froth the milk, get the steam wand on your espresso machine and put it in your pitcher until the wand is fully immersed in the milk. Ensure you put the wand quickly in the pitcher to avoid making too much foam or any bubbles when you’re heating the milk.

When the bottom of the pitcher gets very hot, remove the steam wand. Wipe it down and blow it out before you remove it from the pitcher. Otherwise, the milk will end up clogging the wand.

Then, you will swirl the hot milk in the pitcher to mix it in with the foam. The texture of the milk should become richer as you fold in the foam. You can also keep the milk and foam separate, which will give you a lighter milk texture with thicker foam.

When you reach the milk consistency you like, put the milk aside, and make the rest of your white mocha. Get your espresso shot and pour it into a cup. Then, add white chocolate syrup. You can add as much as you like. Mix it in with espresso until it’s well-combined. This will give you a smoother and more consistent flavor than if you poured the syrup after you’ve added milk.

Once you’ve combined your espresso and white chocolate mixture, pour the milk that you’ve set aside.

How to make white mocha without an espresso machine

Don’t worry if you don’t have an espresso machine; you can use the microwave instead.

Pour any milk you like into a mason jar and put it in the microwave on high until it gets warm and starts to steam slightly.

While your milk is in the microwave, put a saucepan over medium-low heat and melt your white chocolate in it. When the white chocolate has melted, add a shot of espresso and sugar to it while stirring. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Take your milk out of the microwave. Be careful not to burn yourself. Add the warm milk into your white chocolate milk but do it slowly to avoid any clumping. It would be best if you were to add a tablespoon at a time. Make sure you leave a quarter of the cup for later. To keep your white chocolate mixture from hardening, increase the burner’s heat.

To make the foam for your white mocha, put a lid over the mason jar with the remaining milk. Shake it until you see bubbles forming and the milk is frothed.

Put the chocolate mixture into the cup and pour the frothed milk over it. You can then top it with any toppings you like.

Starbucks white mocha

Starbucks makes white mocha with the syrup that is made there (get it on Amazon). They don’t use store-bought syrup, and that’s probably because it’s cheaper for them to make their own, and the taste is pretty similar. Their white chocolate sauce consists of sugar, condensed skim milk, coconut oil, cocoa butter, natural flavor, salt, potassium sorbate, and monoglycerides. Starbucks also uses vanilla syrup in their white mocha, which is made out of sugar, water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, and citric acid.

You can buy the white chocolate sauce at Starbucks if you want to make your white mocha taste just like it came right out of Starbucks.

What is an iced white mocha?

Iced white mocha is a Starbucks drink. It is made out of espresso, white chocolate sauce, milk, ice, vanilla syrup, and topped with sweetened whipped cream. It’s just like a white mocha, but if you were to put some ice in it. This drink seems perfect for people who like drinking white mocha even when it’s very hot outside. It is both refreshing and great at waking you up. However, one 16 fl oz serving has about 420 calories. This is just fine if you’re a person who doesn’t like eating in the morning and only drinks coffee, as it will fuel you until lunchtime. That being said, 420 calories in a drink is too much. If you’ve been drinking Starbucks white mocha, iced or regular, and don’t understand why you can’t lose weight, this could be the reason why.

Starbucks has a different version of white mocha during the holidays, called toasted white mocha. You can also get toasted white mocha in the iced version. Iced toasted white mocha has a bit fewer calories than the white mocha. It has 400 calories. Iced toasted white mocha is made with ice, milk, toasted white chocolate mocha sauce, espresso, whipped cream, and some holiday toppings. Unlike iced white mocha, this mocha tastes more caramelized.

You can make your iced white mocha at home that will be healthier and cost less. 

Start by making homemade white chocolate sauce. To do this, you will heat one cup of whole milk over medium heat. Use a whisk to stir the milk, and make sure you go it the entire time, so it doesn’t burn. Once the first whisps of steam start to rise from the milk, remove it from the burner. Shred 4 ounces of white chocolate in the pan and stir the mixture with a whisk until it’s smooth. If you notice that the chocolate hasn’t melted completely, put it back on the burner but only for a concise while because the mixture can quickly burn. Make sure that the sauce has cooled down a bit before you use it. It would be best if you stored the unused dressing in an airtight container.

The next step is to prepare your coffee. You can use any coffee you like, black coffee, latte, whatever you like best. Once your coffee is ready, get a glass and fill it with ice.  Add some white chocolate syrup to the cup and pour the coffee over it. You can top the coffee with some whipped cream.

Charlie McFarlane

Specialty Coffee Enthusiast. Hungry for knowledge in the art and science behind specialty coffee and decided to document my journey, sharing it with the public. +10 baristas interviewed. +20 farms toured across 5 countries. +75 Coffee Shops throughout 10 countries.

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