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What Is a Mocha?

If you’re looking for indulgent, caffeinated pleasure, look no further than this comfort drink, the mocha. So, just what is a mocha?

Sometimes confused for a latte or cappuccino, a mocha is neither of these coffee-based drinks. Incorporating chocolate into the mix sets it apart from other beverages and makes it more like a dessert.

It’s no secret that coffee and chocolate mesh well together. In fact, chocolate is one of the most common flavors in dark roast coffee or espresso. So it comes as no surprise that when you combine espresso, chocolate, and steamed milk, magic happens.

What makes a mocha so great? Let’s take a closer look:

What Is a Mocha? The Basics

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A mocha is one variant of a latte that includes chocolate. This coffee/chocolate combo produces sweet, deep flavors and a velvety texture. Also known as mocha latte, caffe mocha, or mocha coffee, it shouldn’t be confused with mocha coffee beans — more on those shortly.

Often served in a glass, as opposed to a coffee mug, a mocha contains three ingredients:

  • Espresso
  • Chocolate 
  • Steamed milk

The most common forms of chocolate used are chocolate syrup, broken pieces of chocolate, ganache, or cocoa powder. Sometimes a mocha may be topped with foam or whipped cream, along with sprinkles, cocoa powder, or a dusting of cinnamon.

And yes, there is caffeine in a mocha. Espresso contains caffeine, as does chocolate.

How to Make a Mocha

If you browse the internet, you’ll find a myriad of the best mocha recipes. Many of them only differ slightly from each other, while some vary the proportions of ingredients. However, the basic process doesn’t change much.

  1. The typical mocha ratio is 1:1:2 — of espresso, chocolate, and steamed milk. 
  2. A single or double shot of espresso is your bottom layer. 
  3. Chocolate goes in next, and should be stirred gently with the espresso. 
  4. Steamed milk is then poured over the mixture.

While dairy milk is the most common milk used in a mocha, other substitutes can be used. However, these may adversely affect the texture of your drink.

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History of the Mocha

Mocha as we know it and its chocolatey goodness has grown in popularity over the past 30 years. However, how it developed is something of a mystery. Where is mocha coffee from? Here’s what we know.

The city of Mocha, Yemen, was a place to trade coffee as early as the 1400s. By the 16th century, coffee was being grown in the Yemen highlands, and those coffee beans were called mocha beans in recognition of that region. Like most coffee grown in Arabia, the coffee’s taste is dark and aromatic, with chocolate and spice flavors.

As Europe became involved in trading coffee, Europeans connected this coffee’s aroma and flavor with cocoa. The story then shifts to Italy, the home of espresso. It’s believed that chocolate was added to espresso in an Italian coffee house, and this drink was called bicerin. At some point, coffee shops began adding milk to these drinks, making them similar to what we now know as mocha.

The mocha gained popularity in the US in the 1980s, following in the footsteps of the latte. Although recipes may vary slightly, this drink has remained popular and is on the menu at most cafes.

Mocha vs. Latte

So we’ve established that a mocha is a spinoff from the classic latte, but let’s clarify a few similarities and differences.

  • Each contains espresso and milk as key ingredients — but there’s no chocolate in a latte.
  • Both drinks come in similar sizes. A latte can be anywhere from 8-14 ounces, depending on its size. Same for a mocha. You may find smaller or larger sizes, so this is only an estimate.
  • Ratios. This is where similarities end. As previously mentioned, the ratio for a mocha is 1:1:2 for espresso, chocolate, and milk. For a latte, it’s 1:4 — espresso and milk. Chocolate replaces some of the milk in a mocha, thus reducing this element.
Mocha vs Latte


While a conventional mocha is delicious, there are also equally tasty variations of the mocha recipe. We’ll highlight some of the best.


  • Iced mocha — yes, a mocha is traditionally a hot beverage, but you can enjoy it cold. Simple and easy for those summer days when a hot drink is out of the question.
  • Use coffee instead of espresso — you don’t have an espresso maker? No problem. Create a substitute — brew some strong coffee.
  • White caffè mocha — If you like a touch of sweetness, rather than using dark or milk, try white chocolate.


Also known as caffe mocha or mocha latte, a mocha is a sweet, decadent combination of espresso, chocolate, and steamed milk. More like dessert than a cup of morning joe, a mocha has a softer taste and texture than espresso on its own.

While a mocha does share some similarities with a latte, the addition of chocolate provides an added flavor layer that takes some focus off of the espresso. Any chocolate can be used — dark chocolate, cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, or even white chocolate.

Making your own mocha at home is pretty simple, but these drinks are also easily found at most coffee shops and cafes. If you haven’t already tried one, you should add it to your must-try list. However, as recipes vary slightly, you may want to ask, “what is a mocha?” before you order.

What Is a Mocha? FAQs

What’s the Difference Between a Latte and a Mocha?

The difference between a latte and mocha is an additional ingredient of chocolate. A latte uses only espresso and steamed milk, while a mocha uses espresso, steamed milk, along with chocolate.

What Does Mocha Taste Like?

Mocha has rich flavors of both chocolate and coffee, with a soft, thick texture. Depending on what type of chocolate is used, you may also taste some sweetness or a little bitterness.

Is Caffe Mocha Hot or Cold?

The classic mocha is served as a hot beverage. However, an iced mocha can be a great alternative, especially during warm weather. You can add ice to it, and some people prefer to use cold instead of steamed milk.

Does Mocha Contain Caffeine?

Yes. Espresso has caffeine in it, as does chocolate.

How Is Mocha Different from Coffee?

A mocha is usually made with espresso, rather than regular coffee. Espresso is much stronger than regular coffee, which affects how the mocha tastes. Chocolate is also part of a mocha but isn’t usually added to a regular coffee.

Is Mocha Sweeter than a Latte?

A mocha may be sweeter than a latte, but it depends on what type of chocolate you use. For example, milk chocolate adds a sweeter flavor to a mocha than dark chocolate.

How Much Coffee Is in a Mocha?

A mocha is made with one or two espresso shots. A single shot of espresso is about 1.5 ounces, hence, a mocha generally contains from 1.5 to 3 ounces of coffee.