Coffee shop staples, people often can’t decide between ordering a mocha versus a latte. Both get made in similar ways and contain similar ingredients. So what kind of flavor profile you want will be a major consideration.
While both have some sweetness, the flavor becomes a key difference between a mocha and a latte. Read on to learn more about these two popular drinks, the process that goes into making them, and which might suit you best.
What Is a Mocha Coffee?
A mocha may appear on the menu as a caffè mocha, a mocha latte, or just as a mocha. Regardless of the name, the ingredients remain the same: espresso, milk, and chocolate. This combination of espresso flavor and rich chocolate with steamed milk creates a sweet taste. That creates a strong appeal to many coffee lovers (and even some say they don’t enjoy the taste of coffee).
The ratio for a mocha determines the quality of the coffee drink. Typically, a basic recipe calls for six ounces of milk to be steamed, two tablespoons of solid chocolate or chocolate syrup (or one teaspoon each of cocoa powder and sugar), and two shots of espresso. However, the actual ratio will depend on your tastes. Experiment with adding sweetness if that’s what you enjoy or less milk to let the espresso shine.
You can find mochas served in a wide range of flavors besides traditional, including white chocolate, zebra (white and dark chocolate), and peppermint mocha. Some coffee bars experiment with combinations such as monkey mochas (think chocolate-covered banana) and cherry mochas. Of course, traditional mocha and iced mocha still dominate the favorites list.
What Is a Caffè Latte?
The Italian phrase “caffè latte” translates in English to “coffee milk.” Considered a big brother to a cappuccino and the cousin to a mocha, the flavor for traditional lattes revolves, as the name suggests, around the milk. Because of its milk-heavy construction, people who prefer milk to be the hero in their coffee drinks will enjoy a caffè latte.
A latte’s ingredient list is similar to a mocha, but omits chocolate. While a mocha balances flavor, the ratio of ingredients for a latte differentiates it from other espresso drinks like a Cappuccino or Café au lait. So ratios play an important role when making lattes.
Traditionally, a latte consists of a double-shot of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, layered in that order. To set lattes apart from other espresso-based drinks, the order of layers plays an important role as does the amount of steamed milk. Generally, you use one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk with a small layer of foam on top.
You can find several variations of a latte, including a chai latte, which uses chai in place of espresso. However, iced lattes are typically favorites for those who enjoy creamy flavored coffee.
Difference Between Mocha and Latte (Mocha vs Latte)
You can find a lot of differences between a mocha and a latte. Still, knowing how each drink measures up will help you decide which best fits the flavor you want to try out.
The list of ingredients showcases a key difference between a mocha and a latte. Both have espresso and milk, but mochas need a little something extra.
Mochas require espresso, usually a double shot, hot milk, and chocolate. The type of chocolate your local coffee shops use affects the flavor of a mocha. Many coffee shops may use white or dark chocolate sauce, and some add in pumps of flavored syrup, such as peppermint to further customize the espresso drink. However, most coffee shops use cocoa powder or chocolate syrup as the chocolate base.
After the chocolate and espresso get mixed, the barista pours foamed milk on top. Sometimes you might get a mocha with latte art or it might be topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Iced mochas often include whipped cream and chocolate shavings as standard ingredients, whereas, you may have to add them to your hot mocha order.
Lattes get made with just espresso and frothed milk with a thin layer of milk foam on top. Creamier than a mocha, lattes get topped with latte art. While you can replace the espresso with chai or order your latte iced, you can also add pumps of your favorite coffee syrups. For example, at Starbucks, you can ask for several options, such as chestnut praline, caramel brulée, sugar cookie, cinnamon dolce, and pistachio.
To make both a mocha and latte you need an espresso machine to pull espresso shots.
For a mocha, the espresso shots get pulled and then an equal amount of chocolate gets stirred into the espresso while the milk steams. Once the milk finishes steaming, milk can be poured on top and then whipped cream added. For those who don’t want whip cream, latte art can decorate the top.
For a latte, shots are pulled and then frothed milk is poured over the top. Most add a layer of milk foam or decorate the top with latte art. If you want added flavor, that always comes after the espresso and before the milk.
Most automatic espresso machines have built-in coffee recipes, so you can make a cup of latte with one touch.
The difference between a mocha and a latte is very much night and day. This is particularly true when served in your local coffee shop environment or by someone who specializes in these two drink types.
A mocha often comes served with whipped cream or chocolate shavings. Even if your mocha lacks whipped cream, it will be darker than a latte and probably has shaving melting into the latte art.
If your latte comes in a clear glass cup, you will immediately see how much lighter the color looks because of its high milk-to-espresso ratio. Latte art can always be found displayed on top of a latte.
The flavor profiles present another difference between a mocha and a latte. Both have a mild coffee flavor, and actual espresso flavor of the coffee beans depends on the coffee shop making the drink. You can also order decaffeinated coffee as the base if you like.
A mocha has a distinct chocolatey flavor and a heavy richness resembling a hot chocolate taste. The richness of chocolate itself depends on its cacao percentage. So the richer the chocolate used, the richer the drink. Adding whipped cream adds to the sweetness of a mocha.
A latte has some sweet flavor because of the milk, but lattes become even sweeter if you add flavors added in the form of syrups. Lattes have a distinct milky flavor as more steamed milk added to a latte balances the robust espresso.
Some see calorie counts as a distinct difference between a mocha and a latte. A traditional latte has fewer calories than a mocha. For example, a 16-ounce latte at Starbucks comes in at 190 calories, and a mocha of the same size contains 370 calories.
However, when you add toppings, syrups, and sweeteners to either drink, you increase the calorie count. So that chestnut praline latte you love looks more like a mocha, ringing in at 330 calories. In the same vein, removing sweeteners, such as whipped toppings, can reduce calories.
Both a mocha and a latte contain espresso and milk. If you want a richer drink and love a milk chocolate taste, then mocha may be the right fit for you. Should you prefer a creamier milk coffee drink, a latte may be more to your liking. Whatever you opt for, sweetness need not be a factor to consider as you can add sweeteners or syrups to either drink to please your taste.
You may also be interested in the comparison between other espresso-based drinks: