What Is A Mocha? Two Amazing Things In One

By Shabbir
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One of the most popular types of espresso based drinks is the mocha. It’s a hugely popular among coffee drinkers, and it’s no surprise that a mocha is one of the best selling drinks across cafes worldwide.

What is a mocha, though, and why is it so special?

A cup of mocha with artistic latte art on a saucer, set on a dark wooden table.
A cup of mocha with artistic latte art.

What Is A Mocha

Mocha is a coffee marriage made in heaven. On one side, you have coffee, which is just amazing and we can’t sing enough of its praises.

On the other side, you have chocolate. CHOCOLATE! So someone had the brilliant idea of combining coffee and chocolate and the resulting beverage was the mocha!

Mochas can be made in many ways, but a typical mocha is a latte with a double shot of espresso and one to four pumps of chocolate syrup.

Where Did Mochas Come From?

The word mocha is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the word mocha most likely comes from the ancient Yemeni port of Al Mokha, which was one of the first places that coffee was exported from to the rest of the world.

As a side note, that’s probably also why these kinds of coffee beans are called Arabica beans.

Conventionally, the word mocha as we know it today is a mocha latte or a caffe mocha. It’s also known as a mocchaccino.

The origins of the drink are a bit murky, as there’s no one person it can be attributed to. The mocha is very closely related to the classic latte, which began to surge in popularity in the 1980s in the United States.

From history, the closest relative of the cafe mocha is the Bicerin, which is a drink native to Turin.

It is made of espresso, drinking chocolate, and milk served layered in a small glass.


Two other variants are the espressino and marocchino, which are both made from espresso, steamed milk, and cocoa powder.

Making The Perfect Mocha At Home

Mocha is very easy to make, which is a huge plus to the fact that it happens to be incredibly delicious. It’s even easier to make if you have an espresso machine as most espresso machines will have a latte function built in.

What you’ll need

  • 12 to 15 grams of coffee ground to espresso consistency (double this amount for two shots)
  • An espresso machine with a steaming wand/latte function – you can also use a Nespresso machine
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Milk (dairy, almond, soy, oat, whatever you want)
  • A tall 12 ounce glass

How To Make It

  • Add 1 to 4 pumps of chocolate syrup to your glass. Experiment to see what level of chocolatiness works best for you!
  • Place your grounds in the portafilter and pull your shots of espresso into the glass. Give it a nice stir to get the hot espresso and chocolate to mix
  • Steam 8 ounces of milk in your steaming jug, and slowly pour it into the espresso/chocolate mixture
  • By pouring gently at first, the milk will pour out first, followed by the froth at the very end to top the mixture
  • Add toppings of your choice: chocolate shavings, cocoa powder, whipped cream, cinnamon, or even sprinkles!

If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can also use an Aeropress to brew a shot of concentrated coffee. A french press can be used to froth milk, or you can just put some warm milk in a mason jar and shake it very vigorously to incorporate bubbles into it.

Modifying The Mocha To Your Tastes

The beauty of a mocha or mocha latte is that there are so many variations and customizations you can do to make the drink your own. These variations will also depend on which coffee shop you order from.

Change up the milk

Just because the recipe calls for regular steamed milk doesn’t mean you can’t use other kinds of milk. If you don’t drink dairy, you can get very similar drinks using almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk.

These three plant-based milks are generally available in most coffee shops. I have also seen recipes for peanut milk, but I am not too sure how that would taste in a coffee!

You may not be able to froth the non-dairy milks quite as well as regular milk, but the flavor of the milk itself will add an interesting dimension to the beverage!

Related: Why Does Almond Milk (And Other Plant Based Milk) Curdle In Coffee?

White and dark chocolate

Other variants of this espresso based beverage include white chocolate mocha and dark chocolate mocha. These are simply variants where regular chocolate syrup is substituted for white chocolate syrup or dark chocolate syrup.

White chocolate syrup is much sweeter than regular chocolate syrup, and it will also make your completed beverage much blonder.

Dark chocolate syrup is more bittersweet and will really complement the espresso flavor very nicely.

Depending on how much of a sweet tooth you are, you can switch it up between dark, milk, or white chocolate.

You could even melt a couple of pieces of chocolate and use those, too!

More or less espresso

The recipe we suggested calls for two shots of espresso, but you can also use one or three shots. It’s totally up to you! If you use three shots, keep in mind that the resulting drink will be VERY strong and contain nearly 200 mg of caffeine on average.

You’ll also need more chocolate or more milk to counter the additional intensity. A triple espresso may be a good fit if you’re making a huge glass of mocha and sharing it with someone!

Cocoa powder

If you’d like to be a purist and prefer your chocolate unalderated, you can just add straight cocoa powder instead of chocolate syrup!

Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder to your glass and brew your espresso into it. Cocoa powder will not really dissolve, but you can give it a nice stir to disperse it into the liquid as best as you can.

You can also add cocoa powder as a garnish.

Chocolate milk or hot chocolate

In case you’re in the mood to cheat the recipe and make a quick fix, ditch the syrup and use chocolate milk instead. Since chocolate milk is still milk, you’ll be able to steam it using your steam wand.

Simply pour the chocolate milk into your espresso shots, and continue as before.

If you don’t have chocolate milk at home, you can also use sachets of hot chocolate mix. These combinations are sure to bring back some childhood memories!

Ice it up

If cold coffee is your thing, you don’t have to drink your mocha hot. Add generous amounts of ice to your beverage and you’ll have an iced mocha.

Use regular coffee

There’s a lot of milk and chocolate in a mocha, so if you can’t get your hands on a shot of espresso, just brew some drip, pour over, or french press coffee and use that instead!

That’s the beauty of the mocha!


This coffee based beverage is super easy to make and you can customize it any way you want.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 minute
Course: Coffee
Cuisine: American
Keyword: coffee
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 120kcal


  • Espresso machine
  • Coffee grinder


  • 15 grams coffee beans
  • 1 tsp chocolate syrup
  • 6 oz milk


  • Grind the coffee beans to a fine, powdery consistency on the espresso setting
  • Add one tsp of chocolate syrup into a large glass or mug
  • Pull an espresso shot using your espresso machine. Pull it directly into the glass if you have enough space. Otherwise, use a separate cup and then mix. Stir well using a spoon.
  • Froth milk using the espresso machine's milk frother. Get it to the temperature and consistency you prefer
  • Pour the milk into the espresso shot/syrup mixture and enjoy.


Mochas are very easy to make and taste delicious.
If you don’t have an espresso machine, use an Aeropress to make a concentrated shot of coffee.
You can also use a french press to steam milk.


The mocha is an amazing beverage and because it’s so modern, there is no turning up of noses when presented with varieties of it. Everyone has a way to make the mocha their own.

It’s a drink for everyone, and takes the latte one step further. You just need to be mindful that one mocha will end up being quite a lot of calories, especially if you go wild with toppings like whipped cream and more chocolate syrup!

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a latte and a mocha?

A latte is an espresso topped with 6 to 8 ounces of steamed milk. A mocha is a latte but with the addition of chocolate syrup.

What is the difference between mocha and chocolate?

Mocha is a coffee made with chocolate syrup, espresso, and steamed milk. Many companies have included the word mocha in their product names and that sometimes causes confusion!

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.