There are a lot of espresso-based drinks out there for the coffee-loving home barista to try.
If you’ve been to a coffee shop, you’ve seen the big boards advertising all kinds of options: lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, and the exotic-sounding mocha. But what’s the difference between a latte and a mocha?
As with so many espresso beverages, the difference comes down to both ingredients and procedure. Let us explain in more detail because we have the answer.
What’s In A Latte?
When it comes to milky coffee or espresso beverages, the devil’s in the details.
For example, both a caffè latte and a cappuccino are made up of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. It’s the proportions that make it a different brew vs latte.
A latte is one part espresso (at least 1 shot but usually 2), two parts, or several ounces of steamed milk, and a centimeter of milk foam in the cup. This recipe for lattes contrasts to cappuccinos, which have one part espresso and half steamed milk, half milk froth.
Steamed Milk Proportions
If it seems strange that two very different beverages can have the exact same components, think about what those components are: the latte will tend to taste more milk because there’s more steamed milk in the drink.
The proportions of milk froth to hot milk also change the dynamics of the drink. A thick, deep layer of milk froth in your cup makes a better surface for cinnamon or nutmeg.
The name “caffè latte” is Italian and translates to “coffee milk,” which puts it alongside “cafe au lait” and other similar terms for simplicity: the recipe is right there in the name. Coffee (usually espresso) and milk.
If you go to coffee shops often, you might also have seen a variety of flavoring options on offer with lattes.
The higher proportion of milk makes for a better canvas for syrups, sugar, and other flavorings, because it won’t disrupt the balanced flavor of the finished espresso drink.
At heart, a latte is a straightforward thing, and the beauty is in that simplicity. It’s among the first beverages that a professional barista is expected to master.
Getting the ratios right is a demonstration that you can use the steam wand the way it should be used. If you’re in a coffee shop and don’t know what to get, a latte is always a solid option.
How’s Mocha Different?
When you look at the coffee menu at your favorite cafe, you might see a few different terms attached to mochas.
Some coffee shops call the beverage a latte mocha, while some just call it by the singular name. There are also a variety of flavored mochas, and of course–just to add to the confusion–you might find coffee beans named under the phrase. So what’s the deal?
Mocha Latte Origins
The name “mocha” originally referred to a specific city in the country of Yemen. The port town’s correct spelling is actually “mohka,” but it used to be spelled with a C.
The city is still a significant destination for coffee lovers, and mocha coffee beans are some of the finest in the world.
It’s unclear when the name stopped simply referring to a specific location for high-quality coffee beans and instead became associated with a mixture of chocolate and coffee.
The first recorded reference of something using the name mocha and combining chocolate and coffee actually belongs to a Betty Crocker recipe from 1892. But there are indications that people associated the two before that.
Some theories suggest that the reason for the association comes from the distinctively chocolate flavor that coffee beans from Al Mokha have.
It’s possible that people began mixing another luxury item–chocolate–with less distinctive coffee beans to achieve a similar flavor to mocha coffee. Whatever the case, the marriage between coffee bean and chocolate has always been happy.
This brings us to the question of what is mocha vs a latte. A mocha latte, or caffè mochas, both contain espresso and milk just like a regular latte, but it has a couple of differences as well.
A classic mocha is made up of one shot of espresso coffee, five ounces of steamed milk, 4 or 5 tablespoons of cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, or some recipes hot chocolate mix. Of course, this is just the most classic version.
Making A Better Mocha
If you’re looking for a more luxurious mocha experience, there are a few things you can do to make your chocolate and coffee treat to tickle your taste buds.
If you prefer a stronger coffee flavor in your coffee beverages, you can add more espresso, as many shots as you like. If you want a weaker flavor, you can build your latte with brewed coffee instead.
You can make like the expensive cafes and coffee shops and top your beverage with whipped cream.
Given the sweetness that you might be adding with your chocolate powder, you may want to whip your own cream and add little–if any–sugar. But if you want it sugary, you can go with either homemade or store-bought whipped cream.
You can also step up your game by improving the kind of chocolate you add to your cup. Consider using dark chocolate and melting it in the milk before you add it to your coffee. It’s simple to get the magic started using your espresso machine and steam wand and then stirring until everything blends.
You can also make dark chocolate syrup with a simple recipe: mix cocoa powder, sugar, a pinch of salt, and water over heat.
Stir or whisk it slowly while it heats up in your pan, waiting for it to come to a boil. Continue stirring for two to five minutes until it reaches the consistency you want. Take it off the heat and add a dash of vanilla extract.
However you want to dress up your mocha recipes, whether it’s whipped cream or higher quality chocolate, or even more espresso, it’s a definite treat.
If you like your espresso drinks to have a little more complexity and flavor, and you’re a chocolate lover, mochas are an excellent espresso drink to explore.
The difference between latte and mocha comes down to one ingredient and a slightly different procedure with your espresso machine, and they are a luxurious treat.
To answer the question: the differences between a mocha vs latte include that mochas have chocolate and generally don’t have any foam.
They also tend to have less coffee in them–but this is something that’s down to individual flavor preferences. Both the latte and mocha use steamed milk, but mochas often replace the milk froth with whipped cream.
When it comes to espresso based drinks, a latte is a dependable daily dose of milk and coffee, flexible and adaptable. Mochas are richer, sweeter, and tend to be more of a treat.
Mocha doesn’t have to just be the name of a town or an item on a menu–you can make your own lattes and mochas at home and reap the rewards of putting in a little more time.